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. 16, 2013
MIAMI'S STEPHEN ZACK NOMINATED AS REPRESENTATIVE TO U.N. -- Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, Sept. 14, 2013.
President Barack Obama this week nominated Miami lawyer Stephen N. Zack to be an alternate U.S. representative for the United Nations’ 68th General Assembly, which begins Tuesday [Sept. 17]. Zack, 65, who grew up in Cuba and Miami Beach, earned his bachelor and law degrees from the University of Florida. He was the first Hispanic-American president of the American Bar Association and the youngest president of The Florida Bar. If Zack is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, he would be one of the country’s five alternates along with five representatives chosen to be part of the discussions, debates and policy-making at the upcoming General Assembly.
BROWARD LEGISLATOR LOOKS TO HELP PUBLIC LAWYERS REPAY LOANS -- South Florida Sun-Sentinel, http://www.sun-sentinel.com, Sept. 15, 2013.
State Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Parkland, is trying to get public money to help repay the student loans of lawyers who work for the public in criminal courts. Ring filed a bill that would provide $3,000 a year to repay loans of prosecutors and public defenders with three to six years of experience, and $5,000 a year for those with six to 12 years on the job in a field where the big money is in the private sector. The starting salary for an assistant state attorney and assistant public defender is $40,000 a year, but recent law school grads routinely enter the profession carrying tuition debt loads of $75,000 to $125,000, according to the American Bar Association. State legislative committees begin meeting to consider proposed legislation starting this fall.
VETERANS COURTS SEND WRONG MESSAGE TO PUBLIC ABOUT VETS -- Tampa Tribune, Column, http://www.tbo.com, Sept. 15, 2013.
Column by Erik Anthes, a Pasco County native and company commander, Company E, 1/16 Infantry, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan. Recently, the Sixth Judicial Circuit of Pinellas and Pasco counties unveiled a new program, a veterans court. Anthes writes that although the spirit of the circuit and all parties involved is a kind gesture, he believes "this sends the wrong message to the public about who our veterans are. This program further amplifies the idea that our veterans should be pitied as victims because of their service in combat by distorting justice. This distortion is based solely on their status as a veteran. We should not give veterans special or preferential treatment in the eyes of the law."
--Lawyer Ethics/Legal Discipline--
JACKSONVILLE ATTORNEY FIRST TO GO ON TRIAL IN ALLIED VETERANS CASE -- Florida Times-Union, http://www.jacksonville.com, Sept. 16, 2013.
Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday [Sept. 16] in the trial for Jacksonville attorney Kelly Mathis in Sanford. The trial is expected to last six to eight weeks. Prosecutors said Mathis, charged with racketeering and money laundering, knew the St. Augustine-based Allied Veterans of the World was breaking the law and was helping them get away with it. Authorities also said the nonprofit pocketed hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal gambling proceeds while pretending to be a charity. As of Friday [Sept. 13], the state had dropped charges against 15 of the other co-defendants who were arrested and reached plea deals with seven. Mathis has said he will not take a plea under any circumstances. He has vowed to get an acquittal and rebuild his law practice, which he said was severely damaged by his arrest.
--Civil Justice Issues--
ALIMONY REWRITE ADVOCATES RETOOLING LEGISLATION -- South Florida Sun-Sentinel, http://www.sun-sentinel.com, Sept. 15, 2013.
Florida lawmakers are looking into rewriting the state's comprehensive divorce law, which some critics call archaic. Last spring, the Legislature passed legislation that would have ended permanent alimony, but it also allowed the paying spouse to reopen his or her divorce case and seek retroactive changes to an alimony judgment. Gov. Rick Scott vetoed that bill, saying the retroactivity provision "tampers with the settled economic expectations of many Floridians." The vetoed legislation included the assumption that custody of children would be split 50-50, a major concern for some child advocates and family law attorneys, including the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar. Elisha Roy, head of the Family Law Section, said her group and Alan Frisher, who heads the group Florida Alimony Reform, are still meeting and negotiating about the legislation.
FLORIDA SUPREME COURT HEARS ARGUMENTS ON LEGISLATIVE PRIVILEGE IN REDISTRICTING CASE -- Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, Sept. 15, 2013. [Also: COMMENTARY: FLORIDA SUPREME COURT SHOULD ALLOW THE TRUTH ABOUT REDISTRICTING TO COME OUT -- Palm Beach Post, Column, http://www.pbpost.com, Sept. 16, 2013.]
The Florida Supreme Court hears arguments Monday [Sept. 16] on whether Florida legislators and their staffs should be forced to answer questions and turn over documents about the congressional redistricting process. The Legislature argues that legislative privilege shields them from discovery. The circuit court rejected that in part. The First District Court of Appeal held that legislative privilege does shield legislators and their staff from discovery. Now the League of Women Voters is asking the high court to review the ruling. Lawyers for the League argue that the redistricting amendments approved by voters bans legislators from intentionally drawing maps to benefit an incumbent or political party.
LEARNING ABOUT SUNSHINE -- Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Editorial, http://www.heraldtribune.com, Sept. 16, 2013.
Florida's Public Records laws are among the most strict in the nation; their depth and breadth often take newcomers to the state by surprise. Both laws have exceptions, and are amended almost yearly by the state Legislature. The Sarasota County Bar Association is teaming with the Florida attorney general's office to provide a local workshop on the Government-in-the-Sunshine-Law. Attorney Pat Gleason, the attorney general's special counsel for open government, will lead a learning session in Sarasota on Oct. 11. The editorial encourages attendance to the event and concludes that "as recent lawsuits have shown, elected officials, advisory board members and government staff ignore the Sunshine and Open-Government laws at their own risk."