Professor’s murder focuses on grandparents’ rights in Florida

Florida State University Law Professor Dan Markel Killed Outside Tallahassee’s Home In a fierce custody battle with his ex-wife Wendy Adelson in a 2014 murder plot.

As Ruth and Phil Markel continue to mourn the death of their son, their loss continues to grow.

Five years after Markels met his grandchildren Benjamin and Lincoln, Adelson no longer allowed boys to come into contact with their “babs” and “zeids.”

Despite their plea, Markel will almost certainly not reunite with his grandson unless the Florida State Parliament intervenes.

But if possible, it will take at least another year for lawmakers to intervene in the support.

Senate children and families say Markels has no access to his son’s children and it is difficult for lawmakers to come up with a solution because parts of the Florida Constitution and the US Constitution have established right to privacy. , The Elders Committee is on Tuesday.

Dan Markel’s death drew an international headline after investigators unveiled a murder plan They claimed to have involved the family of his ex-wife. The family says it had nothing to do with Markel’s murder, and the family has not been charged with any crime.

Wendy Adelson “broken contact” between the boys and Markel five years ago, Ruth Markel told the Senate in a video played Tuesday.

“This year we have shown that we all feel isolated from our families, but as the world becomes safer from COVID, many of us still face different forms of alienation. There is no vaccine to protect grandparents in the situations faced by their families, “she said. “We miss our grandchildren so much that we are saddened by the loss of our support, visits and affection.”

Florida law allows grandparents to petition the court to meet their grandchildren in very narrow circumstances.

Long-standing legal issues

Grandparents of a minor child whose parents are “dead, missing, or protracted vegetative state” are convicted of another parent’s ferrony or “crime of behavior proving substantive violence” If you do, you can ask the judge to allow you to visit. It may harm the health and welfare of minor children. “

Legislators sought to enshrine broader rights for grandparents Although state law, courts have repeatedly ruled that such efforts are a violation of the constitutional right to parental privacy.

“The family law department has faced this problem for decades,” Abigail Beebe, a lawyer at West Palm Beach, who represents the family law department of the Florida Bar Association, told the Senate.

Chairman Lauren Book, D-Plantation, said a bill aimed at addressing Markel’s situation was submitted during last year’s session.

This proposal would have expanded the situation in which grandparents could ask for a visit.

Under the bill, if a parent is “identified by a state lawyer as an interested party or an unindicted conspirator in a public murder investigation,” grandparents will court a visit with a minor child. Was allowed to petition. “We gladly allowed minor children to be supervised” by unaccused conspirators or anyone interested in investigating a public murder case.

Grandparents’ visitation rights in Florida

But while sympathizing with the Markel family’s situation on Tuesday, Mr. Bibe said it would be problematic to develop state law to address their problems.

The Florida Constitution establishes even broader rights to privacy than the protection of the US Constitution, Beebi said.

Judges use the best interests criteria of their children when considering time-sharing contracts between divorced parents. However, the Florida Supreme Court has revoked state law stating that courts should use similar criteria when considering petitions for grandparents’ visits.

The State Supreme Court has also enacted an unconstitutional law that allows grandparents to visit if one of the child’s parents prohibits the relationship between the grandparent and the child. Threatened to do harm. “

“The question is, if the legislature acts, is it restructuring the law that is already considered unconstitutional,” Beebe said in an interview with Florida news services on Tuesday. “In the case of Markel, not all of us agree that it (visit) is surprising or appropriate. It applies fully and we cannot draft a bill to apply it.” That is. “

Also, any measure to address grandparents’ rights would have to be extended to include other families such as uncles and aunts in order to meet the constitutional guarantee of equal protection, Mr. Bibe said.

But Senator Gayle Harrell, a Republican Stuart who has been working on grandparents’ rights law over the past few years, has put pressure on Beebe about what he can do to help Markel.

“Is there a way for grandparents to at least allow the judge to express the need for grandchildren to be part of their lives?” Harrell asked.

“I think it’s very difficult,” Beebe said.

Potential state law that extends grandparents’ rights could be upheld as a constitution if courts require consideration of child disadvantages such as abuse, abandonment, and neglect, she said.

“I can hear my grandparents screaming.”

Senator Darryl Luson, who also worked on the 2015 law dealing with grandparents’ rights, said grandparents are an important part of a child’s life.

“I can hear my grandparents screaming throughout the state,” Luson, D-St. Petersburg said. “Grandparents are a way of connecting points in the history of family love, the history of family heritage …. I have needs still exist, exist, patterns of these facts still occur, and children with grandparents. I’m overwhelmed by the fact that I’m not allowed to see or visit meaningfully. “

The book, D-Plantation, has shown that legislators may reconsider this issue next year.

“We look at it again and what in offtime so that we can regain something we believe can connect those points, not just for grandparents, but for the children who absolutely need it I wanted to work on the crab, “she said. Said.

Police arrested three people for Markel’s death. Gunman Sigfredo Garcia was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. The driver, who was accused of the crime, worked with an investigator and was sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison.

Catherine Magbanua, who has two children, Garcia’s father, Adelson’s brother, Charlie, According to court records, at the time of Markel’s murder. Investigators have accused Magbanua of being an intermediary in the murder program. She has been charged with murder and other crimes related to Markel’s death, but in her case she remains in prison after a 2019 illicit trial.

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