The Florida Bar

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.

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March 25, 2013

--The Florida Bar--

LETTERS : FLORIDA BAR TAKES JOB SERIOUSLY -- Pensacola News Journal, Letter to the Editor,, March 25, 2013.
Responding to the newspaper's March 17 editorial about “local lawyers remaining silent”, Stephen H. Echsner, a Florida Bar Board of Governors member for the First Judicial Circuit and Pensacola lawyer, writes, "The Florida Bar takes its important duty of regulating the legal profession very seriously and based on stringent rules prescribed by the Florida Supreme Court. The rules regulating The Florida Bar govern attorney conduct and provide the procedure for the Bar’s investigation of claims of misconduct. The rules require confidentiality and due process . . . The organized Bar will not be rushed by public attacks from the media or any other source to make decisions on claims of attorney misconduct, and will not violate the due process rights of those attorneys whose conduct is being reviewed simply because of a need to know."

RONALD PONZOLI JR., DIANA SANTA MARIA NAMED TO FLORIDA BAR BOARD -- Daily Business Review, (requires subscription),, March 25, 2013.
West Palm Beach attorney Ronald Ponzoli Jr. and Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyer Diana Santa Maria have been elected to The Florida Bar Board of Governors. Both beat opponents to win two-year terms. Two other board members were elected in contested elections. In Jacksonville, Michael G. Tanner beat Dale Workman 784-100. In Sarasota, F. Scott Westheimer beat Timorthy Knowles 564-180. The 52-member Bar Board of Governors adopts policy for The Florida Bar.

In this letter to the editor, Florida Bar President Gwynne Young thanks the Orlando Sentinel for the editorial "Time for Fla. lawmakers to end attack on courts" on March 7. She writes, "The Florida Bar supports the preservation of a fair and impartial judiciary, believing, as the editorial states, that in a healthy democracy, the courts are the one branch of government that must be insulated from political pressures. Judges must rule based on the law, not politics . . . We join the Sentinel Editorial Board in encouraging the Legislature to restore the balance in the [judicial nominating] commissions and to preserve the independence of our courts."

--Legal Profession--

Palm Beach County ethics commissioners on Thursday [March 21] selected Jupiter attorney Steven Cullen, a specialist in mediation and arbitration, to serve as the board’s new executive director. Cullen said he planned to work to boost the commission’s public outreach and ethics education efforts. Ethics commissioners pointed to Cullen’s 30 years of experience in law. In 1987, Cullen was nominated by the Fourth District Court of Appeal Judicial Nominating Commission and appointed by then-Gov. Bob Martinez to serve as an administrative law judge overseeing compensation claims. He held the post until 2000. Cullen has had his own law practice for the last 13 years.


ATTORNEYS, JUDGES SERVE THE COMMUNITY WELL -- Osceola News Gazette, Editorial,, March 23, 2013.
From the editorial: "The ability for attorneys and judges to move cases through our system of justice is no easy task.  While news from the courthouse has sometimes been controversial and negative over the past 12 months, it is time we give recognition to our local judges and attorneys . . . While room for improvement exists, we believe our local attorneys and judges are doing excellent work. Our local attorneys, many belonging to the Osceola Bar Association, go above and beyond the call of duty for the citizens of Osceola . . . Together, our local Osceola judges and attorneys are working to make Osceola a better community.  It’s encouraging to see the camaraderie among this group, and the desire of many of these individuals to give of their time, talent and thoughtfulness."

COURTHOUSE WOES ONGOING -- Florida Keys News,, March 24, 2013.
Some $900,000 in renovations to the Freeman Justice Center should be completed by the end of the year, but those cost overruns and a looming lawsuit are casting a shadow over the project. The revamped Key West state courthouse originally was to cost $13.8 million, but overruns and security issues spiked the final cost to $18.1 million. 

DEPARTING CHIEF JUDGE JOEL BROWN PROUD OF WORK, WANTS FUNDING RETURNED -- Daily Business Review, (requires subscription),, March 25, 2013.
Departing Chief Judge Joel Brown writes, "as my time as Chief Judge of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit draws to a close, I would like to take a moment to thank our dedicated team of judges, administrative staff and justice partners for the accomplishments of the past four years . . . While construction projects undertaken represent significant improvements, we must be ever mindful that our court system is in dire need of a new Dade County Courthouse and a new criminal courthouse . . . Lastly, now is the time to ask our state and local governments to raise the level of compensation for all of our court staff and judiciary."

JUDICIAL PROFILE: JUDGE CHRISTOPHER POLE AT FIRST BALANCED PHYSICAL THERAPY, LAW -- Daily Business Review, (requires subscription),, March 25, 2013.
The article profiles Broward County Court Judge Christopher Pole, who stepped up to the bench last June when he was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott. After working five years as a physical therapist, Judge Pole reached a fork in the road. One led to a master's degree in a specialized area of physical therapy for cardiac rehabilitation, the other to law. "I applied both to law school and I applied to graduate school," he said. "I was accepted to both. And I thought that a law degree would open up more doors, and it wasn't such a small confined area. So I chose law school."


CABINET IS SUING CRITICAL ATTORNEY -- Sarasota Herald-Tribune,, March 25, 2013.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott and members of the Cabinet are suing an attorney who has been a frequent critic of the administration. The governor and the three other state officials who oversee state lands filed a counterclaim lawsuit last week against Tallahassee attorney Steven Andrews. The move is the latest in an escalating battle between Andrews and the Scott administration over the fate of a piece of property near the governor's mansion. This is not the only dispute that involves both Andrews and the Scott administration. Andrews and his law firm are also representing a former aide to Jennifer Carroll, who resigned last week from her post as lieutenant governor. Carroll's aide was arrested on charges that she handed over a secret recording to a reporter.


By Reuters. Stanley Chesley, a renowned class action attorney, was disbarred on Thursday [March 21] by the Kentucky Supreme Court, which found him guilty of ethical violations in connection with a $200 million settlement over the diet drug fen-phen. The court said Chesley, 76, of Cincinnati, Ohio, took an excessive $20 million fee and helped cover up misconduct by other lawyers in the case to protect the improper payments he accepted. The ruling is a blow against an attorney once described as the "master of disaster" for his success in representing families of victims.

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[Revised: 03-26-2013]