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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Oct. 15, 2013


VOLUSIA'S FIRST BLACK JUDGE TO RETIRE IN JANUARY -- Daytona Beach News-Journal,, Oct. 15, 2013.
Circuit Judge Hubert L. Grimes, Volusia County's first black judge, will retire after 25 years on the bench. His resignation is effective Jan. 30. Elected in 1988 as a county judge, Grimes was appointed by then-Gov. Jeb Bush to the circuit bench in 1999. Grimes, 60, wrote in his resignation letter that according to clerk of the court records, he has presided over about 100,000 cases. He has presided over family law cases since his appointment to the circuit bench, handling cases dealing with juvenile delinquency, dependency, domestic violence injunctions and family and juvenile drug court. The 7th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission is accepting applications to fill his seat.

--Legal Profession--

MATT REED: LAWYERS FOR POOR BEAR HEAVY LOAD -- Florida Today,, Oct. 15, 2013.
Columnist Matt Reed interviews Blaise Trettis, inaugurated in January as the first new elected local public defender since his predecessor, J.R. Russo, took office in 1980. Among lawyers, there are few jobs tougher than public defender. In the district for Brevard and Seminole counties, 64 government attorneys represent more than three-quarters of all the defendants who enter the system. Their clients are always poor and often drug-addicted or mentally ill. Trettis was asked about the pressures of the job, including how his office has handled a high-profile murder case in Brevard.

--Criminal Justice Issues--

MATHIS VERDICT CALLED A WIN AND 'DISTURBING' -- Jacksonville Daily Record,, Oct. 15, 2013.
Jurors deliberated about 15 hours over two days before convicting Jacksonville attorney Kelly Mathis, accused of being the mastermind behind a $300 million gambling operation, of 103 gambling-related charges. Mathis, 50, could spend the rest of his life in prison. Mathis said after the verdicts were read that his defense team was precluded from introducing all the legislative efforts that have occurred on the state and local level over the last six years to clarify what he calls a gray issue, referring to Internet cafe operations. But for statewide prosecutor Nick Cox, there was no gray about the legality of the businesses and said the verdict sends a message that "people will be held accountable." Defense attorney Mitch Stone called the potential precedent set by the case "very disturbing." Stone is planning to appeal the verdicts.

--Civil Justice Issues--

The Florida Supreme Court is taking on a case that addresses how online-based travel companies like Orbitz and Expedia should handle bed taxes, also known as tourist-development taxes — an issue that impacts the pocketbooks of Alachua County and other local governments that rely on that revenue. Alachua County is one of several Florida counties involved in this court case. The state Supreme Court’s recent decision to hear the case came in the wake of lower court rulings that sided with the companies over the counties. A state appeals court ruled with the companies in February in a 2-1 decision, which fell in line with an earlier ruling from a state Circuit Court judge last year that also favored the companies.

According to a report released by Citizens Property Insurance on Monday [Oct. 14], the insurer spent $100 million in the past two years in legal fees and says its legal bills are rising because a handful of aggressive South Florida law firms most in Miami-Dade County have targeted the insurance giant with water-damage claims in a hurricane-free year. The report claims that while Miami-Dade residents have 19 percent of all Citizens policies in force, the county accounts for 33 percent of all reported claims and 60 percent of all litigated claims statewide, with the bulk of those claims coming from water-damage losses. The report serves as a counterpoint to legislators and law firms who have accused the company of using delay tactics as its principal legal strategy in an effort to make the state-run insurer appear to be more profitable.

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[Revised: 10-16-2013]