RIP: Death penalty defense doyenne Scharlette Holdman,”Mistress of Delay”

The New York Times’ eloquent obituary of Scharlette Holdman, a non-lawyer who was a “force for the defense on Death Row,” featured a few words about Ms. Holdman’s role in Florida death penalty history.

Holdman, who died at age 70 on July 12, “was a revered figure, a nonlawyer who taught her peers how to persuade jurors and prosecutors to spare the lives of men and women convicted of heinous crimes,” Maurice Chammah wrote in the Times piece published Saturday.

After the death penalty was reinstated in the 1970s, Holdman went to work for the Florida Clearinghouse on Criminal Justice in Tallahassee, “where she tried to find lawyers for convicts as their execution dates approached,” Chammah wrote.

“She was like a medic performing triage at a train wreck,” Chammah quotes from David Von Drehle’s profile of Holdman, included in his book “Among the Lowest of the Dead: The Culture of Death Row. “The first job was to determine who was closest to dying.”

Read more from the Times here.

Flashlight guy to Scott: Thanks, but …

IMG_1827Anthony Maglica, the creator of Maglite, may not have been swayed by Gov. Rick Scott’s pitch to uproot the Ontario, Calif.-based flashlight company.

Scott — who’s repeatedly attempted to poach jobs in states, including California, led by Democratic governors — recently reached out to Maglica, in tandem with a week-long “Made in America” White House effort launched by the “jobs, jobs jobs” governor’s pal, President Donald Trump.

While Maglica’s products are manufactured in California, state law bars him from using the “Made in USA” stamp because some of the components are made elsewhere.

In a letter to Scott sent Thursday, Maglica wrote that he’d like to discuss “business-climate issues” with the governor.

But, rather than accept Scott’s offer, the inventor — who launched his flashlight biz more than six decades ago — tried to enlist support for what he said would be an even more meaningful endeavor: an attempt to kill the California law.

Maglica asked Scott to help sway Congress to pass a measure — S. 118, dubbed the “Reinforcing American-made Products Act of 2017” — which would preempt the Golden State’s rules on the “Made in America” labeling.

“One shouldn’t have to be a Californian to support S. 118,” Maglica wrote. “California’s maverick statute is just as much of a problem for manufacturers from Florida, or any other state.”

In his letter to Scott, Maglica noted that the governor’s pitch “wasn’t the first suggestion” that he relocate to another state.

Maglica penned an op-ed piece published in The Wall Street Journal last month, in which the inventor complained about his fight against California’s “freakish” labeling statute.

While the Maglite flashlights are assembled at its Ontario factory east of Los Angeles, some of the components, most notably the LED lights, are imported.

California law prohibits manufacturers from using the “Made in U.S.A,” “Made in America,” or similar labels on products “if the merchandise or any article, unit, or part thereof, has been entirely or substantially made, manufactured, or produced outside of the United States.”

Scott wrote to Maglica on July 17, urging him to move Mag Instrument Inc. to the Sunshine State so the products could be labeled as “Made in the USA.”

In his response to Scott, Maglica invited the governor, rumored to be considering a bid for U.S. Senate next year, to come west.

“I would like to take the opportunity to invite you to visit Maglite’s world class manufacturing facility in Ontario, California,” Maglica wrote. “I would be delighted for a chance to speak to you further about this important law-reform matter, or about business-climate issues in general.”

Posted by Jim Turner.

Scott trying on Zappos for size

Gov. Rick Scott turned up in Las Vegas Friday, working the business development crowd as the state’s monthly jobless numbers — down to 4.1 percent — came out.

Scott’s daily schedule had him meeting with a trio of businesses — involving air travel, a steel-framed construction system and shoes, — during a trip that received little advance billing from his office.

 Allegiant Air, already the dominant carrier at St. Pete-Clearwater International airport was first on the list of meetings with Scott, followed by online shoe and clothing shop Zappos (an Amazon subsidiary) and, finally, GigaCrete.

Posted by Jim Turner.

Doggone it: Regulators rile gambling competitors

Florida gambling regulators this week gave a Miami track permission to do away with dog races but to keep more lucrative slots and card games.

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation allowed Magic City, in Miami, to ditch the dog races in exchange for operating jai alai matches.

