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. 26, 2012
NASSAU JUDGE CONTINUES TO WAIT FOR SENATE CONFIRMATION-- The Florida Times-Union, http://www.jacksonville.com, Nov. 23, 2012.
Fourth Circuit Judge Brian Davis is waiting for a confirmation vote that may never come. Davis, who presides in Nassau County, was appointed by President Barack Obama to a federal judgeship in February. Nine months later, the Senate still hasn't voted on confirming him, and Davis' nomination will expire when Congress adjourns at the end of the year. Obama could appoint Davis again when the new Congress is seated in January, but that doesn't mean a vote to confirm will be forthcoming.
36 PEOPLE APPLY TO FILL JUDICIAL VACANCY FOLLOWING DEATH OF JUDGE WRIGHT-- The Ledger, http://www.theledger.com, Nov. 22, 2012.
Thirty-six people have applied to become a circuit judge in the 10th Circuit, which encompasses Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties. The judicial post became vacant after the death of Judge Karla Foreman Wright on Oct. 1. The 10th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission will conduct interviews on Nov. 29 and Nov. 30 to narrow the list to no more than six candidates, whose names will be sent to Gov. Rick Scott for consideration.
AGE-LIMIT QUESTIONS RAISED BY 4TH DCA JUDGE HAZOURI'S RETIREMENT-- Daily Business Review, http://www.dailybusinessreview.com, Nov. 23, 2012.
Fourth District Court of Appeal Judge Fred Hazouri will go from monitoring the performance of senior judges to perhaps becoming one after he retires in January. Hazouri, who turns 70 next June, decided not to stand for merit retention in this month's election to make the transition for his replacement easier. "I don't feel like I'm ready for retirement, but that's what the Constitution says," Hazouri said. The state Constitution sets 70 as the mandatory retirement age for Florida judges. Those who reach 70 in the first half of a term must step aside immediately. Louis Silber, chairman of the Fourth District's Judicial Nominating Commission, said Hazouri "works out every day" and is a "perfect example" of why there should not be a judicial age limit. A bill to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot raising the mandatory retirement age for judges from 70 to 75 won state Senate approval last winter but stalled in the House. Hazouri, whose last day on the bench is Jan. 7, said he hopes to keep busy professionally, combining private mediation work with senior judge duties. Hazouri is married to Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente, who just won merit retention but will face her own retirement questions in the 2018 election cycle. [Subscription required.]
MIAMI POLICE UNION: REMOVE STAR STRUCK JUDGE-- The Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, Nov. 25, 2012.
The Miami police union is requesting a judge be taken off the case after he had a court aide snap photographs of Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado. The police union sued Miami for allegedly violating Florida's Sunshine Law by allowing "unauthorized individuals" to attend a closed-door meeting in 2010. Regalado testified on Nov. 5 before Judge Spencer Eig. In a signed affidavit, Fraternal Order of Police Vice President Javier Ortiz said Eig handed a cell phone to a court employee, who then used the phone as a camera. Ortiz did not know exactly who or what was photographed, but said it appeared that the court personnel was taking photographs of the mayor and the judge. The union wants Eig off the trial. "The FOP has an objectively reasonable belief that the trial judge will show bias and favoritism toward the city. . . and well-grounded fear that it will not receive a fair trial," union attorney Robert Cohen wrote in court papers filed last week. Regalado said it was a bailiff who wanted the photograph — and called the situation "silly."
POST-ELECTION TICKET CLINIC LAW FIRM FOCUSES ON GETTING JUDGE CARR OFF ITS CASES-- Naples Daily News, http://www.naplesnews.com, Nov. 25, 2012.
It's a four-year battle that began simmering before the elections, when an East coast law firm paid for ads that helped unseat Collier's longest running county judge, Judge Eugene Turner. Now, The Ticket Clinic is continuing its fight against another incumbent Collier County judge, Judge Mike Carr, asking a circuit judge to preclude Carr from hearing cases handled by Ticket Clinic lawyers. Before the elections and for several days after, Carr was granting the motions that he step down. He's no longer doing so. Collier County judges and The Ticket Clinic, a Fort Lauderdale law firm that defends drivers in traffic cases, have been at odds since 2008, when firm owner Ted Hollander gathered statistics to show Collier judges suspended licenses in speeding cases more than judges elsewhere. The law firm battled each case and appealed those they lost. In 2011, a panel of circuit judges overruled many of the license suspensions. The appeal panel asked county judges to provide more justification when suspending licenses. Later that year, Carr reheard one of the cases and again suspended the license, detailing why.
