The Florida Bar

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.

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Aug. 31, 2012

--The Florida Bar--

SUPREME COURT DISCIPLINES 24 ATTORNEYS-- The Florida Bar, press release,, Aug. 30, 2012. [Also: FLORIDA SUPREME COURT DISBARS A WINTER HAVEN LAWYER-- The Ledger,, Aug. 31, 2012; FOUR AREA LAWYERS DISCIPLINED-- Tampa Bay Business Journal,, Aug. 31, 2012 {Subscription required}].
The Florida Bar, the state's guardian for the integrity of the legal profession, announces that the Florida Supreme Court, in court orders issued between June 18 and July 27, disciplined 24 attorneys, disbarring eight and suspending 13. Some attorneys received more than one form of discipline. One attorney was placed on probation; three attorneys were publicly reprimanded; and four were ordered to pay restitution.

A former Rothstein Rosenfelt Adler partner consented to disbarment for running a check-kiting scheme to support ex-law firm chairman Scott Rothstein's fraud and illegally bundling campaign contributions. Steven Neil Lippman settled the disciplinary action after pleading guilty to a federal conspiracy charge. He is scheduled for sentencing Sept. 14 before U.S. District Judge James Cohn in Fort Lauderdale. Before joining Rothstein's Fort Lauderdale law firm, Lippman was a partner at Lippman, Valinski & Storfer and maintained his former firm's bank account after moving on to the Rothstein firm. From 2006 to 2008, Lippman admitted he conspired with Rothstein and others in a check scheme used to artificially inflate RRA bank account balances using his former employer's account. [Subscription required.]


IT'S DOWNRIGHT UN-AMERICAN NOT TO VOTE-- Tampa Bay Times, column,, Aug. 30, 2012.
The column by Ernest Hooper states: "State Supreme Court Justice Peggy Quince came before the Riverview Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday [Aug. 28] with a fundamental request of the audience. Vote. Quince used the opportunity at the chamber's monthly luncheon to promote her merit retention, one of the many decisions voters will face in November. She offered a broader message, though, about not only going to the polls to cast a vote in the presidential race but to be engaged and informed about all the races and all the constitutional amendments. The top of the ballot draws the attention, but the decisions down-ballot are just as important.

BROWARD JUDGE COHEN TO GET REPRIMAND FOR CALLING WIFE TO TESTIFY-- Sun-Sentinel,, Aug. 31, 2012. [Also: BROWARD JUDGE DALE COHEN TO BE PUBLICLY REPRIMANDED-- Daily Business Review,, Aug. 31, 2012 {Subscription required.}]
From the Sun-Sentinel: Broward Circuit Judge Dale Cohen will get a formal reprimand from the Florida Supreme Court for calling his wife to testify in front of him at a 2009 hearing in a criminal case. Cohen was found guilty of official misconduct by the Judicial Qualifications Commission last year, but the state's high court waited until this week to issue a ruling upholding the commission's finding. The court ruled that Cohen tried to intimidate a defense lawyer who wanted the judge to recuse himself from the trial of his client. The lawyer, Stephen Melnick, had worked against the election campaign of Cohen's wife, Mardi Levey Cohen, in 2008 and also participated in a lawsuit against Levey Cohen related to the campaign. Because of that history, Melnick had sought to avoid trying cases in front of Judge Cohen, and the judge had agreed in 17 cases. But in August 2009, instead of granting an 18th motion, Cohen held an evidentiary hearing on the motion and called his wife to testify about the dispute with Melnick. Both sides in the dispute now agree that the hearing was legally improper. By calling his wife to testify, the court agreed that Cohen put Melnick in an inherently unfair position.

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S NEW JUDGE: DEBRA S. NELSON-- Orlando Sentinel,, Aug. 31, 2012. [Also: ZIMMERMAN GETS NEW JUDGE, BUT LAWYERS SAY HE MAY REGRET IT-- The Miami Herald,, Aug. 31, 2012].
From the Orlando Sentinel: Debra S. Nelson, the new judge assigned to George Zimmerman's case Thursday [Aug. 30], is a 13-year judicial veteran who has a reputation for working hard, being ambitious and imposing long prison terms. Nelson, 58, was appointed to the bench in 1999 by then-Gov. Jeb Bush. In private practice, her specialty was civil litigation, but on the bench, she has spent most of her time — seven years — handling felony trials. On Wednesday [Aug. 29], the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach ordered 18th Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. to step aside, saying comments he included in a $1 million bond order were enough to make a reasonable person think he was biased. Nelson will now be the judge who must decide whether Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder, is entitled to immunity under Florida's much-debated "Stand Your Ground" law.

--Civil Justice Issues--

Taking a page from Washington, New York and Chicago, the U.S. attorney's office in Miami is assigning individual prosecutors to some of the poorer and more violent areas of South Florida in a multifaceted approach to combat crime. U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer said the goals of the one-year Violence Reduction Partnership Program are threefold: reduce gun crime, create stakeholders in neighborhoods so residents feel they have a say in combating the problems they face and counter negative perceptions of law enforcement. So far, the U.S. attorney's office has set up the program in three high-crime Miami-Dade neighborhoods: Overtown, Little Haiti and Liberty City/Opa-locka. Miami Gardens is on deck. [Subscription required.]

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[Revised: 09-04-2012]