Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Time's Up: Local Governments Unable to Find Legal Basis for New Judge's Reversed Decisions

Six days have elapsed since the 15-day deadline ran for filing Motions for Rehearing in the Collins and Shands regulatory taking cases (January 15, 2009). Apparently neither Monroe County (Collins), nor the City of Marathon (Shands), identified errors in the Third District Court of Appeal's reversals of Judge Audlin's dismissals of these cases. The appellate court issued its mandate in Shands v City of Marathon a week ago (January 16, 2009). The mandate in Collins v Monroe County will be delayed slightly, as we filed a Motion for Clarification on January 15, 2009.

As to our Motion for Clarification, we were concerned that the Court of Appeal appeared to believe that the Florida Keys had no zoning regulations until the State imposed them on September 15, 1986. This perception comes from the Third DCA panel opinion in Monroe County v Ambrose, a vested rights case we prosecuted from 1997 to 2003. We asked the current court to correct that misperception. The Florida Keys adopted zoning regulations in 1959 -- the first year Florida's non-charter counties had the right to do so. The County's legal gnomes have until January 25, 2009, to file a response.

We note -- with a taxpayer's curiosity -- that the Monroe County Attorney's office is asking the County Commission for permission to file a Petition for Certiorari with the Florida Supreme Court -- on the condition that the County "will not bear any additional attorneys' fees" for this speculative effort. Give me a break -- if you can't come up with a reason to file a Motion for Rehearing, what makes you believe you can get the attention of the Florida Supreme Court?

We also note -- with a bit more skepticism -- that Monroe County's contract legal "geniuses" from Kansas City and Los Angeles did nothing other than obfuscate the issues in these cases -- in exchange for more than $1.5 million in legal fees. (The same can probably be said for Marathon's outside counsel.) It is amazing how local government officials convince themselves that they will manage to escape culpability from their confiscatory behavior by hiring expensive attorneys from another planet.

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