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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.

Dec. 3, 2012

--Judiciary--


SENTENCING JUDGES GET LETTERS PLEADING FOR LENIENCY-- Sun-Sentinel. http://www.sun-sentinel.com, Dec. 3, 2012.
Two days before Greenacres mom Brenda Charlestain was to be sentenced, four of her five children sat down to write letters. Penned in grade-school cursive and ripe with endearing spelling mistakes, the kids' letters were addressed to Judge William J. Zloch of the federal court in Fort Lauderdale and they all pleaded for the same thing: leniency. How much consideration the judge gave to the letters when he sentenced the kids' mother on Sept. 13 is not known. Federal judges don't discuss cases they've presided over. The letters, publicly accessible on the U.S. federal court system's online database, are just one recent example of one of the most candid, revealing and surprising elements of a federal court docket: the pre-sentencing reference letter. It's no coincidence that these letters can be found in many a federal court docket. Since 2005, when the U.S. Supreme Court changed the role of mandatory federal sentencing guidelines from mandatory to advisory, the filing of letters has taken on an added significance. The court's decision gave judges more leeway to consider the life history of the defendant in addition to a defendant's criminal history and the crime itself.

HENDON PROMOTED TO CIRCUIT BENCH-- Daily Business Review, http://www.dailybusinessreview.com, Dec. 3, 2012.
Miami-Dade County Court Judge Eric W. Hendon was promoted Friday [Nov. 30] to replace retired 11th Circuit Judge Joseph Farina. Hendon, 56, has served in county court since 2006 and from 1999 to 2003. He previously served as a Miami-Dade prosecutor, assistant attorney general and public defender. He also was legal services agency director for the James E. Scott Community Association and in private practice. He received his bachelor's and law degrees from the University of Florida. [Subscription required.]

GOVERNOR TO CHOOSE AMONG SIX FOR 10TH CIRCUIT JUDGE POST-- The Ledger, http://www.theledger.com, Dec. 1, 2012.
After interviewing 36 applicants on Thursday [Nov. 29] and Friday [Nov. 30], the 10th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission narrowed a list down to six nominees for an opening as a 10th Circuit judge. The vacancy occurred after Judge Karla Foreman Wright died on Oct 1. The 10th Circuit encompasses Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties. The list of nominees, to be sent to Gov. Rick Scott to consider for the appointment, are: Polk County judge Jon Kevin Abdoney, Assistant State Attorney Jalal A. Harb and attorneys Larry S. Helms, Stacy Robinson Nickerson, Angela R. Pulido and Andrea Teves Smith.

--Legal Profession--

MOVING UP: ADAM RABIN-- The Palm Beach Post, http://www.palmbeachpost.com, Dec. 2, 2012.
In the article, Adam Rabin, co-owner of McCabe Rabin, P.A., discusses goals he'd like to accomplish as the new president of Palm Beach County Bar Association. One of them is to focus on improving lawyer civility in their communications with each other and the courts. As the number of lawyers increased, he said, there has been a decrease in the level of civility. He also wants the bar association, which has 3,100 members, to promote diversity and inclusion within the legal community, and to develop mentoring and leadership opportunities for younger lawyers to develop their skills and judgment.

NEW HEAD OF JACKSONVILLE AREA LEGAL AID READY TO RETURN TO PUBLIC SERVICE-- The Florida Times-Union, http://www.jacksonville.com, Dec. 1, 2012.
There aren’t many self-described conservative Republican lawyers that keep a framed copy of a Rolling Stone magazine with Eminem on the cover in their office. James Kowalski, the new executive director of the Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, doesn’t have it framed because of a love for the Detroit rapper. He was prominently featured in a story published in that issue on the foreclosure crisis. For the last few years Kowalski has been a go-to lawyer for people caught up in mortgage fraud. Earlier this year The Florida Bar named him a winner of one of its Pro Bono Service Awards. Kowalski was set to start his new job today. His biggest challenge will likely involve money. The nonprofit organization has seen its funding decrease and will continue to do so over the next few years.

--Civil Justice Issues--

MISSION POSSIBLE: VETERANS GET HELP FROM UNITED WAY-- Sun-Sentinel, http://www.sun-sentinel.com, Dec. 1, 2012.
Mission United, a new effort by the United Way of Broward County to help local veterans, puts an emphasis on aiding veterans of the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. From help finding a job to a replacement air conditioning unit, the organization wants to act as one-stop-shopping for veterans. More than 300 veterans have been helped by the organization during a testing phase the past year in preparation for a January 2013 launch. Organizations involved include Legal Aid Services of Broward County, Nova Southeastern University, and WorkForce One.

IN TOUGH ECONOMIC TIMES, NON-COMPETE AGREEMENTS ARE ENDING UP IN COLLIER COURTS-- Marco Island News, http://www.marconews.com, Dec. 1, 2012.
When the owners of a Bonita Springs meal delivery service returned from vacation, they discovered that a trusted employee had entered their computer system, tapped into the customer list and set up a competing company in Naples. A company built up a cadre of caddies over more than a decade at a North Naples golf club, but when the company's contract expired, the club kept many of the caddies by hiring them through a competitor. About a dozen lawsuits involving non-compete agreements were filed in Collier Circuit Court this year. "When you're in tough economic times, if there are contracts out there, people are more likely to enforce them if they feel damaged by violations," said Joseph Little, professor emeritus at the University of Florida's Levin College of Law. Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Oregon and Michigan have some of the most restrictive laws against non-compete agreements.

--Criminal Justice Issues--

STATES START SEEING THE COST OF HARSH LAWS-- The News-Press, http://www.news-press.com, Dec. 2, 2012.
When Michael Edwards is moved to a new prison, he asks to put a note in the law library asking if anyone has heard of a 60-year sentence for two sales of cocaine. The sales totaled about $850. In two decades in prison and hours spent in law libraries, Edwards has not found another inmate with a similar sentence for his crimes. In 1994, Edwards was sentenced to 60 years in prison as a habitual offender for the cocaine sales and five years each for two possession charges, which are running concurrent, with the 60 years. Free of any disciplinary action in prison since 1999, he's become a Christian and a model prisoner. He's now asking for the executive clemency board to consider his case. Advocates who favor sentencing reform of mandatory minimum and habitual offender laws said such a sentence for a non-violent drug crime is statistically rare, but Edwards is not alone in feeling the length of the sentence does not befit the crime. States feeling the high costs of imprisonment are reconsidering mandatory minimums.

COURT LIMITS JAIL TIME FOR JUVENILES-- Winter Haven News Chief, http://www.newschief.com, Dec. 1, 2012.
A Florida appellate court says a juvenile cannot be sentenced to life in prison for attempted murder, even though he also was convicted of murder in the same case. A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal ruled Friday in a 1993 shooting and robbery near Tallahassee that killed a British tourist and wounded his fiancee. Aundra Akins, then 14 years old, was one of four youths convicted in the case. He received a 27-year sentence for second-degree murder in a plea deal but life for attempted murder after a trial.

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[Revised: 12-04-2012]