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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.

March 27, 2013

--Legal Profession--

ELECTRONIC CIVIL CASE FILING BECOMES MANDATORY ON APRIL 1 -- Tampa Bay Business Journal, (requires subscription), http://www.bizjournals.com, March 27, 2013.
The Florida Supreme Court set the April 1 deadline. Starting that day, all state trial court civil divisions and Supreme Court filings will have to be made electronically through the statewide portal. E-filing civil court documents saves lawyers time and clients money. Clients don’t have to pay for runners delivering court documents or shipping charges. The e-filing system provides a new level of convenience for lawyers, particularly ones who focus on litigation, and for court clerks dealing with personnel cuts and loads of paperwork.

PUBLIC DEFENDERS ARE COMMITTED TO JUSTICE -- Tallahassee Democrat, Column, http://www.tallahassee.com, March 27, 2013.
Opinion column by Julianne Holt, public defender of Hillsborough County, 13th Judicial Circuit, and president of the Florida Public Defender Association. Holt writes, "March 18 marked a special anniversary for those of us known as public defenders, especially those of us in Florida. It was the golden anniversary of the 1963 U. S. Supreme Court decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, which announced that everyone charged with a serious offense had the constitutional right to a lawyer . . . This 50-year anniversary of a Florida case that became a cornerstone of our nation's justice system is an excellent time to reflect on how far we've come and to renew our commitment to moving our goals forward."

END OF AN ERA FOR VENICE CITY ATTORNEY -- Sarasota Herald-Tribune, http://www.heraldtribune.com, March 27, 2013.
Tuesday [March 26] marked the end of an era in Venice city government: Bob Anderson, the city's attorney for nearly a quarter-century, took his seat for the final time on the City Council dais. He advised the council through more than 700 meetings, battles with the Federal Aviation Administration and an Environmental Protection Agency investigation over the illegal discharge of treated wastewater. Anderson, highly regarded for his encyclopedic knowledge of Florida statutes, guided the city through unprecedented growth. Anderson had health problems the last few years and said that 24 years was long enough to be city attorney.

EDITORIAL: REMOVE UNFAIR HURDLE TO PRACTICE LAW -- Tampa Bay Times, Editorial, http://www.tampabay.com, March 27, 2013.
The Florida Supreme Court held a hearing nearly six months ago on whether Jose Godinez-Samperio can practice law in Florida. He's still waiting for an answer. Godinez-Samperio has fulfilled all the steps necessary to enter the profession. But he's an undocumented immigrant whose parents brought him here from Mexico when he was 9 years old, and according to the state's Board of Bar Examiners that is a problem. Godinez-Samperio deserves a clear answer from the court, and the justices should overrule the reservations of the Board and grant Godinez-Samperio a law license.

--Legislature--

BATTLE BREWS BETWEEN FLORIDA SENATE AND INSURANCE, BUSINESS LOBBYISTS -- South Florida Business Journal, (requires subscription), http://www.bizjournals.com, March 27, 2013.
A clash is building between the Republican-controlled Florida Senate and the state’s insurance and business lobbyists over the fate of a more than two-decade-old tax exemption for insurance companies. As promised, the Senate unveiled newly minted legislation (SB-7132) this week that would lower the amount of money drivers pay to receive auto tags and renew driver’s licenses. Associated Industries of Florida supports reducing the registration fees but the business group has concerns that it could have an adverse impact. “We oppose the elimination of the credit, which could have the unintended consequences of reducing jobs in Florida and making Florida less competitive for insurance companies’ jobs,” AIF said in a daily legislative brief posted on its website.

FLA. COURT TO DECIDE LEGISLATIVE PRIVILEGE CASE -- Tampa Tribune, http://www.tbo.com, March 27, 2013. [Also: SHOULD LAWMAKERS BE PLACED UNDER OATH IN REDISTRICTING LAWSUIT? -- Orlando Sentinel, http://www.orlandosentinel.com, March 27, 2013.]
An appeals court heard arguments Tuesday [March 26] on whether Florida lawmakers can be forced to explain the thought process behind their redrawing of the state's 27 congressional districts. Lawyers for the state House and Senate and for a group of plaintiffs argued before a three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal. Questions from judges telegraphed a reluctance to disturb "legislative privilege," which shields legislators and staff members from answering questions about legislative business in court cases. State lawmakers must draw new districts every decade after the U.S. Census to reflect population shifts. The Florida Democratic Party, the League of Women Voters of Florida, National Council of La Raza and Florida Common Cause sued last year, essentially claiming the new maps protect incumbent Republicans.

