Faculty scholarship and activities

Published: March 26th, 2012

Category: News Briefs

Bob Dekle
Legal Skills Professor

“Experts: Hazing case could be tough” (March 17, 2012, St. Augustine Record)

This article looks at challenges prosecutors are facing in the hazing death of Florida A&M student Robert Champion last November. Dekle discussed how some witnesses might be uncooperative and difficult to work with in a case like this.

From the article:
There could be potentially dozens of versions of what happened on the bus. Some witnesses will likely be reluctant to cooperate because they don’t want to be implicated or because they feel sympathy for, or an alliance with, the individuals who are considered most culpable, said professor Bob Dekle, who teaches legal skills at the University of Florida’s law school in Gainesville.

“Reluctant witnesses can sometimes be difficult to handle and difficult to get to court and difficult to answer questions on the witness stand,” said Dekle, a retired assistant state attorney. “Just because a crime has occurred, that doesn’t mean you can prove it — and being able to prove it depends in large measure on witnesses.”

Berta Hernandez-Truyol 
Levin Mabie & Levin Professor of Law

“Gainesville city officials take stand against Arizona illegal immigration law” (March 20, 2012, The Alligator)

This article reports hat Gainesville has joined a legal brief to oppose an Arizona immigration law that gives police officers the right to stop or arrest anyone who they suspect might be an illegal immigrant.

From the article:
The federal government, not individual states, has the right to pass immigration laws, said Berta Hernandez-Truyol, a UF law professor and expert in human rights law. However, states can pass laws that deal indirectly with immigration.

Briefs like this one are filed by parties that are not involved in the case but would like to express their support for one side, she said.

“This clearly signals that Gainesville believes we should treat people fairly and not single out a certain population,” Hernandez-Truyol said.

Lyrissa Lidsky
Stephen C. O’Connell Chair & Professor of Law

“Professor discusses potential impact of media coverage before Trayvon Martin trial” (March 20, 2012, WUFT, 89.1)

This radio segment points out that as news unfolds in the Trayvon Martin case, many news outlets have been issuing corrections to stories that included incorrect information. Lidsky discusses how prior knowledge of a case may or may not impact a jury’s decision in a case, and said the call for further investigation is warranted.

From the interview:
“There definitely are procedures in place to try to make sure that errors in pretrial publicity don’t prejudice the outcome of criminal trials.”

Joseph Little
Professor Emeritus

“Tuition rate setting debate goes to higher court” (March 16, 2012, WUFT, 89.1)

This radio segment looks at questions and background surrounding the ongoing debate about who should set tuition rates at state universities, a case which the Florida Supreme Court recently decided to hear. Little explained that the basis of the debate is whether the Board of Governors or Legislature should set tuition rates. After the Board was granted control, an appellate court then ruled that the Legislature should have that power. Little said this next decision should settle it once and for all.

Kenneth Nunn 
Professor of Law

“Trayvon Martin: Sanford officials, Rep. Corrine Brown, meet with Justice officials in Washington” (March 20, 2012, Orlando Sentinel),

In this article, which recounts the latest news in the Trayvon Martin case, Nunn addressed the likelihood of the Justice Department charging shooter George Zimmerman with any civil rights violations.

From the article:
Kenneth Nunn, a civil rights expert on the faculty at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, said Tuesday that the Department of Justice seldom charges people with civil rights violations and that those charges are unlikely in this case, unless investigators come up with compelling new evidence.

They will look for signs that Zimmerman intentionally set out to deprive Trayvon of his right to life, Nunn said.

“You have to show that it’s willful,” said Nunn. “You can’t show that it was negligence or stupidity. You have to show it was intentional.

Also appeared in: http://www.wsbt.com/news/os-trayvon-martin-doj-investigation-20120320,0,4710790,full.story

Michael Seigel
University of Florida Research Foundation Professor of Law; Director, Criminal Justice Center

On March 2, Seigel gave a lecture entitled “Criminal Evidence Update, State and Federal Courts” at the Topics in Evidence Seminar sponsored by The Florida Bar Continuing Legal Education Committee, Code & Rules of Evidence Committee, Criminal Law Section, and Trial Lawyers Section. The lecture took place in Tampa.

“Stand your ground” laws and the Trayvon Martin case” (March 20, 2012, 89.3 KPCC, NPR affiliate in Los Angeles)

Seigel was a guest panelist on this radio program that looked at the Trayvon Martin case and Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which allows a person to use deadly force if he or she feels physically threatened in a public space. Seigel offered some background on the law and how it replaced the previous “Duty to Retreat” law.

From the interview:
“If the judge believes you were defending yourself lawfully, he or she can dismiss the case and not even allow it to go to a jury.”

Michael Allan Wolf
Richard E. Nelson Chair in Local Government Law

On March 14, Wolf made a presentation on “How to Make Sea-Level-Rise Adaptation Strategies Takings-Proof” at the Environmental Law Distinguished Lecture 25th Anniversary Symposium at the FSU College of Law.