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Today, a St. Lucie County Fire District firefighter who had originally faced up to 60 days in jail for second-degree petit theft charges was sentenced to six months probation. Cynthia “Cyndy” Economou, 38, admitted to taking the severed foot and part of a leg from a man who was seriously injured in a car crash on Interstate 95 last year.

The Assistant State Attorney had asked that the firefighter be sentenced to five days in jail for the five days that the defendant had the severed foot before giving it to authorities. The defendant discovered the foot an hour after the accident victim was transported to St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach. She said she did so to help train her body-recovery dog.

The judge called the case “highly unusual” and said that the defendant’s other accomplishments, including founding an organization to train physically, emotionally, or mentally challenged people to compete in Special Olympics equestrian events, outweighed her bad judgment in this case.

St. Lucie County firefighter who took severed foot gets probation, South Florida Sun Sentinel, May 29, 2009 Continue reading

In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the criminal defense lawyer for a 15-year-old girl accused of killing one of her classmates has said will seek an insanity defense for his client, who faces a second-degree murder charge in connection with a November 12 shooting. The girl is being charged as an adult, so if she is convicted of murder, she could face life in prison.

The defendant reportedly told police, “I wanted her to feel pain like me,” after the shooting. Her attorney said the teen suffers from severe depression which causes her suicidal thoughts and habitual self-cutting. According to court documents, the defendant sliced her arm with a razor blade 96 times the day before the shooting and sent text messages to the murder victim.

 

 

The motion outlining the insanity defense included mention of the defendant’s sexual molestation at age 6. It also stated that her parents beat her with a belt on a regular and that she writes suicidal poetry and short stories.

The court date is scheduled for Tuesday, July 28.

Attorney for teen accused of killing Dillard classmate seeks insanity defense, South Florida Sun Sentinel, May 28, 2009 Continue reading

South_Florida_rifle.jpgTwo men were arrested in connection with the Saturday evening shooting of a Coral Spring police officer. As of yesterday, Jeremiah Derico, 20, and Yancy Polk, 24, were being held without bond. They are accused of robbing an Advance Auto Parts store, then fleeing the scene after threatening workers with an assault rifle.

Police Officer Paul Kempinski, 27, chased both men, and the suspect fired at him, piercing the officer’s legs, arm, and his side with bullets. Kempinksi was listed in stable condition at North Broward Medical Center. Today he will undergo surgery on his left arm, which was pierced by a bullet.

Polk is charged with attempted murder. Police officers announced yesterday that Polk faces three more counts of attempted murder for allegedly shooting at three other officers, two Coral Springs officers and one a Coconut Creek police officer. Those three police officers were not injured. In addition to attempted murder charges, Polk is charged with armed burglary, kidnapping, and shooting into an occupied dwelling. Deico is charged with attempted murder and armed robbery.

Dozens donating blood today in honor of injured Coral Springs police officer, South Florida Sun Sentinel, May 26, 2009 Continue reading

Florida_inmates.jpgLast week in South Florida, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office sent a letter to judges and attorneys stating that inmates would no longer have access to substance abuse treatment, anger management, computer skills, and other training programs due to budget cuts. These programs are commonly used in Broward County for drug possession cases, domestic violence battery cases, felony battery cases and violation of probation cases.

Those programs will end by August 1, saving around $2.2 million. Broward County officials asked the Department of Community Control to reduce its budget by $50 million for the fiscal year starting October 1.

More than a fifth of Broward County’s jail population used those programs, and some inmates got reduced jail sentences after completing treatment programs for drug abuse. While some inmates will still be able to participate in voluntary programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, reduced sentences will no longer be an option, which some worry could lead to overcrowding. Broward County is already under court order to avoid overcrowding in its prisons.

Broward sheriff wants to end inmate treatment programs to save money, South Florida Sun Sentinel, May 14, 2009.
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broward_traffic_lawyerAccording to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Broward County is more than four years behind schedule on making traffic signal upgrades. Broward county was to upgrade traffic signals at over a thousand intersections by the end of last year. The new high-tech systems would ensure that the traffic signals could adjust to driving conditions and traffic situations as they occur.

Original plans called for the work occur in six phases starting with Fort Lauderdale in 2004 and concluding with southwest Broward last year. The new traffic lights would use closed-circuit cameras and fiber optic cables to adjust signal times for bad weather, congestion during rush hour, traffic jams or accidents.

The system is not operational anywhere in Broward county. Although new signal controllers have been installed at the majority of the intersections, they lack the software to activate them, and the project is now more than four years behind schedule. The commissioner is furious that this $85.6 million project is so far behind schedule and said top county administrators must be held accountable for the delay.

