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On speedy trials, child waivers and a circus

No bread in the House Criminal and Civil Justice Policy Council. But there was a circus.

We had another instance of leadership “influencing” a committee vote. The bill: Rep. Eric Eisnaugle’s wants to create a tiered system to outline what qualifies as a speedy trial. Eisnaugle said there have been several cases of accused murderers walking free without ever coming before a jury. (More here)

Democrats argued there are only a few instances of the problem and that the “radical” change in law would undermine speedy trial laws. The committee voted to end debate, approve the bill and immediately report it to the floor – all under the watchful eyes of Majority Leader Adam Hasner, Rules chairman Bill Galvano and Majority Whip Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

And that’s only one bill. The committee postponed – and later brought back -- a bill that would allow parents to sign liability waivers for their children who partake in inherently risky activities such as ATV riding and rock climbing. (Read more here)

After roughly an hour of debate and dueling amendments, the committee approved aligning the bill with a Senate version, which would allow parents to sue if the business acted grossly negligent. But sponsoring Rep. Mike Horner made clear that the change was a “hostile amendment,” and said, “I look forward to making more improvements to make this bill even better.”

The Senate bill is supported by the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Justice Association, or trial attorneys. FJA President Mike Haggard said Horner backs a change that “back-doors” exempting gross negligence from lawsuits.