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.
June 2, 2014
--The Florida Bar--
EDITORIAL: FLORIDA JUDICIARY NEEDS MORE DIVERSITY -- Tampa Bay Times, Editorial, http://www.tampabay.com, May 30, 2014.
The editorial states that "Gov. Rick Scott remains indifferent about the importance of racial diversity among judges, but The Florida Bar is not. Its new task force report puts the governor on notice that a decline in the portion of judges who are African-American is unacceptable and that it's his responsibility to bring more diversity to the bench. Scott has a significant opportunity this month when he can make up to 78 appointments to commissions that vet judicial candidates. The governor, who previously has played partisan politics in choosing commission members, needs to set a new course and make clear to his appointees to the Judicial Nominating Commissions that a diverse judiciary is in the interest of all Floridians . . . The legitimacy of the judicial system rests on its ability to reflect the society it serves."
LAWYERS TO BECOME 'EYES AND EARS' OF JUDGES IN NEW FAMILY LAW GUARDIAN AD LITEM PROGRAM -- Bradenton Herald, http://www.bradenton.com, June 2, 2014.
More than two dozen lawyers from the Sarasota and Manatee offices of the Icard Merrill law firm have signed up to be guardians ad litem as part of a new Family Law Guardian ad Litem pilot program backed by the 12th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida. The program will provide children caught in the middle of contentious cases in the Circuit's Family Law Division with guardians ad litem. The lawyers will provide an independent voice for children in high-conflict divorce and custody cases. They will also investigate, report and make recommendations as to the best interests of the children involved.
CHIEF JUSTICE RICKY POLSTON APPLIES FOR FSU PRESIDENCY -- Tallahassee Democrat, http://www.tallahassee.com, May 31, 2014.
By The Associated Press. Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Ricky Polston on Saturday [May 31] announced he is applying to become the next president of Florida State University. Polston's decision is a surprising development since the frontrunner for the position is state Sen. John Thrasher. In his letter to the FSU search committee, Polston said that he was applying out a deep loyalty to his alma mater. Polston has two degrees from FSU including his law degree. If Polston were to win the position, it would require Gov. Rick Scott to make an appointment to the Supreme Court in the middle of a tough re-election campaign. Polston makes it clear in his letter that he would remain on the bench until the mandatory retirement age if he is not selected as FSU president.
JUDGE MIDDLEBROOKS NOT HAPPY WITH JQC FOR DISCIPLINING FELLOW JUDGE -- Daily Business Review (requires subscription), http://www.dailybusinessreview.com, May 30, 2014.
U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks at a luncheon hosted by the Palm Beach County chapter of the Federal Bar Association sharply criticized the state Judicial Qualifications Commission for disciplining Palm Beach County Court Judge Barry Cohen for speaking his mind on drug and sex offender laws. Middlebrooks referred to the commission's recommended reprimand as bullying and a direct threat. Acting on a commission recommendation, the Florida Supreme Court reprimanded Cohen in April. Cohen made public statements about the impact of drug laws on the incarceration of minorities, as well as race and poverty, among other issues. Middlebrooks lauded attorneys who traveled to Tallahassee to show support for Cohen's formal reprimand in front of the Florida Supreme Court.
BROWARD BOND COURT JUDGE HURLEY IS CHAT ROOM'S SCREEN IDOL -- South Florida Sun-Sentinel, http://www.sun-sentinel.com, May 31, 2014.
Judge John "Jay" Hurley, who presides over bond court proceedings in Broward County, has captured the attention of trial junkies worldwide. Courtchatter.tv is a website dedicated to courtroom drama and legal controversy that streams videos of court proceedings and offers a venue for users to chat about cases. Broward bond court is one of the members' favorites to watch, website co-owner Cathy Russon said, adding that they enjoy watching the early process of the legal system. "I'm impressed with his intelligence, compassion, empathy and sense of humor," a watcher said about Hurley. Hurley presides over the Broward court system's first appearance division, where people arrested within the past 24 hours are brought before a judge. At hearings every weekday morning and afternoon, Hurley determines whether there was probable cause for arrest, whether a bond will be set, bond amounts and release conditions. "I guess that people like reality TV, and this isn't scripted," Hurley said. "It's the real thing."
THREE APPLY SO FAR FOR VACANT CIRCUIT COURT JUDGESHIP -- Florida Keys Keynoter, http://www.keysnet.com, May 31, 2014.
Three people had applied as of Friday [May 30] to replace David Audlin on Monroe County's Circuit Court. Audlin resigned effective May 9. He was just two years into his second six-year term and has cited lack of privacy in his personal life as the reason for stepping down. The applicants are Monroe County Court Judge Wayne Miller, former Monroe Circuit Court Judge J. Jefferson Overby and Key West attorney Albert Kelley. The 10-member Judicial Nominating Commission, comprising Monroe County attorneys appointed by the governor, is accepting applications through 5 p.m. Wednesday [June 4]. Chairman Bob Shillinger said he expects more applications to roll in.
PALM BEACH COUNTY JUROR REMOVED IN HANDCUFFS, FACES CONTEMPT CHARGE OVER FACEBOOK POSTING -- Palm Beach Post (requires subscription), http://www.palmbeachpost.com, June 1, 2014.
Alexander Sutton from Boca Raton is facing contempt of court charges for posting comments on Facebook while serving as a juror. Sutton is believed to be the first juror in the county to face up to six months in jail for disobeying a judge’s order to refrain from using the Internet to broadcast his views on a case he was deciding. Sutton was hauled from the courtroom in handcuffs on May 20 after one of the attorneys involved in the case discovered his Facebook rants and showed them to Circuit Judge Jack Cox. Since Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media exploded in popularity, the court system has struggled with how to deal with their impact on jury trials. While courts have long warned jurors not to read or watch media accounts of a trial or do any of their own research, in 2010 the Florida Supreme Court revised jury instructions to include social media.