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.
April 21, 2014
JUDICIAL SYSTEM GOES ELECTRONIC WITH TRANSITION TO E-FILING -- Ocala Star Banner, http://www.ocala.com, April 18, 2014.
Marion County is part of a statewide transition of Florida's judicial system, with case files now housed in an online portal. The system eventually will expand and allow the public to access records from the courthouse or their homes, decreasing some of the 40,000-plus boxes of clerk records and County Commission documents that the Clerk of the Court now houses in storage. At the Marion County courthouse, attorneys had already been practicing e-filing before a mandatory deadline established by the state Supreme Court, while also turning in hard copies of their documents. The implementation of e-filing has not been free in terms of cost or employee time at the courthouse. The clerk's office purchased 151 new computers and upgraded others, increased its Internet bandwidth and upgraded infrastructure.
SHORTAGE OF BLACK JUDGES EYED -- South Florida Times, http://www.sfltimes.com, April 18, 2014.
The Florida Bar says there are only 26 blacks and 58 Hispanics among the state’s 594 circuit court judges. Of the 319 county court judges, only 32 are blacks and 26 are Hispanics. Also, only six blacks are currently among the 61 judges on the five District Courts of Appeal, along with two Hispanics. Such statistics have led Eugene Pettis, The Florida Bar’s first black leader, to establish the President’s Task Force to Study the Enhancement of Diversity on the Bench and Judicial Nominating Commissions. The task force has met a few times and will hold another session at month's end, aiming to hand in its report in late May. Some critics have linked the lack of racial diversity on the bench in part to the very small number of minorities on the Judicial Nominating Commissions (JNC) which recommend candidates for judgeships to the governor when new seats are created or there is a vacancy. Pettis’ push to diversify the JNCs is already producing results. He told The Florida Bar News that among 679 applicants for JNC spots, some 45 percent are minorities.
STETSON'S BAR PASSAGE RATE AGAIN NO. 1 IN FLORIDA -- Orlando Business Journal (requires subscription), http://www.bizjournals.com, April 18, 2014.
Stetson University College of Law's Bar passage rate is again No. 1 in Florida, with 85 percent of all graduates passing the February Bar exam on the first try, exceeding the statewide average of 72.9 percent. Stetson's Bar passage also was tops in the state on The Florida Bar exam in July, with 89.3 percent of graduates passing.
FAMU COLLEGE OF LAW INDUCTS NEWEST MEMBERS OF THE FLORIDA BAR -- WTXL ABC 27, http://www.wtxl.com, April 19, 2014.
The FAMU College of Law will swear in its newest members of The Florida Bar on Wednesday, April 23, at 6:30 p.m. during its 11th Oath of Admission Ceremony. The College of Law recently learned that 72.2 percent of its first-time examinees passed the February 2014 Florida Bar Exam. According to data compiled by the American Bar Association, Law School Admissions Council, the FAMU College of Law consistently produces more African-American law graduates than any other law school in Florida.
LAW IN THE MALL EVENT TO DISPENSE FREE LEGAL ADVICE -- Naples Daily News, http://www.naplesnews.com, April 18, 2014.
The Lee County Bar Association will kick off Law Week 2014 by hosting its annual Law in the Mall evening from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 26, at the Edison Mall in Fort Myers. The association will have a large number of attorneys covering a wide variety of practice areas and offer free legal advice to members of the community who cannot afford to hire an attorney. Attorneys will offer direction on topics including divorce, probate, criminal law, bankruptcy, real estate and foreclosure.
--Lawyer Ethics/Legal Discipline--
FLORIDA FORECLOSURE-RESCUE SCAM COMPLAINTS INCREASINGLY NAME LAWYERS -- Palm Beach Post (requires subscription), http://www.pbpost.com, April 18, 2014.
Attorney involvement in foreclosure-rescue scams is on the rise nationwide, with Florida outpacing other states when it comes to complaints that include alleged lawyer wrongdoing, according to a new report by the Washington, D.C.-based consumer protection group Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The complaints largely involve loan modifications, but also highlighted as an area of concern are mass litigation, or mass joinder, lawsuits where homeowners are solicited to join with others to sue their banks. Some complaints may include people posing as attorneys or attorneys who unwittingly got pulled into a sham operation. The Florida Supreme Court has disciplined, and even disbarred, attorneys who got involved with non-lawyers in loan modification businesses.
--Civil Justice Issues--
HIGH COURT RULES OUT PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION -- The Florida Current, http://www.thefloridacurrent.com, April 18, 2014. [Also: SUPREME COURT: FLORIDA LAWS COVER PREGNANCY -- The Ledger, http://www.theledger.com, April 18, 2014.]
The state Supreme Court ruled on Thursday [April 17] that Florida’s civil rights act forbids employment discrimination against pregnant women. The case arose as a conflict between two District Court of Appeal rulings – one holding that pregnancy is covered by the FCRA, the other holding that it is not. The court ruled on a lawsuit filed by Peguy Delva, the manager of a residential property company, who said her employer “conducted heightened scrutiny of her work” and refused to let her swap shifts with other workers to accommodate her pregnancy – although company policy permitted such arrangements. Justice Barbara Pariente wrote that pregnancy discrimination “is subsumed within the prohibition in the FCRA against sex discrimination in employment practices.” State Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, hailed the ruling but said lawmakers still should pass a bill (SB 220) she co-sponsored, spelling out that employers may not change work rules on the basis of an employee’s pregnancy.
LAW WOULD PROTECT CHILDREN FROM IDENTITY THEFT -- Orlando Sentinel, http://www.orlandosentinel.com, April 21, 2014.
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Adam Putnam is backing a bill under consideration by the Legislature that would make Florida among the first in the nation to offer children identity protection. Under the proposed Keeping I.D. Safe (KIDS) Act, parents and guardians would be able to open a file in their child's name with one of the major consumer credit bureaus, then immediately put a freeze on it thus keeping it out of reach of would-be thieves. The legislation is modeled after a Maryland law that took effect in January 2013. It came on the heels of a nationwide analysis showing more than 10 percent of children were victims of identity theft in 2011.
DANIEL R. WALBOLT SR. -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, April 17, 2014.
Daniel R. Sr. Walbolt passed away on the morning of April 15. A lawyer, educator, fly fisherman, avid Seminoles fan and great lover of ribticklers, his greatest achievement in his life was as an exceptional husband, father and grandfather.
ANGUS GRAHAM ANDREWS (1931-2014) - Northwest Florida Daily News, http://www.nwfdailynews.com, April 19, 2014.
Angus Graham Andrews, 83, a lifelong resident of DeFuniak Springs, passed away Tuesday, April 15 in Pensacola. Andrews practiced law for 48 years with the law firm of Campbell, Andrews and Andrews and Davis, where he was a partner, retiring in 2007. He achieved a rating of "A" for 30 years in the prestigious Martindale-Hubbell rating systems.
RANDOLPH GLEN COPELAND -- Daytona Beach News-Journal, http://www.news-journalonline.com April 20, 2014.
Randolph Glen Copeland, 75, passed away surrounded by his wife and family, April 13. Copeland graduated from the California School of Law in 1977 and was admitted to The Florida Bar in 1983. In 1983, Copeland joined the Volusia County Public Defender's Office where he served for 20 years as division chief in the DeLand office. In 1997, he was instrumental in the formation of a Drug Court Program in Volusia County.