Court extends DNA testing deadline Court extends DNA testing deadline Associate EditorTo the relief of lawyers and law students frantically trying to make an October 1 deadline for more than 600 inmates hoping to prove their innocence through DNA testing, the Florida Supreme Court has indefinitely suspended that deadline so that justices have more time to consider emergency petitions.The 4-3 order was issued September 30, the day before the deadline in state law and a judicial rule set two years ago was to take effect. Oral arguments have been set for November 7.“By our actions herein, we express no opinion on the merits of the underlying petitions,” said Chief Justice Harry Lee Anstead, and Justices Barbara Pariente, Peggy Quince, and Fred Lewis, in the succinct ruling.The court consolidated an emergency petition filed by the Criminal Procedure Rules Committee of The Florida Bar to amend Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.853, as well as an emergency petition to invoke all writs jurisdiction, filed by Craig Trocino, co-director of the Florida Innocence Project at Nova Southeastern University, and Michael Minerva, for the Florida Innocence Initiative at Florida State University.“People’s rights and evidence are not being destroyed tomorrow,” Jenny Greenberg, director of FSU’s Florida Innocence Initiative told the Associated Press the day of the ruling.Last month, when the Criminal Procedure Rules Committee voted 23-10 to seek the rule change and to file the emergency petition with the high court, FSU law Professor Sandy D’Alemberte said two years was not enough time to review all of the cases that have poured in. While the debate often gets tied up in emotions about delaying death penalties, D’Alemberte pointed out the law schools, using law students as volunteers, only deals with noncapital cases. He argued that extending the deadline will improve the administration of justice by avoiding a last-minute deluge of inmate petitions the court would have to deal with.But in a dissenting opinion, Justice Charles Wells, joined by Justices Raoul Cantero and Kenneth Bell, said the high court was not the correct avenue for relief.“The proper procedure for these petitions is to file actions in the circuit court to test the constitutionality of section 925.11, Florida Statutes (2002). This is what was contemplated when we adopted the rule. A significant part of the problem which is now being presented in this original action is that no action was filed until the middle of September 2003 to avoid an October 1, 2003, deadline. But rather than look to the courts, these petitioners should attempt to persuade the legislature to amend its statute,” Wells wrote in his dissent.The dissenting opinion went on to say: “I believe that it is in the interest of justice for the legislature to seriously consider extending the October 1, 2003, deadline, but this extension is only for the legislature to consider. Then, if the legislature does extend the time, it can appropriate the necessary funds for the DNA tests.. . . Because this court is assuming power over what has been provided by the legislature, I am concerned that carrying out the tests and paying for these proceedings will be frustrated.”Sen. Alex Villalobos, R-Miami, chair of both the Senate Judiciary and Senate Criminal Justice committees, is working on a legislative remedy. He has filed SB 44, a shell bill, stating that, “The legislature intends to revise laws relating to DNA evidence following conviction.”But in a specially concurring opinion, Justice Lewis said the high court is exactly the place to address the constitutional validity of the October 1 deadline for filing motions for post-conviction DNA testing.“The reality of the instant situation is that if this action were not taken, any determination made by this court after October 1, 2003, regarding the propriety of exercising jurisdiction over the instant matter or the substantive constitutionality of the challenged provision would be rendered totally moot,” Justice Lewis wrote.If the deadline is not extended, Lewis said, not only would motions for DNA testing be barred, but DNA evidence could be destroyed.The separation of powers between the judicial and legislative branches is not impacted by this decision to suspend the deadline, Lewis added.“In any case, it would be most appropriate to hold the statutory deadline in abeyance until the matters now before us are thoroughly vetted,” Justice Lewis wrote. “We consider not trivial issues, but matters that may impact literally the life or death of human beings and concern the rights to liberty guaranteed in the Constitution.. . . The rigid construction favored by the dissenting view would render this court powerless to realize the full scope of its constitutional jurisdiction and concomitant responsibility. This court’s constitutional position would be undermined and compromised if the status quo could not be maintained as the issues of constitutional magnitude now presented are considered.” October 15, 2003 Jan Pudlow Associate Editor Regular News
The 20-year-old England international became British football’s most expensive player on Tuesday when he signed a five-year contract at the Etihad Stadium to complete a move from Liverpool which will be worth up to £49million. “It’s a good feeling and this is really happy time for me and my family,” Sterling told the club’s official website, www.mcfc.co.uk. Press Association “Finally, I’d also like to thank all the people around me – my mum and sisters, my management team and (agent) Aidy Ward for helping me focus and get where I am today. I just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone.” Sterling passed a medical and completed the remaining formalities of the deal on Tuesday and he will fly out to meet up with his new team-mates in Australia within the next 24 hours. He is City’s record signing, surpassing the sums previously paid for Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero, after drawn out talks with Liverpool. City had two previous bids rejected before finally reaching a deal. Manager Manuel Pellegrini was delighted to finally get his hands on the player after that prolonged pursuit. He said: “Raheem Sterling is one of the best attacking players in world football and I am very much looking forward to him joining our squad out in Australia later this week. “He is a young player with outstanding ability and I am sure the Manchester City fans will be very excited about seeing him in action for the team.” Sterling began his career at QPR and joined the Reds for an initial fee of £600,000 as a 15-year-old in 2010. He was handed a senior debut as a 17-year-old and was twice named the club’s young Player of the year. Raheem Sterling believes the most exciting aspect of his record-breaking transfer to Manchester City is being able to play alongside so many world-class players. “I’m just glad it’s all over and done with and I can’t wait to get on the training field. “The thing that excites me the most is the world class squad we have and knowing we have a team that is capable of winning things year in, year out. “The more quality players that are around you, the more quality it brings out in you so I can’t wait to get started and play alongside them.” Sterling, who will wear the number seven shirt, was also grateful to his previous managers despite his protracted exit from Anfield. “It has been a long journey from QPR and I’d like to thank a few people who have helped me along the way,” he said. “I’d like to thank Rafa Benitez for taking me to Liverpool as a 15 year-old – that was a massive step for me and a new challenge. “Also to Kenny Dalglish for showing such faith in me and putting me in at such a young age. “I want to thank Brendan Rodgers for giving me a chance and an opportunity in the first team, giving me my full debut – against City funnily enough – and giving me a real chance to cement a place in the first team and show the world my talents.