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 27, 2014
--The Florida Bar--
BAR PANEL CALLS FOR "DIVERSITY" IN JUDICIAL NOMINATING PROCESS -- The Florida Current, http://www.thefloridacurrent.com, May 23, 2014. [Also: FLA. BAR CALLS FOR DIVERSITY IMPROVEMENT ON BENCH -- Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, May 23, 2014; FLORIDA BAR PRESIDENT: GOV. SCOTT SHOULD PUBLICLY EMBRACE JUDICIAL DIVERSITY -- WFSU, http://news.wfsu.org, May 23, 2014.]
A special task force recommended on Friday [May 23] that Gov. Rick Scott and The Florida Bar should review selection procedures for judges and appoint a special “diversity” officer to help get more black, Hispanic and other under-represented minority lawyers into the judicial system. The team surveyed members of Judicial Nominating Commissions, lawyers who have applied to serve on the nominating commissions and some who applied for judgeships – along with lawyers in the Bar’s general membership. The task force recommended that Scott make diverse appointments to the 78 vacancies on Judicial Nominating Commissions next month and urged him not to reject the slates sent to him by the commissions. The Florida Bar Board of Governors agreed on 10 recommendations and unanimously approved the report from the 11-member task force.
BAR BULLETIN: WE NEED MENTORS FOR YOUNG LAWYERS -- Jacksonville Daily Record, http://www.jaxdailyrecord.com, May 26, 2014.
Column by Braxton Gillam, president of The Jacksonville Bar Association. Gillam writes about the mentoring program sponsored by the Jacksonville Bar Association. "The program has successfully fostered relationships between a number of the older and newer members of our legal community. The importance of a strong mentoring program, however, grows each day . . . Due to a generally difficult job market, we have seen a significant increase in new lawyers either hanging a shingle or banding together with other new lawyers to start firms immediately after passing the Bar examination . . . Raising the quality of legal services in our community benefits everyone and mentoring a young lawyer is a great way to help reach this goal. Please help us by contacting the Bar office and volunteering for this worthy project."
SUPREME COURT SUSPENDS BROWARD JUDGE GISELE POLLACK -- South Florida Sun-Sentinel, http://www.sun-sentinel.com, May 23, 2014.
Broward County Judge Gisele Pollack was suspended by the state Supreme Court on Friday [May 23], after an investigation by the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission found that Pollack had allegedly violated the code of judicial conduct during her struggles with alcoholism. The court ordered Pollack suspended without pay, pending the final outcome of the inquiry. After nearly two decades of sobriety, Pollack relapsed and faces criminal and professional charges because of it.
--Lawyer Ethics/Legal Discipline--
TAVARES LAWYER WHO TOLD WITNESSES TO 'FORGET' BURGLARY WILL LOSE LICENSE, CLOSE PRACTICE -- Orlando Sentinel, http://www.orlandosentinel.com, May 23, 2014.
Tavares lawyer Curtis Paul Leonard will lose his law license and must shutter his practice by mid-June after he was found guilty of helping alter a witness' testimony. Investigators say Leonard last August told the victim of an armed burglary to "forget" the details of the incident and testify he was not sure who committed the crime. Leonard at the time represented Kyle Reese, who was jailed and accused of armed burglary, aggravated battery with a weapon and witness tampering. Leonard also represented the victim of the burglary, Judson Spence, in a divorce case. Leonard was initially arrested on a witness-tampering charge and conspiracy to commit witness tampering. Leonard was found guilty of the lesser charge of accessory to witness tampering. In addition to voluntarily giving up his law license and closing his law office, Leonard also must serve one year of probation.
PROSECUTOR SAYS 'CRACK HOES' FACEBOOK POST WAS A 'POOR CHOICE OF WORDS' -- Orlando Sentinel, http://www.orlandosentinel.com, May 22, 2014.
Prosecutor Ken Lewis said during a tense press conference Thursday [May 22] that he was guilty of a "poor choice of words" when he used the phrase "crack hoes" in a Facebook post, and offered an apology "to those I unintentionally offended." Lewis said that his controversial social-media activity been taken out of context and stood by his intended message. The firestorm centered on a Mother's Day message Lewis addressed to "all the crack hoes out there." The message was about ending "the cycle of drugs and violence that is making our neighborhoods unsafe," he said. Lewis' Facebook posts covered a wide swath of controversial subjects. Lewis' boss, State Attorney Jeff Ashton, said he disagrees with his subordinate's politics and found his choice of words "offensive and dehumanizing." However, he said Lewis will not be punished.
--Criminal Justice Issues--
FLORIDA SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS DEATH SENTENCE FOR NASSAU MAN WHO KILLED HIS PARENTS WITH BASEBALL BAT, GARDEN STATUE -- Florida Times-Union (requires subscription), http://www.jacksonville.com, May 23, 2014.
The Florida Supreme Court has rejected the appeal of Gregory David Larkin from Nassau County, who is on Death Row for murdering his parents. Larkin, 40, was convicted of murdering Richard and Myra Larkin and sentenced to death by Circuit Judge Robert Foster. Larkin defended himself at the trial but didn’t make any arguments on his own behalf when the state sought to execute him. Assistant Public Defender Brian Morrissey was appointed as stand-by counsel and requested to have Larkin’s mental health evaluated after he was convicted but before he was sentenced to death, saying he believed Larkin was delusional. On appeal lawyers argued that Larkin’s conviction and death sentence should be overturned because of doubts that he was competent enough to represent himself. The Supreme Court unanimously rejected that argument because two doctors found him competent.
--Tech Tip Tuesday--
"TOPPING" OFF: LEARN HOW TO INSTANTLY RETURN TO THE TOP OF A DOCUMENT WITH TWO KEY STROKES -- The Florida Bar, http://www.floridabar.org, May 27, 2014.
For additional information on this tip and others, visit the Tech Tips page.