Orlando, FL – April 22, 2019 – Greenspoon Marder successfully argued in front of the Florida Supreme Court, which upheld lower court rulings entered in favor of Orange County constitutional officers. The Greenspoon team represented Property Appraiser Rick Singh against Orange County in the lawsuit, arguing that the county charter amendment regarding the nonpartisan election of certain county constitutional officers is contrary to the Florida Constitution.
In 2014, the Orange County Board of Commissioners amended the Orange County Charter by referendum to require nonpartisan elections for six county constitutional officers: clerk of the circuit court, comptroller, property appraiser, sheriff, supervisor of elections, and tax collector.
Three Orange County constitutional officers – the sheriff, property appraiser, and tax collector – filed a suit challenging the Charter amendment. The trial court agreed with Greenspoon Marder and struck down the nonpartisan election requirement, ruling that Orange County was prohibited from requiring nonpartisan elections for county constitutional officers because the subject matter was preempted to the Legislature.
The Board of Commissioners appealed to the Fifth District Court of Appeal, where the Greenspoon Marder team was successful in defending the lower court ruling. The Board again appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.
In arguments before the Florida Supreme Court, Greenspoon Marder relied on provisions of the Florida Constitution prohibiting counties from acting contrary to state law, as well as a state law expressly preempting election procedures to the Legislature. Then Greenspoon Marder pointed out the multiple inconsistencies between the Orange County Charter amendment and the state election law. Ultimately, by a six to one (6-1) vote, the Florida Supreme Court issued a ruling on April 18, 2019 agreeing with Greenspoon Marder and upholding the lower court decision invalidating the nonpartisan elections.
The Greenspoon Marder team included partners
John H. Pelzer and Michael E. Marder.
“This case, like most constitutional cases, involved narrow interpretations with broad impacts,” said Mr. Pelzer. “Here, the clash was between the values of local home rule and state-wide uniformity of election law. We are gratified with the decision.”
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