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. 27, 2014
--The Florida Bar--
3 AREA LAWYERS HONORED FOR PRO BONO WORK -- Orlando Business Journal, http://www.bizjournals.com, Jan. 24, 2014. [Also: TAMPA LAW FIRM STICHTER RIEDEL RECEIVES PRO BONO SERVICES AWARD -- Tampa Bay Business Journal, http://www.bizjournals.com, Jan. 24, 2014; THE FLORIDA BAR RECOGNIZES PRO BONO LAWYER -- Daily Commercial, http://www.dailycommercial.com, Jan. 27, 2014.]
The Florida Bar will recognize 21 lawyers, including three from Central Florida, for their work on behalf of poor and indigent clients at a Jan. 30 ceremony at the Florida Supreme Court. The awards recognize pro bono service in each of Florida's 20 judicial circuits and one Florida Bar member practicing outside the state of Florida. The local honorees include Joseph M. Mason Jr. of McGee & Mason PA, Fifth Judicial Circuit; Joseph L. Amos Jr. of Fisher Rushmer Werrenrath Dickson in Orlando, Ninth Judicial Circuit; and Gary Siegel of Sanford, 18th Judicial Circuit. Stichter Riedel Blain & Prosser PA is the 2014 Law Firm Commendation recipient. The Fifth Judicial Circuit — serving Lake, Sumter, Citrus, Hernando and Marion counties — will recognize attorney Joseph M. Mason Jr., who provides pro bono services through Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida Inc. and the Legal Advocacy Center of Central Florida.
ATTORNEY NAMED TO PANEL REPRESENTING DEATH ROW INMATES -- Ocala Star Banner, http://www.ocala.com, Jan. 24, 2014.
Tampa attorney James Viggiano, who has personally worked on the post-conviction cases of two local inmates on Death Row, has been appointed as the Capital Collateral Regional Counsel for the Middle Region, which includes Marion County. Before the Jan. 10 appointment by Gov. Rick Scott, Viggiano, 57, had been working as the chief assistant for the office. The Capital Collateral Region Counsel represents Death Row inmates in their post-conviction proceedings. Before working for the Regional Counsel, Viggiano worked from 2001 to 2002 as an assistant public defender for the 5th Judicial Circuit.
JEFFREY HARRISON: UF ADMINISTRATION IS TONE DEAF IN SEARCH FOR NEW LAW DEAN -- Gainesville Sun, Opinion Column, http://www.gainesville.com, Jan. 25, 2014.
Column by Jeffrey Harrison, the Stephen C. O'Connell chair at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. "Can a new law school dean save the University of Florida administration from itself? UF seems to be involved in an experiment to find out. Deans do report to the central administration, but they live with faculty and typically succeed or fail based on faculty reaction. The key factor is “buying in.” . . . From this point, who knows what will happen. No one seems to know how many of the 10 [candidates] will be invited to meet the faculty in interviews or what the outcome of those interviews will be. The consistent message is that the input of the faculty will be considered. Fortunately the next dean can save the administration from itself. Any candidate determined to be successful will surely only accept the position if there is a strong positive vote from the faculty. Unfortunately, making that demand may also mean the candidate is viewed as unsuitable by the administration."
--Lawyer Ethics/Legal Discipline--
FLORIDA BAR: NO CREDIBLE EVIDENCE OF WRONGDOING BY MARK O'MARA -- Orlando Sentinel, http://www.orlandosentinel.com, Jan. 24, 2014.
The Florida Bar today [Jan. 24] closed its investigation into possible wrongdoing by defense attorney Mark O'Mara, saying it found no credible evidence that he knowingly solicited false testimony from George Zimmerman's wife when she told a judge the couple was broke. That testimony by Shellie Zimmerman led to her being charged with perjury. On Dec. 16, the Florida Bar confirmed that it had opened an investigation following a complaint about O'Mara's handling of the Zimmerman case. It would not provide details on who filed it or the substance of the allegations. That information became public today when the Bar formally notified O'Mara that it was closing its inquiry.
--Criminal Justice Issues--
ROTHSTEIN PROSECUTORS FACE DEADLINE TO CHARGE HIS ALLEGED COHORTS -- South Florida Sun-Sentinel, http://www.sun-sentinel.com, Jan. 24, 2014.
When Scott Rothstein's massive Ponzi scheme was exposed in 2009, the disgraced Fort Lauderdale lawyer implicated friends, family and former colleagues in crimes and promised to testify against them. Rothstein later pleaded guilty and is serving a 50-year federal prison sentence. Now, many local lawyers say the deadline for federal prosecutors to file criminal charges against Rothstein's alleged associates is approaching, as the statute of limitations will run out in late October or November. The feds have charged more than a dozen people with crimes related to the Rothstein name and many pleaded guilty and are locked up. Others are fighting the charges. Michael Steinbach, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Miami division, said the investigation is continuing.
EX-NAVY VETERANS CHARITY AIDE SUSPENDED FROM PRACTICING LAW -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, Jan. 24, 2014.
Karmika V. Rubin, former executive assistant and special counsel to Bobby Thompson and the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, has been suspended from practicing law in Florida. The suspension is unrelated to her work with the fraudulent veterans charity and its founder, who was convicted on racketeering, money laundering and identity theft charges late last year. Rubin, 40, was suspended by Florida's Supreme Court in December for failing to respond to an inquiry by The Florida Bar, which was investigating a complaint that Rubin had misappropriated $6,600 in a client's account. According to the petition to the court, Rubin repeatedly refused to comply with a subpoena for financial records. The non-compliance was willful, the petition said.
--Civil Justice Issues--
MARIJUANA AMENDMENT CLEARS FINAL SIGNATURES, WAITS FOR COURT -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, Jan. 24, 2014.
The Florida Divisions of Elections today [Jan. 24] confirmed that the proposed constitutional amendment to decriminalize marijuana for medical purposes has received enough valid signatures to make it to the ballot. That leaves the only remaining hurdle: court approval of the language. Under state law, the group needs 683,149 valid signatures and must have its language approved by the Florida Supreme Court in order to make it to the ballot. Attorney General Pam Bondi, House Speaker Will Weatherford, Senate President Don Gaetz and Gov. Rick Scott have all argued to the court that the justices should reject the language as misleading. The proposed amendment would allow people to buy marijuana at state-regulated dispensaries if they obtain written permission from a doctor who attests that they need it for medical reasons.