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.
October 7, 2013
NOTES -- Tallahassee Democrat, http://www.tdo.com , Oct. 7, 2013.
The National Jurist magazine has ranked FSU’s College of Law the 9th best value law school in the nation. The ranking, published in The National Jurist’s October issue, weighs important student outcomes — bar passage rate and employment rate — against tuition, cost of living and indebtedness. According to The National Jurist, the rankings are “designed to find the law schools where graduates have excellent chances of passing the bar and getting a legal job, without taking on a ton of debt.” FSU is the only law school in Florida ranked in the top 20. This is the fifth year in a row that The National Jurist has ranked FSU one of the nation’s top 15 best value law schools. The national ranking reflects the law school’s strong student outcomes; for 10 of the last 16 administrations of the Florida Bar Examination, FSU’s bar passage rate was either first or second among Florida’s 11 law schools. Also, Professor Shawn Bayern has been appointed the Larry and Joyce Beltz Professor of Torts at FSU’s College of Law.
SHUTDOWN HALTS CIVIL, IMMIGRATION CASES IN COURTS -- Charlotte Sun Herald, http://www.yoursun.com , Oct. 5, 2013.
U.S. attorneys are shelving most civil prosecutions and immigration courts are closed except for the most pressing cases because of the federal government shutdown. The Justice Department issued a directive saying U.S. attorneys will continue to handle criminal cases without interruption “to maintain the safety of human life and the protection of property.” Civil cases are to be “curtailed or postponed” to the extent that can be done without significantly compromising people’s safety or the protection of property, the department said. Meanwhile, the vast majority of immigration courts have been closed, according to a notice posted on the immigration courts’ website. Hearings are still taking place, however, for immigrants being held in detention.
ALLOW FREE ONLINE ACCESS TO COURT RECORDS -- South Florida Sun-Sentinel, editorial, http://www.sun-sentinel.com , Oct. 7, 2013.
The editorial states: "Government likes to put its hand in your pocket, so it comes as no surprise that there's talk about imposing a new fee to view court records online — that is, if you were allowed to view court records online. The Florida Supreme Court continues to ban online access to court documents scanned and digitized by attorneys and clerks of court, forcing people to go to the courthouse, pay to park and interrupt staff for records that could easily be viewed from home. . . Given the safeguards already in place, it's time to allow clerks of court to make digital documents available online. And given that taxpayers already pay government staffers to manage these records, it reeks of unfairness to make citizens pay again to access them."
LEE COURT SYSTEM: E-FILE DELAY GETS APPROVAL -- Fort Myers News-Press, http://www.news-press.com , Oct. 5, 2013.
The Florida Supreme Court gave Lee, Broward, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Pasco and Pinellas counties until Feb. 3 to convert to e-filing, according to an administrative order signed by Chief Justice Ricky Polston. Those five counties can apply to extend their deadlines further, but they need to state the reason they failed to meet the deadline and the date they plan to accomplish e-filing, according to the order.
JUDICIAL PROFILE: JUDGE ARZOLA FOCUSED ON SCHOOL TO MAKE PARENTS PROUD -- Daily Business Review, (requires login), http://www.dailybusinessreview.com , Oct. 5, 2013.
The article profiles Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Antonio Arzola. Arzola expects punctuality, civility and for attorneys to address the bench, not each other. "I nip that in the bud immediately. I'm not going to allow an attorney to disrespect another one. It's just not going to happen," he said. "My goal really is when the attorneys leave here that they felt that they were given an opportunity to present their arguments and their case law and that they leave here feeling that they were given a fair shot."
HERNANDO'S 100- YEAR-OLD COURTHOUSE PART OF LONG, SLOW JOURNEY TO JUSTICE -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com , Oct. 5, 2013.
The big, brick Hernando County Courthouse in downtown Brooksville is 100 years old — plenty old, by Florida standards, to deserve the anniversary celebration planned for later this week.
