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.
Feb. 14, 2014
LEGAL AID ANALYSIS -- Sarasota Herald-Tribune, http://www.heraldtribune.com, Feb. 14, 2014.
Columnist John Hielscher writes, "The recent departure of Gulfcoast Legal Services' top executive offers the Pinellas County-based organization fresh opportunities to question its strategies and service areas . . . The concerns that resulted provided reasons for lawyers, judges and nonprofit organizations to examine the way legal aid is provided in Manatee and Sarasota counties. It's fair to ask whether the two counties need two legal-aid organizations . . . Changes in leadership and competition for scarce funds should prompt the legal community to consider whether services can be offered more efficiently."
MILES A. MCGRANE RETIRES PRACTICE -- Daily Business Review (requires subscription), http://www.dailybusinessreview.com, Feb. 13, 2014.
Miles A. McGrane III, a former president of The Florida Bar, retired from his law practice. After 38 years as a trial attorney, McGrane, Bar president from 2003 to 2004, plans to become a mediator. He specialized in medical malpractice cases and became one of the most prominent South Florida attorneys representing smokers in tobacco litigation.
25 APPLY TO FILL POLK JUDICIAL VACANCY -- The Ledger, http://www.theledger.com, Feb. 13, 2014.
Twenty-five people have applied to fill a vacancy on the Polk County bench. The 10th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission will interview the applicants on March 7. The commission will then select candidates for consideration by Gov. Rick Scott to fill the vacancy on the county bench. The Polk County judge position became open when the governor appointed Reinaldo Ojeda last month to the circuit bench.
COURT DOG'S JOB: UNCONDITIONAL LOVE FOR TRAUMATIZED CHILDREN -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, Feb. 14, 2014.
The group Voices for Children works to help the physically and mentally abused, neglected and abandoned children who are hurtling through Hillsborough County's dependency courts. The group uses facility dogs that have completed two years of special training to provide comfort and support to children who have been removed from their homes because they have been harmed or neglected by their parents. There are 51 such dogs in 21 states, but a Labrador-golden retriever mix named Tibet will be the first in Florida. Canine Companions for Independence, a non-profit assistance organization, breeds dogs with special attributes and trains them. Hillsborough Circuit Judge Katherine Essrig is a big supporter of the program and helped when a push was needed to get a facility dog there. For children in dependency court, she said, "Having a facility dog there to pet, to comb, to feed, to love, it will make the experience a much more confident one. It will give them confidence and put them at a comfort level that makes the experience less of a challenge, and a positive one.”
--Criminal Justice Issues--
JUDGE BLOCKS LATEST STAY ATTEMPT IN HOWELL EXECUTION -- Tallahassee Democrat, http://www.tallahassee.com, Feb. 14, 2014.
Circuit Judge Angela Dempsey on Wednesday [Feb. 12] denied a request by Paul Augustus Howell's attorneys to halt his upcoming execution on the grounds that Florida's latest lethal-injection cocktail would subject him to an agonizing death. Dempsey ruled that attorneys for Howell, convicted in the 1992 bombing death of Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Jimmy Fulford, failed to prove that the first of three drugs the state uses as part of its lethal-injection protocol won't render him unconscious. The evidentiary hearing was ordered by the Florida Supreme Court. One of Howell's attorneys said Howell is appealing Dempsey's decision. He also is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene because of a lack of reliable counsel after his conviction.
AS DUNN CASE HEADS INTO THIRD DAY OF DELIBERATIONS, WHAT COULD JURY BE THINKING? -- Florida Times-Union, http://www.jacksonville.com, Feb. 14, 2014.
A jury of four white men, four white women, two black women, one Hispanic man and one Asian woman finished deliberating on Thursday [Feb. 13] night without reaching a verdict on whether Michael Dunn is guilty of the murder of 17-year-old Jordan Davis and the attempted murder of three other teenagers. Dunn shot Davis in the parking lot of a gas station after the two men argued about loud music coming from Davis’ vehicle. The jury will return for a third day of deliberating on Friday [Feb. 14]. In deliberations on Wednesday [Feb. 12], they asked to view video from inside the Gate gas station taken as the shooting was occurring. Even though prosecutors charged Dunn with first-degree murder, jurors can convict him of second-degree murder or manslaughter if they decide the evidence doesn’t warrant a conviction for murder in the first degree.