Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Every day, hundreds of sick and injured patients walk into free and charitable clinics around the Tampa Bay area in need of a doctor.Many are suffering from chronic conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Some patients were referred to the clinics by staff at hospitals where they landed after years of neglecting to care for treatable conditions.The clinics allow the patients to pay what they can, or nothing at all. They are staffed by doctors and nurses who volunteer their time. They survive off donations and small grants.Many of the patients have jobs but they are living paycheck to paycheck. None have health insurance, either because they do not qualify for Medicaid or can’t afford private coverage. For these patients, the clinics are often their only option for primary care.

Justices: Remote ‘Baker Act’ Hearings Can Continue

Florida Supreme Court
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The Florida Supreme Courton Friday refused to at least temporarily block Lee County judges from holding videoconference hearings in cases about the involuntary commitment of mentally ill people.

Public defenders have challenged the practice of holding remote hearings in so-called “Baker Act” cases. The practice began early this year in Lee County, with a judge and a magistrate holding the hearings through videoconference technology rather than appearing in person at mental-health facilities.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal in September allowed the remote hearings, spurring public defenders to appeal to the Supreme Court. Public defenders also asked for a stay to at least temporarily block the remote hearings while the appeal is pending at the Supreme Court.

But justices, in a 6-1 decision, rejected the request Friday. As is common, the Supreme Court did not explain its reasons. Justice R. Fred Lewis was the lone dissenter.