HILLSBOROUGH CIRCUIT JUDGE UPHOLDS JUVENILE LIFE SENTENCE -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com , Oct. 5, 2013.
Florida legal authorities do not agree on whether juveniles can be sentenced to life in prison without parole. The Florida Supreme Court has not weighed in, and state legislators have not passed any laws to clear the matter. Hillsborough Circuit Judge Emmett Lamar Battles faced these muddy legal waters at a hearing Friday [Oct. 4] and ultimately decided to uphold the sentence of a Tampa man handed life in prison for a murder he committed at age 16.
FAILURE TO ACT -- Panama City News Herald, editorial, http://www.newsherald.com , Oct. 7, 2013.
The editorial states: "It’s been more than three years since the U.S. Supreme Court found that Florida was illegally sentencing juveniles to life without parole for crimes other than murder. The failure of state lawmakers to subsequently reform juvenile sentencing laws means that the courts might decide the issue for them. Lawmakers need to do their jobs and establish a sensible system, one that accounts for the inherent differences between juvenile and adult offenders. . .Whether they call it parole or something else, lawmakers should establish a review system for long juvenile sentences. Otherwise, the courts will just have to do their jobs for them."
--Legal Ethics/Lawyer Discipline--
RUNAWAY LAKE WORTH ATTORNEY TO PLEAD GUILTY; SWINDLED CLIENTS RECOVERING -- Palm Beach Post, http://www.pbpost.com , Oct. 7, 2013.
Former Lake Worth attorney Timothy McCabe is expected to plead guilty Thursday [Oct. 10] in federal court to bank fraud six months after the 55-year-old went on the lam in a bizarre vanishing act with an estimated $8 million in client money. In the weeks and months that have followed his April 2 disappearance, more strange stories from former clients have come to light while his alleged victims still don’t know how their money was spent or where he went before turning himself in to the FBI in June. McCabe has been disbarred and faces a possible 30-year prison sentence.
DAVID STERN ENDS ETHICS TRIAL BY SAYING HE DID NOTHING WRONG -- Daily Business Review (requires login), http://www.dailybusinessreview.com , Oct. 5, 2013.
The Florida Bar trial seeking the disbarment of former foreclosure king David J. Stern concluded with him claiming he did nothing wrong — he was just the victim of "human error" by subordinates. Jeffrey Tew of Tew Cardenas in Miami, Stern's lead counsel, argued The Bar was overzealous in pursuing Stern with claims that he severely damaged the judicial system, other attorneys and public trust in the courts. Stern handled the most foreclosure cases in the state until the robo-signing scandal erupted. The attorney general's office launched an investigation of his law firm and Stern's publicly traded spinoff, Plantation-based DJSP Enterprises Inc., which generated supporting documents for foreclosure cases.
HEARING FOR JUDGE JUDITH HAWKINS MISCONDUCT ALLEGATIONS BEGINS THIS MORNING -- Tallahassee Democrat, http://www.tdo.com , Oct. 7, 2013.
The final hearing for a Leon County judge facing judicial misconduct charges will begin this morning at the Leon County Courthouse. Judge Judith Hawkins was suspected of running a side business, Gaza Road Ministries, from the office she holds as a 2nd Judicial Circuit judge, using staff and resources designated for that office. Hawkins has denied any wrongdoing.
ROBERT SCOTT, BROWARD CIRCUIT JUDGE, DIES AT 90 -- The Miami Herald, http://www.herald.com , Oct. 5, 2013.
Robert Clement Scott, a Broward County circuit judge from 1982 through 1993, and lawyer, died Wednesday [Oct. 2]. He was 90.
TIMOTHY RHYS MORGAN THOMAS -- Tallahassee Democrat, http://www.tdo.com , Oct. 5, 2013.
Timothy Rhys Morgan Thomas passed away in Miami on Sept. 29. He worked as a respected assistant attorney general and was held in very high regard by his colleagues and appellate judges.