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. 25, 2013
STATE SENATE SHOULD STOP PLAYING GAMES WITH FEDERAL COURTS -- Tampa Tribune, Column, http://www.tbo.com, OCt. 25, 2013.
Commentary by Alex Villalobos, a former Florida state senator and majority leader and president of Democracy at Stake, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to defend fairness and impartiality in Florida courts. Villalobos writes that "today, record numbers of judicial seats are empty because of unprecedented obstruction in Washington, placing the American right to a speedy trial in peril . . . It's a disservice to taxpayers for senators to play political games with our judicial system and leave vacancies that literally stretch on for years . . . The sequestration cuts and ensuing shutdown continue to slow and put a greater strain on an already overburdened justice system." He concludes that "here in Florida, we must let Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio know that we are aware of the judicial vacancy issue, that the judges who sit on our courts matter, and that we won't stand for continued political obstruction in the Senate."
OUTSIDE SPENDING FLOODS JUDICIAL ELECTIONS AT RECORD LEVELS -- The New Politics of Judicial Elections, http://www.newpoliticsreport.org, Oct. 2013.
Special-interest groups and political parties spent an unprecedented $24.1 million on television ads and other election materials in state court races in 2011-2012, according to a new report by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Justice at Stake, and the National Institute on Money in State Politics. The report provides a comprehensive look at 2011-2012 state Supreme Court elections. An explosion of independent spending helped fuel the costliest election cycle for TV spending in judicial election history and posed grave new threats to fair and impartial justice in America. The report also found fierce legislative attacks on merit-based systems for judge selection, including bruising anti-retention campaigns in Florida and Iowa, two states that use merit selection to appoint judges. Florida, a national political bellwether state, experienced record spending by all sides when three state Supreme Court justices stood for retention.
--Civil Justice Issues--
$2.2M AWARDED TO MAN WHO FELL FROM CHAIR AT WEST PALM BEACH LAW FIRM -- Daily Business Review (requires subscription), http://www.dailybusinessreview.com, Oct. 25, 2013.
The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday [Oct. 24] reinstated a $1.2 million negligence award to Robert Friedrich, a man who was injured when he fell out of a law firm's chair during a consultation about filing a car crash lawsuit. The court ruled that the Fourth District Court of Appeal "impermissibly reweighed" the testimony of expert witnesses. The majority said the Fourth District should not have ordered the trial court to set aside the jury verdict and enter a decision in favor of the defendant. Friedrich was in the West Palm Beach office of personal injury firm Fetterman & Associates in 2003 when his chair collapsed. The jury awarded more than $2.2 million, but because of the various fault and damages issues, the final judgment against Fetterman was reduced to $1.2 million. Brandon Home Furnishings, which sold the chair, was found two-thirds liable.
BONDI SENDS PROPOSED MEDICAL MARIJUANA AMENDMENT TO THE STATE SUPREME COURT BUT CHALLENGES ITS VALIDITY -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, Oct. 25, 2013. [Also: AG BONDI TO FL SUPREME COURT: MEDICAL MARIJUANA GROUP IS "HIDING THE BALL" -- Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, Oct. 25, 2013.]
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is contesting a proposed ballot initiative for a medical marijuana constitutional amendment from People United for Medical Marijuana and has asked the Florida Supreme Court for an opinion. Bondi contends that the proposal from the group, led by high-profile attorney John Morgan, is misleading the public and is presented in a way that does not convey its “true meaning and ramifications.” Bondi says that the proposal implies that the amendment would allow medical marijuana in narrow, defined circumstances and only for patients for “debilitating diseases," but if the amendment passes, “Florida law would allow marijuana in limitless situations.” The proposal, being circulated in a statewide petition drive, includes several medical conditions under the term “debilitating medical conditions,” including cancer, glaucoma and Parkinson’s.
'COURAGEOUS' RETIRED JUDGE DAVID GLANT DIES AT 63 -- Gainesville Sun, http://www.gainesville.com, Oct. 25, 2013.
Retired Circuit Judge David A. Glant died Wednesday [Oct. 23] at age 63, after battling cancer for several years. Elected to the circuit court bench in 2002, Glant served in the 8th Judicial Circuit for 10 years before retiring this past summer. In an interview with The Sun in June after his surprise announcement, Glant said he was stepping down because he no longer could meet his own high expectations. Gainesville attorney Monica Brasington was appointed earlier this month to fill the vacancy created by his retirement. In a news release Thursday [Oct. 24], Chief Judge Robert E. Roundtree Jr. expressed his sadness at the loss of “my friend, my confidant and adviser.’’ During his tenure as judge, Glant presided over circuit civil, circuit criminal, dependency, domestic violence, family and juvenile cases. He also served as the administrative judge of the Circuit Criminal Division from July 2009 until his retirement.