Your daily look at news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about in Florida today.
State’s congressional districts rejected as gerrymandered
The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the state’s congressional maps don’t meet the requirements of a voter-approved constitutional amendment that prohibits political lines from being drawn to favor incumbents or a political party. The court ordered the Legislature to try drawing the maps again. The ruling means there could be an upheaval as incumbents seek re-election and candidates from both parties seek to fill open seats. Florida has 27 congressional districts and the ruling could affect 22 of them. The court ordered eight districts be redrawn, but in doing so, 14 districts that border might also have to be changed.
Gov. Scott orders independent analysis of Florida prisons
Gov. Rick Scott is ordering an independent analysis of the state’s prison system and the development of two prisons to test new ways of handling and housing prisoners with mental health issues, as well as the general population. Scott issued the order Thursday. He is also directing the Department of Corrections to work with the departments of Children and Families and Juvenile Justice on how to improve mental health services. The two prototype prisons will be developed at existing facilities.
Florida Rep. Grayson announces run for Rubio’s Senate seat
Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson announced Thursday he will seek the Senate seat Republican Marco Rubio is leaving to run for president, dismissing the idea that he is too liberal to win a statewide election in Florida. The decision guarantees a feisty primary between the unabashed liberal and U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, a former Republican who is running as a moderate and who has garnered the support of many party leaders. Grayson, who represents a central Florida district, made his announcement on Orlando television station WKMG.
Florida justices: Defendant has ‘stand your ground’ burden
The Florida Supreme Court is keeping the burden of proof with the defendant seeking immunity under the “stand your ground” self-defense law. The justices on Thursday affirmed the current practice used in courts statewide for pretrial immunity hearings under the law. The court rejected an attempt to shift the burden of proof at that stage from defendants to the prosecution. The decision came in the case of Jared Bretherick, an Indiana tourist whose “stand your ground” claim was rejected in a 2011 road confrontation in Kissimmee in which he pointed a gun at a driver.
Judge recuses self from Florida theater shooting case
A judge has recused himself from the trial of a former Tampa police captain accused of fatally shooting a man during an argument over texting in a Florida movie theater. Pasco Circuit Court Judge Pat Siracusa filed the order Tuesday. Circuit Judge Susan Barthle is now assigned to the case. Siracusa issued a notice of removing himself after a hearing last week in which he appeared aggravated over repeated delays. The case has been in Siracusa’s courtroom since Curtis Reeves was arrested in January 2014 following the shooting death of 43-year-old Chad Oulson at Grove Cobb Theater in Land O’Lakes.