final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
of Original Jurisdiction - Petition for review Lower Tribunal
No. 15-16544A; B; C; D; & E.
Holland & Knight LLP, and Sanford L. Bohrer and Scott D.
Ponce; Mitrani Rynor, et al., and Karen Williams Kammer,
P.A., for petitioners.
Jo Bondi, Attorney General, and Jonathan Tanoos, Assistant
Attorney General, for respondent State of Florida; Scott W.
Sakin (Fort Lauderdale), for respondent Desiray Strickland;
Eugene Zenobi, Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel,
Third Region, and Philip L. Reizenstein, Assistant Regional
Counsel, for respondent Kaheem Arbelo; Lane Abraham, for
respondent Joseph Cabrera; Carlos J. Martinez, Public
Defender, and John Eddy Morrison, Assistant Public Defender,
for respondent Jonathan Lucas.
LAGOA, SALTER and LOGUE, JJ.
media intervenors, Miami Herald Media Co. and WPLG, Inc.,
petition for expedited review of four trial court orders
denying access to certain records and to one forthcoming
pretrial hearing in a high-profile murder case. We deny the
petition on the merits, finding that the trial judge's
orders were entered only after she carefully considered the
record and applicable law. The trial court granted many of
the requests for records made by the media intervenors, but
it is not our role or right to re-weigh the trial court's
assessment of the facts underlying her conclusion that
restrictions on access to other pretrial discovery and to an
Arthur hearing are necessary in this case to prevent
substantial prejudice to the defendants.
Standard of Review
case is governed by Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure
9.100(d). Our standard of review is the standard we apply
regarding original petitions for certiorari. Florida
Freedom Newspapers, Inc. v. McCrary, 520 So.2d 32, 33
(Fla. 1988) (affirming district court order, which reviewed
the media petition under the certiorari standard of review);
Lake v. State, 193 So.3d 932, 933 (Fla. 4th DCA
2016) (denying a petition for review of a pretrial order
refusing to close court proceedings because the court did not
depart from the essential requirements of law); Times
Publ'g Co. v. State, 903 So.2d 322, 327 (Fla. 2d DCA
2005) (trial court order denying public access to discovery
materials relating to a criminal prosecution reviewed for a
departure from the essential requirements of law).
respect to the trial court's findings of fact in ruling
on the petitioners' motions for media access, we will
defer to the findings if supported by competent, substantial
evidence. The specific findings that closure is essential to
preserve the defendants' rights, and that no reasonable
alternatives exist, must be articulated in a written ruling
or in "the transcripts of discussions held on the
relevant closure issues." Morris Publ'g Grp.,
LLC v. State, 136 So.2d, 770, 775 n. 4 (Fla. 1st DCA
Balancing Rights Today: Social Media vs. Press and
media intervenors' motions in the trial court required a
balancing of the defendants' due process right to a fair
trial in Miami-Dade County, where the charged offenses
allegedly were committed, Art. I, § 16(a), Fla. Const.
(1968), and the rights of the public and media to access
records under Chapter 119, Florida Statutes (2016), and to
observe in-court proceedings under Richmond Newpapers,
Inc. v. Virginia, 448 U.S. 555 (1980); Gannett Co.
v. DePasquale, 443 U.S. 368 (1979).
competing rights were addressed by the Supreme Court of
Florida in Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Lewis, 426
So.2d 1 (Fla. 1982). Lewis adopted a
"three-pronged test" in assessing such cases, and
it carefully differentiated between pretrial proceedings in
criminal cases and the actual trials of such cases.
Importantly, the present case involves demands for
information revealing the substance of a confession (exempt
from disclosure under section 119.071(2)(e), Florida Statutes
(2016), as specifically found by the trial court) and for
other pretrial discovery materials. See Lewis, 426
So.2d at 5. The orders below and the petition here do not
require us to address the higher constitutional rights of
access to the courtroom and case-related records applicable
to a trial.
"three-pronged test" established in Lewis
and applicable to a "closure of a pretrial hearing"