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.
April 4, 2014
SENATE PASSES SUPREME COURT PICK AMENDMENT ON PARTY LINE VOTE -- The Florida Current, http://www.thefloridacurrent.com, April 4, 2014. [Also: SENATE PASSES BALLOT MEASURE ON COURT APPOINTMENTS -- Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, April 4, 2014.]
The Senate voted 26-14 along party lines in favor of SB 1188, with Republicans in favor and Democrats voting against it. The constitutional amendment, to be placed on November's ballot, would allow the winner of the 2014 gubernatorial election to select three Florida Supreme Court justices whose terms expire the same day as the next governor’s term. Florida Supreme Court justices are required to retire when they turn 70, but can serve out the remainder of their six-year terms if their 70th birthdays fall in the second half of the term. Democrats opposed the amendment, saying the constitution should instead be clarified to allow the incoming governor and winner of the 2018 election to pick the justices. There is currently no companion measure in the House to the amendment.
COURT DOCUMENTS IN BROWARD GOING ONLINE -- Daily Business Review (requires subscription), http://www.dailybusinessreview.com, April 4, 2014.
Broward Clerk of Courts Howard Forman announced Thursday [April 3] that an electronic court records website will be operating by WiFi at all four Broward courthouses, allowing attorneys and people with hearings in the Broward County courthouses to view case details and documents on their laptops beginning Monday [April 7]. Access to the website will be free. Creation of the website was a joint project of the clerk and the judicial circuit. There are some restrictions. Documents cannot be downloaded or printed, the website may not be compatible with all portable devices, some areas in the courthouse have poor or no WiFi coverage, and the use of laptops in courtrooms is at the discretion of judges.
GOV. SCOTT NOT CONCERNED ABOUT DIVERSITY IN THE COURTS -- South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Letter to the Editor, http://www.sun-sentinel.com, April 4, 2014.
Marni Lawrence from Boca Raton writes regarding the March 24 editorial "Florida's courts should reflect state's diversity." She writes, "The numbers are shocking regarding the lack of diversity in Florida's judiciary system. The quality of our judicial system is jeopardized due to a lack of diverse representation. It is concerning to learn that the power of one man, Gov. Rick Scott, is enough to address this problem and he chooses to focus elsewhere. If state legislation requires nominated commissions to reflect the diversity of the state, and Gov. Rick Scott is not compliant, what can be done? The Florida Bar created a task force, encouraging qualified minorities to apply for membership . . . I support efforts of [The] Florida Bar to find a solution to increase representation of minorities within the judiciary system."
APPLICATIONS TAKEN FOR JUDICIAL POST -- Winter Haven News Chief, http://www.newschief.com, April 4, 2014.
Applications are being accepted to fill a circuit judge vacancy created with the retirement of Circuit Judge Beth Harlan. Circuit judges for the 10th Judicial Circuit oversee cases in Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties. Applications for the position are being accepted by the 10th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission, which will interview and select potential candidates to submit to the governor's office. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. May 2. Application forms can be obtained from The Florida Bar website.
FORMER POLK COUNTY JUDICIAL ASSISTANT GETS 300 DAYS IN JAIL, PROBATION -- The Ledger, http://www.theledger.com, April 3, 2014.
Alisha Marie Rupp, the former judicial assistant charged with falsifying time cards to get paid for time she didn’t work and lying that a bailiff sexually harassed her, was sentenced Wednesday [April 2] to 300 days in the Polk County Jail. Chief Judge Belvin Perry Jr. of the 9th Judicial Circuit also sentenced her to 185 days of house arrest followed by two years’ probation. She was ordered to paid restitution of $4,879. Perry said Rupp, 34, had violated a “special trust” that citizens place in employees of the judicial branch. He said judicial assistants play a “very special role” in the justice system. Since judges can’t have outside communication with parties involved in cases before them, their judicial assistants act as liaisons for tasks such as helping the parties set hearings. Circuit Judge Beth Harlan, Rupp's former boss, was also facing criminal charges of approving Rupp’s false time cards. Last week, Harlan agreed to retire in exchange for prosecutors dropping charges against her.