TALLAHASSEE - The state has no right to enter private yards to cut down healthy citrus trees in its effort to protect commercial groves from disease, lawyers for homeowners will tell the Supreme Court today.
But attorneys arguing for Florida and its huge citrus industry will tell the high court the state does have that right, spelled out in the citrus canker eradication law adopted by the Legislature in 2002.
The law allows the state to destroy citrus trees within 1,900 feet of any canker-infected tree without the homeowner's permission.
The challenge to the constitutionality of the eradication law came from several homeowners, backed by the legal staffs of governments in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Circuit Judge J. Leonard Fleet of Fort Lauderdale ruled the 1,900-foot rule unconstitutional last year and blocked cutting statewide, prompting a series of appeals.
Fire in mobile home kills brothers, 3 and 4
JACKSONVILLE - Two brothers, ages 3 and 4, died Monday in a mobile home that caught fire while they were in their bedroom, authorities said.
The boys' mother, Christiana Harden, was at home when she smelled smoke, said Ken Jefferson, spokesman for the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
She discovered the fire but could not retrieve the boys and ran outside screaming for help, Jefferson said. Two neighbors tried to get inside the home but were driven off by the flames, he said.
Sheriff's homicide detectives and investigators with the state Fire Marshal's Office were seeking the cause of the fire.
U.S. high court rejects Escambia judge's appeal
PENSACOLA - The U.S. Supreme Court without comment on Monday refused to hear a judge's appeal of her public reprimand and $50,000 fine for showing a "prosecutor's bias" by promising to support police and crime victims in her election campaign.
Escambia County Judge Pat Kinsey challenged a 5-2 decision in January by the Florida Supreme Court, which found her guilty of unethical conduct that included calling criminal defendants "thugs" and "punks" during her 1998 campaign.
Beach closed after surfer apparently bitten
STUART - Lifeguards closed a beach after a surfer apparently was attacked by a shark Sunday.
The victim, described by lifeguards as an 18-year-old male, hopped up to the a lifeguard tower at Stuart Park Beach, bleeding from gashes in his right foot and ankle. "They looked like teeth marks," lifeguard Dan Lund said.
Martin County Fire Rescue rushed the unidentified victim to Martin Memorial Medical Center.
"There's a lot of bait fish and the water is very murky. That makes for a bad combination," Lund said.
The attack was the second on the Treasure Coast in less than a month.