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Archived News stories From July - December, 2007

Posted December 6, 2007

Actor Alex Staggs plays Craig Waters in vote recount announcement scene while Waters monitors filming"Recount," the Movie, LooksDirector Jay Roach reviews a recent movie take on nearby monitor
at Election 2000

An HBO crew of approximately 90 members descended on the Florida Supreme Court November 3-4, as part of the filming of "Recount" that took place in Tallahassee for approximately one week. The film revisits the Bush v. Gore presidential election 2000 turmoil that embroiled the Court and Tallahassee proper for several weeks after the polls closed that November. Ultimately, 35 days after the national election, the U.S. Supreme Court announced Bush the winner of the election by reversing the decision of the Florida Supreme Court that had ordered a recount of the state's undercounted votes. The film is scheduled for release in the spring of 2008.

The movie is being directed by Jay Roach, scripted by Danny Strong and stars Kevin Spacey, John Hurt, Denis Leary, Bob Balaban and Ed Begley Jr. The film will attemptJustice Barbara Parientemeets her movie counterpart to show what happened behind the scenes from Election Day though the U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended Vice President Al Gore's challenge and handed Bush the presidency.

Jay Roach gives direction to actorThe two-day filming at the Court involved, not only the vast HBO film crew, but several hundred extras who filled the streets in crowd scenes outside the court, as well as a smaller number in the courtroom who listened to the oral arguments surrounding the controversy of recounting votes due to the closeness of the initial count.

A long-time court employee, who worked at the Court during the election (and who also served as an extra in the recent courtroom scene) said the filming brought back very clear memories. "It certainly brought it all back to me," she said. "But I doubt the filming can quite recapture the true drama, or certainly the intensity, of the time. History was being made every day the vote was in question­ ‑ I mean, there was a lot of tension in the air."

Posted October 17, 2007

logoWeb Administrators Discuss Accessibility
at National Conference

Representatives from both the Supreme Court and the Office of the State Courts Administrator (OSCA) gave two accessibility presentations at the National Court Technology Conference (CTC10) held in Tampa, October 2-4. Craig Waters, Tricia Knox and Phillip Pollock presented Web Disability Access: Best Practices in Preventing a Disability Lawsuit over your Courts Website. (See the CTC10 Educational Session site for this, and all, sessions. Also, read the related presenters' paper) Waters discussed the legal ramifications behind making electronic court documents and court web sites compliant with state law, while Knox and Pollock addressed more technological, how-to aspects of compliance. Approximately 250 conference Photo of Craig Waters, Tricia Knox and Phillip Pollockattendees from throughout the country heard the presentations.

Waters told the audience, " Like many other states, Florida has modeled its web accessibility law after Section 508, which mandates that electronic communications and government websites be accessible. If accessibility concerns are not met, lawsuits could result."

President Clinton signed into law the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998, which strengthened Section 508 language from previous 1973 federal legislation. The Florida Statute regarding Web-Based Intranet and Internet Information and Application Standards (F.S. 282.601 – 282.606), uses Section 508 by saying that all electronic communications and web sites are required to be made accessible to individuals with disabilities. Obviously, this impacts both the and web sites. This law took effect in Florida beginning July 1, 2006.

When Knox gave reasons for making documents and web sites compliant, she cited both the Florida Statute and the fact that, just as in situations where physical barriers like curb cuts exist, everyone benefits from electronic accessibility. She said, "Things we do to make documents and sites accessible have benefit to everyone. In addition, and more importantly, why would we, as web administrators, purposefully ignore a segment of the population, based on an individual's disability? We wouldn't. Accessibility is simply the right thing to do."

Pollock further described ways to facilitate accessibility. When questioned about making a particularly complex file accessible, he said, "Think in terms of simplification. Many times documents are created in programs that are overly complex, when the complexity isn't required. Often, a simple word-processing file can be made very attractive and very accessible all at the same time."

After the presentation, Frederick Bowes, III, representing the American Foundation for the Blind, told the three presenters that the Supreme Court and OSCA appear to be leaders in the country in their efforts in the area of accessibility.

Posted September 18, 2007

Domestic Violence Strategic Planning Rose Patterson welcomes attendees
Group Meets at the Court

Court Improvement staff confer before meeting beginsThe Domestic Violence Strategic Planning Group is meeting at the Florida Supreme Court throughout the day on Tuesday, September 18. Key participants in Florida who are knowledgeable of domestic violence issues are attempting to develop a long-range strategy plan that will improve the effectiveness of Florida's court's in handling domestic violence cases.

Participants in the planning group will divide into three primary work groups during the day's activities. The three topics considered in each group are: Creating more effective injunction orders (inconsistencies, firearms provisions, and service of orders); Enforcing injunctions, compliance issues; and Addressing the needs of involved parties (participant assistance, Attendees discuss meeting progressconflicts between and protection of participants, and injunction reviews).

Rose Patterson, Chief of Court Improvement at the Office of the State Courts Administrator welcomed participants and thanked them for their willingness to participate in the day-long event. She said, "We continue to see domestic violence issues unfold in the news throughout the year in Florida, and these heart-breaking stories make us realize the importance of our meeting today--our work needs to continue."

Posted August 23, 2007

Be Prepared during Hurricane Season

Hurricane Dean is a distant memory for many Floridians, only because it took a straight westerly course into Mexico. Had it veered north into the Gulf of Mexico, Floridians would still be discussing it.

Dean was the first major storm faced by Floridians this season, so it should signal an old Boy Scout motto to "Be Prepared." Below you will find information to do just that:

Florida Courts Emergency Preparedness

National Hurricane Center

National Weather Service

Weather Underground

Have a Plan, Be Prepared

Graphic showing  Hurrican Dean tracking map

Posted July 23, 2007
Table contains story regarding the Court's Pandemic Flu efforts

White House Recognizes the Florida Supreme Court for its Pandemic Influenza Efforts

In the White House's recent July, 2007, National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza, Implementation Plan One Year Summary publication, the Homeland Security Council recognized the Florida Supreme Court for its efforts to "Keep the Courts Open." (A screen shot, page 25 of the reference, is shown at right. To view the entire White House file, go to White House Pandemic Influenza document.)

The reference made in the White House document stems from the web site (Pandemic Preparedness). This site lists the Pandemic Influenza Planning Template, along with the Court's Pandemic Influenza Benchguide, Best Practices and more.

Screen shot of White House Pandemic Report

Posted July 3, 2007

boys and girls state story banner

Each year, Boys’ and Girls’ State representatives come to the Florida Supreme Court to learn more about the third branch of government in the State of Florida. Those who participate, representative of a larger group of young men and women, attend activities in state government that extend throughout the week. This year, the girls came to the court on June 19-20, while the boys followed a week later, on June 28-29.

The representatives always come well-prepared, and possess a strong understanding of the appellate court procedures. As a result, both the boys and girls attempt to mimic the Oral Argument process that the “real” Florida Supreme Court justices are involved in throughout the year.

Below, the interest, intensity, and sincerity shows as representatives of each group participate in the Mock Oral Argument process.

girls state representatives participate in mock oral argument
boys state representatives participate in mock oral argument
girls state representatives participate in mock oral argument
boys state representatives participate in mock oral argument
girls state representatives participate in mock oral argument
boys state representatives participate in mock oral argument