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ORLANDO — A Florida judge on Monday dismissed the defamation lawsuit filed by George Zimmerman against NBC and three reporters, saying the former neighborhood watch leader failed to show the network acted with malice. Judge Debra Nelson said the malice standard was appropriate because Zimmerman became a public figure after he shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford in February 2012, generating a national conversation about race and self-defense laws. Zimmerman was acquitted last year for Martin's shooting. He said he shot Martin in self-defense when the teenager attacked him. Martin was black. Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic. By Mike Schneider. SENT: 374 words.


TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Supreme Court is set to swear in its first Cuban-American chief justice. Jorge Labarga was elected as the 56th Chief Justice in January and begins his two-year term Monday. He succeeds Chief Justice Ricky Polston who will remain on the bench. Labarga's election followed a tradition of electing the next senior justice who hasn't yet held the position. Former Gov. Charlie Crist appointed Labarga to the high court in 2009. By Kareem Copeland. UPCOMING: 450 words from 2 p.m. swearing-in ceremony.


TALLAHASSEE — Nearly 160 new laws will take effect Tuesday, including a ban on electronic cigarettes, a revised ban on late-term abortions, a tougher sexual predator laws, an overhaul of the child welfare system and more. By Brendan Farrington. UPCOMING: 600 words expected by 5:30 p.m.


PANAMA CITY BEACH — Officials have sunk old fighter jets in the waters off Panama City Beach to attract both fish and divers to the Florida Panhandle as part of a large artificial reef system. By Melissa Nelson-Gabriel. UPCOMING: 400 words with photos and video.


NEW ORLEANS — A federal appeals court in New Orleans says a former BP executive can be tried on a charge that he obstructed a Congressional investigation into the 2010 Gulf oil spill. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision posted Monday reversed a ruling by U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt. The case involves allegations that David Rainey failed to disclose information from BP PLC indicating that the amount of oil gushing into the Gulf after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion could have been far higher than estimates that were being made publicly. Engelhardt had ruled in favor of defense lawyers who said the law that Rainey was charged with breaking refers specifically to congressional committees, but not subcommittees. UPCOMING: 500 words.


BRAZILIAN VISITORS-ORLANDO — Orlando now gets more overseas visitors from Brazil than from any other country.

SCOTT-POLICE CHIEFS — Gov. Rick Scott is praising Florida law enforcement officials for keeping crime at a historic low.

KEYS-DEATH IN CUSTODY — A Florida Keys medical examiner has concluded that the death of a Michigan man at a hospital while in police custody was accidental.

SCALLOP SEASON — Officials are predicting a continuing rebound in St. Joseph Bay's scallop population.

BOAT CRASH — A 12-year-old boy is in critical condition after being hit by a boat while wading in the water with his father near Camp Timpoochee in the Florida Panhandle.

JUDGE ALTERCATION — A Florida judge accused of punching an assistant public defender during an altercation outside the courtroom has issued a public apology as he prepares to return to the bench after a leave of absence.

DOUBLE STABBING — Police are investigating a stabbing that left two men injured in Pinellas Park.