--Criminal Justice Issues--

IN MIAMI CASE, U.S. SUPREME COURT LIMITS USE OF DRUG-SNIFFING POLICE DOGS OUTSIDE HOMES -- Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, March 27, 2013.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday [March 26] upheld a Florida high court ruling limiting the use of drug-sniffing police dogs outside homes. The Florida Supreme Court in April 2011 had ruled that Miami-Dade police violated a man's right to privacy when they used a police dog outside the front door without a search warrant. U.S. Justice Antonin Scalia, writing the majority opinion, said that the use of police dogs outside a person's home indeed constitutes a search under the Constitution's Fourth Amendment, which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures.


ORANGE OKS HOME CONFINEMENT-REVIEW -- Orlando Sentinel, http://www.orlandosentinel.com, March 27, 2013.
Orange County commissioners approved Tuesday [March 26] an outside emergency review of its troubled home-confinement program, as two other internal investigations are nearing completion. In an interview with the Orlando Sentinel last week, Corrections Chief Michael Tidwell said since the program has come under fire "we've stepped up what we're doing." The increased supervision and reviews were launched after the Orlando Sentinel revealed that home-invasion defendant Bessman Okafor had potentially violated his home-confinement curfew numerous times, which was never reported to a judge.

--Civil Justice Issues--

SUPREME COURT'S SECOND SAME-SEX MARRIAGE FOCUSES ON FEDERAL BENEFITS -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, March 27, 2013.
The U.S. Supreme Court returned this morning [March 27] to take up another same-sex marriage case with far-reaching implications: Whether a 1996 federal law that denies benefits to married gay and lesbian couples is constitutional. Two appellate courts have said the Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA, is discriminatory and President Barack Obama's administration has decided not to defend it. The challenge follows Tuesday's [March 26] oral arguments over a California law that overturned a court decision allowing gays and lesbians to marry in which the justices seemed hesitant to decide the issue for all 50 states. 

--Other--

VETERAN PROSECUTOR NORMAN O'ROURKE -- Orlando Sentinel, http://www.orlandosentinel.com, March 27, 2013.
Norman O'Rourke, a prosecutor and private criminal attorney in Broward for more than 30 years, died Friday [March 22] at his brother's home in Seattle after having fought cancer for several years. He was 63. Mr. O'Rourke was both a skilled and tenacious lawyer and a kind and gentle soul, said his colleagues at the Broward State Attorney's Office.

PALM BEACH COUNTY CLERK WARNS OF SCAMS -- South Florida Business Journal, (requires subscription), http://www.bizjournals.com, March 27, 2013.
The Palm Beach County clerk is warning that scam artists are referencing its office in ongoing scams. Victims in the scam are told to call the clerk’s office, but they are given a number or name that isn’t actually associated with the office. In some cases, first contact is made by someone claiming to be an attorney. One of the scams involves a demand that victims send money to receive money recovered in a timeshare fraud. A news release from the office said anyone suspecting such a fraud should call the clerk's office directly at 561-355-2996, or the Florida Division of Consumer Services at 1-800-HELP-FLA.

CUENTAS CLARAS. . . A LA HORA DE PAGAR IMPUESTOS (TRANSPARENT ACCOUNTS. . . WHEN IT'S TIME TO PAY TAXES) -- Orlando Sentinel, http://www.orlandosentinel.com, March 22, 2013.
The Legal Aid Society of Orange County is offering its services in Spanish to area residents who need assistance in filing out their tax returns. Legal aid volunteers recommend not waiting until the last day to prepare tax paperwork, as it makes it harder to resolve issues that could arise and allows residents to gather documents needed if they qualify for tax breaks.

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[Revised: 03-28-2013]