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 2, 2011
COURAGEOUS STAND AGAINST CANNON'S COURT PLAN-- St. Petersburg Times, editorial, http://www.tampabay.com, April 30, 2011.
The editorial states: ". . . At least five Republican senators — and possibly more — have courageously refused to back [House Speaker Dean] Cannon's thinly veiled retribution against the court. Those Republicans, and the Senate's Democrats, should stand firm for another week. . . . Cannon's plan needs at least 24 votes in the 40-member chamber. The fact that HJR 7111 did not come to a vote on the Senate floor Friday is encouraging and suggests more Republicans have told Haridopolos they stand in opposition along with courageous Republican Sens. Mike Fasano of New Port Richey, Ronda Storms of Valrico, Paula Dockery of Lakeland, Miguel Diaz de la Portilla of Miami and David Simmons of Altamonte Springs."
CHECKS AND UNBALANCES-- Tallahassee Democrat, column, http://www.tallahassee.com, April 30, 2011.
The guest column by Tallahassee lawyer Tom Powell, a recipient of the Tallahassee Bar Association's Richard W. Ervin Equal Justice Award, discusses proposed legislation to change the makeup of the Florida Supreme Court, limit The Florida Bar's involvement in making recommendations for judicial nominating commissions and enable the governor to select JNC members. It states: ". . . Those of us old enough to have taken civics class in junior high school know the analogy of the three-legged stool. The legs represent the three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial. The legs must be equal or the stool is unstable. . . . Passing the revision of the JNC statute and approving the proposed constitutional amendment will cut off the judicial leg entirely, and Florida justice will fall on its butt." [The Tallahassee Democrat no longer offers free links to news articles].
LAW DAY: THE LEGACY OF JOHN ADAMS-- Key West Citizen, column, http://www.keysnews.com, April 30, 2011. [Also: LAW WEEK TO HONOR LEGACY OF JOHN ADAMS-- The Suncoast News, www.suncoastpasco.tbo.com, April 30, 2011; ATTORNEY HONORED AT 'LAW DAY' FOR CHARITABLE LEGAL WORK-- Ocala Star Banner, http://www.ocala.com, April 30, 2011].
The guest column and the articles discuss Law Day and Law Week activities this week. The guest column by Key West attorney Calvin J. Allen states: "Law Day has been defined by the American Bar Association as a 'national day set aside to celebrate the rule of law. Law Day underscores how law and the legal process have contributed to the freedoms that all Americans share.' . . . Law Day is not a holiday. It is an observance to help people appreciate their legal rights under the rule of law. Bar associations and legal professionals educate people about how the American legal system functions. . . . Annually, the American Bar Association designates a theme for Law Day. . . .This year's theme is 'The Legacy of John Adams, from Boston to Guantanamo.'"
--Lawyer Ethics/Legal Discipline--
ORLANDO ATTORNEY AMONG 16 DISCIPLINED-- Orlando Business Journal, www.bizjournals.com, April 30, 2011.
The Florida Supreme Court in recent court orders disciplined 16 attorneys, disbarring three and suspending 10, including an attorney in Orlando. Three attorneys were publicly reprimanded. Clint Johnson, Orlando, was suspended until further order following an April 11 court order.
COURT: ATTORNEY'S ACTIONS RESEMBLED PONZI-- South Florida Business Journal, http://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida, April 30, 2011.
The Florida Supreme Court has disbarred Miami attorney Theodore Ross Dempster for allegedly running a real estate investment fraud "similar to a Ponzi scheme" through a company called McBain Investments Trust. Two investors who gave money to Dempster filed a lawsuit against him and McBain in Miami-Dade Circuit Court on May 20 last year. Four days later, City National Bank of Florida reported Dempster to The Florida Bar, according to documents filed by the Bar with the Supreme Court. The Bar said City National filed complaints stating that Dempster was using his attorney trust account to pay expenses such as secretarial services, office cleaning, electric service, health insurance payments and mortgage payments. Documents from the Supreme Court case don’t give a total for the amount of Dempster’s alleged fraud, but at least $1.8 million in contributions from investors dating from 2008 through 2010 are listed.
JUDGE CLEARS WORKERS' SUITS AGAINST STERN-- South Florida Business Journal, http://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida, April 30, 2011.
Foreclosure attorney David J. Stern can be sued personally and jointly with his companies for allegedly violating Florida’s laws about providing advance notice of layoffs, U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro ruled. Her ruling, dated April 27, states that Stern, the Law Offices of David Stern, P.A., and his companies including DJSP Enterprises were a "single employer" that may be held jointly and severally liable for any allegations of the state's WARN Act — Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification — that may or may not be proven in the lawsuit. Former employees at DJSP filed suit in November, alleging that the public company failed to provide them with sufficient warning about hundreds of layoffs. Plantation-based DJSP provided mortgage processing services with Stern’s law firm as its only significant client. Its fortunes tumbled after Stern, once one of the nation's leading foreclosure attorney, fell under state investigation last year for alleged fabrication of mortgage documents. Stern's law office has since closed and Stern is under investigation by The Florida Bar.
--Civil Justice Issues--
TAMPA MOSQUE QUARREL DRAWING NATIONAL ATTENTION-- The Tampa Tribune, http://www.tbo.com, May 2, 2011.
A tiff involving a Tampa nonprofit organization is sparking a national fuss. The case involves a mosque, $2.4 million and what role, if any, Islamic law should play in resolving the court case. The dispute was ignited in 2002 when members of the Islamic Education Center of Tampa ousted four founding trustees of the mosque. It now has gone viral on the blogosphere and is being watched in legal circles. Setting aside the political hot-button issues involving Islamic law, legal experts worry the case wades into the First Amendment prohibition against government becoming entangled in religious practices.