--Civil Justice Issues--
DEBATE ALIMONY REFORM, BUT BE SURE IT'S FAIR-- Orlando Sentinel, editorial, http://www.orlandosentinel.com, Nov. 23, 2012.
The editorial states: ". . . Current law says a judge can make you pay alimony until you die, or until your former spouse remarries. . . . As it stands, 'permanent alimony' amounts to a life sentence. It is an outdated law that should be changed in the next session of the Legislature. Permanent alimony made sense in an era when few women worked outside the home. But today there are stories of never-ending alimony handcuffing families old and new. . . Recent changes have failed to stem the unfairness and acrimony over long-term divorce payments. Instead, there are continued stories of spouses forced into bankruptcy as they approach retirement age, or who can't re-marry because their new mate's income will raise the family's income and result in higher alimony payments. Florida's alimony law should be changed to better reflect the changing times. . . . In reforming alimony, lawmakers should ensure that the pendulum doesn't swing to the other side and unduly penalize those who deserve payments."
KEYS LAWYERS FIGHT THE STATE OVER DUI RULES-- Florida Keysnews, http://www.keysnews.com, Nov. 26, 2012.
For the last two years, a battle has been waged by two Keys defense attorneys and the state over whether Department of Motor Vehicles hearing officials should be allowed to appear telephonically in driver license proceedings in Monroe County — a legal row that could send ripples across the state. Central to the issue is the legal right of a person who has been charged with DUI to an administrative hearing in which they can review their license suspension by examining and questioning witnesses, review evidence and take testimony "in the judicial circuit where the notice of [license] suspension was issued," according to the law. Since July 1, 2010, if a law enforcement officer does not show up for a defendant's license hearing, the DMV tells him or her to take their case to court, instead of automatically granting a temporary permit, as was the previous policy for decades. Not having a hearing officer present in which law enforcement must present evidence in the case violates defendants' constitutional rights to due process, said defense attorneys Hal Schumacher and LaSonya O'Connell.
35 PONZI VICTIMS SUE TD BANK, ROTHSTEIN FOR $72 MILLION-- Sun-Sentinel, http://www.sun-sentinel.com, Nov. 24, 2012.
Convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein and TD Bank were hit this week with a lawsuit filed by 35 cheated investors looking to recover $72 million in losses. Calling the bank "Rothstein's key conspirator in the Ponzi scheme," the lawsuit filed by attorney William Scherer accuses the bank of legitimizing the illegal enterprise, disregarding red flags that should have exposed the fraud, lying to investors and covering up incriminating documents after Rothstein's empire collapsed in October 2009. Rothstein's scheme was the largest investment fraud in South Florida history, costing hundreds of investors a total of $1.4 billion. He is now serving a 50-year prison sentence and has testified in civil depositions, during which he outlined his misdeeds and named those who allegedly helped him get away with it — including TD Bank.
REAR-END COLLISION CASES RESOLVED BY FLORIDA SUPREME COURT-- The Ledger, http://www.theledger.com, Nov. 22, 2012.
The article is by The Associated Press. The second driver is not automatically solely at fault in rear-end collisions, the Florida Supreme Court ruled on Thursday as it resolved a pair of conflicting lower court decisions. The justices unanimously agreed that juries should be allowed to compare the negligence of each driver in a lawsuit regardless of who the plaintiff is and apportion blame accordingly. They upheld one appellate court ruling that came to the same conclusion in a Seminole County case and quashed another from Palm Beach County.
JUSTICES ISSUE SPLIT DECISION ON IMMIGRANT ISSUE IN FLORIDA SUPREME COURT-- The Ledger, http://www.theledger.com, Nov. 24, 2012.
The article is by The Associated Press. Non-U.S. citizens can appeal convictions resulting from guilty or no-contest pleas on grounds that defense lawyers failed to warn them they'd face almost certain deportation, the Florida Supreme Court said in three opinions Thursday. However, the justices also said their decision cannot be applied retroactively to convictions that occurred before a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court opinion in a similar case from Kentucky, except for appeals filed prior to that decision.