The decision was rooted in a 1980 law that allows Miami-Dade and Broward pari-mutuels that have the lowest betting handle for two consecutive years to convert to summer jai alai permits. But if those pari-mutuels do not seek conversion, other facilities can seek the permits.

Owners of Mardi Gras, a rival dog track of nearby Magic City, sought to intervene in the case. But the state agency rejected those efforts in the declaratory statement issued Wednesday.

In an early-morning interview Friday, Dan Adkins — vice president of Hartman and Tyner, which owns Mardi Gras — told The News Service the agency’s decision wasn’t what lawmakers intended when they passed the law decades ago.

But Adkins said he wasn’t sure if he’ll appeal the decision.

“We probably won’t. I’m getting tired of playing by the rules. Everybody else gets away with breaking the rules, gets away with going around scamming the system. That’s what this is. So maybe I’m going to have to find my own way to game the system,” Adkins, repeatedly saying he did not blame lawyer John Lockwood, who represents West Flagler Associates, or his Magic City competitor for trying to push the envelope.

Even so, Adkins maintained, “this is not the way this regulated industry should operate, especially when people are gambling on it.”


JJR asks Bondi to investigate opioid manufacturers

State Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, a Miami Democrat who’s running to replace veteran Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, is asking Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to launch an investigation into pharmaceutical companies that manufacture opioids to determine whether their drugs have played a role in what some describe as an opioid epidemic.


Officials in several other states — including Ohio, Illinois, New York, West Virginia, California and Mississippi — have filed lawsuits against the drug manufacturers, including one based in Florida.

More than 25,000 people in the U.S. died after overdosing on opioids like fentanyl, oxycodone and hydrocodone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read Rodriguez’s letter here.


“Flag-drop” races under scrutiny, again

It’s clear gambling regulators weren’t keen on a horse race between two aging nags on a dirt path, with the race launched by a red rag on a stick.

But what’s less clear is whether the regulators had the authority to punish a tiny North Florida horse track that ran the race.

The controversial “flag drop” race three years ago at Hamilton Downs between two horses owned by the same woman was the focus of a hearing Tuesday before a three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal.

Read the story here.


Scott jobs search light shines on Mag Instruments

IMG_1797Florida Gov. Rick Scott got into the “Made in America” act as his buddy, President Donald Trump, used the White House as a backdrop to showcase home-grown products earlier this week.

Trump highlighted at least a single item from each state, including Florida’s North Venice drinkware manufacturer Tervis Tumbler Co.

Yesterday, Scott — who’s consistently poached for jobs in states led by Democrats — shot off a letter to Anthony Maglica, creator of the ubiquitous Maglite flashliight. Scott invited Maglica to move his Ontario, Calif.-based Mag Instrument Inc. to the Sunshine State so the products can be labeled as “Made in the USA.”

In extending a welcoming hand across the nation to Maglica, the governor also dissed the Golden State.

“As you know, California Governor Jerry Brown and the California Legislature have been no friend to businesses in your state,” Scott wrote.  “Governor Brown’s tax and spend administration has spent year after year passing burdensome and unnecessary laws that make it harder for businesses to succeed. Now, they are insulting the very American manufacturing that makes our country so great by not allowing you to put a ‘Made in USA’ label on your American designed, engineered and manufactured flashlights. This makes no sense.”

Scott, widely rumored to be prepping for a U.S. Senate run next year, told Maglica that Florida “would be proud to have the ‘Made in USA’ label” stamped on his products.

Mag Instrument, which makes the baton-like flashlights (we have blue!) often wielded by law enforcement officers, didn’t immediately respond for comment.

But Maglica — who launched his company more than six decades ago — penned an op-ed piece published in The Wall Street Journal last month, in which the inventor complained about his plight.

“My company manufactures flashlights in the Golden State, but Sacramento considers them foreign,” he wrote.

While the Maglite flashlights are assembled at its Ontario — east of Los Angeles — factory, some of the components, most notably the LED lights, are imported.

California law prohibits manufacturers from using the “Made in U.S.A,” “Made in America,” or similar labels on products “if the merchandise or any article, unit, or part thereof, has been entirely or substantially made, manufactured, or produced outside of the United States.”

By Jim Turner and Dara Kam.