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. 24, 2013
LATEST SURVEY OF PALM BEACH COUNTY LAWYERS GIVES HIGH MARKS TO OFT-CRITICIZED COUNTY JUDGE -- Palm Beach Post (requires subscription), http://www.pbpost.com, Oct. 24, 2013.
Palm Beach County Court Judge Barry Cohen on Wednesday [Oct. 23] got rave reviews in the Palm Beach County Bar Association’s bi-annual poll of its members. In the poll, Cohen scored top marks among his 18 fellow county court judges. The 63-year-old jurist, who has long been popular among lawyers, was criticized in May 2012 by then-State Attorney Pete Antonacci, who claimed that Cohen regularly blasted police for racial profiling and prosecutors for bringing minor cases to trial. The Judicial Qualifications Commission found that Cohen may have violated judicial canons. In April, Cohen admitted he wrongly used his bench as a bully pulpit and agreed to accept a public reprimand. His case is pending. In two categories that got him into trouble — judicial demeanor and impartiality — only one of the 67 attorneys who evaluated him found him wanting. In three other categories — knowledge of the law, preparedness and punctuality — nearly all of those who reviewed him gave him “excellent” ratings. The poll has long been controversial among judges, with some considering it a popularity contest.
--Lawyer Ethics/Legal Discipline--
FORMER FORECLOSURE MILL BOSS SEEKS REINSTATEMENT -- Palm Beach Post (requires subscription), http://www.pbpost.com, Oct. 24, 2013.
Marshall C. Watson, the only foreclosure mill operator disciplined by the Florida Supreme Court, is hoping to regain his law license, saying he is “extremely remorseful” and accepts full responsibility for mistakes made at his firm. Watson ran a Fort Lauderdale-based company that once represented banks in more than 66,000 foreclosure cases statewide. He was suspended this summer for 91 days and forced to close his firm after pleading guilty to offenses found during a Florida Bar investigation of complaints from judges and two Palm Beach County homeowners. A petition to reinstate Watson’s license was filed last month. His request is scheduled to be heard at a Jan. 21 hearing. As part of Watson’s reinstatement, homeowners who filed formal complaints are being asked whether they have objections to the return of his law license.
--Civil Justice Issues--
APPELLATE COURT RULING REINSTATES NO-FAULT LAW FOR NOW -- The Florida Current, http://www.thefloridacurrent.com, Oct. 24, 2013. [Also: APPEALS COURT REBUFFS CHALLENGE OF FLORIDA'S NEW PIP LAW -- Palm Beach Post (requires subscription), http://www.pbpost.com, Oct. 24, 2013.]
The 1st District Court of Appeal reinstated a 2012 law aimed at reducing fraud and lowering no-fault auto insurance claims, at least for now. The ruling overturns a lower court decision to grant a temporary injunction against the law. The appeals court ruled that a group of chiropractors, acupuncturists and massage therapists lacked standing to bring the case. The plaintiffs brought the case to prevent the implementation of HB 119, which capped personal injury protection coverage at $2,500 for non-emergency care and required patients to seek care within 14 days of an accident. Critics said the law would prevent victims of car accidents from getting the medical care they need, especially in cases where latent injuries show up more than two weeks after a crash. Auto insurers, who pointed to legal challenges to the law when some lawmakers criticized them for not implementing the rate reductions expected by the law, have held off filing new rates with regulators as they awaited the outcome from the courts.
--Criminal Justice Issues--
CONVICTED ATTORNEY FOR ALLIED VETERANS WANTS NEW TRIAL -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, Oct. 24, 2013.
By The Associated Press. Kelly Mathis, the Florida lawyer convicted this month of using a veterans' organization as a front for a $300 million gambling operation, wants a new trial. Mathis was convicted this month of 103 out of 104 counts, including possessing slot machines, helping operate a lottery and racketeering, and could face dozens of years in prison when sentenced in February. He served as an attorney for Allied Veterans of the World, which operated almost 50 Internet cafes throughout Florida, including in the Tampa Bay area. Mathis said in his motion that he was restricted from presenting evidence showing his legal advice to the group was sound, and showing the Internet cafes weren't illegal at the time.
DELEGATION FROM FRENCH SISTER CITY VISITS TAMPA -- Tampa Tribune, http://www.tbo.com, Oct. 24, 2013.
Tampa is playing host this week to a delegation from Le Havre, Tampa's sister city on the north coast of France. The visitors are mostly lawyers, guests of the Hillsborough County Bar Association. They spent Tuesday [Oct. 22] in the county's courts learning about the American judicial system. City Councilman Harry Cohen said the sister city program is a way to bridge the distance between countries and cultures, taking advantage of other people's creativity. Tampa and Le Havre has been sister cities since 1993 and the Hillsborough County Bar Association sent a delegation to Le Havre last year.