Authorities have dropped charges against the Florida teen “who was expelled and charged with two felonies after conducting an unauthorized but harmless science experiment on the grounds of her school.” [Jesse Walker, earlier] And in the feel-good story of the day, former NASA astronaut Homer Hickam “awarded Kiera a scholarship to attend the United States Advanced Space Academy (ASA), a branch of the famous Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama.” [Black Youth Project]
Florida has shortened yellow-light times at intersections, which raises the danger of crashes but improves revenue for red-light cameras, currently running at more than $100 million a year in the state. [WTSP (auto-plays) via Tabarrok]
“No one was hurt. There’s no sign that [Kiera] Wilmot was up to something malevolent. The kid’s own principal [at Bartow High School] thinks this wasn’t anything more than an experiment, and he says she didn’t try to cover up what she had done. What punishment did you think she received? A stern talking-to? A day or two of after-school detention? Maybe she’ll have to help clean up the lab for a week? Nope. The budding chemist has been kicked out of school and charged with a couple of felonies.” [Jesse Walker]
More: “Scientists Back Kiera Wilmot by Tweeting About All the Stuff They’ve Blown Up” [Tim Elfrink, Miami New Times] Similarly: Ashutosh Jogalekar, Scientific American.
A county official in Florida says two now-suspended radio DJs, Val St. John and Scott Fish, could face felony charges over an April Fool’s running gag in which they warned listeners that local tap water contained “dihydrogen monoxide,” another way of describing water. “My understanding is it is a felony to call in a false water quality issue,” said Lee County public information officer Diane Holm: “They will have to deal with the circumstances.” As for the suspension itself, “We take our FCC license very seriously,” said a VP of the broadcasting company. [WTSP] (& Patterico)
Great moments in blame-shifting: In Dade City, Fla., an ex-con with cocaine and other drugs in his system tried to outrun the cops in a high speed chase, then veered into a farm neighborhood where he smashed his car into two trees on a one-lane dead-end private road, instantly killing himself and a passenger. Now the estate of his passenger (who was also on drugs) is suing 21 local residents who jointly maintain the private road, saying they should have kept it clear of trees and did not provide adequate signage. “There were no apparent visual roadway obstructions or environmental factors that would have contributed to this crash,” a report from the Florida Highway Patrol stated at the time. [Tampa Bay Times](& Alkon)
Liability insurance rates soar for Florida retirees’ souped-up golf carts [Orlando Sentinel]
Broward County, Fla. transit bus driver Larry Moore “was disciplined 19 times” and “was held responsible for nine accidents with other South Florida drivers.” After a so-called last-chance warning in 2008 he “went on to be disciplined seven more times, for five preventable accidents and two clashes with customers, county personnel records show.”
The Sun Sentinel reported earlier this month that one driver, Charles Butler, who cost taxpayers $73,005 in a lawsuit settlement, was involved in 21 accidents while driving a county bus. Twelve were deemed preventable, and 10 involved him hitting another driver. He is still driving, despite having reached the firing threshold. …
[Transit director Tim] Garling said the county follows the union contract, which calls for progressive levels of discipline.
[Sun-Sentinel, newspaper's earlier coverage of Butler case here and here]
The Miami Herald profiles a child support lawyer who says her clients regularly fall victim to computer mistakes:
A lot of [Chantal] Suttle’s time representing dads is spent cleaning up errors on behalf of the state, which can take away a dad’s driver’s license or passport, or seize his bank account, for supposed non-payment. And it can be done without ever even going to court — the state lets fathers know with just a letter in the mail.
“I have about six clients right now who have paid on time and perfectly for over a decade, and still their driver’s license has been suspended and/or their bank account has been seized,” she said.
A lawyer has filed an intended class action in Florida court against the San Antonio Spurs, saying it caused him “economic damage” as a ticket buyer for management of the visiting team to have sent top players home to rest amid four games in five days. “Some might argue that the Heat’s fans got their money’s worth. That’s because the team barely beat the undermanned Spurs that night 105-100. [Attorney Larry] McGuinness said that doesn’t mean a game with the Spurs’ top players couldn’t have been more exciting.” [ESPN, auto-plays video]
“A South Florida mom who brought her five young children along for the ride when she staged car crashes to make cash will spend even longer in prison because she put her kids in harm’s way, a judge ruled Friday.” [Sun-Sentinel]
A Fort Lauderdale attorney “Announces He Is Taking on All Celebrity Criminal Cases in Florida” [Scott Greenfield]
And a reaction from @SupremeHaiku: Florida lawyer/ Will defend the defenseless/ If they are famous.
Key West, Fla.: “The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum reports that it currently houses between 40 and 50 cats [descended from the famous author's beloved six-toed cat]…. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled Friday that the Hemingway Home falls under the classification of an ‘animal exhibitor,’ subject to regulation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the Animal Welfare Act.” [David Demirbilek, Daily Caller; Christian Science Monitor; ABA Journal]