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In Sharply Worded Dissent, Florida Justice Perry Criticizes Majority Drug Law Ruling

In a sharply worded dissent in the case of State v. Luke Jarrod Adkins, Florida Supreme Court Justice James E.C. Perry criticizes the majority of the Court  and refers to their opinion as being built on a foundation of flawed “common sense” which shatters bedrock constitutional principles.

Justice Perry identifies numerous instances of innocent behavior which could subject an individual to criminal prosecution and punishment. Those scenarios include a letter carrier who delivers a package containing unprescribed Adderall, a roommate who is unaware that the person they share the apartment with has hidden illegal drugs in the common areas of the home, a mother who carries a prescription bottle in her purse unaware that the pills were substituted for illegally obtained drugs by her teenage daughter, a driver who rents a car in which a past passenger left a baggie containing contraband under a seat, and a traveler who mistakenly retrieves from a  luggage carousel at the airport a bag identical to their own containing drugs. These are all cited by Justice Perry as examples of cases which would require the accused to bear the burden of proving their innocence.

He opines, “ the innocent will from the start be presumed guilty” and that the inevitable convictions and sentences which may follow will be a profound disgrace.  Justice Perry further cautions that the majority opinion “breaks sacred law” and may threaten the principles of the presumption of innocence and burden of proof in contexts well beyond drug possession analyzed in this case.

Justice James E.C. Perry was appointed to the Florida Supreme Court by Governor Charlie Crist on March 11, 2009. He previously served as a Circuit Court Judge in the 18th Judicial Circuit after his appointment by then Governor Jeb Bush. He served in the U.S. Army as a first lieutenant and then went on to Columbia Law School where he earned his Juris Doctorate degree in 1972.

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