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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.

Sept. 25, 2012

--Judiciary--


JUDGING THE JUDGES-- Panama City News Herald, editorial, http://www.pcnh.com, Sept. 25, 2012.
The editorial states: "In Florida, Supreme Court and district appellate court judges are appointed to the bench by the governor, but voters have the power to retain them every six years. Unfortunately, many Floridians either skip the judicial part of the ballot, or make a decision that amounts to throwing a dart at a board. That's a poor way to evaluate the makeup of a judiciary that has so much influence over our lives. That's why The Florida Bar is making a concerted effort to engage the public in the merit retention process — making people aware first and foremost that it exists, and then providing them with resources to make informed decisions at the ballot box (go to www.floridabar.org/thevotesinyourcourt). . . . This year, three Supreme Court justices and 15 appellate judges — including four in the First District Court of Appeal, which includes Northwest Florida — are up for retention votes. The high-court jurists — R. Fred Lewis, Barbara J. Pariente and Peggy A. Quince — have received high-profile opposition from, among others, the Republican Party of Florida."

FLORIDA JUSTICE: POLITICS, JUDICIAL ELECTIONS SHOULDN'T MIX-- The Tampa Tribune, http://www.tbo.com, Sept. 25, 2012. [Also: FLORIDA JUSTICE WARNS OF ASSAULT ON THE COURTS 'THROUGH PARTISAN POLITICS'-- Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, Sept. 25, 2012].
Florida Supreme Court Justice R. Fred Lewis issued an emotional appeal Monday [Sept. 24] to the Hillsborough County Bar Association about the importance of keeping politics out of judicial merit retention elections. The upcoming merit retention election for Lewis and two fellow justices — Peggy Quince and Barbara Pariente — is already unusual because conservative groups have organized to oppose the three based on their rulings. The stakes increased over the weekend as word spread of the decision last week by the state Republican Party to oppose the justices' retention. It is believed to be the first time a political party has become actively involved in a merit retention election since the state's current system was created in the 1970s. Also, on Monday, Americans for Prosperity, a conservative advocacy group, announced a political campaign it has been developing for months to highlight the judicial records of the justices. "I'm trusting that somewhere in the middle there are fair-minded individuals of all political persuasions that believe our court system is too valuable to kill for partisan politics."

AN INDEPENDENT COURT IS AT STAKE IN FLORIDA-- Tampa Bay Times, column, http://www.tampabay.com, Sept. 25, 2012. [Also: A BLATANT BID TO POLITICIZE THE COURTS-- Tampa Bay Times, editorial, http://www.tampabay.com, Sept. 25, 2012].
The guest column by retired Times associate editor Martin Dyckman states: "State or federal courts have now ruled against overreaching by [Gov. Rick] Scott and/or the Legislature on at least 10 occasions in just two years. . . . . The Legislature had already provided for electing judges on a nonpartisan basis, and Gov. Reubin Askew had already established a nominating commission system for interim appointments, when scandals at the Florida Supreme Court illuminated more work to do. . . . It was evident to the governor, the Legislature and the public that politics was at the root of the Supreme Court's disgrace. The outcome was a constitutional amendment providing for all justices (and judges of the district courts of appeal) to be appointed rather than elected. But they must submit their names for voter approval at six-year intervals. This is why Justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara J. Pariente and Peggy A. Quince are on the Nov. 6 ballot. . . . If the [Republican Party of Florida] succeeds in purging Lewis, Pariente and Quince, there's no longer any guarantee that their successors will be qualified, much less independent."

FORT MYERS JUDGE EYES FEDERAL BENCH-- The News-Press, http://www.news-press.com, Sept. 25, 2012.
U.S. Magistrate Sheri Polster Chappell of Fort Myers is getting closer to becoming a district court judge. Both of Florida’s senators — Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio — want the Senate to confirm her nomination to a seat in Florida's Middle District, which snakes from Collier County to the Georgia border near Jacksonville. However, political wrangling over a host of issues has meant little action on a mounting backlog of judicial nominations. Chappell, a magistrate since 2003, must first win approval by the Senate Judiciary Committee. She and four other judicial candidates also nominated by President Barack Obama answered committee members’ questions last week. Committee members have until this week to ask follow-up questions of Chappell and the other nominees. Any action will come after the election because the Senate is not due to return until at least mid-November. One Senate observer thinks the ballot box will determine the nominees' fates.

