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.
May 16, 2014
--The Florida Bar--
FLORIDA LAWYERS ARGUE OVER $100 HIGHER DUES TO FUND LEGAL AID FOR POOR -- Florida Times-Union (requires subscription), http://www.jacksonville.com, May 16, 2014.
By News Service of Florida. Joined by former state Supreme Court justice Raoul Cantero, Florida Legal Services Executive Director Kent Spuhler and Florida Justice Institute Executive Director Randall Berg are trying to raise annual Florida Bar dues by up to $100 to address what they call a fiscal crisis in legal aid. The Bar's Board of Governors unanimously voted in March to oppose the petition, which Cantero said he plans to file with the court on June 16. The foundation voted to remain neutral on the issue. Those on both sides agree that funding for legal-services groups --- which receive money from The Florida Bar Foundation, counties and the federal government --- is in dire straits. The foundation has supplemented funding for legal services with money from reserves, which it projects will run out by 2017. The foundation has earmarked about $15 million for legal services this year. Cantero formally notified the Bar that his group intended to file a petition with the Supreme Court proposing a change to the current rule that caps lawyers’ annual dues at $265. The proposal would allow the Bar to lift the maximum dues by up to $100 and would require that the additional funds be steered to the “Legal Aid for the Poor Program” administered by The Florida Bar Foundation.
BUTTERWORTH RECEIVES BAR FOUNDATION'S HIGHEST HONOR -- Daily Business Review, http://www.dailybusinessreview.com, May 16, 2014.
Robert Butterworth, Florida's longest-serving attorney general, will receive The Florida Bar Foundation's highest award, the 2014 Medal of Honor Award. Butterworth was selected by his peers for his leadership in multi-state litigation against the tobacco industry, which brought $11 billion to Florida. He also was recognized for enforcing victim and consumer protection, environmental, civil rights and antitrust laws. He was nominated for the award by former American Bar Association president Martha Barnett. Butterworth will receive the award June 26 at The Florida Bar Foundation's 38th annual dinner to be held in conjunction with the Bar's annual conference in Orlando.
QUESTIONS SURROUND CHIEF JUDGE'S DECISION TO RESIGN ONE DAY BEFORE TERM ENDS -- Florida Times-Union (requires subscription), http://www.jacksonville.com, May 15, 2014.
The Florida Supreme Court is being asked to look into the decision of Chief Judge Donald Moran in the Fourth Judicial Circuit to resign one day before his term in office expires. By resigning, Moran allows Gov. Rick Scott to appoint his replacement. If Moran allowed his term to expire without resigning, voters would pick his successor later this year. Attorney David Trotti had already qualified to run in the election to succeed Moran, but after Moran submitted his resignation Trotti said the Division of Elections told him he was no longer a candidate because the judgeship would no longer be on the 2014 ballot. Trotti has filed an emergency petition with the Florida Supreme Court asking them to order the Division of Elections to reopen the election.
STATE SUPREME COURT SCOLDS HILLSBOROUGH JUDGE OVER DUI -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, May 16, 2014. [Also: FLORIDA SUPREME COURT TO REPRIMAND SHEEHAN OVER DUI -- Tampa Tribune, http://www.tbo.com, May 16, 2014.]
The Florida Supreme Court agreed with the state's Judicial Qualifications Commission recommendation in January of a reprimand against Circuit Judge Tracy Sheehan, who pleaded guilty last year to driving under the influence. The action is in keeping with prior cases in which judges have admitted to drunken driving, the court said. Justices also noted the commission's finding that this case appeared to be an isolated incident for which Sheehan has accepted responsibility. A date for Sheehan's reprimand has yet to be scheduled.
--Lawyer Ethics/Legal Discipline--
DOWNTOWN WEST PALM BEACH DEVELOPER ADMITS HE PLAYED BOTH SIDES IN CEMETERY DEAL -- Palm Beach Post, http://www.pbpost.com, May 14, 2014.
Attorney Michael Masanoff, president of a group of investors selected by county commissioners to develop a “transit village” in West Palm Beach, admitted under oath on Wednesday [May 14] that he made $100,000 under the table by working both sides of a real estate deal. Masanoff told a jury that he accepted what has been described as a “kickback” from two brothers to help them buy a mausoleum in Boca Raton from two widows he had previously represented in the land deal. Masanoff is the star witness in a case that has languished in Palm Beach County Circuit Court since 2005, brought on by the adult children of Elishka and Kathleen Michael. Former U.S. Rep. Ron Klein, a Boca Raton Democrat, and his former law partners, Peter Sachs and Spencer Sax, were also sued by the widows. The Florida Bar has opened investigations into the conduct of the four lawyers involved.
--Criminal Justice Issues--
ONLINE DEATH THREAT TO PROSECUTOR SENDS SOUTH FLORIDA MAN TO PRISON -- South Florida Sun-Sentinel, http://www.sun-sentinel.com, May 16, 2014.
A threat to kill Broward State Attorney Mike Satz posted in a comment on a courthouse blog in November got Mark Hillstrom 10 months in federal prison and three years of probation. U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks told the troubled man that he will go to prison for a much longer term if he breaks the law again. The judge ordered him to stop contacting, threatening or harassing any law enforcement agency, prosecutor or judge. Hillstrom, 60, who has lived in Broward and Palm Beach counties in recent years, admitted making the death threat in a rambling comment he posted Nov. 27 on a blog. Hillstrom began harassing and stalking people when his then-wife filed for divorce in 2001, and became angry at prosecutors, judges and police officers who handled criminal cases against him, records show.
VICTOR R. KOCHE -- Sarasota Herald-Tribune, http://www.heraldtribune.com, May 16, 2014.
Victor R. Koche, 94, of Sarasota died on May 7. Koche was a member of the Pennsylvania Bar, The Florida Bar and an active member of the Retired Lawyers of Sarasota.