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.
Sept. 27, 2013
FAMU LAW STUDENTS FARING BETTER ON BAR EXAM -- Tallahassee Democrat, http://www.tallahassee.com, Sept. 27, 2013.
Florida A&M law school students continued a trend of performing better on the state bar exam, based on results from the July test released this week. More than two-thirds of FAMU’s students — 71.7 percent, with 109 of 152 passing — put the school’s students within 5.5 percentage points of the 77.7 statewide average, the closest FAMU has been in recent years. Florida State University law school students had an 86.7 percent passage rate, putting FSU as the third-most successful institution among the 11 taking the state exam. Stetson (89.3) and University of Florida (88.2) finished No. 1 and No. 2. Administrators at FAMU, concerned about past passage rates for their students at the Orlando-based law school, have implemented a number of programs focused on the state bar exam.
--Criminal Justice Issues--
FLORIDA CHIEF JUSTICE: HUMAN TRAFFICKING IS "MODERN DAY SLAVERY" -- Florida Times-Union (requires subscription), http://www.jacksonville.com, Sept. 27, 2013.
Chief Justice Ricky Polston of the Florida Supreme Court said Thursday [Sept. 26] 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. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security reports that human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world, Polston said. “Florida is ranked third in the nation in the number of people trafficked. Here, labor trafficking is the most prevalent, occurring in farm labor, as domestic house slaves and also in the hotel industry,” said Polston. Florida lawmakers in the last session unanimously passed legislation toughening the state’s human trafficking laws.
FLORIDA SUPREME COURT OVERTURNS HIGH-PROFILE MIAMI MURDER CONVICTION -- Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, Sept. 27, 2013.
The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday [Sept. 26] overturned the conviction of Rafael Matarranz, accused of breaking into a posh Miami Lakes home and strangling mother of three Lidia Giangrandi. The high court overturned the verdict because Circuit Judge Mary Barzee Flores, who has since retired from the bench, refused at his November 2009 trial to boot a potential juror who said she could not be fair and impartial because she had been victimized by a burglar as a child. The high court's opinion means Matarranz will get a new trial for the 2003 high-profile slaying. Two justices dissented, saying branding of jurors based on their life experiences was wholly unjustified.
FLA. WOMAN WHO FIRED GUN AT HUSBAND GETS NEW TRIAL -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, Sept. 27, 2013.
By The Associated Press. Marissa Alexander, a Jacksonville mother of three serving 20 years in prison for firing a shot at her estranged husband during an argument, will get a new trial, though she will not be able to invoke a "stand your ground" defense, the 1st District Court of Appeal ruled Thursday [Sept. 26]. The case has been used by critics of Florida's "stand your ground" law and mandatory minimum sentences to argue that the state's justice system is skewed against defendants who are black. The court ruled that Alexander deserves a new trial because the trial judge handling her case did not properly instruct the jury regarding what is needed to prove self-defense. The judge in the case said he was bound by state law to sentence her to 20 years in prison after she was convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Alexander has maintained that the shot fired was a warning shot.
--Civil Justice Issues--
STATE SUPREME COURT CLEARS WAY FOR LAND INITIATIVE -- Daytona Beach News-Journal, http://www.news-journalonline.com, Sept. 27, 2013.
The Florida Supreme Court cleared the way this week for the Florida Land and Water Legacy Initiative to be placed on general election ballots next November — provided backers gather the required number of petition signatures. The initiative is aimed at dedicating a permanent source of funding to acquire conservation lands to protect the state’s water resources, wildlife habitat, beaches, trail corridors and rural landscapes. The court also reviewed the financial impact statement prepared for the ballot measure and concluded it meets the requirement because it does not seek to create a new tax or alter the purpose or management of the state’s existing Land Acquisition Trust Fund. The measure, if approved by voters, would dedicate a percentage of an existing revenue source -- documentary stamp tax collections — for buying land.
FMA PUSHES BACK ON FEDERAL JUDGE'S RULING ON MEDMAL, URGES BONDI TO APPEAL -- Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, Sept. 27, 2013.
The Florida Medical Association is urging Attorney General Pam Bondi to appeal the ruling Wednesday by Federal Court Judge Robert Hinkle that invalidated a part of the medical malpractice reform law passed by legislators last spring. The provision related to "ex parte" communications and would have allowed the lawyers for a doctor who is being sued by a patient to talk to other doctors for the patient without the patient's consent. "The FMA is disappointed in the recent ruling by Judge Hinkle regarding the ex parte provision of the 2013 Florida Legislature's medical liability reform law . . . The FMA disagrees with this ruling and stands ready to assist with an appeal. We are confident that this law will be upheld upon appeal," said Alan Harmon, M.D., president of the Florida Medical Association in a statement.