SHOULD CHIEF JUDGES BE LIMITED TO EIGHT YEARS TOTAL?-- Ocala Star Banner, http://www.ocala.com, Sept. 23, 2012.
Ever since it was proposed in February, an amendment from the Florida Supreme Court that would limit chief judges' terms to eight years total has met with widespread opposition from judges statewide — including some in the 5th Judicial Circuit. Opponents say term limits would unfairly force qualified chief judges to leave that role. They fear that the proposed system would politicize the inner echelons of Florida's 20 circuits and diminish the continuity of local court policies. On the other side of the argument, a majority on the Florida Supreme Court says that some chief judges acquire too much power and influence in their respective circuits. This can create a fiefdom-like environment in which other judges in the circuit are afraid to challenge the chief's authority. Arguments are ongoing and the Supreme Court has not made a final ruling.

MANATEE COUNTY CLERK OF COURT ACHIEVES GROUND-BREAKING EFFICIENCY-- The Bradenton Herald, editorial, http://www.bradenton.com, Sept. 25, 2012.
The editorial states: ". . . Rare is the elected official who can demonstrate cost reductions alongside greater efficiency, the hallmarks of private enterprise but scarce in the public sector. Manatee County boasts a public servant whose diligence and determination over many years has led to another ground-breaking administrative achievement one that has gained attention around the globe. R.B. 'Chips' Shore, Manatee County clerk of the circuit court and comptroller, has led the way on the creation of a cutting-edge court document e-filing system that saves money and time. This marks another step in the progression of his other innovations and improvements in document accessibility."

--Legal Profession--

UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI LEGAL FELLOWSHIPS PROVIDE REAL LIFE WORK EXPERIENCE-- The Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, Sept. 25, 2012.
When Matt Buser graduated from the University of Miami's law school last year, he was fortunate to find part-time work in a dismal job market for lawyers. But the placement, he realized, wasn't "a good fit." So when he heard about UM's Legal Corps initiative, he immediately applied for a fellowship to work at LegalArt, a nonprofit that offers artists free, reduced and bartered legal advice as well as educational opportunities. Started two years ago and funded by the university and outside private grants, Legal Corps is a six-month postgraduate fellowship program that places newly minted lawyers in public sector organizations and pays them a $2,500 monthly stipend. The goal: provide real-world experience for graduates while also helping organizations that might otherwise not be able to hire legal help.

--Civil Justice Issues--

FLORIDA'S EARLY VOTING BATTLE APPEARS OVER, COURT SAYS 8 (DAYS) IS ENOUGH-- Naples Daily News, http://www.naplesnews.com, Sept. 25, 2012. [Also: U.S. VOTER ID LAWS COULD BAR 10M HISPANICS-- HispanicBusiness.com, http://www.hispanicbusiness.com, Sept. 24, 2012].
The Naples Daily News article is by the News Service of Florida. The war over early voting in Florida ahead of November's presidential election appeared to wind down Monday, with a federal court refusing to block a portion of the state's 2011 elections law. In a ruling Monday [Sept. 24], U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan denied a request from Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown and others to issue an injunction to keep the state from reducing the number of early-voting days ahead of the Nov. 6 elections — when Florida could play pivotal roles in deciding which party wins the White House, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House.

--Other--

 STEPHEN CHARLES McALILEY-- The Palm Beach Post, http://www.legacy.com, Sept. 25, 2012.
The obituary is for attorney Stephen Charles McAliley, who died on Sept. 19. He was 78. A U.S. Army veteran, he graduated from the University of Florida College of Law in 1957 and was admitted to The Florida Bar later that year. He was Senior Partner of the West Palm Beach law firm Brennan, McAliley, Hayskar & McAliley, P. A.

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[Revised: 09-27-2012]