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.
April 24, 2013
FLORIDA COASTAL MAY REFUND STUDENTS MONEY UNDER NEW PROGRAM -- Florida Times-Union, http://www.jacksonville.com, April 24, 2013.
Under the new program Assured Outcomes Partnership, starting this fall, Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville will refund students a portion of their tuition if they meet certain requirements. If a student drops out after year one or can't pass the bar on their second try, the school will refund $10,000 of the $40,000 annual tuition. During the three years of school, if a student does not land an internship, Florida Coastal will refund $2,000. Students must be full-time in order to enroll and they must adhere to a long list of stipulations. The effort is part of a competitive push to address the declining number of students interested in law school.
SURVEY SHOWS MORE PRE-LAW STUDENTS SEEK NONTRADITIONAL FIELDS -- Independent Florida Alligator, http://www.alligator.org, April 24, 2013.
According to a survey released by Kaplan Test Prep two weeks ago, 50 percent of pre-law students wanted to use their law degree in a nontraditional field. Legal traditional fields were listed as law firms and legal staff, and nontraditional fields were listed as business, academics and politics. Of that 50 percent, 58 percent said the job market for lawyers factored in their decision. Overall, 71 percent listed passion as their main reason for going to law school, and only 5 percent listed salary potential.
ATTORNEY SHAWN SELIGER RECOGNIZED BY VOICES FOR KIDS OF SW FLORIDA -- Business Observer, http://www.review.net, April 24, 2013.
Southwest Florida attorney Shawn Seliger was recognized April 19 at the Lee County Bar Association’s April luncheon by Voices for Kids of Southwest Florida, a nonprofit agency supporting Florida’s 20th Judicial Circuit’s Guardian ad Litem program. Seliger was presented with a plaque in appreciation for six years of community service as a board member from 2006 - 2012, concluding as its president in 2012.
NATIONAL TRIAL LAWYERS SELECTS CONTROVERSIAL FORT WALTON BEACH CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER -- Jacksonville Business Journal, (requires subscription), http://www.bizjournals.com, April 23, 2013.
This year's selection of the nation's Top 100 Lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers includes Fort Walton Beach criminal defense attorney Stephen G. Cobb, who is certified by The Florida Bar as an expert in criminal law. The selection is deemed controversial because his claim that crime is a medical problem, rather than a moral failure, has been both criticized and praised. Neuroscience research and brain imaging are the foundation of his claim. Since 2006, Cobb has advocated the elimination of what he calls "blame and punishment based" sentencing laws in favor of a treatment based, long term solution.
ALIMONY SPONSORS URGE SCOTT TO SIGN BILL INTO LAW -- Palm Beach Post, http://www.pbpost.comm, April 24, 2013. [Also: GOV. SCOTT: ALIMONY ELIMINATION BILL STILL UNDER REVIEW -- Tallahassee Democrat, http://www.tallahassee.com, April 24, 2013; ALIMONY BILL SPONSORS SHOW TESTIMONIALS -- Florida Current, http://www.thefloridacurrent.com, April 24, 2013.]
Rep. Ritch Workman and Sen. Kelli Stargel publicly urged Gov. Rick Scott to sign into law a bill (SB 718) revamping the state’s alimony laws. Workman said Scott is expected to receive the bill today [April 23]. Scott will have seven days to act on the bill, which would become law without his signature if he does not veto it before then. Groups on both sides of the issue – the Family Law section of The Florida Bar and Florida Alimony Reform – have launched dueling petitions asking Scott to veto or sign the bill. The Family Law section opposes the measure, saying it puts women – who are more likely to receive alimony – at a disadvantage. Gov. Scott received a binder with about 6,000 stories from people whose divorces ended in disaster and who support the changes.
STATE LAW CHANGES COULD INCREASE POLK JAIL POPULATION -- Lakeland Ledger, http://www.theledger.com, April 23, 2013.
A possible change in legislation proposed by the Florida Department of Corrections would require county jails to house inmates who would have otherwise served their sentences in state prison. The issue was discussed at the Public Safety Coordinating Council meeting in Bartow on Monday [April 22]. Another change would limit the county's pretrial release program to only indigent defendants. The jail currently holds 2,443 inmates and if the changes become law, according to council members, it could push the jail over its 2,576 capacity. The state says it would save about $75 million in the change, but it was argued that it would shift the costs to the county.
--Lawyer Ethics/Legal Discipline--
DISBARRED RIVERVIEW LAWYER PLEADS GUILTY TO GRAND THEFT -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, April 24, 2013.
Jessica Ann Bennett, disbarred Riverview lawyer, once a prosecutor, pleaded guilty to grand theft Monday [April 22] in Hillsborough Circuit Court, accepting a plea deal that calls for her to serve three years of probation. Bennett was accused of withdrawing $50,800 from the Merrill Lynch account of Daniel McCoy, whose wife had hired her to handle their divorce. The couple reconciled and complained to The Florida Bar, which disciplined Bennett and ordered her to pay restitution. The Hillsborough State Attorney's Office declined to prosecute Bennett, citing insufficient evidence, but sought appointment of a special prosecutor after McCoy's attorney suggested there was a conflict of interest. Bennett had worked at the office from 2003 to early 2006.