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.
January 17, 2013.
2 LEE COUNTY ATTORNEYS SELECTED FOR TWENTIETH CIRCUIT JUDICIAL NOMINATING COMMISSION -- News-Press, http://www.news-press.com, Jan. 10, 2013.
Gov. Rick Scott named two local attorneys to the Twentieth Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission. The commission, which is made up of nine members, makes recommendations to the governor for judicial appointments. Two locals named Thursday [Jan. 10] were Lisa A. Musial and Aaron J. O’Brien. Musial, of Cape Coral, is an attorney with Musial & Musial Co. Musial succeeds Douglas L. Rankin. Her term ends July 1, 2016. O’Brien, of Fort Myers, is the founder of the O’Brien Law Firm. O’Brien fills a vacant seat. His term ends July 1, 2015.
MIAMI BEACH RENEWS CITY ATTORNEY'S CONTRACT -- Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, Jan. 17, 2013.
Jose Smith will be Miami Beach's city attorney for two more years. The City Commission on Wednesday renewed Smith's contract, giving him a cost-of-living increase but decreasing his severance pay and taking away pay for planning days. The changes mean that Smith, who has represented the city for seven years, will make less money over the next two years, he told commissioners. Smith voluntarily reduced his agreed-upon severance pay to 20 weeks and accepted Commissioner Jerry Libbins request to forgo 12 days of planning pay, which many city employees get. Smith told commissioners he plans to retire after his two years are up, when he is 65.
STATE HIGH COURT ASKED TO DECIDE WHETHER JUDGES, LAWYERS CAN BE FACEBOOK FRIENDS -- Palm Beach Post, http://www.palmbeachpost.com, Jan. 17, 2013.
In an effort to make sure people receive fair trials in these social media-crazed times, a local appeals court is asking the Florida Supreme Court to decide whether judges should step down from cases if they are Facebook friends with the prosecutor. Calling it a matter of “great public importance” the 4th District Court of Appeal on Wednesday [Jan. 16] said it’s time for the high court to decide whether being “friends” on Facebook strips a judge of his or her ability to sit as an impartial observer. Having disqualified a Broward County judge from a case because of his Facebook friendship with the prosecutor, the appeals court has considered the impact of the latest collision between cyberspace and justice.
TEACHERS GO AFTER MERIT PAY LAW IN COURT -- Orlando Sentinel, http://www.orlandosentinel.com, Jan. 17, 2013.
Members of the statewide teachers union Wednesday [Jan. 16] pressed a Tallahassee circuit judge to overturn a controversial 2011 law that bases teacher evaluations and pay on student test scores. Lawyers for the Florida Education Association argued with the state for nearly two hours over whether the Florida Legislature violated the Constitution when it passed the law. The union argued that teacher compensation is subject to collective bargaining and that the new law required school boards to unilaterally set up a new salary schedule. Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper spent most of the two-hour hearing peppering both sides with questions. He acknowledged that he was nowhere close to making a decision.
--Criminal Justice Issues--
JURY FINDS CORTNEE BRANTLEY GUILTY, BUT JUDGE WAITS -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, Jan. 17, 2013.
A jury of 12 peers decided Wednesday that Cortnee Brantley committed a federal crime while trading phone calls and text messages with Dontae Morris in the minutes after the fatal shootings of two Tampa police officers. The jury voted to convict her. U.S. District Judge James S. Moody Jr. did not take the routine step of formally adjudicating Brantley guilty. It's unclear whether he will. Skeptical from the outset of the charge against her, he reserved the right to rule on pending motions. They include a motion for acquittal, which her attorney renewed in a filing late Wednesday [Jan. 16]. A hearing has not been scheduled.
REPEAL OF STAND YOUR GROUND LAW FACES ROCKY ROAD -- Bradenton Herald, http://www.bradenton.com, Jan. 17, 2013.
A handful of Democratic lawmakers have filed bills to repeal or scale back the self-defense statute that allows people who fear for their lives to use deadly force. While Gov. Rick Scott said Tuesday [Jan. 15] that reviewing gun laws was "the right thing to do," the proposals face an uphill battle in the Republican-led and gun-friendly Legislature. The pitch to repeal the Stand Your Ground law is a long-shot proposal from Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, and Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee.
--Civil Justice Issues--
FLORIDA'S FORECLOSURE RATE HIGHEST IN U.S. IN 2012 -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, Jan. 17, 2013.
Florida is still suffering beneath a deluge of home foreclosures, leading the nation with the highest state foreclosure rate of 2012, research firm RealtyTrac reported today [Jan. 17]. One in 32 homes in the Sunshine State faced foreclosure last year, more than double the national average. That equates to nearly 280,000 homes receiving a notice of default, bank auction or repossession. Though statewide home sales are up and prices are on the rise, the widespread glut of unpaid mortgages continues to beat back a full recovery.