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.
Jan. 8, 2014
--The Florida Bar--
BOARD ENDORSES AMENDMENT TO PROVIDE MORE ELECTRONIC ACCESS TO COURT RECORDS -- The Florida Bar News, http://www.floridabar.org, Jan. 15, 2014.
A skeptical Board of Governors narrowly endorsed an amendment to the Rules of Judicial Administration aimed at providing electronic access to court records while protecting confidential information. Board members at their December meeting said they were concerned because some of the details in the rule amendments were left blank, to be filled in later by the Florida Courts Technology Commission. Specifically, the proposed amendment to Rule 2.420 referred to a “matrix,” which is still being worked out by the FCTC and will be enacted by a future Supreme Court administrative order that will determine which sensitive records will not be available electronically.
19 CONSIDERED FOR JUDGE SEAT -- Hernando Today, http://www.hernandotoday.com, Jan. 8, 2014.
The Fifth Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission is considering 19 applicants for a vacant county judge seat. In November, Gov. Rick Scott appointed former County Judge Donald Scaglione to circuit judge. Applicants will be interviewed Wednesday [Jan. 8], according to JNC Chair Derek Schroth.
GLITCH FORCES SCRAMBLE FOR JURORS IN ORANGE COUNTY -- Orlando Sentinel, http://www.orlandosentinel.com, Jan. 8, 2013.
Court staff in Orange County spent the weekend scrambling to find and contact potential jurors after a glitch prevented the mailing of jury-duty summonses for trials this week, Orange-Osceola Chief Judge Belvin Perry confirmed. Due to a technical issue with a vendor, he said, summonses were never mailed to many prospective jurors including those expected for Monday [Jan. 6]. About 30 court staff volunteered to come into work on Saturday [Jan. 4], and about a dozen on Sunday [Jan. 5], to call the jurors who were supposed to have gotten summonses and ask them to come to court. Perry said the Orange County Sheriff's Office helped to serve summonses, which were finally mailed Saturday night. About 80 potential jurors arrived Monday, Perry said. Perry praised his staff, and said this was the first time the issue had occurred in 30 years.
GULFCOAST LEGAL EMPLOYEES VOTE TO FORM UNION -- Sarasota Herald-Tribune, http://www.heraldtribune.com, Jan. 8, 2013.
Employees of Gulfcoast Legal Services have voted to form a union, creating yet another management dilemma for the legal aid firm's embattled executive director, Kathleen Mullin. Gulfcoast lawyers and support staff, those not in management positions, voted in an election that was held last month. One former Gulfcoast employee, who asked that their name not be used in this story for fear of loss of their current employment, said the staff's decision to unionize was based on Mullin's actions since she took over the nonprofit in December 2012. Mullin, who is not certified to practice law in the state, first drew the ire of the region's legal community by firing Elizabeth Boyle, the longtime head of Gulfcoast's Sarasota office, and dozens of volunteer lawyers who worked with Boyle. Since Boyle's firing, several board members have resigned, and other longtime staffers have quit.
--Criminal Justice Issues--
MIAMI TRIPLE MURDERER IS EXECUTED IN FLORIDA - 25 YEARS AFTER TED BUNDY -- Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, Jan. 7, 2014. [Also: STATE EXECUTES MAN WHO KILLED COUPLE, GUARD -- Ocala Star Banner, http://www.ocala.com, Jan. 8, 2014.]
Florida executed triple murderer Askari Abdullah Muhammad, previously known as Thomas Knight, on Tuesday [Jan. 7] for the stabbing death of prison guard Richard Burke at the Florida State Prison in 1980. He had previously been convicted in the slaying of a Miami-Dade couple in 1974. Muhammad's execution on Tuesday had been delayed by numerous appeals and rulings. His execution was originally scheduled for Dec. 3 but was stayed several weeks before by the Florida Supreme Court after he filed an appeal claiming that one of the drugs used in the process, midazolam hydrochloride, may not prevent pain. On Dec. 19, the court denied the claim, ruling that there was no evidence that the drug causes serious illness and needless suffering. Muhammad's execution by lethal injection comes 25 years to the month of that of the most infamous criminal ever put to death by the state, serial killer Ted Bundy.
--Civil Justice Issues--
JUDGE SIDES WITH FEDS AGAINST ENVIRONMENTALISTS ON POLLUTION LIMITS -- The Florida Current, http://www.thefloridacurrent.com, Jan. 7, 2014. [Also: FEDERAL JUDGE SIGNS OFF ON WATER POLLUTION LIMITS -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, Jan. 8, 2014.]
U. S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle on Tuesday [Jan. 7] sided with Florida and the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency on their agreement in 2013 allowing the state to set water quality standards in waterways. An attorney representing environmental groups, which include the Florida Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club and the St. Johns Riverkeeper, said they are considering an appeal. Industry groups and legislative leaders criticized a 2009 agreement between the EPA and environmental groups calling on the federal agency to set limits for nitrogen and phosphorus, called numeric nutrient criteria. In 2013, the Legislature passed SB 1808 backing an agreement with the federal EPA calling for the state instead to set limits. In September, environmental groups that had sued the EPA argued against the federal agency's request to modify the 2009 consent decree and allow approval of the water quality standards.