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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.

Jan. 22, 2014

--The Florida Bar--

FLORIDA LAWYERS WEIGH IN ON THE STATE OF THE PROFESSION -- The Florida Bar News, http://www.flabar.org, Feb. 1, 2014.
The 2013 Membership Opinion Survey, conducted by The Florida Bar's Research, Planning and Evaluation Department, was mailed to 2,812 randomly selected Bar members and 30 percent of the surveys have been returned. Those surveyed shared their opinions on the Bar’s work as an advocate for the profession, lawyer advertising and career satisfaction. The survey also provides some information on how lawyers are doing financially and about their use of social networking services. Among the conclusions drawn from the study, Florida Bar members think the “oversaturation of lawyers” will have the greatest impact on the profession over the next five years and said balancing family and a high level of stress and work are their top personal concerns.

--Civil Justice Issues--

LAWSUIT SEEKS TO OVERTURN FLORIDA BAN ON GAY MARRIAGE -- South Florida Sun-Sentinel, http://www.sun-sentinel.com, Jan. 21, 2014. [Also: SIX SOUTH FLORIDA GAY COUPLES SUE IN MIAMI-DADE CIRCUIT COURT FOR RIGHT TO MARRY -- Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, Jan. 21, 2014.]
Six South Florida gay couples filed a lawsuit against the state on Tuesday [Jan. 21] seeking to overturn Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage. The lawsuit argues that Florida law banning same-sex couples from marrying violates the U.S. Constitution by denying them legal protections and "equal dignity" that having the freedom to marry provides. Florida voters added a ban on same-sex marriage to the state Constitution in 2008. Gay and lesbian Floridians who marry elsewhere and return home can get federal benefits, but the state doesn't recognize their marriages. The lawsuit was filed in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court. The plaintiffs are represented by the law firm Carlton Fields Jorden Burt; Elizabeth F. Schwartz, past president of the Miami Beach Bar Association and chairwoman of the Gay and Lesbian Lawyers Association of Miami; and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

SUPPORTERS OF CHANGING ALIMONY LAWS RALLY AROUND DOCUMENTARY FILM -- Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, Jan. 21, 2014.
The Zephyrhills Cinema 10 is playing an obscure documentary about alimony called "Divorce Corp." The screenings are part of an aggressive push to change Florida’s alimony laws by the nonprofit Family Law Reform. The group is working to build support for alimony law changes before the legislative session begins, president Alan Frisher said. The laws were nearly overhauled last year, when the state House and Senate passed a controversial proposal to end permanent alimony payments, but the bill fell victim to a last-minute veto by Gov. Rick Scott. In addition to ending permanent alimony, the 2013 alimony bill sought to cap payments based on salary and length of marriage. Some of its provisions would have been retroactive, giving the courts authority to modify existing arrangements between former spouses. The Family Law Section of The Florida Bar raised concerns that the retroactive provisions might be unconstitutional.

FLORIDA BAPTIST CONVENTION VOWS TO APPEAL $12.5 MILLION JURY AWARD IN SEX-MOLESTATION CASE -- Orlando Sentinel, http://www.orlandosentinel.com, Jan. 21, 2014. [Also: JURY AWARDS MOLESTED BOY $12.5 MILLION IN VERDICT AGAINST FLORIDA BAPTIST CONVENTION -- Orlando Sentinel, http://www.orlandosentinel.com, Jan. 20, 2014.]
A Florida Baptist Convention attorney said today that the group will appeal a Lake County jury's decision to award a 21-year-old man $12.5 million in damages for being sexually abused by a Baptist minister when he was a child. The church said the minister, Douglas W. Myers, wasn't an "employee" of the convention and instead served as a "church planter" who assisted in starting churches and received a stipend from the church. The jury reached a unanimous decision on the award Saturday [Jan. 18] after a six-day trial regarding damages. In May 2012, an earlier jury held the Florida Baptist Convention liable in the case. Those jurors concluded the organization didn't adequately investigate Myers, 64, who previously had been accused of inappropriate conduct with children.

--Other--

LONGTIME DAYTONA BEACH JUDGE JAMES NELSON DIES AT 96 -- Daytona Beach News-Journal, http://www.news-journalonline.com, Jan. 21, 2014.
James Nelson, 96, a lifetime Daytona Beach resident, died Sunday [Jan. 19]. Inspired by his grandfather, Nelson dedicated his life to public service, first as an officer in World War II and later as a longtime judge. When he wasn’t on the bench, he took up leadership positions with the Daytona Beach Lions’ Club, the Halifax District Boy Scouts and a litany of other service groups. His long career as a judge began when Gov. Fuller Warren appointed him to the newly established Volusia County Small Claims Court in 1951. He was appointed in 1964 to the 7th Judicial Circuit, which covers Volusia, Flagler, St. Johns and Putnam counties, and served until his retirement in 1990. 

RAYMOND HAROLD MATHISEN -- Palm Beach Post, http://www.pbpost.com, Jan. 22, 2014.
Raymond Harold Mathisen passed away on Sunday, Jan. 19. Mathisen attended the University of Illinois, where he graduated in 1948. His college education was interrupted by military service in World War II from 1943-1946. He graduated with honors from Chicago Kent College of Law, where he served as editor of the Law Review and he was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1952. Mathison moved to Coral Gables in 1960, where he practiced in corporate securities and tax law until his retirement in 1992. He was a 50 year member of The Florida Bar, American Bar and Federal Bar.

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[Revised: 01-23-2014]