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.
April 10, 2014
--The Florida Bar--
BOARD ADOPTS NEW PRIVATE LAWYER REFERRAL SERVICE RULES -- The Florida Bar News, http://www.floridabar.org, April 15, 2014.
The Florida Bar Board of Governors has approved new rules regulating attorneys who accept clients from for-profit lawyer referral services, although they are less restrictive than originally proposed by the Special Committee on Lawyer Referral Services. One of the recommendations from the special committee did not allow lawyers to accept a referral from a service that also referred the client for another professional service, such as medical care. A motion to adopt the special committee’s position failed to receive a second. One of the amendments approved prohibits a lawyer from referring clients to another entity owned by the lawyer referral service, unless the rules on conflicts of interest and business transactions with clients are met. Also, Bar members must report to the Bar on private referral services they use and when they leave such a service. The amended rules now go to the Supreme Court for review.
--Lawyer Ethics/Legal Discipline--
THE FLORIDA SUPREME COURT NEXT STEP IN BAR'S COMPLAINT AGAINST NEVIN SHAPIRO ATTORNEY MARIA ELENA PEREZ -- Daily Business Review (requires subscription), http://www.dailybusinessreview.com, April 9, 2014.
A Florida Bar grievance committee has found probable cause to move forward on a complaint against Maria Elena Perez, the Coral Gables attorney who represents Nevin Shapiro, a former University of Miami booster and convicted felon at the center of a scandal involving UM's athletic program. The Florida Bar investigated a complaint that Perez acted unethically in taking money from the NCAA for work—specifically attending three depositions—done as part of Nevin Shapiro's bankruptcy case. The NCAA said it improperly received information from Perez as part of its investigation that 72 student athletes received about $2 million in gifts and perks from Shapiro between 2002 and 2010. The Florida Bar said that the next step would be the filing of a formal complaint against Perez with the Florida Supreme Court.
BILL WOULD PROVIDE LAWYERS FOR SPECIAL-NEEDS KIDS -- The Florida Bar News, http://www.floridabar.org, April 15, 2014.
Bills in both the House and Senate are moving forward to provide state-paid attorneys for dependent children with special needs. Sponsored by Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, bill CS/SB 972 passed unanimously out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 1. Statewide Guardian ad Litem Director Alan Abramowitz was there to support the bill, as was Steve Metz, chief legislative counsel for The Florida Bar. The bill now heads for the Appropriations Committee. A companion bill in the House, CS/HB 561, sponsored by Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, passed unanimously out of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on April 2, and next goes to the Judiciary Committee. When pro bono attorneys are not available, the court-appointed attorneys would be paid through a new and specific line item in the Justice Administrative Commission budget, and would not negatively impact the GAL budget, Abramowitz said.
--Criminal Justice Issues--
FLORIDA 'UNFAIRLY' CHARGES KIDS AS ADULTS, HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP SAYS -- Orlando Sentinel, http://www.orlandosentinel.com, April 10, 2014. [Also: FLORIDA LAW, USED OFTEN IN JACKSONVILLE, 'VIOLATES INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS OBLIGATIONS,' RIGHTS GROUP DECLARES -- Florida Times-Union, http://www.jacksonville.com, April 10, 2014.]
A report by New York-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch, titled "Branded for Life," takes aim at Florida's "direct file" statute, which gives prosecutors broad discretion to charge many underage teens accused of felonies as adults. According to the report, Florida prosecutors "arbitrarily and unfairly" sent thousands of children into the state's adult justice system in recent years, most charged with non-violent offenses. The report states that Florida leads all other states in charging juveniles as adults — more than 12,000 in the past five years, more than 60 percent of them charged with nonviolent felonies. The group found the law is unevenly applied by different state attorneys, and said its study also found evidence of racial bias. The Human Rights Watch report argues children should only face adult charges after a hearing before a judge, with a "strong presumption" they should remain in juvenile court.
--Civil Justice Issues--
IS INVOLUNTARY INSTITUTIONALIZATION PERMANENT? -- Daily Business Review (requires subscription), http://www.dailybusinessreview.com, April 9, 2014.
An intellectually disabled man identified only as J.R., who was involuntarily institutionalized as a boy after committing a sexual assault, wants the Florida Supreme Court to find the commitment process unconstitutional. The petitioner's case was referred to the Supreme Court by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. In 2011, he filed a federal lawsuit after the agency refused to petition the state court to review his involuntary status but U.S. District Judge William Stafford denied the motion, finding the law implies an existing due process structure. The Eleventh Circuit was inclined to agree but was not comfortable with a ruling based in implications and deferred to the Supreme Court for clarification. In 2000, J.R. was charged with a felony assault in Lee County. He was found incompetent to stand trial and turned over in 2001 to the Department of Children and Family Services. In 2004, the criminal charge was dismissed because the court had no evidence he would ever be competent. Since 2007, J.R. has been in a group home environment.