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. 20, 2013
RUBIO RELEASES HOLD ON AFRICAN-AMERICAN JUDICIAL CANDIDATE BUT CONTINUES TO BLOCK ANOTHER -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, Sept. 20, 2013. [Also: MARCO RUBIO EXPLAINS OPPOSITION TO GAY BLACK JUDICIAL NOMINEE -- Daily Business Review (requires subscription), http://www.dailybusinessreview.com, Sept. 20, 2013; RUBIO WITHDRAWS HOLD ON NASSAU JUDGE'S NOMINATION TO FEDERAL JUDGESHIP -- Florida Times-Union, http://www.jacksonville.com, Sept. 19, 2013.]
Sen. Marco Rubio has removed a hold on African-American judicial candidate Brian Davis for the U.S. District Court for the Middle District but continues to block William L. Thomas, who is openly gay, for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District. Rubio's office says nominee Davis has satisfied concerns about statements he made years ago. The senator will submit a "blue slip" to the Judiciary Committee, paving the way for a vote. "The nomination of Judge Thomas has also been thoroughly reviewed, and Senator Rubio has determined that Thomas’s record on the state court raises serious concerns about his fitness for a lifetime federal appointment," spokeswoman Brooke Sammon said, citing questions about "his judicial temperament and his willingness to impose appropriate criminal sentences." Rubio's actions have stirred controversy and news coverage. The Congressional Black Caucus held a news conference earlier this year denouncing the holds.
FEDERAL COURTS DECRY BUDGET CUTS AND ASK FOR CONGRESSIONAL HELP -- Ocala Star Banner, http://www.ocala.com, Sept. 20, 2013.
Concerned members of Florida's Middle District judiciary and staff discussed the impact of the cuts, commonly known as sequestration, on the federal court system on Wednesday [Sept. 18] during an electronic dialogue via videoconference. Among those participating were district judges, U.S. Marshal William Berger, U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley III and Federal Public Defender Donna Lee Elm. In Washington, D.C., staffers from both Sen. Marco Rubio's office and Sen. Bill Nelson's office listened to the concerns. Judiciary officials said that federal budget cuts have resulted in furloughs, inflexible business hours and a lack of staff at local courthouses. Various concerns echoed in several speeches given during the event, including a need for more judges. "Anything you can do to take this message to Washington will be greatly appreciated," said Sheryl Loesch, Middle District clerk of court.
--Lawyer Ethics/Legal Discipline--
JAABLOG WRITER CLEARED BY FLORIDA BAR COMMITTEE -- South Florida Sun-Sentinel, http://www.sun-sentinel.com, Sept. 20, 2013.
A Grievance Committee for The Florida Bar has ruled that Bill Gelin, the Fort Lauderdale lawyer who runs a popular courthouse blog, broke no rules when he posted articles that criticized judges in Broward and Palm Beach counties. Gelin found out earlier this year that he was under investigation for articles he had written about Palm Beach County Judge Marni Bryson and Broward County Judge Robert Diaz. The Florida Bar's rules for professional conduct forbid lawyers from making statements that call a judge's integrity into question. The committee found no probable cause for a violation of rules that warrants discipline. The Bar is remaining silent on how its investigation started.
TRIAL BEGINS FOR JACKSONVILLE ATTORNEY ACCUSED OF MASTERMINDING ALLIED GAMBLING RING -- Florida Times-Union, http://www.jacksonville.com, Sept. 20, 2013. [Also: FIRST ALLIED VETERANS WITNESS: 'IT'S A GAMBLING FACILITY.' -- Orlando Sentinel, http://www.orlandosentinel.com, Sept. 20, 2013; FLA. PROSECUTOR: LAWYER 'GAMED' LEGAL SYSTEM -- Tampa Tribune, http://www.tbo.com, Sept. 20, 2013.]
Six months after being labeled the “mastermind” behind a multimillion-dollar racketeering and money-laundering conspiracy, Jacksonville attorney Kelly Mathis sat impassively in court Thursday [Sept. 19] and listened to prosecutors spelling out their case during Day 1 of his trial. Mathis, they told jurors, was the key to the St. Augustine-based Allied Veterans of the World generating hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal gambling profits. Statewide prosecutor Nicholas Cox told the jury that Mathis "gamed" the legal system by helping create a network of gambling centers throughout Florida. The first witness called, a retired Army colonel, testified that when he walked into an Allied Veterans of the World Internet cafe near Altamonte Springs, he saw a casino filled with at least 60 electronic slot machines.
--Civil Justice Issues--
SCOTT SEEKS SUPREME COURT REVIEW OF WORKER DRUG TEST -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, Sept. 20, 2013.
By The Associated Press. Gov. Rick Scott intends to take his fight for random drug tests of tens of thousands of state employees all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, a lawyer for the Republican governor told a federal judge Thursday [Sept. 19]. The case affecting some 85,000 state employees as well as many job applicants is back before U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro, who previously declared Scott's January 2011 drug-testing executive order an unconstitutional violation of the workers' privacy rights, because the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded her April 2012 ruling in was too broad. The executive order has been on hold pending the outcome of the lawsuit, filed by AFCSME and the American Civil Liberties Union.