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.
May 28, 2014
--The Florida Bar--
'BOLD LEADERSHIP' NEEDED TO ADVANCE DIVERSITY ON THE BENCH -- Daily Business Review (requires subscription), http://www.dailybusinessreview.com, May 27, 2014. [Also: INCREASING DIVERSITY TOPS THE LIST FOR FLORIDA BAR TASK FORCE RECOMMENDATIONS -- Tampa Bay Business Journal, http://www.bizjournals.com, May 27, 2014.]
A special Florida Bar task force released a report that concludes that improving diversity in the Florida judiciary will require much more than convincing the governor of its importance. "It is now time for bold leadership to stay focused and advance this issue," said Florida Bar president Eugene Pettis, the first African-American attorney to lead the organization. The recommendations include a call for Gov. Rick Scott to fill 78 vacancies on JNC panels by next month with diverse appointments. The report also suggests the Bar should work with Scott to let JNC appointees know that diversity matters. It urges Scott not to reject slates of nominees the Bar recommends after a rigorous review process. "We are optimistic that through this education process the governor will better appreciate the Bar's efforts of selecting people that are in line with his interests and the state's interests, as well as committing to truly diversifying the bench and JNCs," Pettis told the Daily Business Review.
--Criminal Justice Issues--
SUPREME COURT STRIKES DOWN FLORIDA'S STRICT IQ CUTOFF FOR DEATH PENALTY ELIGIBILITY -- Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, May 27, 2014. [Also: U.S. SUPREME COURT STRIKES DOWN FLORIDA'S IQ REQUIREMENT IN HALTING EXECUTIONS IN HALL V. FLORIDA -- Florida Times-Union (requires subscription), http://www.jacksonville.com, May 27, 2014.]
A closely divided U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday [May 27] struck down Florida’s strict IQ cutoff for determining inmate eligibility for the death penalty. In a 5-4 ruling, the court concluded that the state’s rigid IQ cutoff of 70 “disregards established medical practice” and creates the “unacceptable risk” that an intellectually disabled inmate might be executed in violation of the Constitution. They concluded that Florida must take into account other factors as well as the IQ testing’s standard error of measurement in evaluating intellectual disability. Freddie Lee Hall, the 68-year-old convicted murderer at the heart of the case decided Tuesday, has been on the state’s Death Row since 1978. Hall’s IQ has been variously measured at 71 and 73. Florida imposes a three-part test, which starts with a rigid requirement that the inmate score 70 or below on the IQ test. If the inmate scores below the cutoff number, the state also will assess for “deficits in adaptive behavior.” More than a dozen other states use an IQ score of 70 as a cutoff point, giving the Supreme Court’s ultimate ruling potentially more significance.
--Civil Justice Issues--
SUPREME COURT ORDERS POLITICAL OPERATIVES TO RELEASE REDISTRICTING DOCS -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, May 28, 2014. [Also: FLA. SUPREME COURT ALLOWS EVIDENCE AT REDISTRICTING TRIAL -- Palm Beach Post, http://www.pbpost.com, May 27, 2014.]
The Florida Supreme Court ruled Tuesday [May 27] that 538 pages of emails, maps and planning documents of a GOP political operative must be allowed into the record in the ongoing redistricting trial, but only if the courtroom is closed. The 5-2 ruling by the state’s high court was a victory for the voters groups who are challenging the congressional maps drawn by the Legislature. Because the case is ongoing and the justices have not had time to determine whether the documents should be allowed in public, the justices ordered trial court Judge Terry Lewis to “maintain the confidentiality of the documents by permitting any disclosure or use only under seal of the court and in a courtroom closed to the public.'' The ruling protects Pat Bainter and his company Data Targeting in the event any documents are deemed “trade secrets” as his lawyers argue but also allows the trial to continue. The trial is in its second week and faces a tight deadline of next Wednesday [June 4] for completion.