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.
Dec. 26, 2012
TOUGH DECISIONS MUST BE MADE TO REPAIR COURT SYSTEM-- Daily Business Review, column, http://www.dailybusinessreview.com, Dec. 24, 2012.
The guest column by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Ellen Leesfield, who resigned effective Jan. 31 after 19 years on the bench, states: "When I composed my letter of resignation to the governor, I felt it important to inform him of the dire situation in the Miami-Dade court system, which was causing the premature loss of so many quality judges. . . . I remain open to serve this administration in any way I can — any think tank or committee for the betterment of the courts. In the resignation letter, I wrote: '. . . The courts need to add, not reduce, resources. We need additional judges, and we sorely need additional legal researchers. I recognize that public money is scarce. Tough decisions must be made. But our judicial system is at a breaking point, and justice is a good investment. The system needs your assistance in encouraging our legislature to support our courts.'" [Subscription required.]
NEW GENERATION OF JUDGES SERVING ON FEDERAL BENCH IN SOUTH FLORIDA-- The Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, Dec. 24, 2012.
U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola Jr., a former Miami-Dade prosecutor and state circuit court judge, relishes his role as one of three new members on South Florida’s federal bench, which is experiencing a generational sea change as the result of several retirements and presidential appointments. Over the past few years, the federal court in the Southern District of Florida has seen the departure of four judges — Daniel T.K. Hurley, Paul C. Huck, Alan S. Gold and Patricia A. Seitz — who have gone on "senior" status, meaning they handle lighter caseloads. Another federal judge, Adalberto Jordan, was confirmed this year as a member of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. Those five vacancies, in one of the busiest federal districts for criminal and civil cases in the country, accounted for about one-third of all the positions on the federal bench in South Florida. The retirements have generated coveted openings that have been filled by Scola; Kathleen M. Williams, a former Miami federal public defender; and Robin S. Rosenbaum, a former Fort Lauderdale federal magistrate judge.
SPECIAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE COURT COMES TO PINELLAS IN JANUARY-- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, Dec. 23, 2012.
Every year, more than 3,500 people walk into Pinellas County courts and accuse a spouse or significant other of abuse. Court officials, however, have long been without enough resources to oversee whether conditions set by judges are followed. That's about to change. Thanks to a $300,000 grant and a year of planning, the Sixth Circuit will unveil a new civil domestic violence court next month. The special dockets will serve people who have made domestic violence allegations. People given orders by the judges will now be required to return to court to prove that they're complying with the conditions. The money allows the court to hire staff who can track the cases.
GOVERNOR APPOINTS JUDGE TO LAKELAND-BASED 2ND DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL-- Winter Haven News-Chief, http://www.newschief.com, Dec. 22, 2012.
Circuit Judge Daniel H. Sleet of Tampa was appointed to the Lakeland-based 2nd District Court of Appeal on Friday [Dec. 21] by Gov. Rick Scott. Sleet, 51, has served on the 13th Circuit bench since 2006. Before that, Sleet practiced law with Barr, Murman, Tonelli, Slother & Sleet from 1991 to 2006. Sleet will fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Judge James W. Whatley, who had served on the court since his appointment in 1995 by the late Gov. Lawton Chiles.
FLAGLER COUNTY MAY GIVE COURTHOUSE TO BUNNELL -- Daytona Beach News-Journal, http://www.news-journalonline.com , Dec. 24, 2012.
Flagler County and Bunnell officials will meet Thursday [Dec. 27] to discuss the possible transfer of the Historic Courthouse to the city. "That building has deep roots in Bunnell," City Manager Armando Martinez said Friday [Dec. 21]. "We think it is very important to the revitalization of the downtown." Consensus was reached during a July workshop about how to proceed and an interlocal agreement was drawn up by County Attorney Al Hadeed, but with a new request by Bunnell and new commissioners seated on the County Commission the agreement could change, County Administrator Craig Coffey wrote in a memo to the County Commission.
LAWYER TAKES CHILD-SUPPORT PRACTICE ON THE ROAD-- The Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, Dec. 24, 2012.
Her clients know her as "the child support lady with the cool truck." Chantale Suttle thinks that's a pretty good description of her and her months-old business, DADvocacy. For almost 20 years, she’s dealt with child support issues. In law school at the University of Miami, she interned in the child support office, and she went on to handle child support issues as a prosecutor, defense attorney and magistrate judge. These days, she helps dads navigate the child support system from her mobile office: a bulletproof truck, wrapped with a photo of a man's muscular, crossed arms, complete with a soundproof consultation room, sports magazines, sodas — and free diapers. For teen dads, she does it for free. Older dads can get help for a flat fee.
