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.
Nov. 27, 2012
FLORIDA JUSTICES OK JURY INSTRUCTIONS ON EYEWITNESSES-- The Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, Nov. 22, 2012.
The article is by The Associated Press. Trial judges are being required by the Florida Supreme Court to instruct jurors on factors such as race and familiarity that should be considered when evaluating the accuracy of eyewitness identifications, the leading cause of wrongful convictions. The seven justices unanimously adopted the new jury instruction on Wednesday [Nov. 21]. It's opposed by some prosecutors, who say judges shouldn't be commenting on evidence, as well as advocates for the wrongly convicted, who say it's too weak. The rule was proposed by the Supreme Court Committee on Standard Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases.
17 CONTENDERS VIE FOR MARTIN COUNTY ATTORNEY JOB-- The Stuart News, http://www.tcpalm.com, Nov. 27, 2012.
Stephen Fry will leave the black leather seat in the Martin County commission chambers, where he has sat for more than a decade, and 17 contenders are vying to fill it as the new county attorney. Each commissioner will submit five names from among the 17 applicants they think are most qualified for the position, and County Administrator Taryn Kryzda will compile a list of common names among each of the commissioners' choices. Commissioner Sarah Heard said the search is limited to Florida Bar board-certified attorneys and that the commission is seeking someone with government experience.
--Lawyer Ethics/Legal Discipline--
TEXTING EX-BROWARD JUDGE FACES BAR INQUIRY-- Sun-Sentinel, http://www.sun-sentinel.com, Nov. 27, 2012.
A Broward judge put her law license and reputation at risk when she exchanged 949 cell phone calls and 471 text messages with a homicide prosecutor during a 2007 death-penalty trial. She's now a former judge, and today Ana Gardiner begins a two-day inquiry before a Florida Bar referee tasked with meting out Gardiner's disciplinary action. Gardiner sidestepped a judicial misconduct complaint with her 2010 resignation from the bench, but she remains vulnerable to discipline by the state Bar, which governs attorneys' conduct. In April, Howard Scheinberg, the now former prosecutor, was given a recommended one-year law license suspension and is appealing the recommendation.
--Criminal Justice Issues--
DISBARRED LAWYER IMPRISONED FOR 8 YEARS FOR STEALING $1 MILLION FROM CLIENTS-- Sun-Sentinel, http://www.sun-sentinel.com, Nov. 27, 2012.
Disbarred lawyer Scott Rovenger pleaded guilty to defrauding more than $1 million from his South Florida clients and was immediately sentenced Monday to eight years in state prison. His elaborate fraud, which went on for 20 years, involved cheating so-called close friends and clients, forging signatures on checks and entering into fraudulent settlements that he lied about, according to a sworn confession he gave when he realized it was all caving in on him. Rovenger, 59, who practiced mostly as a personal injury lawyer in Fort Lauderdale and Plantation, turned himself in at the Broward County Main Jail on Nov. 8. When he is eventually released, he will owe a lot of restitution to the victims. The final amount is still being calculated, but the current estimate is more than $1 million. Some of Rovenger's misconduct came to light in a Florida Bar investigation this year and Rovenger was disbarred in May after a 34-year career as a lawyer.
BP PREPARES TO PLEAD GUILTY TO MANSLAUGHTER, OTHER CRIMES IN NEW ORLEANS-- The Bradenton Herald, http://www.bradenton.com, Nov. 27, 2012.
The article is by The Associated Press. BP is preparing to plead guilty to manslaughter and other crimes arising from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico rig explosion and oil spill but isn't expected to do that during an initial appearance today in New Orleans federal court. Court appearances also are scheduled this week for three men who were working for the oil giant, and they already are mounting efforts to fight felony charges. Once BP enters its planned guilty plea, a judge probably will order a pre-sentence report, in which court officials would recommend the appropriate punishment. Assuming that determination meshes with BP's agreement with the Justice Department announced Nov. 15, which includes a multi-billion dollar fine, a federal judge would consider final approval of the plea deal.