Florida Legislature May Impose Penalties on Local Legislators Who Illegally Impose Gun Control Laws
From Fried v. State, decided today by the Florida Supreme Court, in an opinion by Justice Ricky Polston (joined by Chief Justice Carlos Muniz and Justices Charles Canady, John Couriel, and Jamie Grosshans):
[T]he common law doctrines of legislative immunity and governmental function immunity [do not] prohibit the statutory civil actions and penalties imposed against local governments and officials for certain violations of … the firearms preemption statute…
In 2011, the Legislature amended the Preemption Statute [that preempts most local regulations of firearms], to include a series of civil penalties and actions, which apply to:
Any person, county, agency, municipality, district, or other entity that violates the Legislature’s occupation of the whole field of regulation of firearms and ammunition, as declared in subsection (1), by enacting or causing to be enforced any local ordinance or administrative rule or regulation impinging upon such exclusive occupation of the field shall be liable as set forth herein….
[The sections] applicable to local officials … provide as follows:
(c) If the court determines that a violation was knowing and willful, the court shall assess a civil fine of up to $5,000 against the elected or appointed local government official or officials or administrative agency head under whose jurisdiction the violation occurred.
(d) Except as required by applicable law, public funds may not be used to defend or reimburse the unlawful conduct of any person found to have knowingly and willfully violated this section….
[B]ecause legislative immunity as applied to local officials is a common law doctrine that the Legislature abrogated in the context covered by the Preemption Statute, we conclude that legislative immunity does not prohibit the statutory penalties ….
[W]e find no merit in Petitioners’ argument that [the penalty provision
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