News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE – Cheers and jeers — to put it mildly — poured in from Florida pols this week after a guilty verdict came down in the criminal hush-money trial of former President Donald Trump.

A 12-member jury convicted Trump on 34 counts of falsifying business records, more than a month after the trial began in New York and after just one day of deliberations.
Trump is the first former president to be convicted of a crime after leaving office.
Florida Republicans quickly attacked the conviction. Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a statement that called the charges against Trump “alleged misdemeanor business records violations from nearly a decade ago.”
DeSantis has been fundraising for Trump’s presidential campaign after unsuccessfully seeking the Republican nomination.
Republican Party of Florida Chairman Evan Power accused the district attorney and judge of “making a mockery of our judicial system,” alleged Democrats engaged in “election interference” and said that “in the real world” Trump “only grows stronger.”
Democrats, however, celebrated the verdict.
U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., said the verdict shows “our justice system at work!”
“No one is above the law, including the four-time indicted, twice impeached, insurrection inciter and now convicted felon, former President Donald Trump,” Wilson said in a statement.
Fueling the intense attention on the case is the question of its impact on the 2024 presidential election. The guilty verdict came as Trump campaigns to try to defeat President Joe Biden in November and return to the White House.
Trump is scheduled to be sentenced on July 11.

How Trump’s conviction could affect his re-election bid has been the subject of much speculation, with one recent poll finding that for roughly two-thirds of voters, a guilty verdict wouldn’t affect their choice in November.
At a news conference after the verdict, Trump promised to appeal and gave an impromptu stump speech.
“We’re a nation in decline. Serious decline,” he said. “Millions and millions of people pouring into our country right now from prisons and from mental institutions, terrorists, and they’re taking over our country. We have a country that’s in big trouble. But this was a rigged decision, right from day one. You have a conflicted judge who should have never been allowed to try this case. And we will fight for our constitution. This is long from over.”


Another fight between Florida officials and the feds is having ripple effects, as the State Board of Education on Wednesday approved changes in the Florida High School Athletic Association’s bylaws that include replacing mentions of the word “gender” with the word “sex.”
The changes came as Florida and other Republican-led states are challenging a Biden administration rule that would help carry out Title IX, a decades-old law that bars discrimination in education programs based on sex.
The federal rule, in part, would require that discrimination on the basis of gender identity be included under the broader definition of sex discrimination.
State Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. said Wednesday he has “directed the institutions under my purview not to take any steps toward implementing these harmful (federal) regulations.” Diaz said the Florida High School Athletics Association is one of those institutions.
The changes to the FHSAA bylaws included an update to the organization’s policy on “nondiscrimination.”
“The association will not discriminate in its governance policies, programs and employment practices on the basis of age, color, disability, sex, national origin, race, religion, creed, or educational choice. Each school is responsible to determine independently its own policies regarding nondiscrimination,” the updated bylaw says.
State Board of Education ratification of FHSAA bylaws is a relatively new requirement. The Legislature last year passed a law requiring the board to give final approval to such changes.
During the education board meeting Wednesday in Miami, Crystal Etienne, a Miami-Dade County teacher, criticized the FHSAA bylaw changes after they were approved.
“Do you think a child is living through this scrutiny to be their true, authentic selves to win at sports? Do you think that’s what is happening in these schools? This is just another way to push the culture wars,” Etienne said.
Etienne also warned that if Florida does not “comply with Title IX, we will be at risk to lose the federal funding that our schools need to succeed.”


The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected constitutional challenges to Florida’s use of six-member juries in most felony trials, with Florida one of only a handful of states not requiring 12-member juries in criminal cases.
The Supreme Court, as is common, did not explain its reasons for declining to take up 13 cases about the issue. But Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote a dissenting opinion that said the court should reconsider a 1970 ruling in a Florida case, saying the constitutional right to trial by a jury is not met by six-member juries.
Gorsuch also wrote that “nothing prevents the people of Florida and other affected states from revising their jury practices to ensure no government in this country may send a person to prison without the unanimous assent of 12 of his peers.”
“If we (justices) will not presently shoulder the burden of correcting our own mistake, they have the power to do so,” Gorsuch wrote. “For, no less than this (Supreme) Court, the American people serve as guardians of our enduring Constitution.”

STORY OF THE WEEK: Florida Republicans on Thursday quickly attacked the conviction of former President Donald Trump on 34 counts of falsifying business records, while Democrats said the verdict showed nobody is above the law.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “There is still only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office: at the ballot box. Convicted felon or not, Trump will be the Republican nominee for president.” — Michael Tyler, communications director for President Joe Biden’s campaign.