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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.

Dec. 20, 2013


HIGH COURT CERTIFIES NEED FOR NEW JUDGES -- The Florida Current,, Dec. 20, 2013. [Also:FLORIDA LEGISLATURE TO BE ASKED FOR 49 NEW JUDGES -- Daily Business Review (requires subscription),, Dec. 20, 2013; FLORIDA SUPREME COURT: DUVAL COUNTY NEEDS 4 JUDGES -- Jacksonville Business Journal,, Dec. 20, 2013.]
Florida's court system needs at least 49 new judges, the state Supreme Court told Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature on Thursday [Dec. 19]. The justices certify needs every year, responding to rising caseloads in the trial and appellate courts. Scott will submit his 2014-15 budget to the Legislature in January, and lawmakers will deal with his recommendations during their 60-day session. The court certified a need for 39 more county judges and seven additional circuit judges. Two appellate judges are needed in the 2nd District Court of Appeal, based in Lakeland, and one more is justified for the 5th District, the high court said. The court examined filing and disposition data, analyzed workloads and applied a three-year average of caseloads in determining where to recommend new judgeships.

MANATEE ALUMNA BECOMES A JUDGE -- Sarasota Herald-Tribune,, Dec. 20, 2013.
In June, Gov. Rick Scott appointed Andrea Teves Smith to fill a circuit judge vacancy for the 10th Judicial Circuit in Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties. Smith knew from the time she was in grade school that she wanted to become a lawyer. After hearing stories about her grandfather, Pablo Teves Sr., who was a judge in the Philippines, the 44-year-old Lakeland lawyer aspired to be a judge, too. Smith fills a vacancy created with the retirement of Circuit Judge J. David Langford on June 30. Smith worked for 19 years at Peterson & Myers in Lakeland, where she was a partner. A 1987 graduate of Manatee High School, Smith received a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Florida. She received her law degree from Stetson University College of Law in 1994. Colleagues described Smith as a successful legal professional with a courteous personality.

ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY FOR ME TO SERVE -- Daytona Times,, Dec. 20, 2013.
Regina Nunnally is one of two black women to be considered by Gov. Rick Scott for the Seventh Judicial Circuit Court judgeship. Nunnally and Alicia Washington are seeking the seat being vacated next month by retiring Judge Hubert Grimes, the circuit’s first black judge. Last week, the Times shared an interview with Washington, a former juvenile division chief in the public defender’s office who has a criminal defense, family law and civil litigation practice in Bunnell. This week’s focus is on Nunnally. Her legal background includes working as an assistant public defender in Bunnell. She has held that position for the past decade and handles an array of cases, including any and everything up to the point before capital murder. If appointed by the governor, Nunnally would be the first African-American female to hold the seat.

--Legal Profession--

WET SUITS: SCUBA DIVING LAWYERS -- Florida Trend,, Dec. 20, 2013.
David Black was 7 the first time he saw someone pull on a wet suit and jump into the Atlantic Ocean. Right then, scuba diving became his dream. He also wanted to be a lawyer. Black followed through on both ambitions. After college, he moved to Grand Cayman and taught diving for a year before returning to the U.S. and enrolling at the Boston University School of Law. Now a 32-year-old associate at Berger Singerman in Fort Lauderdale, Black still dives -- as many as three times a month -- and usually with fellow members of DiveBar, a 2-year-old South Florida-based group that calls itself the "first underwater Bar association for legal professionals." DiveBar also supports the Diveheart Foundation, which teaches disabled people to dive, and raised $3,000 last June during an American Cancer Society's Air and Sea Relay for Life.

--Criminal Justice Issues--

By The Associated Press.
The state Supreme Court ruled Thursday [Dec. 19] that Florida's new lethal injection procedure is effective and the execution of a man who killed a prison guard while on death row for two other murders can go forward. The court on Nov. 18 delayed Askari Abdullah Muhammad's execution and ordered hearings on a claim that the sedative midazolam hydrochloride doesn't prevent pain after being administered. After reviewing Circuit Judge Phyllis Rosier's report, who earlier this month ruled that there's no credible evidence that condemned inmates would suffer pain if the drug is administered in proper amounts, the justices concluded that midazolam hydrochloride effectively renders condemned inmates unconscious before drugs to induce paralysis and cardiac arrest are administered. Florida has used midazolam in two executions — William Happ on Oct. 15 and Darius Kimbrough Nov. 12. The state previously used phentobarbital to render prisoners unconscious.

--Civil Justice Issues--

Former Alachua County Public Works employee Emanuel Baker was paralyzed in an on-the-job accident more than a year ago, but he remains embroiled in a legal fight between two of the city's top law firms that has tied up around $3.64 million of his settlement. Baker won an $8 million settlement in a lawsuit against AT&T and Osmose Utilities Services over a utility pole that snapped and struck Baker in the head. Last month a judge ordered the release of about $4.36 million to the Bakers. The rest remains at the center of a lawsuit the Bakers have filed against their former counsel, Gainesville attorney Chris Chestnut and his law firm. A contract signed on Sept. 1, 2012, gives the firm 40 percent of the $8 million settlement, which exceeds the limits on legal fees stipulated in Florida Bar rules. That percentage can be raised if a judge grants special permission, which hasn't happened in this case. The Bakers are suing the firm over the contract they say was signed when Jessie Baker was in a "fragile, vulnerable condition at her husband's bedside."


LOUIS EARL CONWAY -- Daytona Beach News-Journal,, Dec. 20, 2013.
Louis Earl Conway, 80, of Ormond Beach, passed away Monday, Dec. 16. After graduating from the University of Florida College of Law in 1959, Conway moved to the Daytona Beach area and practiced law for 50 years, engaging in general practice, banking, municipal law, real estate, probate and wills and trusts. His practice was with the law firm lately known as Raymond, Wilson, and Conway, P.A.

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[Revised: 12-23-2013]