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.
Sept. 24, 2012
REPUBLICAN PARTY OF FLORIDA WORKS TO REMOVE STATE SUPREME COURT JUSTICES-- Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, Sept. 22, 2012. [Also: ON BALLOT, A SUPREME ATTEMPT TO INTIMIDATE-- Tampa Bay Times, editorial, http://www.tampabay.com, Sept. 23, 2012; REPUBLICANS SEEK FLORIDA COURT POWER-- The Ledger, column, http://www.theledger.com, Sept. 23, 2012; REPUBLICAN CAMPAIGN TO OUST THREE JUSTICES UNDERMINES FLORIDA'S BALANCE OF POWER-- Tampa Bay Times, column, http://www.tampabay.com, Sept. 24, 2012; FLORIDA GOP TARGETS THREE STATE SUPREME COURT JUSTICES-- Orlando Sentinel, http://www.orlandosentinel.com, Sept. 22, 2012].
The Republican Party of Florida waded into a traditionally apolitical fight Friday [Sept. 21], announcing it will oppose the retention of three state Supreme Court justices on the November ballot. In a statement released by its spokeswoman, the party said its executive board voted unanimously this week to oppose Justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince in November's retention elections. The party statement singled out a 2003 case by the court as its main reason for the unprecedented decision to oppose the justices. The justices do not face opponents, but voters are asked every six years to vote yes or no on whether they should remain on the job. Supporters of the justices accused the state Republican Party of using the merit retention vote as a subterfuge to try to seize control of the courts.
MY WORD: FLORIDA BAR POLL RELIABLE FOR RETAINING JUDGES-- Orlando Sentinel, column, http://www.orlandosentinel.com, Sept. 23, 2012.
The guest column by Seventh Circuit Judge Robert K. Rouse Jr. states: "As a circuit judge, I read with interest the assertions and opinions of guest columnist Jesse Phillips, the president of Restore Justice 2012 (The Front Burner: "Don't ignore rulings when voting on judges' merit," Orlando Sentinel, Wednesday). He attacked the three Florida Supreme Court justices who will be on the November ballot. . . . . The Florida Bar polls all Florida lawyers. . . . More than 7,000 lawyers of this state, including trial court judges, responded and overwhelmingly (about 90 percent) supported retaining these justices, based on criteria including knowledge of the law, integrity and impartiality. . . ."
NASSAU JUDGE'S FEDERAL APPOINTMENT IN LIMBO AFTER SENATE PUNTS VOTE-- The Florida Times-Union, http://www.jacksonville.com, Sept. 22, 2012.
Nassau County-based Circuit Court Judge Brian Davis' appointment as a federal judge will remain in limbo after the Senate passed another deadline for confirming him to the seat. Davis, 59, was nominated to be a U.S. district judge in Florida’s Middle District in February by President Barack Obama to fill the seat vacated by U.S. District Judge Richard Lazzara of Tampa in December 2011. It has been empty 271 days, has 663 active cases and is listed as a judicial emergency. Davis is one of 15 federal judicial nominations the Senate did not vote on Friday [Sept. 21] before adjourning until November.
TWO CIRCUIT COURT JUDGES ANNOUNCE RETIREMENTS; GOV. RICK SCOTT TO MAKE NEW APPOINTMENTS-- The Ledger, http://www.theledger.com, Sept. 23, 2012.
Tenth Circuit Court Administrator Nick Sudzina confirmed that two longtime circuit judges, Karla Foreman Wright and John F. Laurent, have indicated plans to retire in January. To fill the vacancies, potential candidates will submit applications to a judicial nominating commission, which will select nominees for the governor's office. Gov. Rick Scott will make the appointments. Wright, 63, first appointed as a judge in 2000, was the first black woman named to the Polk County bench. Laurent, 65, a former legislator, was elected to the circuit bench in 2002.
--Civil Justice Issues--
BALLOT BROKERS ALSO TARGET HAITIAN VOTE-- The Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, Sept. 23, 2012. [Also: A SUREFIRE WAY TO FIX THE BOLETERO SCOURGE: STOP USING THEM-- The Miami Herald, column, http://www.miamiherald.com, Sept. 23, 2012].
At Little Haiti’s St. Mary Towers, ballot brokers jockey every election season to see who can get in the doors and collect the most absentee ballots, the elderly residents say. Brokers tout their skills on Creole-language radio, pitch their services to candidates running for office in cities that boast a sizeable Haitian electorate and even brag about their vote-getting prowess. So-called boleteros have long been a part of the political firmament in largely Hispanic enclaves in Miami-Dade. Now, they are part of a burgeoning cottage industry in the Haitian community — a testament to the increasing power of the Haitian-American vote, as well as a cause for concern for those who worry about potential abuses, especially in the wake of the recent arrests of two ballot brokers in Hialeah.
60 LAWSUITS PENDING AGAINST SARASOTA COUNTY-- Sarasota Herald-Tribune, http://www.heraldtribune.com, Sept. 24, 2012.
From jail inmates claiming unfair treatment, to citizens alleging police brutality to employees who say they faced discrimination, running a government as large as Sarasota County and its sheriff's office is bound to attract lawsuits. A report compiling the active lawsuits against the county was recently distributed to top officials — a report required by state law — and gives an accounting of active lawsuits against county government. Roughly 60 lawsuits are pending against the county, according to County Attorney Stephen DeMarsh's litigation report. The report is an annual snapshot that the county must provide to the commission, county clerk and other county officials. Most of the lawsuits, or notices of pending claims, were filed against the sheriff's office.
--Criminal Justice Issues--
FLORIDA IS POORLY EQUIPPED TO DEAL WITH JUVENILES ACCUSED OF MURDER-- The Florida Times-Union, editorial, http://www.jacksonville.com, Sept. 22, 2012.
The editorial states: "The twists and turns in the case of 13-year-old Cristian Fernandez show how ill-equipped Florida is to deal with juveniles in such cases. A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in an Alabama case leaves the young man facing charges for murder for which there are no applicable penalties. That’s because the only penalty prescribed under Florida's mandatory sentencing laws is life in prison, but the federal court declared a juvenile can’t be sentenced to life in prison unless the sentencing court has discretion to consider mitigating circumstances, which is not the case with Florida’s mandatory law. . . .Meanwhile, it appears more likely that a judge for the first time may get to decide whether Fernandez should be sent to juvenile court rather than be tried as an adult. Clearly, this case shows the Legislature needs to address sentences for major juvenile crimes and review mandatory sentences, which are too rigid, remove too much discretion from judges and result in needlessly long and costly incarcerations even for nonviolent offenders.