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September 1, 2013
Eugene Pettis, left, and Rep. Matt Gaetz.REP. MATT GAETZ, R-Shalimar, received a Legislative Award from Bar President Eugene Pettis during the Board of Governors July meeting. Pettis, left, said that Gaetz, in proposing his Timely Justice Act to improve the death penalty appeals process, always had an open door and was willing to listen to Bar input. Originally, the bill had a provision that would have removed oversight of procedural rules for those appeals from the Supreme Court and given it to the Legislature. Gaetz told the board that, through discussions, he became convinced that was not the best alternative and “the best approach was through a mutually deferential effort, to join hands and move forward in a common objective that both see as valuable and virtuous. . . . The precedent we are setting is that mutual deference is an attractive and valuable option for both the Legislature and the courts. We have plenty of fights ahead and plenty of challenges; we should not have to be fighting with another branch of government.” He also praised the Bar’s legislative activities in the Legislature, calling the Bar a zealous advocate for the courts and for legal representation for the poor. “You lobby not for things that directly benefit your members, but for things that benefit the customers of the judicial system, which could be any of us on any day,” Gaetz said.

[Revised: 04-11-2014]