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.
Sept. 26, 2013
--The Florida Bar--
HOOPER: FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT OF FLORIDA BAR DESERVES NOTING -- Tampa Bay Times, Column, http://www.tampabay.com, Sept. 26, 2013.
Times columnist Ernest Hooper praises Florida Bar President Eugene Pettis, noting that Pettis "makes a strong case that his status as the first black president of The Florida Bar deserves fanfare, not solely because of the achievement, but because he has a vision for the critical leadership role with tangible actions and achievable goals." Pettis shared his vision during a speech at the George Edgecomb Bar Association's annual luncheon this week. He pushed members of the predominantly African-American Edgecomb Bar to see beyond themselves and assume the mantle of pioneering predecessors. Hooper applauds Pettis' challenge to the next generation through the Bar's William Reece Smith Leadership Academy, concluding that "Pettis seems poised to deliver on the promise of his position."
NEW FLORIDA BAR ADVERTISING RULES VEX LAWYERS -- Daily Business Review (requires subscription), http://www.dailybusinessreview.com, Sept. 26, 2013.
Attorneys have reported issues with The Florida Bar's social media rules, considered the most stringent in the country by many law firms. Lawyers and law firms are expressing frustration with these social media restrictions, saying they are difficult to interpret and overly stringent.
JUDGE WORKS TO END COSTLY HOMELESS CYCLE -- Daytona Beach News-Journal, http://www.news-journalonline.com, Sept. 26, 2013.
Volusia County Judge Belle Schumann has watched for years as homeless people do laps around a system that circles from the streets to her courtroom to jail and back to the streets again. Frustrated by the cycle, at the beginning of this year, Schumann came up with the idea to create a program modeled on one in Clearwater called Pinellas Safe Harbor. The local facility would be called Volusia Safe Harbor Transitional Shelter, and the agency would operate out of a site near the county jail. The primary purpose of the shelter would be jail diversion, allowing people who commit minor offenses such as trespassing and alcohol possession to stay at the facility while they get their lives back on track — for months if necessary. Schumann has pitched the plan to several nonprofit agencies and local government officials, and said she hopes the Daytona Beach City Commission and County Council will take votes this year on resolutions of support.
--Civil Justice Issues--
FEDERAL JUDGE FINDS NEW STATE MEDMAL LAW INVALID -- Daily Business Review (requires subscription), http://www.dailybusinessreview.com, Sept. 26, 2013. [Also: FEDERAL JUDGE THROWS OUT FMA'S 'EX PARTE' REFORM FROM 2013 SESSION -- Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, Sept. 26, 2013.]
U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle on Wednesday [Sept. 25] barred enforcement of a new state medical malpractice law allowing ex parte communications by the defense with plaintiffs. The Tallahassee federal judge issued an injunction finding invalid a requirement that people planning to sue health care providers must first agree to let the defense interview the patient's providers outside the presence of the plaintiff's attorney. The lawsuit was one of five filed in early July by plaintiffs attorneys challenging the law. Hinkle found the state law was more restrictive than the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and therefore violated federal law.
LEGISLATURE TO ATTEMPT TO FIX STATE'S BROKEN CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM -- Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, Sept. 26, 2013. [Also: JUDGE POINTS TO POWER STRUGGLE AS TROUBLE FOR FLA. CHILD-WELFARE SYSTEM -- Orlando Sentinel, http://www.orlandosentinel.com, Sept. 26, 2013; CRITICS PUT FLORIDA'S CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM UNDER MICROSCOPE -- Palm Beach Post, http://www.pbpost.com, Sept. 26, 2013.]
Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, the head of the oversight committee of the Florida House of Representatives, told the House Healthy Families Subcommittee on Tuesday [Sept. 24] that Florida’s child welfare system needs an overhaul, and repairing cracks will be the focus of legislation next spring. Since mid-April, at least 20 children known to the Department of Children & Families have died, mostly from abuse or neglect, a review of state files by the Miami Herald found. A critic of the system, Judge Larry Schack of the 19th Judicial Circuit in St. Lucie County, serves as the sole dependency judge in his county and has been responsible for the fate of 707 children. He called the dependency system in Florida broken because “no one is in charge,’’ resources are “woefully inadequate,” assistance is illusory and those factors breed a “cycle of tragedy.”
HARDEST-HIT GLITCH BOUNCES OUT HOMEOWNERS HOPING TO SLASH MORTGAGE DEBT -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, Sept. 26, 2013.
A Florida Hardest-Hit Fund technical glitch Wednesday [Sept. 26] morning turned away underwater homeowners hoping for a chance to cut up to $50,000 off their mortgage debt. The glitch has since been corrected. The program will give an average of $35,000 to about 10,000 Floridians who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. State officials will accept a starting pool of 25,000 applicants on a first-come, first-served basis. To qualify, residents must be current on a mortgage they signed before 2010 that has less than $350,000 in outstanding debt. They must owe more than 25 percent over the home's market value and meet household income requirements.