JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Action News has learned lawyers across the state are using a loophole in a judges ruling to try to toss out some drug convictions.
Convicted drug dealers claim a federal judge's ruling in July means their cases should be tossed out. Prosecutors like Mark Borello say not so fast. "The case law to us seems clear," said Borello.
The judge's ruling said the state's drug law was unconstitutional. It argued the law doesn't distinguish between a true drug dealer and someone carrying drugs without realizing it. Now, across the state, courts are dealing with dozens of similar cases.
Action News obtained a list from Baker County. Fifty-three motions to dismiss charges were filed since the end of July. We did some checking and found out three cases have been heard in Duval County courts. The judge ruled in the state's favor in all three. Two motions were filed in Clay and one in Nassau.
Borello hopes if more judges start dismissing these cases, attorney's will stop filing them, but taxpayers are already footing the bill. "Clearly there are costs involved with the motions and appeals," said Borello.
While he doesn't know exactly how much we are paying to revisit these drug cases, he's confident the convictions will stand. "We expect the law will be upheld and people who legally posses drugs will be punished accordingly," said Borello.
The judge in Baker County hasn't ruled on whether the convictions will be overturned. There haven't been any hearings scheduled for the cases in Clay and Nassau. Last month, a judge in Miami-Dade county tossed out drug cases against 39 defendants. Florida attorney general Pam Bondi said her office plans to appeal.