Broward’s traffic signal update years behind schedule, South Florida Sun Sentinel, May 15, 2009 Continue reading

Florida_courts.jpgMiami-Dade Public Defender’s Office are overworked and giving inferior legal help to its clients, judges from the Third District Court of Appeal have ruled that they must continue handling minor felony cases. The appeals court rejected a request to transfer third-degree felonies to another state-funded legal defense agency.

According to Public Defender Carlos J. Martinez, the office’s noncapital felony caseload increased by almost one third between 2003 and 2008. However, resources have decreased 11% from two years ago.

Last fall, a Miami-Dade Circuit Judge ruled that the office could refuse new third-degree felonies like grand theft auto, battery, and marijuana possession. This week’s ruling has reversed that decision, saying that the Public Defender’s Office could not violate defendants’ right to representation. The ruling added that the courts are not an appropriate venue for a political statement about workload and lack of funding.

Martinez has said he will appeal the decision to the Florida Supreme Court.

Handle minor cases, public defender told, Miami Herald, May 13, 2009
Appeals court says Miami defender can’t shed cases, PalmBeachPost.com, May 13, 2009 Continue reading

HOLLYWOOD, FLORIDA – Hollywood Florida DUI Lawyer, Brian S. Leifert has learned that a Broward County DUI checkpoint will be conducted this evening in the City of Hollywood, Florida. The Florida Highway Patrol is once again targeting DUI in Broward County. The DUI checkpoint will be located at 4500 S. State Road 7, Hollywood, Florida.

hollywood florida dui checkpoint

The Florida Highway Patrol will be checking for impaired drivers and looking to make arrests for DUI (driving under the influence) as well as checking driver’s licenses, vehicle paperwork and equipment.

With increased nightlife in downtown Hollywood as well as a very busy Seminole Hard Rock Casino nearby, this could be a very active evening for dui and other offenses.

Troopers tonight targeting those who booze and cruise in Broward – South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
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Fort Lauderdale DUI Lawyer, Brian S. Leifert has learned that the Fort Lauderdale Police Department will be getting video cameras for thirty five of their patrol vehicles. The cameras will be aimed at activity in front of the vehicles as well as the back seat.

In 2007, the Fort Lauderdale Commissioners had originally voted for 269 cameras – one for every patrol vehicle in Fort Lauderdale. The original plan was amended as a result of budget concerns. The revised plan will cost the city of Fort Lauderdale $545,784.

Fort Lauderdale DUI Lawyer

Community activists have pushed for the additional cameras while it is believed that the Fort Lauderdale Police Department has resisted the addition of the camera’s watchful eyes.

Fort Lauderdale police will get cameras in 35 patrol cars, South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
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Florida_car_crash.jpgA man believed to be a corporate pilot is charged with hit and run and failing to stop at a car crash involving injury. Sigurd Henriksen, 49,reportedly led police on a 100 mph chase down State Road A1A in South Palm Beach and Manalapan on Sunday morning, injuring two passengers. He then crashed his company’s 2004 Bentley into a guardrail at Chillingworth Curve. Police clocked his speed at 105 mph.

After crashing the car, Henricksen fled the scene of the accident, according to police. The two injured passengers were transported to Bethesda Memorial Hospital in Boynton Beach for treatment. Both had minor cuts, and the woman suffered a broken arm.

The driver, who is originally from Kristiansand, Norway, turned himself in to Manalapan police after they contacted the owner of the Bentley. He is being held in lieu of $5,000 bond.

Another accident involving a Bentley occurred last Thursday. Police said neither car had evidence of open containers.

Police charge Bentley driver clocked at more than 100 mph along A1A in Manalapan, South Palm Beach, PalmBeachPost.com, May 12, 2009 Continue reading

Florida_open_container_laws.jpgBrian Leifert, a South Florida criminal defense attorney, has just learned about a possible change to Fort Lauderdale’s open container laws. With four major events approaching (the boat show, the Super Bowl, the Pro Bowl, and the Orange Bowl), the mayor of Fort Lauderdale is considering lifting the city’s ban on carrying open containers of alcohol around the beach.

The law was originally intended to discourage drunk students during spring break, and Mayor Jack Seiler says the law “has addressed what it needed to address.”

Because the four upcoming events are not during spring break, the mayor is looking at ways that the city could loosen the laws or suspend the open container laws during those four events. He said he doesn’t want visitors to have to worry about walking from the Ritz Carlton to another hotel with a beer in hand. A former police chief also pointed out that loosening the alcohol laws could have a positive impact on economic development.

Lauderdale mayor ready to loosen open container laws, South Florida Sun Sentinel, May 5, 2009 Continue reading

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