The Florida Bar

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.

Links to online newspapers

Feb. 13, 2014

--The Florida Bar--

Pettis raised the issue of diversity among Florida’s judiciary at the Jan. 31 Board of Governors meeting, citing statistics on the falling number of minorities serving as judges in Florida. He reported that he raised the issue during a recent meeting with Gov. Rick Scott and said that the governor agreed that the judiciary should be reflective of the communities it serves. Pettis said he will be discussing the issue with President-elect Greg Coleman, President-elect Designate Ray Abadin, and Bar Executive Director John F. Harkness Jr., as well as the Bar’s Executive Committee to see how that issue can be addressed through Judicial Nominating Commission appointments. Like the judiciary, JNC membership and applications have shown a decline in minority participation. Pettis encouraged board members to reach out and recruit suitable applicants for the JNCs. Pettis said he was extending the original Feb. 11 deadline to March 21 to allow for recruitment of JNC applicants.

--Legal Profession--

GULFCOAST LEGAL SERVICES DIRECTOR LEAVES POST -- Sarasota Herald-Tribune,, Feb. 13, 2014.
Kathleen Mullin, the embattled head of Gulfcoast Legal Services, has left the St. Petersburg-based legal aid nonprofit. During her tenure, Mullin fired Elizabeth Boyle, the longtime head of Gulfcoast's Sarasota office, and dozens of volunteer lawyers who worked with her. John Dubrule, Gulfcoast's training director, will serve as interim executive director until a replacement is found. Since Boyle's firing, several board members have resigned, and other longtime staffers have quit or been forced out by Mullin. Last month, Gulfcoast employees voted to form a union, chartered by the the National Organization of Legal Services Workers. Mullin, who never took The Florida Bar exam and was not licensed to practice law in this state, was the subject of two "unlicensed practice of law," or UPL, investigations by The Florida Bar. Both investigations cleared her of any wrongdoing. 

--Criminal Justice Issues--

Seminole County Circuit Judge Kenneth R. Lester Jr. sentenced attorney Kelly Mathis to six years in prison as the mastermind of the Allied Veterans of the World gambling scandal. Mathis remains free on bond pending an appeal filed immediately after the sentence was passed. Mathis insisted on his innocence during his testimony, which followed a dozen character witnesses, including three Jacksonville attorneys who are former Florida Bar presidents. Prosecutors have said the scandal involved a St. Augustine-based $300 million gambling ring set up to look like a veterans charity and using dozens of gaming centers in strip malls statewide to make money. Mathis had his law license suspended after a jury convicted him in October.

TIME FOR FEDS TO FRY BIGGER FISH IN SCOTT ROTHSTEIN SAGA -- South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Columnist, Feb. 13, 2013.
Sun-Sentinel columnist Michael Mayo writes, "Attorney Christina Kitterman became the latest collateral damage in Scott Rothstein's Ponzi scheme, convicted by a jury on three counts of wire fraud Tuesday for impersonating a Florida Bar official on a conference call with investors. But the real story of her trial was Rothstein . . . It's time for skittish prosecutors to start frying bigger fish. Forget the reluctance about using Rothstein to make cases. True, he's an inveterate liar who broke his post-Ponzi pledge of honesty with the government, but Rothstein can still deliver co-conspirators. And there should be enough of a paper trail and other corroborating evidence to get convictions."

JUAN CARLOS CHAVEZ EXECUTED FOR MURDER OF JIMMY RYCE -- Miami Herald,, Feb. 12, 2014. [Also: JUAN CARLOS CHAVEZ EXECUTED FOR 1995 KILLING OF JIMMY RYCE -- South Florida Sun-Sentinel,, Feb. 13, 2014.
Juan Carlos Chavez, who raped and murdered 9-year-old Jimmy Ryce in an infamous 1995 crime in the Redland, was executed Wednesday [Feb. 12] night in North Florida. Chavez’s last statement came in a rambling handwritten note penned hours before his execution. In it, he made no apologies nor did he claim any innocence. The execution came after a tense delay of two hours as the U.S. Supreme Court considered, but ultimately denied, a last-minute request for a stay. Chavez’s lawyer had tried to persuade the Florida Supreme Court to reconsider Chavez’s argument that the sedative used as part of the cocktail of lethal drugs was ineffective as a pain-relieving anesthetic and therefore violated his constitutional protection against “cruel and unusual punishment.” The court rejected the last-minute bid to delay the scheduled execution, concluding that Chavez should have presented this evidence when he had the opportunity before the justices rejected his previous bid for a stay Jan. 31.

# # #

[Revised: 02-14-2014]