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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June 5, 2013

--Legal Profession--

The Indian River County Lawyers Auxiliary and the Indian River County Bar Association placed 46 attorneys and four judges in 94 school classrooms throughout Indian River County during Law Week, celebrated from April 29 to May 3. Law Day is celebrated on May 1 and this year's theme was "Realizing the Dream: Equality for All." A total of 2,300 school age children were served by the program. The mission of the Indian River County Lawyers' Auxiliary is to promote law and justice through education and service and to support the local Bar Association. Membership is open to attorney's spouses.


There is much speculation and concern among legal professionals in Broward and Palm Beach counties over who Gov. Rick Scott will pick to fill a coveted judicial vacancy on the Fourth District Court of Appeal that hears cases from six South Florida counties. To fill the vacancy created by Judge Mark E. Polen's retirement, a Judicial Nominating Commission submitted the names of six circuit judges to Scott last month. Some in Broward's legal community want to see someone from Broward get the job. Members of the local chapters of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers wrote to Scott expressing their "very serious concern" about a "gender drought." No woman has been appointed to the Fourth District Court of Appeal since 2002. Others expressed concern that Scott would pick based on his political leanings.

LETTERS FROM READERS: CONFIRM BRIAN DAVIS TO FEDERAL BENCH -- Florida Times-Union (requires subscription), Letter to the Editor,, June 5, 2013.
Rev. R.L. Gundy from the Missionary Baptist Church of Jacksonville writes a letter urging Sen. Marco Rubio to allow Circuit Judge Brian Davis' nomination to a Florida federal bench to go forward. President Barack Obama nominated state Circuit Judge Brian Davis, but Rubio is holding back Davis’ nomination because of concerns that comments that Davis — who is African-American — made about race 18 years ago might indicate a racial bias in his judging. Rev. Gundy notes that he has known Davis for nearly a decade and knows him to be "a man of tremendous integrity and intelligence. He will make a fine and fair federal judge."

TOO OLD TO JUDGE? ALBANY RECONSIDERS -- New York Times,, June 4, 2013.
The article examines how more than 30 states and the District of Columbia have an age limit on jurists, usually 70. The New York Legislature has been considering a bill that would amend the State Constitution, if approved by voters, to extend the retirement age to 80 for hundreds of judges statewide. Critics of the bill claim it unfairly favors the high-level judges on the State Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals and that forced retirement encourages diversity. Judith S. Kaye, longtime chief judge of the Court of Appeals, who stepped down in 2008 after turning 70, agrees that the retirement requirement should be changed. “When the age was fixed at 70, we were at a time when it was really old,” Ms. Kaye said. “Today, people are still very sharp and able — they are not statutorily decrepit.”


RICK SCOTT SIGNS EXPERT WITNESS TESTIMONY BILL -- Daily Business Review (requires subscription),, June 5, 2013.
Gov. Rick Scott is to appear in Jacksonville today [June 5] for a ceremonial signing of a bill on expert witnesses switching from the state's Frye standard to the federal Daubert rule. The bill requires the more stringent federal standard for expert testimony even though critics claim it will drastically increase the cost of litigation and put new burdens on an already strained state judicial system. Florida was only one of 10 states still using the Frye test, a standard established in 1923 that allowed testimony as long as it came from qualified experts who adhered to generally accepted scientific principles in their field. The Daubert standard focuses more on the scientific methodology and its relevance to the facts of the case. 

SCOTT SIGNS $200 MILLION MORTGAGE SETTLEMENT BILL -- Palm Beach Post,, June 5, 2013. [Also: 72K FLORIDIANS TO GET $1,480 FORECLOSURE RELIEF CHECKS -- Orlando Sentinel,, June 5, 2013; CRITICS: FLA. MORTGAGE SETTLEMENT MISSPENT -- Orlando Sentinel,, June 5, 2013.]
Legislation signed Tuesday [June 4] by Gov. Rick Scott distributes $200 million from a National Mortgage Settlement to various agencies, courts, housing initiatives and homeowners affected by the foreclosure crisis. More than 72,000 eligible Floridians who lost their homes to foreclosure from 2008 to 2011 will receive $1,480 from the landmark $26 billion mortgage settlement, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced Tuesday [June 4]. Critics of the distribution arrangement say spending mortgage settlement fees on new dorms, courts and the homeless misses the mark to help foreclosure victims and that the money in the bill should have focused on assisting homeowners who have battled foreclosure.

--Lawyer Ethics/Legal Discipline--

Emails obtained by the Herald-Tribune show that Kathleen Mullin, the director of Gulfcoast Legal Services, has issued orders personally directing the handling of more than 140 active cases for the organization, which could be problematic because Mullin is not licensed to practice law in Florida. Elizabeth Tarbert, ethics counsel for The Florida Bar said that if the head of a legal aid firm is not a Florida-licensed attorney, that person's duties are restricted by the Bar's rules. “If there's a director of legal aid that's not a member of the state Bar, they can't interfere with an attorney-client relationship,” Tarbert said. Mullin has drawn attention after firing attorney Elizabeth Boyle, the longtime head of Gulfcoast's Sarasota office.

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[Revised: 06-06-2013]