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.
June 7, 2012
FLORIDA JUSTICES HEARING PUBLIC DEFENDER DISPUTE-- Panama City News Herald, http://www.newsherald.com, June 7, 2012. [Also: FLORIDA DEFENSE ATTORNEYS OVERLOADED-- Tampa Bay Times, editorial, http://www.tampabay.com, June 7, 2012].
The News Herald article is by The Associated Press. The Florida Supreme Court is considering today whether overburdened public defenders can shed some felony cases. The Tampa Bay Times editorial states: "The justices are being asked whether a public defender's office may obtain relief from caseloads so excessive that attorneys are unable to meet basic professional standards of representation. It is a difficult question, particularly in an era where the Legislature has no qualms about underfunding the courts. . . . Under professional rules, attorneys may not take more cases than they can handle. The public defender's legal position is that to allow additional appointments beyond that would be a conflict of interest. . . . The state argues that public defenders cannot seek limits on their caseloads. It says defendants only have a constitutional right to the barest minimum representation standard: effective assistance of counsel."
PALM BEACH CLERK CLOSES ONE BRANCH, REDUCES HOURS-- South Florida Business Journal, http://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida, June 7, 2012. [Also: FILING PAPERS IN COURT? EXPECT LONGER LINES IN PALM BEACH COUNTY-- Sun-Sentinel, http://www.sun-sentinel.com, June 7, 2012].
From the South Florida Business Journal: The Palm Beach County Clerk of the Court has announced reduced hours and the closure of its mid-county branch in response to a $2.5 million state budget cut. Starting July 2, its offices will be open to the public weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., instead of from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Court employees will continue to work over that nine-hour period, but the office will be closed to public for two of those hours. The branch in Royal Palm Beach will close, leaving open the main courthouse office in West Palm Beach and branches in Delray Beach, Palm Beach Gardens and Belle Glade.
--Civil Justice Issues--
STATE JUSTICES HEAR ARGUMENT OVER SELF-INCRIMINATION IN TRAFFIC COURT-- The Tampa Tribune, http://www.tbo.com, June 7, 2012.
The article is by The Associated Press and appears in several Florida media outlets. Motorists should be routinely warned they have a right to remain silent in traffic court because their words can be used against them to suspend a license or impose fines, a lawyer told the Florida Supreme Court Wednesday [June 6]. At issue is a proposed rule change that would require judges and hearing officers to tell traffic court defendants they have the right against self-incrimination. The Conference of County Court Judges of Florida opposes the rule proposed by The Florida Bar's Traffic Court Rule Committee. The county judges contend the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination does not apply to traffic cases because they are civil — not criminal — infractions. The justices did not indicate when they would rule on the issue. The case is In re: Amendments to Florida Traffic Rules of Court, SC12-38.
FLORIDA GOV. SCOTT SAYS VOTER PURGE IS LEGAL, DOJ IS WRONG-- The Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, June 7, 2012. [Also: SCOTT ADMINISTRATION REFUSES TO HALT VOTER PURGE-- The Orlando Sentinel, http://www.orlandosentinel.com, June 7, 2012; ].
Gov. Rick Scott's election's chief on Wednesday [June 6] defiantly refused a federal demand to stop purging non-citizens from Florida's voter rolls, intensifying an election-year confrontation with President Barack Obama's administration as each side accuses the other of breaking federal law. In a sharply worded letter, Scott's administration claimed the Department of Justice doesn't understand two federal voting laws at the heart of the dispute and was protecting potentially illegal voters more than legal ones. Florida also accused another federal agency, the Department of Homeland Security, of violating the law by denying Florida access to a federal citizenship database. Also last week, after the Justice Department letter came out, county election supervisors suspended the purge.
READY AGAIN TO REGISTER-- Sarasota Herald-Tribune, editorial, http://www.heraldtribune.com, June 7, 2012. [Also: VOTER DRIVES GET A REPRIEVE-- Ocala Star Banner, editorial, http://www.ocala.com, June 7, 2012; LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS TO RESTART REGISTRATION DRIVE AFTER JUDGE TOSSES LEGISLATURE'S RESTRICTIONS-- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, June 7, 2012].
The Herald-Tribune editorial states: "The drives are revived and alive. The venerable Florida League of Women of Voters and youth-oriented Rock the Vote announced yesterday that they are resuming voter-registration drives in our state. . . . The League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote were among the organizations that suspended voter-registration drives after the Florida Legislature passed House Bill 1355 last year. Among other provisions, the law: added new, burdensome paperwork requirements for conducting voter-registration drives; set almost impossible deadlines for turning in applications; and included draconian fines for even the most minor violations. Last week, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle issued an injunction, blocking several of the law's restrictions from being enforced."
--Criminal Justice Issues--
POLICE, COURTS TO TRY TO CLOSE LOOPHOLE AFTER STABBING DEATH-- Northwest Florida Daily News, http://www.nwfdailynews.com, June 7, 2012.
Since the fatal stabbing of Alissa Couch, the Crestview Police Department has taken two major steps to improve communication between its officers and the people at pre-trial services. The police department has established an email address that provides direct access between court administration and a specific Crestview police investigator, according to spokesman Lt. Andrew Schneider. It also has requested that someone from court administration be available at all hours to confirm the existence of no-contact orders or injunctions. Jerome Parrish, Couch's estranged husband, has been charged with first-degree murder. Early on April 22, Couch contacted police and told them Parrish had been at her home in violation of a no-contact order. On-scene officers found no evidence of a no-contact order and advised Couch how to obtain a protective injunction. She was found dead five hours later. The no contact order, signed by Parrish, was later discovered.