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.
Oct. 28, 2013
--The Florida Bar--
LAWYERS NAVIGATE ETHICS RULES IN USING LINKEDIN -- South Florida Sun-Sentinel, http://www.sun-sentinel.com, Oct. 27, 2013.
Two South Florida lawyers are leading an evaluation of rules on technology, including the use of LinkedIn, a professional networking website, and the ethical dilemmas it has created for attorneys. Eugene Pettis, the Fort Lauderdale lawyer who heads The Florida Bar, and Greg Coleman, a West Palm Beach lawyer who heads the Bar's technology subcommittee and is president-elect, are seeking to update the Bar's rules for lawyers on technology use, including social media. In September, The Florida Bar began a three-year study of the future practice of law. LinkedIn's "endorsement" feature may cross the ethics line if the lawyer is not board-certified as an "expert," said Coleman. "These technologies are changing so quickly, the Bar is having a hard time keeping up with the changes," he said. "We're trying to figure out how to advise members."
JUDICIAL PROFILE: JUDGE SIEGEL SEEMS TO DRAW NEWSWORTHY CASES -- Daily Business Review (requires subscription), http://www.dailybusinessreview.com, Oct. 25, 2013.
Profile of Broward Circuit Judge Andrew Siegel. He seems to be a magnet for newsworthy cases. Among those, he presided over the "Catch Me If You Can" trial of a youthful con man who convinced high-powered South Floridians he was a lawyer, talked them into bogus real estate deals and bilked them out of tens of thousands of dollars. Born in Houston, Siegel moved to South Florida just before high school. After law school and a stint at a firm doing construction and condominium-related work, Siegel went on his own. He found a burgeoning practice with mom-and-pop bingo halls, and with the family and criminal matters the bingo hall employees and their relatives needed help with. In 2002, he ran for judge, and won. His courtroom philosophy comes, at least in part, from his grandfather. "I want to be responsible to the people who elected me. I want to do the right thing by the people who are before me. I want to give the people who want to argue their case before me the time that they need to be able to argue their case," he said.
COMMENTARY: WHY IS MARCO RUBIO BLOCKING A VOTE ON A JUDGE HE NOMINATED -- Palm Beach Post (requires subscription), http://www.pbpost.com, Oct. 25, 2013.
Commentary column by Mark Ferrulo, executive director of Progress Florida, a liberal public-interest group based in St. Petersburg. Ferrulo writes about Sen. Marco Rubio's, R-Fla., decision to block President Barack Obama’s nomination of Miami-Dade County Circuit Court Judge William Thomas to a seat on the federal bench for the Southern District of Florida. "Despite Judge Thomas’ unassailable qualifications, overwhelming support from non-partisan legal experts and a recommendation by Florida’s Federal Judicial Nominating Commission, Sen. Rubio is still refusing to let the nomination go forward for a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee . . . Rubio and other Senate Republicans would rather obstruct for obstruction’s sake than actually put fair, diverse and qualified judges on the bench."
--Lawyer Ethics/Legal Discipline--
FLORIDA SUPREME COURT SUSPENDS LOCAL LAWYER -- Hernando Today, http://hernandotoday.com, Oct. 26, 2013.
Local attorney Shawn Michael Brannagan has been suspended by the Florida Supreme Court for misusing client funds. A petition for emergency suspension for Brannagan, who has a private law practice in Spring Hill, was filed by The Florida Bar on Sept. 6 and approved by the Florida Supreme Court on Sept. 23. An audit of Brannagan's trust account - which holds client money, such as a retainer fee, while a case is progressing through the court - found the attorney had used money from his clients for personal use. The Florida Supreme Court has ordered Brannagan "suspended from the practice of law until further order of this Court," and to stop representing clients within 30 days of the order.
--Civil Justice Issues--
GUARDING YOUR INTELLECTUAL CASTLE -- South Florida Business Journal (requires subscription), http://www.bizjournals.com, Oct. 25, 2013.
The Business Journal assembled a team of experts to identify key issues and best practices in litigation over patent and intellectual property disputes. South Florida is increasingly a center for litigation over such disputes, rising to fifth in the nation for the number of patent lawsuits among 94 districts. The panelists were Jeremy Elman, partner with McDermott Will & Emery; CPA Mark Guthrie, CFO and chief administrative officer at Goldstein Schechter Koch; Samuel Lewis, member with Feldman Gale; and CPA Bruce Yasukochi, senior manager for fraud and forensic services at Cherry Bekaert.
CITY'S OUTSIDE-LAWYER BILLS IN TPD CASES TOP $1 MILLION -- Tallahassee Democrat, http://www.tallahassee.com, Oct. 25, 2013.
The city of Tallahassee spent $1,086,376 since Jan. 1, 2009, on outside legal counsel to defend 11 lawsuits involving excessive force and other allegations against the Tallahassee Police Department. City Attorney Lew Shelley said outside attorneys are hired for three main reasons: when conflicts arise from lawsuits involving both the city and individually named employees, when the city lacks expertise in certain areas and when the city attorney's office lacks the manpower to handle major cases lasting long periods of time. The city has a long tradition of employing outside counsel for legal work, and it also has strong ties to some of the firms receiving city business.