--Civil Justice Issues--
PROSECUTOR TO FOCUS ON BACKLOGGED DUIs-- Florida Keys Keynoter, http://www.keysnet.com, Dec. 22, 2012.
The Monroe County State Attorney's Office is set to get some relief from the 400 backlogged drunken-driving cases it faces. This week, attorney Nick Trovato, a former prosecutor, joined the staff to specifically prosecute people charged with driving under the influence. As part of that, the office will expand efforts to educate the public against the dangers of drunken driving. Incoming State Attorney Catherine Vogel hasn't taken office yet but said she worked to secure the hire after the nonprofit Monroe County Coalition approached the State Attorney's Office. For the DUI and related efforts, the coalition and the Guidance Care Center received a $191,000 grant administered by the South Florida Behavioral Health Network through the state Department of Children and Families.
--Criminal Justice Issues--
LAWYERS QUESTION NECESSITY, COST OF LOCAL STATE ATTORNEY’S AVID PURSUIT OF THE DEATH PENALTY IN MURDER CASES-- The Palm Beach Post, http://www.palmbeachpost.com, Dec. 26, 2012.
With his arm wrapped tightly around his wife, Naomi, Gerard Gonsalves seemed to be protecting her from the looming possibility that the loss of one son could cost them the other. At a recent court hearing, the West Palm Beach couple looked on as psychologists and psychiatrists told a judge what they already knew: Their 24-year-old son Brandin suffers from a panoply of mental ills. Brandin stabbed his 25-year-old brother 69 times in a fatal attack he has said was ordered by God. Still reeling from the loss, the couple is now confronted with another: The state wants to kill their youngest son for killing their firstborn. The case underscores the problems with a system State Attorney Peter Antonacci instituted when he was appointed in March, some defense attorneys say. Now, instead of asking a committee of top prosecutors to review every case to determine which accused killer should die for his or her crime, the office automatically seeks the death penalty in all first-degree murder cases. Under the policy, the number of death penalty cases has doubled from 12 in 2009 to 24 this year. Defense attorneys say they hope the policy changes when State Attorney-elect Dave Aronberg takes office in January.
FLORIDA LED THE NATION IN DEATH SENTENCES IN 2012, REPORT SAYS-- Orlando Sentinel, http://www.orlandosentinel.com, Dec. 25, 2012.
A report by a national nonprofit group that studies the death penalty found that Florida remains among the most active states in using it and put more defendants on Death Row in 2012 than any other state. The Death Penalty Information Center's report reveals that only nine states executed a prisoner this year, with Florida putting three to death. Texas, with 15, executed the most defendants, the report states. However, the Sunshine State far exceeded other states in new death sentences: 21 defendants were sentenced to die in Florida through mid-December, the research says. That's more than twice Texas' figure for the same period. There are 406 people on Death Row in Florida, according to Department of Corrections records.
BILL MCBRIDE, 67, FORMER CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR AND HUSBAND OF ALEX SINK, DIES OF HEART ATTACK-- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, Dec. 23, 2012. [Also: MEMORIAL SET FOR EX-FLORIDA GOVERNOR CANDIDATE-- The Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, Dec. 25, 2012; BILL MCBRIDE, WHO RAN FOR FLORIDA GOVERNOR AGAINST JEB BUSH, DIES AT 67-- The Palm Beach Post, http://www.palmbeachpost.com, Dec. 23, 2012; FORMER DEMOCRATIC GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE BILL MCBRIDE DIES-- The Tampa Tribune, http://www.tbo.com, Dec. 23, 2012].
From the Tampa Bay Times: Bill McBride, a gregarious Tampa lawyer with a common touch whose dream of being governor of Florida ended in a loss to Jeb Bush in 2002, died Saturday [Dec. 22]. He was 67. McBride, the husband of Alex Sink, who was the 2010 Democratic candidate for governor, suffered a heart attack while on a holiday trip to North Carolina. After a year of law school at the University of Florida, McBride joined the Marines, rose to the rank of captain and received the Bronze Star with a Combat V for valor for service during the Vietnam War. He graduated law school at UF after his military service. After a decade in charge of Holland & Knight's global operations spanning six countries, he joined the Tampa law firm of Barnett, Bolt, Kirkwood, Long & McBride. He was a senior partner at the time of his death.