TALLAHASSEE — Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office has requested the state Supreme Court assume jurisdiction over a case involving a Jacksonville attorney whose conviction was dismissed.
According to www.jacksonville.com, Kelly Mathis was convicted in 2013 and sentenced to six years in prison on 103 charges stemming from racketeering and gambling-related crimes associated with his work for Allied Veterans of the World. Allied operated scores of Internet cafes that were raided and shut down in 2013 because of illegal gambling, though the state’s law concerning gambling is unclear.
In October, the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach dismissed Mathis’ convictions and sentencing and ruled that he should receive a new trial. The court found that the circuit judge who convicted Mathis did not allow evidence that supported Mathis’ defense to be presented at trial. The case then was left for the state to decide further action.
Earlier this month, Bondi’s office said it would appeal the October ruling to the Supreme Court.
“The Office of Statewide Prosecution has filed a motion with the Florida Supreme Court asking them to accept jurisdiction over this matter and allow us to continue our appeal of the decision of the Fifth District Court of Appeals,” Statewide Prosecutor Nick Cox told the Florida Record. “We will be filing a brief within the next two weeks regarding the discretionary jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. As this litigation is ongoing, we cannot comment further at this time."
Mathis acted as Allied’s lawyer and provided the company with legal advice. Following the 2013 raids on Allied’s businesses, Mathis was the only individual charged in the case after prosecutors alleged that he knowingly provided false legal advice about the Internet cafes, according to the appeals-court ruling.
“Regarding the State’s notice seeking to invoke the jurisdiction of the Florida Supreme Court, Mathis is hopeful that the Florida Supreme Court will decline to accept jurisdiction in this case,” Michael Ufferman, attorney for Mathis, told the Florida Record.
The jurisdiction of the Florida Supreme Court is limited, and one basis for which it can accept a case is if the decision of the district court below it conflicts with a decision from the Florida Supreme Court or another district court of appeal, Ufferman said.
“Mathis does not believe that the Fifth District Court of Appeal’s decision in this case conflicts with any other case,” he said.
A new trial would afford Mathis an opportunity to fully present his defense to the charges that did not exist in the first trial, Lee Lockett, attorney for Mathis, told the Florida Journal.
“That’s because of the Fifth District Court’s ruling that upon re-trial, Mathis will be permitted to offer witnesses and evidence that his legal opinion was based on sound legal research as well as several consultations with governmental officials statewide who also agreed that the business model in place was in fact legal," Lockett said.
Mathis is currently suspended from practicing law and could be disbarred if convicted again.