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.
July 22, 2013
NEW U.S. ATTORNEY BRINGS WIDE BACKGROUND, WORK ETHIC TO JOB -- Tampa Tribune, http://www.tampatrib.com, July 21, 2013.
Lee Bentley is stepping in to become acting U.S. attorney, taking over for Robert O'Neill, who stepped down to work in the private sector. The two men met about 25 years ago working in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami and became good friends. Bentley cites O'Neill as an important influence, calling him "one of the best U.S. attorneys in the country." Both O'Neill and Bentley also cite each other's work ethic. As Bentley serves in the job temporarily, the search has begun for a replacement for O'Neill. The Florida Federal Judicial Nominating Commission is accepting applications for that post and four federal judgeships that are open in the state. Bentley's career is profiled in the article.
--Lawyer Ethics/Legal Discipline--
RENEE LEE ADMITS TO LYING ABOUT LUNCH WITH FORMER COMMISSIONER WHITE -- Tampa Tribune, http://www.tampatrib.com, July 19, 2013.
Former Hillsborough County Attorney Renee Lee entered a guilty plea Friday [July 19] that admitted to violating Florida Bar rules by lying and is on course to be publicly reprimanded. The judgment must be approved by a court-appointed referee and the Florida Supreme Court before a final order is issued. The Bar filed the complaint in January saying Lee lied about the circumstances under which she had lunch with former County Commissioner Kevin White, who was involved in a lawsuit with the county over legal fees. Lee was not actively involved in the lawsuit, though she was county attorney at the time.
NEW COURT PANELS WILL POLICE LAWYER CIVILITY -- South Florida Sun-Sentinel, http://www.sun-sentinel.com, July 21, 2013.
Courthouse administrators in Broward and Palm Beach counties are establishing local professionalism panels to resolve disputes regarding incivility between attorneys before they escalate into formal complaints to The Florida Bar. The panels were ordered in each of the state's 20 judicial circuits by the Florida Supreme Court. As described by the Supreme Court, the panels will serve as a sort of filter, separating minor disagreements that can be resolved informally from serious ones that actually constitute rule violations and require formal discipline. "Surveys of both lawyers and judges continue to consistently reflect that professionalism is one of the most significant adverse problems that negatively impact the practice of law," the justices wrote in a June 6 order.
'TIMELY JUSTICE' CHALLENGE OPPOSED -- Lakeland Ledger, http://www.theledger.com, July 21, 2013.
Attorney General Pam Bondi's office has asked the Florida Supreme Court to reject a challenge to a new law aimed at reducing delays in carrying out the death penalty that was filed by attorneys representing death row inmates. The challengers contend the measure is unconstitutional, in part because it would violate the separation of powers by imposing obligations on lawyers that conflict with judicially determined rules. Attorneys in Bondi's office described the challenge as "meritless" and also said the Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction to rule on the challenge.
--Criminal Justice Issues--
KEY PLAYER IN GEORGE ZIMMERMAN MURDER TRIAL: SOCIAL MEDIA -- Orlando Sentinel, http://www.orlandosentinel.com, July 20, 2013.
The Sentinel examines the role of social media in the George Zimmerman murder trial. Before, during and after the trial, social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube were used by family members, supporters, media and lawyers of Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. Seminole County court spokeswoman Michelle Kennedy started a Twitter account after several media outlets complained that some were getting emailed updates before others. "I was wary about opening it," Kennedy said. "But it was the most effective way of reaching everyone simultaneously."
FEARED AND BELOVED, FORMER U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE JOHN MOORE II DIES AT 85 -- St. Augustine Record, http://staugustine.com, July 22, 2013.
Former U.S. District Judge John Moore II, known as a no-nonsense jurist who presided over Duval County’s landmark school desegregation case, died Thursday [July 18]. Colleagues remembered him as a judge who demanded that lawyers who appeared before him abide by the three P’s — be prepared, be punctual and be professional — but said they became better attorneys as a result. Moore spent 28 years on the bench, the last three as chief of Florida’s Middle District. He retired from the federal bench at the end of 1995 but remained as a senior judge and continued to hear cases until recent years.