Thursday, December 31, 2015

The First Amendment Protections Afforded To A "Tattoo Establishment"

Is a city allowed to limit the number of tattoo establishments in a certain area? In Buehrle v. City of Key West (No. 14–15354), the Eleventh Circuit agreed with the district court that “tattooing is protected artistic expression, but we reverse the summary judgment because, on the record before us, the City has failed to show that the ordinance is a reasonable time, place, and manner restriction.”

The opinion, written by Judge Jill Pryor, includes a discussion about the protection to be afforded tattoos under the First Amendment and rejects an argument by the City that relied on “a number of district and state court decisions drawing a distinction between the process of creating a tattoo and the tattoo itself.” The court stated that “consistent with the Supreme Court’s teaching, the right to display a tattoo loses meaning if the government can freely restrict the right to obtain a tattoo in the first place.” Therefore, the district court’s holding that tattoos are protected speech was affirmed.

However, the court reversed the district court’s holding that the regulation was constitutional. Citing the Supreme Court, the Eleventh Circuit stated that “a municipality may regulate protected artistic expression only if the regulation (1) is justified without reference to the content of the regulated speech, (2) is narrowly tailored to serve a significant governmental interest, and (3) leaves open ample alternative channels for communication of the information.” The City is required to satisfy this test, and present evidence that does so.

In trying to meet that burden, Jimmy Buffet was referenced twice in the record to support the ordinance. The court stated:
Jimmy Buffett’s song “Margaritaville” was referenced twice in the record, once by Mr. Craig in his deposition and once by the City’s attorney in oral argument before the district court, to support the claim that inebriated tourists are likely to get and then regret tattoos if more tattoo establishments operate in the historic district. But the singer in “Margaritaville”—seemingly far from suffering embarrassment over his tattoo—considers it “a real beauty.” Jimmy Buffett, “Margaritaville,” on Songs You Know by Heart (Geffen Records 1985).
Clearly, the reference to Jimmy Buffett did not sway the Eleventh Circuit. In this case, the court stated that it did not doubt the legitimate government interest expressed by the city, but stated that the city had failed to meet its burden to show that the regulation would serve that interest.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Motion for Attorneys Fees in Original Proceeding Must Be Filed Before Disposition

In Geico General Insurance Company v. Moultrop (4D15-2772, Nov. 12, 2015), the Fourth District wrote an opinion on a motion for attorneys fees filed after a petition for writ of certiorari was denied. The court stated:
Rule 9.400(b)(2) provides that “in original proceedings” a motion for attorney’s fees “shall be served not later than . . . the time for service of the petitioner’s reply to the response to the petition.” Here, the court denied the petition without requiring a response to the petition or, obviously, a reply to a response. Having been first filed after the petition had been denied, the motion for appellate attorney’s fees is denied as untimely. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Sanction Over Not Removing Prior Counsel From E-Service List Reversed

In Houston v. McKnought-Smith (4D14-4927), the Fourth District reversed a trial court's order sanctioning counsel and requiring the "former wife’s attorney to pay attorney’s fees to the former husband’s previous attorney."

The court "the previous attorney claimed that he had to file a motion requesting that the wife’s attorney be ordered not to serve him, and requesting attorney’s fees. In granting the motion and ordering the payment of fees at a non-evidentiary hearing, the court failed to make the necessary finding that the wife’s attorney acted in bad faith in serving the husband’s previous attorney." Therefore, the order was reversed in order to allow for an evidentiary hearing. 

There were also two footnotes in the opinion. The second footnote stated that "it is difficult to believe that any Moakley bad faith can be shown by the wife’s attorney’s service of two pleadings on the previous attorney (who had not withdrawn on the record). However, because there was no evidentiary hearing, all of the facts are not present. Nevertheless, it appears that professionalism has eluded these attorneys, burdening both the trial court and this court."

The first footnote indicates there was a question without an answer regarding e-filing. The court stated that "it is unclear whether the wife’s attorney could have prevented service through the electronic filing portal on an attorney that the portal had listed for service."  

I do not think the answer would impact the "it is difficult to believe" portion of the second footnote quoted above, because I think the court was indicating that it is difficult to believe that the conduct is sanctionable regardless of the ability to deselect a recipient. However, as shown below, page 6 of the Florida Court's E-Filing Portal Handbook shows that it is possible to deselect a recipient: 

The entire handbook can be viewed HERE. It is also possible to remove yourself from a service list:

See page 21 of the handbook.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Length of Briefs

Regarding the appropriate length for appellate briefs, Judge Marstiller (First Distrct Court of Appeal) noted on Twitter that the "sizematters":

Not too short or simple though, exactly as short as possible.