The Florida Bar

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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Oct. 11, 2012


YES ON FLORIDA SUPREME COURT JUSTICES-- Tampa Bay Times, editorial,, Oct. 11, 2012. [Also: RETAIN FOUR COURT OF APPEAL JUDGES-- Tampa Bay Times, editorial,, Oct. 11, 2012].
The first editorial states: "The merit retention questions on Florida Supreme Court justices are generally routine and attract little attention, because the court is well respected and has operated without scandal for decades. This year is different. This year, three justices are under an unprecedented political assault . . . Floridians should reject this attempt to intimidate and politicize the state's highest court, and they should retain Justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara J. Pariente and Peggy A. Quince." The second editorial states: "Four 2nd District Court of Appeal judges also are on the Nov. 6 ballot for merit retention: Judges Anthony K. Black, Darryl C. Casanueva, Charles A. Davis Jr. and Edward C. LaRose. Two pieces of information are instructive. . . . . A check of [ Judicial Qualifications Commission] records found that none of the jurists up for merit retention have had formal charges brought against them while in their current positions. Second, the Florida Bar poll of more than 7,800 lawyers asked those with at least limited knowledge of the judges whether they should be retained. On the 2nd DCA, each of the four judges won at least 92 percent support for merit retention. On all four merit retention questions for the 2nd District Court of Appeal, the Tampa Bay Times recommends a yes vote."

GOP VS. MERIT RETENTION-- The Ledger, editorial,, Oct. 11, 2012.
The editorial states: ". . .The state [Republican] party announced Sept. 21 that its executive board had voted to oppose the three Florida Supreme Court justices on the ballot for merit retention in the Nov. 6 general election. Tuesday, [Gov. Rick] Scott supported the state party in the matter, reported The Miami Herald. . . .Merit retention is a yes-or-no vote on whether a judge should continue on the bench. The change in the Florida Constitution was an important part of the solution for corruption that had grown out of judicial elections in Florida. . . . Scott knows better than to back away from the principle of judicial neutrality. He is a lawyer. Thankfully, three other prominent Republican lawyers in Florida are pushing back against the state party. Former U.S. attorneys Roberto Martinez and Marcos Jimenez — and Allison DeFoor, a former judge and former candidate for lieutenant governor — wrote a letter Oct. 1 calling on the state party's executive board to reverse its decision, reported The Herald."

AMENDMENT 5 WILL RESTORE BALANCE TO STATE GOVERNMENT-- The Gainesville Sun, column,, Oct. 11, 2012.
The guest column by outgoing Speaker of the House Dean Cannon states: "The genius of the American system comes from the recognition that the power of government should be structured and constrained. This November, Floridians, by voting for Amendment 5, will have the opportunity to adopt an appropriate system of checks and balances for our state's judicial and legislative branches."

NEW TV SPOT DEFENDS JUSTICES-- The Palm Beach Post,, Oct. 9, 2012. [Also: JUDICIAL DEFENSE GROUP GOES ON AIR-- Orlando Sentinel,, Oct. 9, 2012; FLORIDA SUPREME COURT JUSTICES' RETENTION FIGHT TAKES TO AIRWAVES-- Daily Business Review,, Oct. 11, 2012 {Subscription required}.]
From The Palm Beach Post: An organization supporting three Florida Supreme Court justices facing merit retention this fall began running a TV spot Tuesday criticizing "politicians in Tallahassee" looking to overhaul the court. The ad, by Defend Justice from Politics, is airing a spot in West Palm Beach, Miami and Tampa markets that condemn the push to defeat the last three justices appointed by a Democratic governor. The spot calls it a "political power grab." Justices Barbara Pariente, Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince are facing what is shaping up as the most vigorous merit retention fight in Florida history.

COURTS SEEK PAY RAISES, BUDGET HIKE-- The Florida Current,, Oct. 11, 2012.
The state courts system is looking for a $35.7 million budget increase in next year's legislative session, including a 3.5 percent pay raise for employees of Florida's judicial branch. In a brief public hearing Wednesday [Oct. 10], chief budget officer Dorothy Wilson of the Office of State Courts Administrator also outlined a lengthy wish list of long-overdue building repairs for the state facilities that include the Supreme Court and four District Courts of Appeal, along with program needs in the trial and appellate courts. The 8.2 percent requested increase, already approved by the Supreme Court as head of the judicial branch, will be submitted to the Legislature next week. State employees have not had a general pay raise in nearly six years. Wilson said average salaries in the court system are nearly 10 percent below those for other employees.

