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September 1, 2013
Letters

African-American
I read with interest the letter from Mark Levy, indicating that he was disappointed with the Bar News that Eugene Pettis was described as the first “African-American” president of The Florida Bar.

While I understand that in a perfect world he would be right, I tend to believe that we have not gotten to that point yet.

We have come a long way since Rev. King gave his famous speech in August of 1963. While prejudice exists in every part of the country, I remember distinctly driving my Chevy Bel Air from New York back to Gainesville in August 1968, to begin my third quarter at law school (we were on the quarter system back then). The car’s tires were out of round and the wheel shook on the entire trip.

As I crossed over the Virginia border into North Carolina (I had previously never driven further South than Pennsylvania), the first sign on 1-95 that greeted me was a huge billboard of a hooded Ku Klux Klansman, atop a white horse. Above the masked man were the words: “Welcome to North Carolina, Home of the Klan.” Beneath the masked man’s horse, were the words: “Join the Klan and Help Fight Integration and Communism.”

Needless to say, this did not improve the shake in the wheel.

We have come a long way since that time. Rev. King was killed shortly after I arrived in Gainesville in March of 1968, and the town was put under martial law for a few days in anticipation of civil unrest that fortunately did not erupt.

I truly believe that no one loses nor is any disrespect shown by remembering those days and being somewhat relieved that, in all parts of this country, men are elected to the highest office in their chosen profession, without regard to the color of their skin or any other character attributes other than their ability and character.

Since 1968 and every day thereafter, that billboard has remained as a reminder to me that we need to work on perfection and not get too discouraged if we do not, in our lifetime, see its emergence. We as lawyers should, more than any other segment of society, remember the errors of the past and do our best to improve the future without lamenting that we have not reached the top of the mountain. It’s a long climb and sometimes is not accomplished in a lifetime. Besides, it could be a little boring sitting up there with nothing to do.

Richard A. Stettine
Central Islip, NY

Cloud Computing
I read the article in the August 15 News about the recent cloud computing ethics opinion. It caused me to ask the questions below to see if I understood that opinion.

It appears that opinion suggests that each lawyer in Florida take reasonable precautions to ensure confidentiality, including conducting their own research of service providers, to determine that the service provider maintains adequate security. The opinion concludes that each lawyer should research the service provider to be used.

Since there are several thousand lawyers in Florida, does the Board of Governors believe that service providers will be receptive to this proposal (of having their security researched by thousands of lawyers)? Would it not be a better idea, and a good Florida Bar project, for The Florida Bar to undertake this research and then provide a list of service providers who meet the required security, rather than having various and multiple research results from thousands of lawyers?

Just asking, to see what I missed.

Andy Britton
Venice

___________________

I have read the opinions on cloud computing and storage.

I also collectively understand the Internet is the wave of now; is here to stay; that storage of files is a problem.

Ethics opinion-wise, as long as I diligently research a company, I am not ethically liable to the Bar for a faux pas on the “cloud’s” part.

I am a “trained-to-be-diligent researcher.” Presumptively, if I take the Bar seminar, I am then supposed to be knowledgeable.

How do I ever fix, rectify, amend, repair, correct the damages to a client, corporate or personal, whose secrets are compromised by neglect of the cloud?

What if the negligence is just simple — or gross, or even culpable, malicious — on the part of the cloud? What if management of the cloud changed after I picked the cloud, without the cloud giving notice of management change to me?

These things need to be thought out more eruditely before being rushed into, with the goal only to bring home the bacon.

Law is a profession — one of the five mentioned in the Bible. It is not supposed to be just a money-maker.

B. Douglas Hindmarsh
Miami

(Editor’s Note: The Bar’s Law Office Management Assistance Service (LOMAS) has put together some advice and a checklist for lawyers using cloud computing. See story, here.)

Admissions
I read and reread the story about Jose Samperio and find many missing parts.

Where is the yeoman’s effort to comply with the law? The efforts to become a citizen?

I see massive efforts and success in finding waivers, exceptions, special treatment, and a total disregard to the rules as they currently exist. Possibly, I see a character discussion, but academic excellence alone has never been enough to be a Florida lawyer.

I would also be concerned as to the nature of advice given from a lawyer whose idea of excellence is to avoid compliance with the rules he is supposed to live by.

James R. Cunningham
Mosheim, Tennessee

E-filing
As general counsel for Manatee County Clerk of the Circuit Court Chips Shore, I recently attended the clerk’s association summer conference and had the privilege of hearing Chief Justice Polston in his address to all the clerks. Chief Justice Polston stressed the need for uniformity in e-filing and noted that it is essential to the integrity and accuracy of the official court case file of which the clerk is the custodian.

In the paper world, we had uniformity in filing. The attorney delivered the document to the clerk’s office and handed it to the clerk for filing. The clerk then entered the document into their case maintenance system. The clerk is statutorily charged with docketing the information. This has changed, as those of you who electronically file now know. On the existing e-filing portal page you will find two types of filing: (1) Simple e-filing, which is like what happens in the paper world, and (2) a drop-down type of e-filing (the long form) that requires you, the filer, to do the docketing. The long form in the portal includes drop-down menus along with many different docket descriptions for the filer to choose from, resulting in a complex time-consuming process for the filer, especially upon new case initiation. With the current long form e-filing, the filer becomes the de facto docketer with the clerk merely validating the filer selections.

On October 1, criminal e-filing will be mandated, which means the state attorneys and the public defenders are going to be forced to do the docketing now done by the clerk. Manatee’s experience using both systems is that it costs us far less time to do simple e-file and not have to go back and correct the docketing mistakes made by the filer. Manatee now uses an artificial intelligence docketing system, which populates about 70 percent of our docketing without human interference. In the next few years, this will improve to the point where we should not need docket codes any longer. In other words, why should we make the filer choose codes that are being done electronically anyway?

Angel Colonneso
Bradenton

__________________

My first experience with the portal was not a happy one. I could not upload 23 pages of letter-size exhibit evidence to support my motion to amend.

A call to the Pasco County clerk in Dade City resulted in a 32-minute hold, and then there was no one there to answer e-filing questions. I asked if there was not a tech with the software company available, and the clerk said no, but wished there were. I called myflcourtaccess.com and listened to a recording, since no one answered but a recording.

I emailed them and their later response did not help. Apparently, the problem was my HP scanner scans at 8.5 x 11.5 inches and that is too big for the portal; we cut the size and it worked.

The portal has little information on this kind of problem and no email address for lawyers to ask questions. The instructional video discourages scans — should the lawyer manufacture his supporting evidence as an original?

How was this contract awarded to a company to serve 96,000 lawyers and no one to answer the phone?

Bruce W. Pitzer
Sarasota

(Editor’s Note: Florida Courts E-Filing Authority, which manages the portal, has recently updated its website — www.myflcourtaccess.com — with links to information about authority operations, education resources, and updates about using the portal and e-filing. The authority also has established a Twitter feed to inform lawyers about changes and updates to the statewide e-filing portal, provide access to frequently asked questions, and give information about the e-filing practices of specific counties. The authority’s Twitter service — called FLCourtsEFiling — can be accessed at twitter.com/FLCourtsEFiling.)

[Revised: 04-13-2014]