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. 30, 2013
FLORIDA SUPREME COURT ISSUES NEW STANDARD JURY INSTRUCTIONS -- Daily Business Review (requires subscription), http://www.dailybusinessreview.com, Aug. 30, 2013.
The Florida Supreme Court issued Thursday [Aug. 29] three opinions to reach a single conclusion, reviewing two criminal cases and issuing a new standard jury instruction in a third decision. The guidance states charges of theft and dealing in stolen property "in connection with one scheme" may be consolidated for trial. But the trier of fact — whether a judge or jury — cannot find a defendant guilty of both. This became an issue when the First District Court of Appeal certified it was in conflict with the Fourth District in the case of a man who was found guilty of stealing 14 steel bars in Pensacola. He was caught selling them to a scrap yard. A jury found him guilty of both theft and fencing. On appeal, the state conceded this was a fundamental error but argued it could be cured by vacating the lesser of the two offenses, petit theft.
MARCO RUBIO BLOCKS CONFIRMATION HEARINGS FOR TWO BLACK JUDGES -- Daily Business Review (requires subscription), http://www.dailybusinessreview.com, Aug. 30, 2013.
Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is blocking confirmation hearings for two black judicial nominees by withholding the formality of submitting what is known as a "blue slip." Miami-Dade Circuit Judge William Thomas is nominated to fill a Miami opening in the Southern District of Florida. Nassau Circuit Judge Brian Davis was selected to fill a Middle District of Florida vacancy in Tampa. Thomas and Davis fulfill President Barack Obama's goal of bringing greater diversity to the federal bench. Both are black, and Thomas is openly gay.
--Lawyer Ethics/Legal Discipline--
SUPREME COURT SUSPENDS STUART ATTORNEY GOLDSTEIN 91 DAYS FROM PRACTICING LAW -- Jupiter Courier (requires subscription), http://www.tcpalm.com, Aug. 30, 2013.
The Florida Supreme Court suspended Stuart personal injury attorney Lauri J. Goldstein from the practice of law for 91 days. The order resolves a 2011 investigation The Florida Bar launched after a complaint was filed alleging mistakes made in the handling of a personal injury case of a Port St. Lucie resident who was hurt in a 2008 fall at a restaurant in Kentucky. Goldstein agreed to a voluntary suspension order as part of a consent judgment where she admitted that she "was not licensed to practice law in Kentucky." The Bar also accused Goldstein of not properly communicating with her client. Goldstein must file a petition seeking reinstatement with the state Supreme Court before she may practice again.
--Civil Justice Issues--
GROUP: ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS NOT ENFORCED UNDER SCOTT -- Tallahassee Democrat, http://www.tallahassee.com, Aug. 29, 2013
By The Associated Press. A report released Thursday [Aug. 29] by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a group that represents government workers who work in environmental regulation, says that since Gov. Rick Scott took office and Secretary Herschel Vinyard took over the Department of Environmental Protection in 2011, enforcement of the state's environmental laws has plummeted, citing a drop in cases opened, as well as penalties assessed and fines collected. The report said the department essentially has become nonfunctional since Scott appointed Vinyard as secretary. DEP said it is taking its responsibility seriously and said the drop in cases is because of a focus on prevention.