--Civil Justice Issues--

VOTING ADVICE-- Tallahassee Democrat, editorial,, Oct. 11, 2012.
The editorial states: "It wouldn't be a Florida election without a little excitement involved in the counting of ballots. . . . Down in Palm Beach County . . . there are problems again. Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher is blaming a printing company in Arizona for a mistake on 60,000 absentee ballots that could confuse voters on an important question — whether to retain three Supreme Court justices. . . . Any confusion on the retention vote could be important, with Justices Barbara Pariente, Peggy Quince and R. Fred Lewis being targeted by the Republican Party of Florida. . . . The problem is that, with a large number of national, state and local races, as well as constitutional ballots and local referendums, this ballot is a monster. . . .So here's some advice. Study the ballot carefully before you vote. . . . Consider early voting, to avoid possible lines on Election Day. . . . And put 65 cents worth of postage on your absentee ballot."

PLEASE DON'T STOP AT THE TOP-- Florida Voices, column,, Oct. 11, 2012. [Also: ABOUT ALL THOSE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS-- Osceola News Gazette, column,, Oct. 11, 2012; WADING THROUGH THE AMENDMENTS-- West Volusia Beacon,, Oct. 11, 2012].
The Florida Voices guest column by former State Sen. Dan Gelber states: "When you review your ballot either in the mail or at the polls, you might think it unusually long and confusing. . . .While you may be most passionate about the race for president, it's critical that you not stop making your choices there. Down the ballot, you'll also see some important 'yes' or 'no' questions, some related to proposed constitutional amendments, others to the retention of three Florida Supreme Court justices. The constitutional amendments mostly deserve 'no' votes. But the judicial justices deserve a resounding 'Yes.'"
The Osceola News Gazette guest column by Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, states: "The Nov. 6 general election ballot is very lengthy. The culprit  – 11 proposed constitutional amendments added by the Florida Legislature. . . . Two are most troubling. Amendment 3, referred to as TABOR, was tried in Colorado with dismal consequences. . . . Then there's Amendment 5, which would further blur the line between two separate but equal branches of government -- the legislature and the courts. It would give the Florida Senate the power to confirm Florida Supreme Court justices, the people who will rule on the constitutionality of laws that senators pass. This change could have a chilling effect on the independence of the court and lead to its politicization."
The West Volusia Beacon article details supporting and opposing views of all 11 amendments. From the article: No. 5. State Courts. This would require that Supreme Court justices appointed by the governor must also be confirmed by the Florida Senate before taking office. The amendment would also allow the Legislature to repeal a court rule by a simple majority vote instead of the two-thirds majority now required. This proposed amendment has sparked a firestorm of controversy. Critics say it would put the courts under the Legislature's control, eliminating separation of powers, and that it would subject the nonpartisan courts to partisan political pressures.


SAM GIBBONS, CONGRESSMAN AND 'TRUE AMERICAN HERO,' DIES AT AGE 92-- Tampa Bay Times,, Oct. 11, 2012. [Also: SAM GIBBONS, TAMPA'S HERO-- The Tampa Tribune, editorial,, Oct. 11, 2012; FORMER FLORIDA REP. SAM GIBBONS, WHO SPEARHEADED USF, DIES AT 92-- The Bradenton Herald,, Oct. 11, 2012].
From the Tampa Bay Times: Sam Melville Gibbons, a World War II hero who in 44 years as a legislator left a lasting imprint on social programs, world trade, health care and a raft of improvements for the Tampa Bay area, died early Wednesday, his family said. He was 92. Gibbons was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1952, the Florida Senate in 1958 and to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1962. Before his retirement from Congress, he served as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Through five decades, Gibbons never lost an election. His sweeping resume includes expanding Tampa's physical boundaries; sponsoring the bill that started the University of South Florida; helping to start the Southwest Florida Water Management District; and lining up votes for the country's first Head Start program. Gibbons went to the University of Florida in 1938 but left before his senior year to join the Army. He was a 24-year-old captain in the 101st Airborne Division on June 6, 1944, the first day of the Allied invasion of France. He left the service after five years, having earned a Bronze Star and four battle stars. He returned to the University of Florida and graduated with a law degree. He was admitted to The Florida Bar in 1947.

FRANK D. UPCHURCH JR.-- The Florida Times-Union,, Oct. 11, 2012.
Service information for Retired Court of Appeal Judge Frank D. Upchurch, Jr., who died Oct. 4 in St. Augustine.

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[Revised: 10-12-2012]