The State Attorney's Office in rural Jackson County in the Panhandle of Florida convened a grand jury to decide whether Internet gaming devices were illegal under Florida Law. The grand jury decided that the seizure of the machines was a lawful action taken by the Sheriff's office.
This action is not only a cowardly act by the State Attorney's Office but really adds nothing to the equation. In Florida, the only cases typically taken to a grand jury are indictments on First Degree Murder charges. The seizure of some gaming devices pales in comparison to those charges.
Further, the grand jury process is not adversarial. The State gets to present its case without cross examination or any evidence presented by the owners of the machines in question. This is why they said that you can indict a ham sandwich in front of a grand jury.
Lawyers at the Arnold Law Firm has represented gaming interest in Florida and Georgia. Shawn Arnold, a Board Certified Criminal Trial Lawyer, has litigated issues involving gambling as a prosecutor and defense attorney for more than 10 years.
In Jacksonville, a well thought out ordinance was adopted which allows Internet Cafes under a strict regiment of rules and regulations for both the machines, but the operators as well. Our lawyers were able to protect the interest of the small operators to prevent their livelihood from being taken away. Melissa Gross-Arnold, a Board Certified Attorney in Local Government law drafted much of the language that was adopted to protect small business owners who were our clients.
The Legislature or other counties would be wise to adopt such regimes as those adopted in Jacksonville.