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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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March 12, 2014

--The Florida Bar--

FLORIDA BAR TASK FORCE EXAMINES 'CONCERNING' MINORITY JUDGE NUMBERS -- WFSU, http://news.wfsu.org, March 11, 2014.
A Florida Bar task force is examining why more minority candidates are not applying to be judges or serve on the committees that nominate them. The law licensing organization says the percentage of minority judge nominators has dropped off steeply in recent years. The 11-member diversity task force met in Fort Lauderdale Tuesday [March 11]. In three months they’re expected to issue a report addressing how the Bar and governor can better make the judiciary reflect the population of Florida. Stetson University law professor Ciara Torres-Spelliscy has studied judicial diversity. She says that respect can be lost by having a bench that doesn’t resemble the public. After interviewing judicial nominators in several states, she says the best ways to increase applicant diversity are better minority outreach and increasing judges’ salaries.

--Judiciary--

PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO CLARIFY SUPREME COURT PICKS CAN'T ESCAPE POLITICS -- The Florida Current, http://www.thefloridacurrent.com, March 11, 2014. [Also: PROPOSAL TO TAKE POLITICS OUT OF COURT PICK GETS PREDICTABLY POLITICAL -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, March 12, 2014.]
A proposed amendment to the state constitution looking to clarify which governor can appoint a Florida Supreme Court justice to replace a justice whose term ends the same day as a new governor is appointed passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday [March 11]. Three justices – Barbara Pariente, Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince – will be forced to retire by January 2019. Depending on the outcome of the next two gubernatorial elections, it could set up a legal nightmare if an outgoing governor and incoming governor disagree over the appointments. Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, sponsor of the bill, said he wanted to place the amendment on the 2014 ballot to avoid a political fight over the picks, but a Republican-Democratic party fight over the issue is inevitable. The amendment would allow the outgoing governor to select the justices, even though a new governor would have been freshly elected in 2018.

20TH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT JUDGE ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT -- Fort Myers News-Press, http://www.news-press.com, March 11, 2014.
Judge Sherra Winesett has submitted her notice of retirement and will leave the 20th Circuit Court bench in August. She was appointed to the court in 1995 by Gov. Lawton Chiles and was a founding member of Calusa Inns of Court, an honorary society of attorneys and judges formed to encourage competency and civility among attorneys. Winesett taught school for a year in Gainesville and graduated from law school in 1973, at a time when women attorneys were still unusual. She was only the third woman to practice law in Fort Myers.

HISTORY MATTERS: A TOUR OF MANATEE COUNTY'S EIGHT COURTHOUSES SINCE 1855 -- Bradenton Herald, http://www.bradenton.com, March 12, 2014.
Since its establishment in 1855, Manatee County has had three different county seats and eight different courthouses. The first courthouse, now at the Manatee Village Historical Park, was built in 1860 for $700. For six years, officials governed the 5,000-square-mile county from the small wooden structure. During that time, court was held in only two sessions per year in the spring and fall. A judge traveled to Manatee from Tampa, and all trials were held in a one-week period. In 1912, county commissioners began planning the building of a new courthouse. The lawn of that Historic Courthouse is being restored to feature native plantings and a park-like setting. The bandstand originally on the property has been recreated, thanks to a grant. A grand opening is being scheduled for April.

--Legal Profession--

UF LAW SCHOOL DEAN BRUSHES OFF SLIDE IN NATIONAL RANKING -- Gainesville Sun, http://www.gainesville.com, March 12, 2014. [Also: U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT ANNOUNCES THE 2015 BEST GRADUATE SCHOOLS -- Jacksonville Business Journal, http://www.bizjournals.com, March 11, 2014; MAGAZINE RANKS FSU LAW SCHOOL TOPS IN THE STATE -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, March 11, 2014.]
Florida State University College of Law has surpassed the University of Florida Levin College of Law as the state's top law program, according to U.S. News & World Report. The 2015 edition of Best Graduate Schools rankings shows that Florida State's law program rose in the ranks of national law programs from 48th to 45th, while UF's dropped from 46th to 49th out of 146 law schools and colleges evaluated. FSU's leapfrog over UF was due to the weight that U.S. News & World Report places on employment rate nine months after graduation, financial resources and faculty resources. UF Law Dean Robert Jerry said he wasn't worried about FSU's leap forward. Location can have an impact on job placement, Jerry said, and FSU can place graduates in state government jobs more effectively than UF can. UF has stepped up its career development program, especially in areas it's strongest, like clerkships with federal judges, he said.

--Legislature--

EDITORIAL: CHANGE STATE LAW TO LET LAW SCHOOL GRADUATE, A 'DREAMER,' PRACTICE LAW -- Palm Beach Post (requires subscription), Editorial, http://www.pbpost.com, March 12, 2014.
The Post's editorial states, "[Jose Godinez-Samperio] will not get to practice law in Florida, not unless state legislators tweak the law to let him . . . [Justice Jorge] Labarga’s opinion laid responsibility squarely where it belongs: with state legislators, who have the power to authorize “Dreamers” (those brought here as children to live illegally) to receive professional licenses, even if they are technically barred by federal law from working . . . If lawmakers are in the mood for righting these injustices, modifying state law to allow Samperio and others like him to practice law would be consistent with those efforts. Allowing “Dreamers” a path to legal residency has broad bipartisan support, and the Obama administration has given them tacit temporary approval to work. Given the ease of such a small accommodation, inaction would be an inexplicable cruelty."

--Lawyer Ethics/Legal Discipline--

RUNAWAY ATTORNEY TRAVELED COUNTRY, LIVED IN HOSTELS -- Palm Beach Post (requires subscription), http://www.pbpost.com, March 12, 2014.
Former Lake Worth attorney Timothy McCabe was on the run for two months after his schemes collapsed. Monday [March 10] it became publicly known how McCabe spent those desperate days after penning notes to family and colleagues that spoke of ruinous business deals and hinted at suicide. In a court document filed in response to a federal pre-sentencing investigation, McCabe’s attorney says the 55-year-old traveled by bus across the country, lived in hostels, and “meandered in towns to remain unseen.” McCabe turned himself in to the FBI in June after an arrest warrant was issued, and has since pleaded guilty to five fraud charges. McCabe faces up to 30 years in prison on each of the felony fraud counts and was scheduled to be sentenced Thursday [March 13]. That hearing has been postponed until March 19.

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[Revised: 03-13-2014]