The Florida Bar

Daily News Summary

An electronic digest of media coverage of interest to members of The Florida Bar compiled each workday by the Public Information and Bar Services Department. Electronic links are only active in today's edition. For information on previous articles, please contact the publishing newspaper directly.

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April 1, 2014


EDITORIAL: SENATE SHOULD REJECT COURT-PACKING MOVE -- Tampa Bay Times, Editorial,, April 1, 2014.
The editorial states, "A governor who is leaving office after two terms or who has just lost a re-election campaign should not be able to pack the Florida Supreme Court on his way out the door. Yet that would be the effect of a proposed constitutional amendment that the Florida Senate will consider today [April 1]. There is a legitimate issue regarding the appointment of state Supreme Court justices, but this is not the way to solve it . . . The more pressing problem is the erosion of the independence of the judicial nominating commissions that nominate candidates for the governor to appoint to the bench . . . [A] 2001 change gave the governor the authority to appoint all nine members, although four of the nine must come from lists supplied by The Florida Bar. Now Scott has become the first governor to reject entire Bar lists and demand new lists without explanation . . . The predictable result: Fewer candidates willing to be on the Bar lists for nominating commissions, and less diversity on the nominating commissions and in the judiciary . . . Senators should reject the proposed constitutional amendment that would politicize and pack the Florida Supreme Court, and if the amendment makes it to the November ballot voters should kill it."

--Lawyer Ethics/Legal Discipline--

SUPREME COURT DISCIPLINES 29 ATTORNEYS -- The Florida Bar,, March 31, 2014. [Also: 14 SOUTH FLORIDIANS DISCIPLINED -- Daily Business Review (requires subscription),, March 31, 2014; TWO LOCAL ATTORNEYS DISCIPLINED BY FLORIDA SUPREME COURT -- Orlando Business Journal,, April 1, 2014; MISCONDUCT, TRUST ACCOUNT PROBLEMS LEAD TO LAWYERS' DISCIPLINE -- Tampa Bay Business Journal,, April 1, 2014.]
The Florida Bar announced that the Florida Supreme Court in recent court orders disciplined 29 attorneys; publicly reprimanding eight attorneys, suspending 13, disbarring three and revoking the licenses of five. Eleven attorneys received more than one form of discipline. Seven were placed on probation and five were ordered to pay restitution.

--Legal Profession--

CANDIDATE FOR FIU STUDENT BAR ASSOCIATION COUNTING ON 'COOLNESS FACTOR' -- Daily Business Review (requires subscription),, March 31, 2014.
Second-year law student Anthony Halmon is running for president of the Student Bar Association of Florida International University. He eschewed the traditional fliers, buttons and stickers in his race and decided to do something a little different to grab students' attention. He posted a self-made rap on YouTube that is stirring some controversy in the student body. In the rap, Halmon alludes to his rough high school years in Tampa. The rap ends on a positive note with Halmon intoning about how he turned his life around and "got back to the basics." Some people are critical of his lyrics, but he has a powerful fan in law dean Alexander Acosta, who said Halmon's rap "has the coolness factor." If elected, Halmon said his main goal will be to help other students secure jobs after graduation.

--Criminal Justice Issues--

FEWER PLEA DEALS MEAN MORE MURDER TRIALS IN PALM BEACH COUNTY -- Palm Beach Post (requires subscription),, April 1, 2014.
There have been 13 murder trials in the first three months of 2014 at the Palm Beach County Courthouse, and many more tragic cases are queued up. In contrast, for all of 2013 in the county, there were 10 murder trials producing eight guilty verdicts and two acquittals. Prosecutors attribute the spike to a greater push by judges and lawyers to try murder cases, while higher homicide rates in recent years added extra trials to the pipeline. But defense attorneys say it's largely a matter of seeing far fewer plea offers and deals their clients find unreasonable. Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg says the encouraging results and busy trial dockets are due to his homicide prosecutors being highly experienced and better trained. Assistant Public Defender Elizabeth Ramsey said prosecutors force too many cases to go to juries. Also, she contends they are able to use some built-in, unfair advantages, including police power to haul non-cooperating witnesses into court and testimony from highly paid experts the defense can't afford.

MAN GETS 60 YEARS IN PLAN TO MURDER FEDERAL JUDGE, ATTORNEY -- Tallahassee Democrat,, March 31, 2014.
Robert Eugene Spiker was sentenced to 60 years in prison today [March 31] by U.S. District Judge Mark E. Walker in a scheme in which he devised a plan to kill a federal magistrate judge and an assistant U.S. attorney in Jacksonville. Spiker, 45, pleaded guilty to two counts of solicitation to commit murder and one count of attempted murder on Jan. 17. He admitted that between March and April of 2013, he made numerous written threats and devised a plan to murder the judge and the attorney. On separate occasions he attempted to solicit others to kill them in return for "in-kind" services.

--Tech Tip Tuesday--

For additional information on this tip and others, visit the Tech Tips page.

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[Revised: 04-02-2014]