Florida Justice Institute

Fighting for Justice in Florida

The Florida Justice Institute is a nonprofit public interest law firm that uses impact litigation and advocacy to improve the lives of Florida’s poor and disenfranchised residents, while focusing on criminal justice reform, homelessness & poverty, disability access, and other civil rights issues.

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Recent Work

Federal Court Issues Order Barring City of Fort Lauderdale From Enforcing Its Panhandling Ordinances

FORT LAUDERDALE.  Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Roy K. Altman issued a preliminary injunction enjoining the City of Fort Lauderdale from enforcing its two panhandling ordinances, finding that Plaintiffs Mark Messina and Bernard McDonald have shown that the laws are likely unconstitutional restrictions on free speech in violation of the First Amendment. The lawsuit, brought by the […]

Lawsuit Challenges Fort Lauderdale’s Anti-Panhandling Ordinances as Unconstitutional

FORT LAUDERDALE Today, the Florida Justice Institute (FJI), in partnership with Fort Lauderdale lawyers Mara Shlackman and Frantz J. McLawrence, filed a lawsuit challenging a pair of the City of Fort Lauderdale’s anti-panhandling ordinances as an unconstitutional restriction of free speech. One ordinance prohibits requesting donations in all public parks, parking lots, and transportation centers; and within […]

Latest News

Judge Says Fort Lauderdale’s Anti-Panhandling Law Treads on First Amendment

A federal judge has put a hold on Fort Lauderdale’s anti-panhandling law, rejecting the city’s attempt to paint beggars as a public-safety hazard. The nine-year-old ordinance prohibited panhandlers from asking for money in public parks, near sidewalk cafés, and in the vicinity of businesses and ATMs, among other places. Panhandling in the restricted areas was […]

‘Do You Have Some Spare Change?’ Panhandlers Gain Ground in Suit Against Fort Lauderdale Over Constitutional Issues

In South Florida, a federal district judge ordered the City of Fort Lauderdale to pause its panhandling ordinances because they are likely unconstitutional restrictions on free speech, as they violate the first amendment. And U.S. District Judge Roy K. Altman, in issuing the preliminary injunction against the city from enforcing its two panhandling ordinances, put […]

ACLU alarmed, seeks to overturn ruling on Boynton mom filming police

Journalism organizations and civil rights groups are joining forces to overturn a West Palm Beach appeals court decision that they claim could block the press and the public from videotaping police. Raising the specter of cellphone footage that captured George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police, ACLU attorneys on Friday urged the 4th District Court of Appeal […]

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