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 28, 2014
FLORIDA'S JUDGES SHOULD REFLECT STATE'S DIVERSITY -- South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Editorial, http://www.sun-sentinel.com, April 27, 2014.
The editorial addresses the lack of diversity in Judicial Nominating Commissions and the judiciary. "The process for picking judges in Florida is broken. Too many qualified women and minority applicants are being discarded needlessly. Many others have given up applying. Part of the problem is the make-up of the state's Judicial Nominating Commissions . . . The JNC's lack of diversity goes beyond a simple matter of fairness. State law mandates the governor ensure his appointees reflect the racial, ethnic and gender diversity of local judicial circuits and the state. The statistics suggest the law has been ignored. The Florida Bar has tried to do its part. Facing a new round of open commission seats, the Bar extended its deadline to recruit more women and minority candidates. It has now submitted 679 names, including more than 300 black, Hispanic, Asian and female applicants . . . Diversity is critical to our nation's promise of equal justice for all . . . To ensure a judiciary that looks like Florida, [Gov. Rick] Scott should seize the moment and appoint more Asians, blacks, Hispanics and women to the JNCs."
RUSSELL HEALEY, MARIANNE LLOYD AHO APPOINTED CIRCUIT JUDGES -- Florida Times-Union (requires subscription), http://www.jacksonville.com, April 25, 2014. [Also: JUDGE RUSSELL HEALEY, ATTORNEY MARIANNE AHO APPOINTED TO 4TH CIRCUIT BENCH -- Jacksonville Daily Record, http://www.jaxdailyrecord.com, April 25, 2014.]
Gov. Rick Scott announced the appointments of Russell Healey and Marianne Lloyd Aho to the circuit bench in the 4th Judicial Circuit Friday [April 25]. They replace Jean Johnson, who passed away, and Brian Davis, who was recently confirmed to a federal judgeship. Healey, 58, has been a Duval County judge since 2002. He was designated an acting circuit judge last year by Chief Judge Donald Moran, which has allowed him to oversee cases such as the Dunn murder trial. Aho, 49, has worked at Marks Gray since 2008 and has focused on commercial litigation since beginning her legal career in 1991.
INFORMED VOTERS CRITICAL TO JUDICIAL SYSTEM -- Daily Business Review (requires subscription), http://www.dailybusinessreview.com, April 25, 2014.
By attorney Linda Leali. "Law Day is Thursday [May 1]. This year's theme, established by the American Bar Association, is "American democracy and the rule of law. Why every vote matters" . . . On this Law Day, it is important to recognize both the special role of the judiciary in upholding the rule of law in our country and the role of citizens in ensuring that our judiciary remains fair and impartial by exercising an informed vote . . . The National Association of Women Judges has created a website for its Informed Voters, Fair Judges project that provides more information and an outlet for citizens to get informed on the matters discussed herein. Check it out at ivp.nawj.org and get informed."
JUDGE AUDLIN STEPPING DOWN WITH FOUR YEARS LEFT ON TERM -- Florida Keys Keynoter, http://www.keysnet.com, April 25, 2014.
Monroe County Circuit Court Judge David Audlin announced Friday [April 25] he is stepping down from the bench May 9 with four years left on his second six-year term. He gave no reason for the sudden move other than to write in an April 25 open letter to "friends and colleagues" that he "will return to the private practice of law and civil mediations." Audlin was elected in 2006 and re-elected in 2012. The Judicial Nominating Commission for the 16th Judicial Circuit will take nominations for Audlin's replacement, then send its recommendations to the governor's office for final appointment.
WHEN JUDGE FACES PUBLIC DISCIPLINE AT HIGH COURT, DOZENS OF LOCAL LAWYERS WILL STAND WITH HIM -- Palm Beach Post (requires subscription), http://www.pbpost.com, April 27, 2014.
Last week, an array of Palm Beach County’s judges, defense attorneys and elected officials gathered to pay tribute to County Judge Barry Cohen. This week, several dozen will take a bus with the longtime jurist to the state’s capital. On Tuesday [April 29], Cohen will become the first judge in Palm Beach County history to be disciplined by the Florida Supreme Court. Cohen will be publicly reprimanded for speaking out about injustices that he believes plague the criminal justice system.
FLORIDA SENATE APPROVES BILL WITH PROVISION TO ALLOW NONCITIZENS TO PRACTICE LAW -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, April 25, 2014. [Also: A FAIR WAY TO RIGHT IMMIGRATION WRONG -- Tampa Bay Times, Editorial, http://www.tampabay.com, April 26, 2014; SENATE BACKS BID FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT TO JOIN BAR -- The Ledger, http://www.theledger.com, April 25, 2014; SENATE OKS BILL ALLOWING NONCITIZEN TO PRACTICE LAW -- Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, April 25, 2014.]
