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.
October 4, 2013
FIU ALUM, ATTORNEY ABRAHAM OVADIA DONATES $400,000 TO FIU LAW SCHOOL -- Daily Business Review, http://www.dailybusinessreview.com , Oct. 4, 2013.
Abraham Ovadia has donated $400,000 to his alma mater, Florida International University law school, to establish the Abraham S. Ovadia Career Planning & Placement Office. The gift from the Boca Raton personal injury protection lawyer is the largest to date from an FIU law graduate to the school and is one of the largest gifts from an individual alumnus under 30 years-old in FIU history. He said he was motivated to become a benefactor out of gratitude to the law school.
FLORIDA COURT RECORDS: ELECTRONIC ACCESS OF COURTS -- Lakeland Ledger, editorial, http://www.theledger.com , Oct. 4, 2013.
The editorial states: "Members of the public are legally entitled to walk into Florida courthouses and access records, but can't do the same thing from the privacy of their own homes. That's because the state Supreme Court issued a moratorium in 2003 on electronic access to court records because of privacy concerns. The ban has kept most of those records from being publicly available online for a decade. . .There have been exceptions. Manatee County has conducted a pilot project testing how to provide court records online while removing personal information such as Social Security and bank account numbers. More recently, some clerks of court have granted preferential treatment to lawyers to electronically access such information. . .Electronic access to court records would allow news organizations to report on issues of public interest in a more timely manner. However, neither news organizations nor attorneys, should get special treatment. Court records, like other public records, should be available to anyone seeking them in the most convenient way possible. They are the people's records."
--Civil Justice Issues--
AS STATE BATTLES CHILD SEX TRAFFICKING, MORE RESOURCES NEEDED -- Sarasota Herald-Tribune, http://www.heraldtribune.com , Oct. 4, 2013.
Florida is making strides in confronting the problem of child sex trafficking, but resources are still scarce and for every girl saved there are dozens more who continue to be beaten, drugged and sold for sex. That good news/bad news message was delivered to more than 700 advocates, caseworkers, law enforcement officers and other interested parties at the second annual Human Trafficking Summit, held Thursday [Oct. 3] at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Speakers touted several new laws and initiatives aimed at addressing the problem of child sex trafficking. These included legislation implemented this year to treat prostituted children as victims instead of criminals, and calls for the creation of safe houses across the state.
FLORIDA CHIEF JUSTICE: HUMAN TRAFFICKING IS "MODERN DAY SLAVERY" -- Florida Times-Union, http://www.times-union.com , Oct. 4, 2013. Chief Justice Ricky Polston of the Florida Supreme Court said Thursday [Oct. 3] that the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which abolished slavery, remains as relevant now as when it was ratified 148 years ago. Polston addressed the issue as it relates to human trafficking as keynote speaker during the Clay County Bar Association’s second annual Judicial Appreciation Luncheon attended by about 140 lawyers, judges, court personnel and elected officials at the Country Club of Orange Park. There are more than 27 million slaves worldwide of which half are children, according to Polston. “It happens right here in Florida. . .Human trafficking is modern-day slavery exercised through forced labor, debt bondage, involuntary servitude, forced marriage and commercial sexual exploitation,” said Polston.
PROGRAM TO REDUCE MORTGAGE PRINCIPAL IS CLOSED -- Sarasota Herald-Tribune, http://www.heraldtribune.com , Oct. 4, 2013.
State housing officials have stopped taking applications for the new Florida Hardest-Hit Principal Reduction program within one week of its launch. The agency administering the $350 million in available grants reached the maximum 25,000 applications from underwater homeowners by noon on Wednesday [Oct. 2]. Homeowners who are deemed eligible can receive up to $50,000 to reduce the principal balance of their first mortgage.
WE NEED PROGRAMS THAT TARGET CHILDREN WHO ABUSE PARENTS -- Orlando Sentinel, column by Homer Hartage, former Orange County commissioner, http://www.orlandosentinel.com , Oct. 4, 2013.
Hartage writes: "Abusers typically threaten violence against parents, siblings and pets if the parents refuse to give in to their demands. Eventually, threats turn into violence, which sometimes leads to murder. Statistics show the beginning age for abuse is between 15 and 16 years of age. In cases of male abusers, fathers are often missing from the home. Data are mixed on gender, finding that male and female abusers act out at about the same rate. . .Florida Sen. Geraldine Thompson has said she will examine legislative action on parent abuse and is seeking input from the Florida Department of Children and Families."
--Legal Ethics/Lawyer Discipline--
MASSIVE PAPERWORK PROBLEMS WEREN'T MY FAULT, FORECLOSURE KIND DAVID STERN TELLS FLORIDA BAR HEARING -- Palm Beach Post, http://www.pbpost.com , Oct. 4, 2013.
The elusive David J. Stern, whose law firm handled foreclosures on hundreds of thousands of Florida homes, took the witness stand in his own defense Thursday [Oct. 3] with testimony so exuberant at times the judge had to ask that he lower his tone. On the fourth day of the Florida Bar’s pursuit of 17 complaints against Stern, and with his license at stake, the 53 year-old sat before an almost empty courtroom for nearly four hours rejecting any notion that he be held accountable for flawed and fraudulent documents produced by his employees. It’s the first time Stern has spoken publicly about the explosive growth and epic collapse of his Plantation-based firm in 2010 after the launch of an ultimately failed state investigation and allegations that he ran a foreclosure sweatshop focused more on speed than accuracy.