Senate Bill 0078

Senate Bill sb0078

CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.
    Florida Senate - 2006        (Corrected Copy)            SB 78

    By Senator Hill





    1-172-06

  1                      A bill to be entitled

  2         An act for the relief of the descendents of

  3         Mrs. Johnnie Mae Chappell, Claimants; directing

  4         the Division of Administrative Hearings to

  5         appoint an administrative law judge to

  6         determine whether a basis for equitable relief

  7         exists for the purpose of compensating the

  8         descendents of Mrs. Johnnie Mae Chappell for

  9         any wrongful act or omission by the State of

10         Florida, or officials thereof; authorizing such

11         compensation upon a determination by the

12         administrative law judge; requiring a report to

13         the Legislature; authorizing an award of

14         attorney's fees; providing an appropriation;

15         providing an effective date.

16  

17         WHEREAS, on March 23, 1964, Mrs. Johnnie Mae Chappell,

18  a 35-year-old mother of 10 children was shot outside the

19  Banner Market on New Kings Road in Jacksonville, Florida, and

20         WHEREAS, Mrs. Chappell died in route to the hospital,

21  in an ambulance reserved for the Black residents of

22  Jacksonville and Duval County, even though an ambulance for

23  White residents was located closer to the area where Mrs.

24  Chappell was shot, and

25         WHEREAS, this incident occurred during a time when race

26  riots were occurring every day in the downtown area of

27  Jacksonville, stores were being looted and burned, and

28  peaceful marches were disbanded by violent means, and

29         WHEREAS, the State of Florida determined that Willie

30  Chappell, Mrs. Johnnie Mae Chappell's husband, was not capable

31  of taking proper care of his 10 children following their

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    Florida Senate - 2006        (Corrected Copy)            SB 78
    1-172-06




 1  mother's murder, and ordered that the children be sent to

 2  relatives, foster homes, and juvenile shelters, and

 3         WHEREAS, the Chappell siblings not only lost their

 4  mother forever, they lost contact with each other for decades

 5  and had only vague information concerning the murder of their

 6  mother, and

 7         WHEREAS, in 1996, Shelton Chappell, the youngest child

 8  of Mrs. Johnnie Mae Chappell, met former Jacksonville

 9  Sheriff's Office Detectives Lee Cody and Donald Coleman who

10  had obtained confessions from three men concerning the murder,

11  but the former detectives informed Shelton Chappell that they

12  thought that the investigation of the Chappell case had been

13  subverted because they had been prevented from further

14  investigating the case, and

15         WHEREAS, the four suspects in the case, J. W. Rich,

16  Elmer Cato, Wayne Chessman, and James Davis, were each

17  indicted by a grand jury on the charge of first-degree murder,

18  with J. W. Rich accused of pulling the trigger and the three

19  other men charged with aiding and encouraging the crime, and

20         WHEREAS, on November 30, 1964, after a 2-day trial, an

21  all-White male jury convicted J. W. Rich of the lesser charge

22  of manslaughter rather than first-degree murder, for which he

23  served 3 years in prison, and state prosecutors dropped

24  charges against the other three defendants, citing

25  insufficient evidence, and

26         WHEREAS, in the fall of 1965, Detectives Lee Cody and

27  Donald Coleman were fired from the Jacksonville Sheriff's

28  Office for insubordination after repeatedly trying to convince

29  outside authorities to investigate corruption within the

30  sheriff's office, including the Chappell murder, and

31  

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    Florida Senate - 2006        (Corrected Copy)            SB 78
    1-172-06




 1         WHEREAS, the State Attorney has refused to reopen the

 2  case for prosecution and the Department of Law Enforcement has

 3  failed to issue a report concerning the case as requested,

 4  NOW, THEREFORE,

 5  

 6  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:

 7  

 8         Section 1.  The facts stated in the preamble of this

 9  act are found and declared to be true.

10         Section 2.  The Division of Administrative Hearings

11  shall appoint an administrative law judge to conduct a hearing

12  and determine whether a basis for equitable relief exists for

13  the purpose of compensating the descendents of Mrs. Johnnie

14  Mae Chappell for any wrongful act or omission of the State of

15  Florida, or officials thereof, which occurred in the

16  investigation of the murder of Mrs. Johnnie Mae Chappell. The

17  Department of Legal Affairs shall provide representation for

18  the State of Florida.

19         Section 3.  (1)  If the administrative law judge

20  determines by a preponderance of the evidence that the State

21  of Florida, or officials thereof, committed a wrongful act or

22  omission and that a basis for equitable relief exists, the

23  administrative law judge may award the descendents of Mrs.

24  Johnnie Mae Chappell the amount of $_______ each. The

25  administrative law judge shall report his or her determination

26  to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of

27  Representatives by July 1, 2006. The Chief Financial Officer

28  is directed to draw a warrant in satisfaction of the relief

29  awarded by the administrative law judge, as provided in this

30  act, and the Chief Financial Officer shall pay the same out of

31  funds appropriated by this act.

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    Florida Senate - 2006        (Corrected Copy)            SB 78
    1-172-06




 1         (2)  If the descendents of Mrs. Johnnie Mae Chappell

 2  are determined to be prevailing parties, the administrative

 3  law judge may award reasonable attorney's fees in an amount

 4  not to exceed 25 percent of the compensation awarded.

 5         Section 4.  The sum of $_______ is appropriated from

 6  the General Revenue Fund for the purpose of funding any

 7  amounts awarded under this act.

 8         Section 5.  This act shall take effect upon becoming a

 9  law.

10  

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12                          SENATE SUMMARY

13    Requires that the Division of Administrative Hearings
      appoint an administrative law judge to determine whether
14    a basis for equitable relief exists for compensating the
      descendents of Mrs. Johnnie Mae Chappell for a wrongful
15    act or omission by the State of Florida or an official
      thereof. Requires a report to the Legislature. Provides
16    an appropriation.

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