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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.

Aug. 26, 2013

--Legal Profession--

BONITA SPRINGS CITY ATTORNEY ELECTED PRESIDENT OF FLORIDA MUNICIPAL ATTORNEYS ASSOCIATION -- Fort Myers News-Press, http://www.news-press.com, Aug. 24, 2013.
Bonita Springs City Attorney Audrey Vance was recently voted president-elect of the Florida Municipal Attorneys Association. Vance is board certified by The Florida Bar in city, county and local government law. She has been the Bonita Springs city attorney since its incorporation in 2000. In June 2000, the Bonita Springs City Council chose Vance to serve as interim city attorney, offering her the regular city attorney position in October of that year.

OBAMA SAYS LAW SCHOOL SHOULD BE 2 YEARS, NOT 3 -- Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, Aug. 24, 2013.
By The Associated Press. President Barack Obama said at a town hall gathering in New York that law schools in the U.S. should cut down to two years instead of three to cut costs for students. Obama says students do most of their classroom learning in the first two years of law school. He says the third year would be better spent clerking for a judge or working in a law firm. The president says the question is whether schools could keep good professors and sustain themselves without that third year. But he says they could if they were creative.

--Judiciary--

19TH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT COURT INNOVATIVE PROGRAMS HELP RESOLVE CASES MORE QUICKLY, EFFECTIVELY -- Jupiter Courier, http://www.tcpalm.com, Aug. 26, 2013.
Innovative specialty court programs in the 19th Judicial Circuit allow cases to move efficiently through the system, decrease jail overcrowding and help prevent recidivism. Mental Health Court is a diversionary program for those diagnosed with severe mental illness or developmental disabilities who are charged with a misdemeanor or felony. Drug Court is available to first-time offenders charged with a third-degree drug-related felony. After pleading guilty, they are evaluated and placed in a treatment program. Upon completion of the program, they can avoid being found guilty of the criminal charges. The Pretrial Release program is an alternative to incarceration that allows arrested defendants to be released from jail while they await disposition of their criminal charges.

HILLSBOROUGH CONSIDERING SPECIAL COURT FOR JUVENILES CHARGED AS ADULTS -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, Aug. 26, 2013.
Hillsborough Circuit Judge Ralph Stoddard has floated a proposal with the support of the Hillsborough Public Defender's Office and a collection of local child advocates for the creation of a special division of Hillsborough Circuit Court to deal with the high number of juveniles charged as adults. One court to handle such cases would ensure consistency in their treatment and sentencing, Stoddard said. The court could make sure they are offered suitable options for diversion programs or, if appropriate, returned to the juvenile system. The debate over Hillsborough County's high number of children charged as adults is set against the backdrop of a similar debate statewide. 

--Civil Justice Issues--

HERNANDO COUNTY JURY AWARDS EX-SMOKER ALMOST $12.6 MILLION -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, Aug. 24, 2013.
A group of six jurors found that Philip Morris USA and Liggett Group were largely responsible for Hernando resident John Rizzuto's chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, and awarded him $12,550,000. The jury found that the cigarette companies owed $2,550,000 for Rizzuto's past and future medical expenses. The remaining $10 million in damages was for pain and suffering. While acknowledging a "shared responsibility," his attorney, Brent Bigger, argued the companies should pay his client compensatory and punitive damages, even though Rizzuto was the one who smoked for roughly four decades. Rizzuto, a 66-year-old retired and widowed Spring Hill mail carrier, filed suit against the companies in 2007.

--Other--

SARAH SUE SOPKIN PRUGH -- Tampa Tribune, http://www.tampatrib.com, Aug. 23, 2013.
Sara Sue Sopkin Prugh, 68, passed away Aug. 19. Prugh attended the University of South Florida in Tampa, earning a B.A. in English and an M.A. in criminal justice. In 1989 she graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law. After receiving her law degree, Prugh worked for twelve years as a staff attorney for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit. She ended her legal career with the Social Security Administration.

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[Revised: 08-27-2013]