Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Galleon Bay TragiComedy

I cannot explain how a trial judge could enter the judgment that 16th Judicial Circuit Judge Mark Jones rendered in Galleon Bay Corporation v. Monroe County, et al., on April 27, 2011. This is the most extraordinary trial court decision I have ever seen --- and I've seen a lot in my 30 years of practicing law ---  but this one takes the cake.

There is no doubt that Judge Jones is a very good trial judge. But his experience has been dominated by hundreds of criminal cases, where the government rarely loses. Before sitting down to write this blog entry, I pulled a Lexis-Nexis listing of every appellate decision in Judge Jones' career -- from June 11, 1997, through April 20, 2011. In 14 years on the bench, Judge Jones' decisions have been appealed 140 times. But for a few exceptions, he has rarely been reversed in his criminal appeals.

Judge Jones' appellate affirmances at the 3rd District Court of Appeal are impressive, but it is unlikely that his criminal successes will carry over into eminent domain law. He has never had to decide such a case, and nobody should be surprised when this Galleon Bay decision is reversed.