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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.

Nov. 14, 2013

--Judiciary--

JUDGE'S RULING OVERTURNED WILL OF THE VOTERS -- Florida Times-Union (requires subscription), Editorial, http://www.jacksonville.com, Nov. 13, 2013.
"In 1994, Florida’s voters overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment that banned the use of the gill nets commercial fishermen had been using to catch fish, especially mullet, like there was no tomorrow. In the intervening two decades, commercial fishermen have tried to get the ban overturned in the courts. They lost every time until they hooked a sympathetic judge, Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford of the Second Judicial Circuit . . . The real absurdity is that a single circuit court judge can issue a ruling that overturns the will of the state’s voters and affect the entire state, not just the circuit where that judge presides. Fulford’s order is now being considered by the First District Court of Appeal, which issued a stay."

ETHICS CASE AGAINST JUDGE LAURA WATSON WON'T BE DISMISSED -- Daily Business Review (requires subscription), http://www.dailybusinessreview.com, Nov. 13, 2013.
Broward Circuit Judge Laura Watson, battling an ethics investigation by the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission, could not persuade the chair to dismiss the case Wednesday [Nov. 13] at a hearing. Watson was elected to the circuit a year ago, and she is being tried for her conduct as an insurance litigator in a case that produced a $14.5 million settlement with Progressive Insurance in 2004. On the eve of Watson's election, The Florida Bar found probable case but did not proceed because she became a judge. Following up the Bar's findings, the JQC alleged Watson improperly allocated settlement funds, failed to inform clients of conflicts of interest in the settlement, failed to provide clients with closing statements or failed to advise them of material facts necessary to make an informed decision. The court set trial for Feb. 10.

--Civil Justice Issues--

FLORIDA TEACHER VALUE-ADDED DATA IS PUBLIC RECORD, APPEAL COURT RULES -- Florida Times-Union (requires subscription), http://www.jacksonville.com, Nov. 13, 2013.
According to a ruling released Tuesday [Nov. 12] by the 1st District Court of Appeal, Florida’s controversial value-added teacher data are public record. The Times-Union sued the state in February for the data’s release. Tuesday’s decision reverses a lower circuit court ruling in March, which concluded the data were exempt from public inspection. According to state law, a teacher’s evaluation is not subject to disclosure under the public records law until a year following the school year in which the evaluation was given, but “it does not follow that any information or data used to prepare the evaluation is likewise exempt from disclosure,” the appeal court ruled. The value-added calculation is half of a teacher’s total evaluation. The other half comes from observations made by principals and other personnel. The Times-Union asked the state’s Department of Education on Tuesday when the data would be released to the paper. In response, a spokeswoman said the department is reviewing the opinion and considering all options.

ORLANDO HAS UPTICK IN NUMBER OF HOMES ENTERING FORECLOSURE -- Orlando Sentinel, http://www.orlandosentinel.com, Nov. 14, 2013.
Even though Central Florida's housing market has been recovering for more than a year, the number of Orlando-area homeowners entering foreclosure has increased for a second consecutive month, a new report released today [Nov. 13] by the real-estate research firm RealtyTrac shows. Florida as a whole saw an increase of 36 percent in first-time filings. The statewide increase may be tied to a new foreclosure-expediting law that took effect in July, experts said. After the law took effect, banks could process uncontested foreclosures without going through the usual process, which took about four years. Initial foreclosure filings fell by almost half in the months after the new law took effect but now the first-time actions are climbing again. The longer-term view shows signs of an overall recovery for the housing market throughout the region. Compared with a year ago, foreclosure actions of all types declined 21 percent in the four-county Orlando area.

--Other--

FREDDIE WORTHEN, FORMER VOLUSIA COUNTY JUDGE, DIES -- Daytona Beach News-Journal, http:/www.news-journalonline.com, Nov. 14, 2013.
Freddie J. Worthen, a former Volusia County judge and Army veteran known for his dedication and work ethic, died Saturday [Nov. 9]. Worthen, 79, retired from his judgeship in 2005 after spending 15 years hearing misdemeanor, criminal and traffic cases at the Courthouse Annex in Daytona Beach. The Seville native studied biology at Florida A&M University before joining the U.S. Army and serving as a second lieutenant for 22 years. He retired as a lieutenant colonel and received a bronze star for his service in Vietnam. After graduating from Howard University Law School, Worthen worked at a private practice in Daytona Beach before becoming a prosecutor for the State Attorney’s office in 1982. In 1989 he was appointed judge by Gov. Bob Martinez, making him the second black to serve as a county judge.

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[Revised: 11-15-2013]