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.

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June 12, 2014

--The Florida Bar--

The Florida Bar opposes a petition to the Florida Supreme Court being filed by a few hundred lawyers that would tax all lawyers licensed in Florida to fund legal aid. The decision came by a unanimous vote of its Board of Governors. Florida Bar President Eugene K. Pettis emphasized that Florida Bar members already contribute significantly to legal aid. To help address the funding crisis, the Bar’s Board of Governors conceptually approved a $6 million bridge loan to The Florida Bar Foundation. The details of that loan are being worked out and will be presented for final approval at the board’s July 25 meeting. The Florida Bar Foundation is not supporting the petition and calls for cooperation among public and private stakeholders and identifying additional solutions including enhancement of legal aid delivery systems. Incoming Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga is supporting plans to bring these groups together this summer to address access to justice issues. 

LEADERSHIP ACADEMY WELCOMES NEW CLASS -- The Florida Bar News,, June 15, 2014.
The Florida Bar will train 61 fellows for future leadership roles within the legal profession as part of its new class of the Wm. Reece Smith Jr. Leadership Academy. Florida Bar President-elect Gregory W. Coleman said the academy works to leave a legacy of leaders for the Bar and the state. The program’s goal is to reach out to lawyers from across the diverse state of Florida and help give them the skills and resources to become leaders not only in the legal profession but in their communities. The year-long program will include six one-day meetings at locations throughout the state beginning at the Bar’s Annual Convention in Orlando June 25-28. The curriculum will focus on developing skills and networking opportunities within the legal profession and having the fellows create projects to put their new skills to use. Through the academy, fellows will have an opportunity to network with both past and present Bar leaders, including presidents and Board of Governors members. 


CALL FOR DIVERSITY PRODUCES NEW BROWARD JUDICIAL NOMINEES -- Daily Business Review (requires subscription),, June 11, 2014.
Four attorneys have been added to an original list of six judicial candidates in response to Gov. Rick Scott's request for more names to fill two judicial vacancies in Broward County court. Scott responded last week to the submission by the Judicial Nominating Commission by asking for more than the six names delivered for the two openings, a request seconded by Florida Bar president Eugene Pettis of Fort Lauderdale, who said the governor was ready and willing to name judges that would enhance the Bar's goal of bringing more diversity to the bench. The additional nominees are Broward Assistant State Attorney Kal Le Var Evans; Dan Kanner, a criminal defense attorney at Bauman & Kanner in Plantation; Stefani Moon, a criminal and labor-employment attorney in Fort Lauderdale; and Broward General Magistrate Vicki Plant. The original six are Keathan Frink, Thomas Oates, Abbe Rifkin, Richard Sachs, Maxine Streeter and Stephen Zacchor.

--Legal Profession--

LAW FIRM AWARDS SCHOLARSHIPS TO VETERANS -- Sarasota Herald-Tribune,, June 12, 2014.
The Kirk Pinkerton law firm recently awarded two scholarships to veterans seeking to further their education. Goodwill Manasota selected the recipients, Michael Paine and Plina Fuller, and manages the Kirk Pinkerton Veterans Scholarship Fund. Paine, a U.S. Marine who served during the Gulf War, received more than $800 to continue pursuing a bachelor’s degree in homeland security at the State College of Florida. Fuller is a disabled U.S. Army veteran. After being homeless and unemployed for three years, he is only one class short of an associate’s degree and on his way to a bachelor’s degree in social work. Fuller received more than $700 to pay off a previous balance to resume classes in January 2015.


For the fourth year running, Gov. Rick Scott has vetoed funding earmarked to provide legal service for low-income Florida residents. According to the News Service of Florida, the June 2 veto eliminated $2 million that the 2014-15 state budget of $77.1 billion described as "civil legal assistance." Marcia Cypen, executive director at Legal Services of Greater Miami Inc., said that in 2013, Legal Services handled 365 cases in the Keys. "We used to have an office there, but because of reduced budgets we had to close it," she said. Regardless of funding, Cypen said she still encourages Keys residents in need of help to contact Legal Services. "Even though our money is down, we don't mind having people call us. We can give them information and other ways of assisting them," she said.

--Lawyer Ethics/Legal Discipline--

The Florida Bar confirmed that it is investigating Assistant Public Defender Andrew Weinstock, the attorney involved in a conflict with a judge last week at the courthouse in Viera that ended in profanity and punches. Open investigations are confidential and no other information is available. The executive director for the Judicial Qualifications Commission couldn't say whether the commission is investigating the judge involved in the fight, John C. Murphy.

--Criminal Justice Issues--

John Ruthell Henry, 63, is set to be executed Wednesday [June 18] after 27 years on Death Row for brutally killing a girlfriend, a wife and a stepson. Baya Harrison has represented him for 14 years. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled May 27 that Florida has been misinterpreting the threshold for calling a person mentally disabled. With this new information, Harrison filed a motion to bar the execution but it was denied for being untimely. He appealed to the Florida Supreme Court, which is considering the case in the few days left before Henry faces lethal injection. Florida, Harrison said, has claimed that anyone with an IQ of at least 70 is not considered mentally disabled and therefore eligible to be executed. Henry was tested in the 1980s and scored a 78. With a margin of error of about 5 points and a consideration of his upbringing, including an abhorrent childhood, his mental health history and poor social adjustment, Harrison says Henry should be considered intellectually disabled — or at least evaluated.

SENTENCING DRAWS NEAR FOR CONVICTED KILLER - FINALLY -- South Florida Sun-Sentinel,, June 12, 2014.
The pre-sentencing saga of convicted killer Randy W. Tundidor will come to a close this summer when he appears before Broward Circuit Judge Cynthia Imperato on July 28 for a Spencer hearing, if all goes according to schedule. The hearing gives his lawyer one last chance to plead for Tundidor's life and also gives prosecutors a final opportunity to urge the judge to follow a jury's recommendation and order Tundidor's execution. Tundidor was convicted two years ago of the April 2010 murder of Nova Southeastern University professor Joseph Morrissey and the attempted murders of Morrissey's wife and son. The same jury that convicted him recommended the death penalty by a unanimous vote in October 2012. The case has been in limbo since then, with defense lawyer Richard Rosenbaum filing unsuccessful challenges to have Imperato removed from the case.

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[Revised: 06-13-2014]