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.
Dec. 12, 2013
OCALA'S CHRISTINE BIRD AMONG 5 NOMINEES FOR JUDICIAL VACANCY -- Ocala Star Banner, http://www.ocala.com, Dec. 12, 2013.
A local attorney is one of five nominees under consideration to fill the upcoming vacancy for retiring Circuit Judge Jack Singbush's seat. Christine Bird, of the Ocala-based law firm Alavi, Bird & Pozzuto, is one of five nominees selected by the 5th Judicial Circuit Nominating Commission. The commission interviewed 24 candidates and sent the names of five finalists to Gov. Rick Scott on Dec. 5. Also on the list are two Spring Hill attorneys who recently made the short list to fill the vacancy left by Circuit Judge Sandra Edwards-Stephens: civil litigator John Napolitano and Thomas R. Eineman, who is board certified in marital and family law. The remaining finalists are Paul Militello of Inverness, who practices criminal law; and Jeffrey Pfister of Tavares, who practices both criminal and family law.
PANEL CALLS FOR PUBLIC REPRIMAND FOR JUDGE -- Citrus County Chronicle, http://www.chronicleonline.com, Dec. 12, 2013.
The Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission has recommended a public reprimand of 5th Judicial Circuit Judge Sandy K. Kautz. She was charged with expressing anger and frustration in a series of cases involving individuals seeking assistance through the court system. The record states Kautz made rulings that made it appear she either did not know the law or chose not to apply the law. Although done without any improper purpose, her actions did have the consequence of undermining the public’s confidence in the judiciary. The commission concluded that while the judge’s conduct was misguided, it was not ill intentioned. It recommended that the interests of justice, public welfare and sound judicial administration would be well served by a public reprimand. Last week, the commission’s findings were forwarded to the Florida Supreme Court, which can accept or reject the recommendations.
--Lawyer Ethics/Legal Discipline--
STATE BAR MOVES TO SUSPEND NAPLES ATTORNEY WHO PLEADED GUILTY TO FRAUD -- Naples Daily News, http://www.naplesnews.com, Dec. 12, 2013.
A week after Naples immigration attorney Karen Caco was sentenced to three years of probation on a federal fraud charge, The Florida Bar is asking the state Supreme Court to suspend her. The state Bar filed a notice of guilt late Tuesday [Dec. 10] against Caco, asking the state’s highest court to find her guilty for committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on a lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness. Caco pleaded guilty to fraud and misuse of visa permits, admitting she faked her own employment status to continue her U.S. residency. She was about to go to trial, but accepted a plea deal. The Bar’s action Tuesday goes beyond the plea deal, which prohibits her from filing petitions or applications — or assisting anyone — before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and U.S. Department of Labor.
--Criminal Justice Issues--
MY VIEW: FLORIDA HAS IT WRONG ON RESTORING FELONS' RIGHTS -- Tallahassee Democrat, Column, http://www.tallahassee.com, Dec. 12, 2013.
Column by Walter McNeil, chief of police in Quincy; Ion Sancho, supervisor of elections in Leon County and Mark Schlakman, senior program director at FSU’s Center for the Advancement of Human Rights. "Hundreds of thousands of Floridians who completed their sentences for felony convictions are still prohibited from exercising their rights as U.S. citizens to vote under the state's civil rights restoration scheme, exacerbated by the implementation of arguably the most restrictive criteria in the nation during Scott's first Clemency Board meeting in March 2011 . . . The governor and Cabinet unanimously adopted a policy requiring waiting periods of five and seven years after the completion of sentence before felons are eligible to apply, with no guarantee that such rights ultimately would be restored. Given the demographics of Florida's prison population, minorities are disproportionately impacted by such restrictive civil rights restoration policies . . . Barring a material change in policy, Florida's disproportionately high number of disenfranchised felons will increase dramatically by the end of Scott's term, extending their legislatively mandated sanctions indefinitely."
ATTORNEY RICHARD SHARPSTEIN'S DEATH RULED AS A SUICIDE -- Daily Business Review (requires subscription), http://www.dailybusinessreview.com, Dec. 12, 2013. [Also: FUNERAL SET FOR SUNDAY FOR MIAMI LAWYER RICHARD SHARPSTEIN -- Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, Dec. 12, 2013.]
The death of prominent Miami attorney Richard Sharpstein has been ruled a suicide by the Miami-Dade County medical examiner and investigators, a spokesman for the City of Miami Beach police department said late Wednesday [Dec. 11]. Richard Sharpstein’s funeral will be held at 1:30 p.m. Sunday [Dec. 8] at Temple Beth Shalom in Miami Beach. He was widely considered one of the best trial lawyers in Miami. Dozens of tributes from members of the legal community and others poured in. Akerman announced Wednesday it will honor Sharpstein with a donation to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Foundation for Criminal Justice in support of its education and training programs to improve indigent defense in federal and state courts.
HELEN S. HANSEL -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, Dec. 12, 2013.
Helen S. Hensel, retired circuit judge, 91, died on Dec. 10 in St. Petersburg. She enrolled at Stetson University College of Law, where she founded the first co-educational legal fraternity and earned her J.D. in 1968. After practicing with the St. Petersburg law firm of Roney, Ulmer, Woodworth & Jacobs, she established her own law office in downtown St. Petersburg. In 1982, she was first elected circuit judge in Florida's Sixth Judicial Circuit. She was re-elected in 1988 and completed her second six-year term before becoming a senior circuit judge in 1995. She continued to serve on the bench in that capacity, presiding over her last jury trial at age 85 and retiring one year later. She was secretary of the National Conference of State Trial Judges and was active in the National Association of Women Judges, The Florida Bar, and the St. Petersburg and American Bar Associations.