He was once known as “Chain Gang Charlie” Crist for his tough law and order stands, but in the face of strong troglodyte opposition from Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, Florida Governor Charlie Crist has pushed through a set of reforms to Flordia's felon disenfranchisement rules. Now, instead of making it virtually impossible for felons to get their right to vote (and to hold state licensees for a wide variety of trades), it will merely be slow (15 years!) for non-violent offenders, and slow and difficult for violent offenders. This is a major issue as the state has almost a million persons who have been found guilty of felonies, and about half of them are black (although blacks are about 14% of our total population). That a Republican governor would do this, because it's the right thing, is amazing. Florida still remains well behind states with more civilized penal policies, but this is a huge step in the right direction. Details at the Miami Herald, Felon rights on faster track.
Also in today's news, a welcome and very powerful ruling by our Supreme Court. In Re: Amendments To Florida Rule Of Judicial Administration 2.420—Sealing Of Court Records And Dockets. (April 5, 2007) says in the strongest terms that state courts must not “superseal” civil cases in trial courts — ever. “Supersealing” was a procedure that removed any trace of a matter from the public docket, even its docket number and title. As the court notes, it was a set of practices “that, however unintentional, were clearly offensive to the spirit of laws and rules that ultimately rest on Florida’s well-established public policy of government in the sunshine.” The Court's decision does not prevent the sealing of substantive civil case records in appropriate cases after appropriate process. Also, the issue of criminal and appellate cases is left for another day, pending study by the appropriate committees (in criminal cases there are additional issues relating to protecting informants, for example).
A great day for the State of Florida! (And if the last election were held today, I'd vote for Crist.)
[Bonus good news: Condo tenant wins fight to keep mezuzah.]