In an opinion dated September 28, 2011, a Florida District Court of Appeal has certified that an appeal from a recent ruling finding Florida’s primary drug prossession statute unconstitutional involves an issue of great public importance that requires immediate resolution by the Florida Supreme Court. The appellate court’s certification is essentially a request that Florida’s highest court resolve issues recently raised about the constitutionality of Florida's drug statute as quickly as possible. The appellate court’s certification was entered as prosecutors in Manatee County Florida appealed Circuit Court Judge Scott Brownell’s dismissal of drug charges against forty-two defendants to the Second District Court of Appeal. Judge Brownell’s recent order finding Florida’s drug statute unconstitutional, as well as other similar recent court rulings, have been discussed previously in this blog and can be found here.
The three judge panel of the Second District Court of Appeal in State of Florida vs Luke Jarod Atkins, et. al., requested the Florida Supreme Court resolve the constitutional issues raised in that appeal and stated as follows:
Until this important constitutional question is resolved by the Florida Supreme Court, prosecutions for drug offenses will be subject to great uncertainty throughout Florida. Moreover, cases pending on appeal and on motions for post-conviction relief will be subject to similar uncertainty. It will be difficult to reach a final resolution in many of these cases until the issue is resolved. Finally, if the ruling in this order is ultimately affirmed by the supreme court, it is possible that hundreds or even thousands of inmates will be eligible for immediate release. Read the entire District Court opinion here.