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.
Oct. 30, 2013
--The Florida Bar--
GOV. SCOTT NEEDS TO KEEP HANDS OFF FLORIDA'S JUDICIARY -- Tampa Bay Times, Column, http://www.tampabay.com, Oct. 30, 2013. [Also: FLA. GOVERNOR AND STATE BAR AT ODDS OVER JUDICIAL PICKS -- Wall Street Journal, http://www.wsj.com, Oct. 29, 2013.]
Times columnist Sue Carlton questions Gov. Rick Scott's methods in appointing members to judicial nominating commissions. "The governor appoints five members to each nominating commission and is supposed to pick the other four from lists of nominations from The Florida Bar. But as the Times' Steve Bousquet reported this week, Scott has said no 16 times to the Bar's lists of recommended lawyers . . . This is influencing something that needs to be as above influence as anything in government can possibly be: independent, apolitical judges who represent the varied people who populate this state. Here is what we should want from our next governor: a person who recognizes the importance of a judiciary untainted as we can make it, regardless of how candidates happen to lean, politics-wise."
--Lawyer Ethics/Legal Discipline--
FORECLOSURE KING'S REBUKE COULD HELP FORMER PARTNER GET BACK $58.5 MILLION -- Palm Beach Post (requires subscription), http://www.pbpost.com, Oct. 30, 2013.
A judge’s rebuke of David J. Stern could help a former business partner’s quest to reverse a $58.5 million payday. As he fights for his right to practice law, Stern also is fending off a suit in Broward County by DJSP Enterprises, a publicly traded firm that in 2010 paid $146 million for Stern’s mortgage-default paperwork mill, including $58.5 million in cash up front. The company collapsed months later. “He was pleading innocence and complete ignorance,” said Robert Zarco, a Miami attorney representing DJSP. “For us, this recommendation is very positive, because it only highlights the way he ran his business.” Stern’s personal real estate empire remains intact. According to property records, Stern in 2008 paid $17 million for two homes in Hillsboro Beach and in 2009 paid $8 million for a house in Fort Lauderdale and $6.9 million for a condo in Fort Lauderdale. Zarco argued that DJSP was misled by Stern. “Clearly, robosigning and everything else that was undertaken by Stern does not comply with the laws,” he said.
LOCAL ATTORNEY SUSPENDED 13 DAYS AFTER FELONY PLEA -- South Florida Business Journal, http://www.bizjournals.com, Oct. 30, 2013.
The Florida Supreme Court suspended Coral Gables attorney Michael J. Scaglione 13 days after he pleaded guilty to federal money laundering charges. Scaglione entered his guilty plea in the Eastern District of New York on Oct. 9, and will be sentenced Jan. 16. On Oct. 22, The Florida Bar filed a notice of his plea with the high court, which issued a suspension order the next day. The 41-year-old attorney was arrested during an undercover sting at a Miami Beach hotel in July and charged with agreeing to launder more than $750,000 from an apparent penny stock fraud scheme.
--Civil Justice Issues--
TAX QUESTIONS RAISED IN MEDICAL-MARIJUANA PROPOSAL -- Tallahassee Democrat, http://www.tallahassee.com, Oct. 29, 2013.
The medical designation of marijuana in Florida would have an impact in how it is taxed and regulated. More than half a million signature petitions must still be gathered to get a medical-marijuana proposal on the 2014 ballot, the state's Supreme Court must still sign off on the amendment's language and 60 percent of voters would have to approve it. Unknown for tax purposes is whether medical marijuana would be considered an agricultural product, its medical designation and how dispensaries would grow or acquire the drug. On Monday [Oct. 28], the Office of Economics and Demographic Research, the committee charged with coming up with a fiscal-impact number for the ballot question, debated how property taxes and sales taxes might apply. The Florida Supreme Court announced Monday it will hold oral arguments on the ballot language Dec. 5.
--Criminal Justice Issues--
NEW COALITION TO FOCUS ON JUVENILE JUSTICE IN JACKSONVILLE -- Florida Times-Union (requires subscription), http://www.jacksonville.com, Oct. 30, 2013.
More than two dozen Northeast Florida elected officials, churches, advocacy groups and policy organizations are joining forces to form the Jacksonville Juvenile Justice Coalition to help put a stop to the criminalization of first-time juvenile offenders accused of committing misdemeanors. Members of the coalition include State Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, State Rep. Mia Jones, D-Jacksonville, the 39-church Interchurch Coalition for Action, Reconciliation and Empowerment group, Pace Center for Girls Jacksonville, the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center and the Southern Poverty Law Center. The coalition will be pushing for an increased use of the civil citation program, which began in Jacksonville in 2012. Rather than fines or jail time, juvenile offenders in the civil citation program must plead guilty and are sentenced to things like community service and tours of the jail.