Jose Godinez-Samperio's dream of a Florida legal career moved closer to reality Friday [April 25] as the Senate passed a bill that would allow a noncitizen to obtain a law license from the state Supreme Court for the first time. The Senate's bipartisan 25-12 vote Friday was prompted by a unanimous Supreme Court ruling in March, when justices said they were powerless to help Godinez-Samperio unless directed by the Legislature because of a federal law that bars undocumented immigrants from receiving certain state benefits. The bill (HB 755) was amended to apply to as few noncitizens as possible by Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs. The language limits the scope of the noncitizen provision to an unauthorized immigrant who came to Florida as a minor, has lived here for at least 10 years and has met Bar admission requirements.
YOUNG PROFESSIONALS RAISE MONEY FOR DADE LEGAL AID -- Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, April 25, 2014.
More than 100 young professionals helped raise funds while gathering with friends at World of Beer in Midtown recently, all for a special cause: Dade Legal Aid. The organization provides legal services for the indigent in Miami-Dade County. “Dade Legal Aid and the Dade County Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section share the same vision: to leave the world better than how we found it,” said YLS President Ethan J. Wall of Richman Greer P.A. in a release. The event raised $1,200 for the agency from donations and tips to Wall, who served as “Special Guest Bartender.”
LAW SCHOOL TAKES NO. 25 NATIONALLY IN NEW REPORT -- FSView, http://www.fsunews.com, April 28, 2014.
Florida State University's College of Law was named the No. 1 law school in Florida in a National Law Journal report published last week. The law school was also named the 25th best in the country for consistently getting graduates into full-time jobs within nine months after graduation. Florida State law students have a unique opportunity in Tallahassee due to their proximity to the Florida Capitol. "We would not be No. 1 in Florida and the nation's 25th best without our extremely engaged alumni network," said Don Weidner, dean of the Florida State College of Law.
--Civil Justice Issues--
APPEALS COURT TOSSES FIVE-YEAR FORECLOSURE DEADLINE -- Palm Beach Post (requires subscription), http://www.palmbeachpost.com, April 26, 2014.
The Fifth District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach crushed the hopes of hundreds, if not thousands, of defaulted homeowners Friday [April 25] in a benchmark decision on how the state’s five-year foreclosure deadline is interpreted. Some borrowers with aging or abandoned cases were counting on a common contract law that says a person has five years to sue on a debt or give up the right to collect. The idea was if the case gets dismissed — something common if the paperwork was faulty or missing — the lender only had five years to refile or the home could go to the borrower free and clear, but the appeals court said that the statute doesn’t work like that, and it has asked the Florida Supreme Court to weigh in on the matter saying it is of “great public importance.”
--Criminal Justice Issues--
SOME JUDGES DON'T APPLY NEW LENIENT DRUG SENTENCES -- Tampa Tribune, http://www.tbo.com, April 27, 2014.
As the federal government changes how it punishes people convicted of drug crimes, some defendants are finding themselves sentenced under different standards than others. While prosecutors and defense lawyers are agreeing to implement one of the government's changes before it is officially enacted, some judges are sticking to the current standards and others are not. The guidelines change will go into effect Nov. 1, unless Congress acts to prevent it. The U.S. Sentencing Commission has not yet decided whether the change will be retroactive, in which case it would be applied to defendants who have already been sentenced. Several Tampa federal judges have granted the joint requests to apply the new guidelines. But lawyers say two judges - Steven D. Merryday and James Whittemore - are sticking to the current system. Merryday said at a recent sentencing hearing that he is taking his guidance from the appeals court. He added that if Congress and the Sentencing Commission decide to make the change retroactive, the defendants will be brought back and given new sentences.
MICHAEL A. REICHMAN, ESQ. -- Tallahassee Democrat, http://www.tallahassee.com, April 25, 2014.
Michael "Mike" A. Reichman, 68, passed away peacefully in his home in Monticello on Saturday, April 19. Reichman graduated from the Florida State University School of Law in 1974. He was a member of The Florida Bar and the Jefferson County Bar. He practiced law in Miami from 1975 until 1981. In 1981, he moved to Monticello, where he practiced law with Ben Irving and then began his solo practice in 1989. Reichman was known for his generosity in doing pro bono work for those less fortunate.
SENIOR JUDGE WILLIAM T. SWIGERT DIES AT 77 -- Ocala Star Banner, http://www.ocala.com, April 27, 2014.
Senior Judge William T. Swigert, a one-time chief judge who saw the judiciary in Marion County grow three times its size from when he joined the bench in 1973, died Saturday [April 26]. He was 77. Swigert reluctantly retired as a circuit judge nearly 10 years ago; he had to, according to a Star-Banner profile in 2004, because he would reach the mandatory retirement age of 70 too early in his term if he won re-election that year. He signed up to be a senior judge, retired judges who are called on to fill in when dockets get too crowded.