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March 1, 2013
Legislative Action

Under Rule 2-9.3 (b) - (e), Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, active members of the Bar may file a specific objection to any legislative position adopted by the Board of Governors. Objections properly filed within 45 days of this News issue will be considered for a refund of that portion of mandatory membership fees applicable to the contested legislative position, within an additional 45 days. The Bar’s governing board has the option to grant the appropriate refund to an objector or to refer the matter to arbitration. The arbitration process will determine solely whether the legislative position is within those acceptable activities for which compulsory membership fees may be used under applicable constitutional law. The objecting member’s fees allocable to the contested legislative position will be escrowed promptly upon receipt of the objection, and any refund will bear legal interest. Any active member may provide written notice to the executive director of The Florida Bar, setting forth an objection to a particular legislative position. Failure to object within 45 days of this News issue will constitute a waiver of any right to object to a particular legislative position within this notice. The policy requires the Bar to notice such legislative positions in the next available News issue following their adoption.

Pursuant to Standing Board Policy 9.20, the Board approved the following new legislative positions of The Florida Bar on February 1, 2013:

3. Opposes amendment of Article V, Section 2(a) of the Florida Constitution that would restrict the Supreme Court’s authority to adopt rules for practice and procedure in all courts; further opposes any amendment of Article V that would change the manner by which rules of the Judicial Qualifications Commission, rules for judicial nominating commissions, or rules for practice and procedure in all courts may be repealed by the legislature.

4. Supports legislation consistent with the Supreme Court of Florida’s December 20, 2012 certification of need for new judges.

5. Supports language in the Legislative Appropriations Act to permit the payment of government attorneys’ Florida Bar membership fees and continuing legal education costs from funds within budget entities.

6. Supports legislation to create reasonable financial student loan assistance for all government lawyers and legal aid attorneys who have served in that capacity for more than 3 years.

7. Supports adequate funding for civil legal assistance to indigent persons through the Florida Access to Civil Legal Assistance Act.

8. Supports the preservation of, and opposes policies and procedures that have the effect of eroding, the attorney-client privilege and work product doctrine, both of which are essential to maintaining the confidential relationship between client and attorney required to encourage clients to discuss their legal matters fully and candidly with their counsel so as to:

(a) promote compliance with law through effective counseling;

(b) ensure effective advocacy for the client;

(c) ensure access to justice; and

(d) promote the proper and efficient functioning of the American adversary system of justice.

9. Supports adequate funding of the Legal Services Corporation by the federal government, and opposes any funding cuts.

10. Supports a pay increase for the federal judiciary.

11. To provide enhanced protection for attorney work product and attorney-client privilege, supports amendment of F.S. §119.071 revising the exemption from the attorney’s work product of a public agency; and supports amendment of F.S. §286.011 revising the criteria for the attorney-client sessions of a public agency.

12. Supports a comprehensive review of Florida’s entire death penalty process by all branches of government.

13. To adequately promote and protect the legal rights and remedies of children, supports the development of a comprehensive system and structure for child representation that includes guardian ad litem representation, public defender representation, and legal representation by both government paid counsel and pro bono attorneys by way of legislation substantially similar to the draft legislation approved by the Standing Committee on the Legal Needs of Children on November 16, 2009, which would create a statewide program of legal representation with some or all of the following components:

(a) no child shall be denied the right to have the representation by an attorney for the child appearing on the child’s behalf in a dependency case whether volunteer or state paid;

(b) provides for representation that is paid for by the state of Florida in conjunction with local, foundation or pro bono support in certain critical categories of dependency cases, recognizing that the ability to create such mandatory representation depends on the amount of new and dedicated revenue appropriated by the Florida Legislature and subject to the protection of the funding of the GAL program and funding for the courts; and/or

(c) permits representation of children in other discretionary categories of children in dependency cases and for other children, recognizing that the ability to create such discretionary representation depends on the amount of new dedicated revenue appropriated by the Florida Legislature and subject to the protection of the current funding of the GAL program and funding for the courts.

Committee Position
Also, on February 1, 2013, the Board approved this legislative position of the Legal Needs of Children Committee of The Florida Bar:

1. Supports legislation that recognizes children sentenced in adult court for more than 10 years should have a meaningful opportunity for early release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.

[Revised: 05-26-2014]