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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.


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Nov. 6, 2012

--Judiciary--


FLORIDA VOTERS WON'T BE FOOLED AGAIN — OR WILL WE?-- The Miami Herald, column, http://www.miamiherald.com, Nov. 3, 2012.
The column by Carl Hiassen states: "There are so many bad constitutional amendments on Florida's ballot that it’s hard to know where to start. . . . [One] amendment for which there's absolutely no public clamor is Amendment 5, which would give legislators unprecedented sway over Florida's judiciary. . . . It's the pet project of House Speaker Dean Cannon, a Winter Park Republican. . . . Amendment 5. . . would have the state Senate confirm all Supreme Court appointments. . . .[Cannon] thinks state senators should pick our Supreme Court justices. In addition, Cannon wants the entire Legislature to be able to change, by simple majority votes, procedural rules that govern the courts. . . . He calls this 'checks and balances,' but it's really a flagrant dismantling of the constitutional boundaries between the Legislature and the justice system. The result would be the total political pollution of our courts."

FLORIDA'S NEW BATTLEGROUND: THE STATE SUPREME COURT-- WFSU Newsroom, http://news.wfsu.org, Nov. 6, 2012. [Also: GROUP: VOID VOTE ON JUSTICES-- The Tampa Tribune, http://www.tbo.com, Nov. 6, 2012].
In Florida, Supreme Court justices are nominated by a commission and appointed by the governor. Every six years, they're up for retention. Voters decide whether to keep them on the bench or let them go. Since the system was put in place in the 1970s, retention votes have been low-key. This year, however, conservative activists have set their sights on reshaping one of the state's most powerful bodies. Fred Lewis, one of three Supreme Court justices up for retention, says conservative groups are injecting politics into a judiciary that's intended to be nonpartisan and independent. Ratcheting up the pressure on the justices recently, Florida's Republican Party also announced it is opposing their retention. It's the first time the Florida GOP has ever taken a stand opposing a sitting justice. The head of the state party, Lenny Curry, rejects charges that Republicans are playing politics with the state's highest court. Separately, on Monday [Nov. 5], an Atlanta-based conservative legal group asked the Florida Supreme Court to prevent voters from retaining its own justices by blocking their up-or-down votes from being counted.

--Legal Profession--

JUDGES ATTEND BREAKFAST WITH YOUNG LAWYERS-- Jacksonville Daily Record, http://www.jaxdailyrecord.com, Nov. 5, 2012.
In an ongoing effort to encourage civility and collegiality in the 4th Circuit, The Jacksonville Bar Association's Young Lawyers Section hosted a Judicial Breakfast on Thursday [Nov. 1] at the Duval County Courthouse. The program was created to provide a social atmosphere where lawyers can interact with judges outside of the courtroom. The Young Lawyers Section helps attorneys new to the 4th Circuit familiarize themselves with the area through its "Afternoon at the Courthouse" program. This year's event will be from 1-5 p.m., Nov. 20, at the Duval County Courthouse.

LAWYERS SEE HIGH STAKES IN WHISTLE-BLOWER CLAIMS-- Daily Business Review, http://www.dailybusinessreview.com, Nov. 5, 2012.
Attorneys who work in the tax litigation world are filing numerous claims on behalf of clients providing information to the Internal Revenue Service under a five-year-old whistle-blower statute that allows them to share in any bounty recovered. This can mean millions of dollars not just for the client, but for the lawyers who stick by them through a lengthy process. "I think it's the new wave of the plaintiffs' work," said Fort Lauderdale tax litigator Jeffrey Neiman. The IRS whistle-blower statute allows for the person providing the information to receive between 15 and 30 percent of what the government’s recoups from the tax cheat. [Subscription required.]

CHANGE ON THE WAY FOR ANTIQUATED ALIMONY LAWS-- Daily Business Review, column, http://www.dailybusinessreview.com, Nov. 6, 2012.
The guest column by Jason Marks, attorney and partner at Miami-based Kluger, Kaplan, Silverman, Katzen & Levine, states: "In response to sweeping reforms in other states, legislators in Florida — one of whom ironically is now going through his own divorce — have introduced parallel bills in the Florida House and Senate that are intended to bring what many perceive to be antiquated laws concerning alimony into the 21st century. . . . Key provisions of the bills would limit the maximum duration of alimony based on the length of the marriage, terminate alimony at full retirement age, which is currently age 66, and cap alimony." [Subscription required.]

--Civil Justice Issues--

UNDERCOVER MOTHER: LEE MOM SEEKS TEACHERS' 'TRUE COLORS' WITH SECRET RECORDING-- Naples Daily News, http://www.naplesnews.com, Nov. 5, 2012.
The sound of her 10-year-old son crying in his bedroom confirmed Babe Cook's suspicions. Something was wrong at school. For months, Christopher, who has autism, had begged his mother not to take him to Tice Elementary School. Cook said she talked to the teachers to no avail. No one knew the cause of the problem. Once cheerful, Christopher became withdrawn and started slipping on his schoolwork. So Cook did something a handful of other parents nationwide have done in recent years — she slipped a recorder into his backpack and recorded his school day. The move raises questions beyond the legal realm, questions about a parent's role in their child's education and a teacher's right to privacy in a classroom full of children. At issue: Where is the line between being a proactive parent and going too far?

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[Revised: 11-07-2012]