Cavendish, a Florida lawyer, disassembles for clinical inspection some marked aspects of the state’s law, drawing out their good, bad or ugly philosophical underpinnings.
As a result of the 2000 Presidential election and the Schiavo end-of-life affair, Florida jurisprudence has caught the public eye. The five legal essays included here provide some lively insights into this arena. In the most encompassing selection, Cavendish explores the consequences of Florida having adopted English common-law as a foundation upon which to build subsequent judge-made law in the state–as well as the critical commonwealth role of the state Supreme Court when the legislature seeks to change laws. This body of state law, the author explains, has a profound impact on the everyday affairs of its citizens–more so than federal law, and more so than most other states. Three essays focus specifically on state laws–on the diagonal line of controlling authority (for a more unified jurisprudence), the eloquent rise and unfortunate fall of spoliation of evidence law and an attempt to clear away the destabilizing ambiguity of poor law phrasing. The last piece is a rigorous broadside of Miller vs. Gaskins, which includes what Cavendish considers the â€œmost shameful sentence in the whole history of Florida law: There is no evil against which the policy of our laws is more pointedly directed than that of allowing slaves to have any other status than that of pure slavery.” The author righteously hauls the law over the coals, describing it as a bit of imperialist bigotry imported by a self-styled aristocracy. And still, though slavery may be history, â€œyet there are ever seedlings of imperialist influence in our midst.”
Intriguing probes into one state’s idiosyncratic laws.