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High court to hear farmer, Monsanto seed dispute

Associated Press Published: October 5, 2012

The high court will review a Florida Supreme Court decision that sided with a local water management agency in a dispute with a property owner who sought permits to develop land classified as environmentally sensitive. Negotiations over the permits failed when the owner would not agree to conditions that included reducing the size of his project and paying for work on nearby government-owned land.

In earlier cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has required governments to pay for imposing conditions on development. The Pacific Legal Foundation, a property rights public interest law firm, is representing property owner Coy Koontz Jr.

In a case from Virginia, the court will consider overruling a 10-year-old decision affirming judges' discretion to lengthen a prison sentence beyond the mandatory minimum term set by law. At the time of the 2002 decision, several justices said it was at odds with the logic of a line of cases in which the court limited judges' ability to raise sentences above a maximum term, unless juries specifically identified the facts to justify the longer sentence.

The court also will use a Virginia case to decide whether states can keep out-of-staters from using their Freedom of Information Act laws to get government documents. Federal appeals courts are divided on the issue.