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.
May 19, 2014
DON'T CHARGE FOR ONLINE ACCESS TO COURT RECORDS -- South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Editorial, http://www.sun-sentinel.com, May 17, 2014.
Editorial about the recent ruling by the Florida Supreme Court that allows people to go online and view court documents. "The ruling opens the door to a future where people will no longer have to go to the courthouse and pay for parking to obtain important court records . . . Now the challenge facing Florida's clerks of the court is to digitize enormous volumes of records and ensure the service is kept free of charge so that everyone has online access to the courthouse . . . The job of funding the courts rests with state lawmakers. It shouldn't be borne by new fees for innovative services. Online access to court records shouldn't be the next cash cow. The ideal is to encourage access, not build a new revenue stream . . . It is good news that Florida's judiciary has figured out how to safeguard privacy in delivering court records online. Better news would be if those who manage the judiciary's budget agree to keep new fees from blocking the online door."
--Lawyer Ethics/Legal Discipline--
LAWYER: ENDURING ROTHSTEIN IS 'PUNISHMENT ENOUGH' -- South Florida Sun-Sentinel, http://www.sun-sentinel.com, May 17, 2014.
Jurors earlier this year found Scott Rothstein's former protegee Christina Kitterman guilty of three counts of wire fraud for impersonating a Florida Bar official during an April 2009 conference call that federal prosecutors said kept Rothstein's massive Ponzi scheme alive for its final six months. Kitterman will be sentenced Tuesday [May 20] in federal court in West Palm Beach. Sentencing guidelines recommend a punishment of 20 years in prison, her defense attorney Valentin Rodriguez Jr. said, but he hopes U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley will sentence her to probation. Hurley will have to decide Tuesday whether Kitterman knew, or should have known, the amount of losses prosecutors say resulted from her fraudulent actions. Prosecutors concede Rothstein did not tell Kitterman he was running a Ponzi scheme, but they say the 39-year-old lawyer knew she was committing wire fraud.
DIACO CASE PRESENTS FLORIDA BAR AN UNUSUAL CHALLENGE -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, May 19, 2014.
Last week, The Florida Bar found probable cause that Robert Adams, Stephen Diaco and Adam Filthaut of Tampa's Adams Diaco law firm had violated its rules. All three Adams Diaco lawyers face charges of misconduct, unfairness to opposing counsel and disrupting court. If guilty, their punishment can range from admonishment to suspension to disbarment. Because it's an ongoing case that gained notoriety, many lawyers are hesitant to comment on what the trial judge and ultimately the Florida Supreme Court will do.
--Criminal Justice Issues--
ROMANO: JUDGE WHO IMPOSED DEATH PENALTY REFLECTS ON THE PRACTICE -- Tampa Bay Times, Column, http://www.tampabay.com, May 17, 2014.
Times columnist John Romano reached out to Judge Ray E. Ulmer Jr. to "understand how he felt in retrospect about sentencing someone to die." A highly respected judge since the mid-1970s, Ulmer was once considered among the toughest judges in Tampa Bay. Ulmer presided over the murder trial of John Henry, whose death warrant was recently signed by Gov. Rick Scott and who is scheduled to be executed June 18 if doctors determine he is sane. Romano writes, "For all his concerns about the responsibilities that come with the sentence, Ulmer says he still believes in the death penalty. He believes it is a necessary deterrent. And he believes it is justice. He believes it should be reserved for cases where guilt is beyond doubt, and circumstances warrant the penalty."
BRUCE GRANT: DON'T UNDERMINE DRUG PREVENTION -- Tallahassee Democrat, Column, http://www.tallahassee.com, May 19, 2014. [Also: BILL WOHLSIFER: BILL SETS UP A BAD BUSINESS MODEL -- Tallahassee Democrat, Column, http://www.tallahassee.com, May 19, 2014.]
Opinion columns about medical marijuana legislation. Bruce Grant, former director of the Florida Office of Drug Control and chairman of the Leon County drug prevention coalition, writes that "The bill that just passed the Legislature allows cannabis oil to those truly sick who need it, but we don’t need to allow further legalization. The world is dangerous enough for kids without sanctioning another intoxicating drug to trip them up. The real effect of medical marijuana in Florida will be to jeopardize the safety and drug-free future of our most precious resource — our youth." Bill Wohlsifer, an attorney in Tallahassee and a candidate for Florida attorney general, writes, "Florida’s legislators pretended to be helping children who suffer from intractable epilepsy. The real objective was to capture the market share for their crony friends in the huge marijuana business that is heading to Florida. Upon closer reading of SB 1030, the “Charlotte’s Web” bill, it becomes clear that it sets the foundation to hand over Florida’s burgeoning marijuana industry to a select few people."