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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.

February 26, 2013

--Legal Profession--

BUSINESS LAW SECTION PROPOSAL WOULD CREATE "BENEFIT CORPORATION" -- Jacksonville Daily Record, http://www.jaxdailyrecord.com, Feb. 26, 2013.
Lawmakers in several states have begun to address the growing public concern over corporate social responsibility through legislation that creates a new form of business entity called a "benefit corporation." The benefit corporation is intended to let socially conscious entrepreneurs and investors choose a business entity that can pursue a blended mission of earning profits and promoting one or more public benefits. The Corporations, Securities & Financial Services Committee of the Business Law Section of The Florida Bar has closely worked with state Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth) and University of Florida law professor Stuart Cohn on proposed legislation that would insert a benefit-corporation supplement as a subpart to Florida's general corporate statute.

--Criminal Justice Issues--

COURT TEMPORARILY STAYS HOWELL EXECUTION -- Tallahassee Democrat, http://www.tallahassee.com, Feb. 26, 2013.
A federal appeals court issued a temporary stay of execution Monday in the case of Paul Augustus Howell, sentenced to death for killing a Florida Highway Patrol trooper in 1992. Howell's attorneys sought a stay on the grounds that his post-conviction attorney was negligent in missing a deadline that prevented Howell from having a federal habeas corpus review. The stay comes at a time when state lawmakers are moving forward with legislation to speed up the time it takes to execute inmates sentenced to death. At the same time, The Florida Bar is urging state officials to conduct a comprehensive review of Florida's entire death-penalty process by all branches of government.

--Civil Justice Issues--

INJURED PLANNING LITIGATION AGAINST SPEEDWAY -- Daytona Beach News-Journal, http://www.news-journalonline.com, Feb. 26, 2013.
Three spectators injured by the wreck at Daytona International Speedway have contracted with the personal injury law firm of Morgan and Morgan, and four more have made appointments, firm founder John Morgan said Monday [Feb. 25]. None of the injuries of those seeking legal help with the firm were life-threatening, he said. The potential legal fight to come will involve the "assumption of risk" when someone attends a sporting event.

STATE APPEAL COURT UPHOLDS WATER QUALITY RULES BUT DELAYS REMAIN -- Florida Current, http://www.thefloridacurrent.com, Feb. 26, 2013.
The 1st District Court of Appeal has affirmed an administrative law judge's ruling in support for state water quality standards although implementation still is uncertain.  Environmental groups have been battling the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and wastewater utilities and industry groups over whether state or federal rules should apply in Florida. Drew Bartlett, director of DEP's Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration, told a Senate committee on Jan. 24 that the rules were not being implemented statewide because of a provision in 2012 legislation.

HIGH-STAKES TRIAL RESUMES OVER 2010 GULF OIL SPILL -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabaytimes.com, Feb. 26, 2013.
By the Associated Press: A University of California-Berkeley engineer who played a prominent role in investigating levee breeches in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina is scheduled to be the first witness Tuesday [Feb. 26] at a trial involving another Gulf Coast catastrophe: the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. Robert Bea, an expert witness, will share his theories about what caused BP's Macondo well to blow out on April 20, 2010. Bea's testimony was scheduled for the second day of a civil trial that could result in the oil company and its partners being forced to pay tens of billions of dollars more in damages. The case went to trial Monday [Feb. 25] after attempts to reach an 11th-hour settlement failed.

--Legislature--

FLORIDA SUPREME COURT SENDS CHILDERS CASE BACK TO APPEALS COURT -- Daily Business Review (requires subscription), http://www.dailybusinessreview.com, Feb. 26, 2013.
Nearly a decade after former Florida Senate President W.D. Childers was convicted on a bribery charge, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday [Feb. 25] gave him at least a procedural victory in a challenge stemming from arguments that he didn't receive a fair trial. The Supreme Court, in a brief order, sent Childers' case back to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta for further consideration. The challenge has been pending in the Supreme Court since 2011, and Childers, 79, already has been released from prison after serving nearly three years.

BILL IN FLORIDA LEGISLATURE TARGETS PEOPLE WHO STEAL UTILITIES -- Ft. Myers News-Press, http://www.news-press.com, Feb. 26, 2013.
A change to a law that targets utility thieves could mean tougher penalties come Oct. 1. House Bill 191, sponsored by Rep. Dan Raulerson, will make utility theft a felony. Under the change, the most extreme convictiona first-degree felony could put a person in jail for up to 30 years, on top of a $10,000 fine and money they'll owe the utility company. There is an identical bill filed in the Senate. The change also increases the amount offenders can be held liable for by the utility company to three times the amount of services unlawfully obtained.

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[Revised: 02-27-2013]