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. 29, 2012
FIGHT EFFORT TO DESTROY INDEPENDENT JUDICIARY-- The Tampa Tribune, column, http://www.tbo.com, Oct. 27, 2012. [Also: POLITICS AGAIN THREATENS INDEPENDENCE OF JUDICIARY-- Sun-Sentinel, column, http://www.sun-sentinel.com, Oct. 29, 2012; PLEASE BE INFORMED-- Marco Island News. column, http://www.marconews.com, Oct. 28, 2012; IMPARTIAL JUDICIARY IS AT STAKE-- Tallahassee Democrat, column, http://www.tallahassee.com, Oct. 27, 2012].
The guest columns by several Florida attorneys discuss the upcoming merit retention election of three Florida Supreme Court justices and opponents who seek to have them removed.
A THREAT TO OUR COURTS-- The Tampa Tribune, column, http://www.tbo.com, Oct. 28, 2012. [Also: SAVE THE COURTS, VOTE NO ON NO. 5-- Tallahassee Democrat, column, http://www.tallahassee.com, Oct. 27, 2012].
The guest columns by two Florida attorneys discuss Amendment 5 on the Nov. 6 ballot.
POWER OF THE FLORIDA COURT SYSTEM AT THE CENTER OF AMENDMENT 5-- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, Oct. 27, 2012.
After years of clashes with the Florida Supreme Court, the Legislature is asking voters for more power over the state's judicial branch. Voters will decide Nov. 6 whether to approve the controversial Amendment 5, which would give lawmakers authority to confirm Supreme Court justices selected by the governor, view complaints against justices as soon as they are filed and more easily override court rules. House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, said the amendment is not a "power grab," and that it is "a step to bring more transparency to the courts and bring the state more in line with the federal system." Florida Bar President Gwynne Young spoke out against the provision of the amendment that would require the court to turn over a complaint when it is filed. "It's sensitive for someone to make a complaint against a sitting judge. For that reason confidentiality is very important," she said. "You want people to be able to make a report without risking retribution."
AMENDMENT 5 FIGHT PITS TRIAL LAWYERS VS. BUSINESS-- Daily Business Review, http://www.dailybusinessreview.com, Oct. 29, 2012 (Subscription required.). [Also: PROPOSED AMENDMENTS BECOME A POWER STRUGGLE-- Daily Business Review, http://www.dailybusinessreview.com, Oct. 29, 2012 (Subscription required.); FLORIDA TRIAL LAWYERS EMPHASIZE NEED FOR IMPARTIAL JUDICIARY-- Bizjournals.com, press release, http://www.bizjournals.com, Oct. 27, 2012].
Special-interest groups active in the Amendment 5 campaign basically come down to business interests versus trial lawyers. The Florida Bar was an early opponent, speaking out against the proposals in the 2011 Legislature before the three items coalesced into one constitutional amendment. Bar President Gwynne Young said, "Amendment 5 would erode the meaningful balance of governmental powers now clearly outlined in Florida's Constitution." While Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, shepherded the most prominent piece of Amendment 5 — assigning confirmation power to the state Senate on gubernatorial appointments to the high court — she has been pessimistic about its passage. Bogdanoff would argue Florida's judicial selection process, while nonpartisan at the polls, already is politicized, and giving the Senate confirmation power would be a counterbalance.
FORMER PROSECUTOR 'RESENTS' GOP TACTICS USED AGAINST SUPREME COURT JUSTICES-- The Florida Current, http://www.thefloridacurrent.com, Oct. 27, 2012.
The appellate prosecutor in the murder case cited by the Republican Party of Florida to depict three state Supreme Court justices as "judicial activists" said Friday [Oct. 26] all three are "outstanding justices who are being unfairly attacked for overtly political reasons." Tallahassee lawyer Curtis M. French said he resents his successful appeal to Washington being used as "Exhibit A" in the political case against Florida Justices Peggy Quince, Barbara Pariente and R. Fred Lewis. He said they will have his vote Nov. 6.
NOMINATING COMMISSION SAYS NO TO PROVIDING MORE CANDIDATES IN JUDGE VACANCY-- St. Augustine Record, http://www.staugustine.com, Oct. 28, 2012.
The 7th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission turned down a request from the governor’s office Friday [Oct. 26] to provide more nominees to the pool of possible replacements for Judge Wendy Berger. The vacancy was created when Berger was appointed to the 5th District Court of Appeal. After 23 candidates were interviewed earlier this month for the vacancy, four finalists were chosen by the nominating commission. "We are aware of the governor's strong preference and assure you that we always endeavor to provide a list of six candidates," nominating commission chair Christopher Greene wrote in the letter responding to the request. "Unfortunately, the commission has determined that, in this instance, the list should stand at the four candidates provided." Tance Roberts, the commission's vice chair, declined to comment on the commission's deliberations. She said the law provides that the judicial nominating commission send three to six applicants and that a majority of the commissioners must vote for a candidate for that person to become a finalist.
RETIREMENT AGE FOR JUDGES KEY ISSUE AS VETERAN COLLIER JUDGE FACES CHALLENGE-- Naples Daily News, http://www.naplesnews.com, Oct. 29, 2012.
Age is a point of contention in a heated runoff race for judge, as veteran County Judge Eugene C. Turner fights to keep his Group 2 seat despite a state mandate that would force him to retire about 1 1/2 years into a six-year term, if re-elected. This election will be the last time the jurist, who ascended to the bench in 1983 by gubernatorial appointment, can be re-elected, barring a constitutional amendment extending the retirement age. Not voting for him based on his age would be tantamount to making the upper limit age for re-election 67, he said. Under Florida's Constitution, judges must retire at 70, unless they can serve out half their term before that birthday, in which case they can complete the full six years. Turner's inability to serve out the full term is one of challenger Jim McGarity's main and constant criticisms of the judge, whom he will face in a runoff Nov. 6 after both failed to earn 50 percent of the vote in the August primary election.