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.
May 12, 2014
DOMINICAN-AMERICAN LAWYERS FORM OWN BAR ASSOCIATION -- Daily Business Review (requires subscription), http://www.dailybusinessreview.com, May 9, 2014.
Dominican-American lawyers have their own bar association with the launch of the Dominican American Bar Association. While based in Miami, the organization is open to lawyers statewide. It was launched by solo attorneys Joshua Hertz, Eric Hernandez, Henry Marines and Karim Batista. Hertz said the purpose of the bar association is to bring awareness to issues of importance to the Dominican community and provide networking opportunities for Dominican-American lawyers and law students.
--Lawyer Ethics/Legal Discipline--
NORTH PALM BEACH LAWYER FACES FLORIDA BAR DISCIPLINE -- Palm Beach Post, http://www.palmbeachpost.com, May 9, 2014.
Marc H. Hoffman, of the Hoffman Law Group in North Palm Beach, is facing discipline for his firm’s unsolicited and “misleading” mailings to homeowners that promoted joining mass lawsuits against banks. Hoffman is alleged to have violated 10 Florida Bar rules in marketing services that include filing lawsuits with as many as 120 plaintiffs to get lower interest rates and reduced mortgage debt. The Florida Bar said in an April 25 letter it planned to file a formal complaint with the state Supreme Court. The Palm Beach Post reported last month that the Hoffman Law Group had at least two dozen complaints against it filed by homeowners across the country with the Better Business Bureau and the Florida Attorney General’s office. Homeowners said they paid retainers to join the mass plaintiff lawsuits but have seen few results.
TAMPA LAWYERS FACE DISCIPLINE IN DUI SCANDAL -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, May 9, 2014. [Also: BAR FINDS PROBABLE CAUSE AGAINST BUBBA LAWYERS -- Tampa Tribune, http://www.tbo.com, May 9, 2014.]
The Florida Bar found probable cause Friday [May 9] that attorneys Robert Adams, Stephen Diaco and Adam Filthaut of Tampa's Adams Diaco firm violated Florida Bar rules when setting up opposing counsel for a DUI arrest in a notorious legal scandal. All three face charges of misconduct, unfairness to opposing counsel and disrupting court. If they are found guilty, punishment can range from admonishment to suspension or disbarment. The simmering legal scandal centers on a bitter defamation trial between warring radio shock jocks Todd Schnitt and Bubba the Love Sponge Clem. A county or circuit judge from a neighboring circuit is expected to be appointed to hear the evidence. The judge, or referee, determines guilt and recommends any discipline. The Florida Supreme Court has the final say in an attorney's professional fate.
FLA. JUDGE RETIRES, LAMENTING PRIVACY INVASION -- Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, May 10, 2014.
By The Associated Press. Judge David Audlin said his decision to retire early came after an "inappropriate invasion of my privacy." The Florida Keys judge announced in April that he was retiring with four years left on his term. A blogger found a profile for Audlin on a gay dating website in January, and the next day a website called Above the Law posted a story about the blog. Audlin did nothing illegal and no one has called on him to resign, but he said that after contemplating the matter for several months he decided to return to private practice. He said he has never tried to hide his sexuality but also contended that a judge's personal life should be kept off limits unless it interferes with his or her ability to be fair and professional. Many in the Keys law community commended his tenure.
NEW COURTHOUSE: NO MORE PRIVATE PRIVIES FOR JUDGES -- South Florida Sun-Sentinel, http://www.sun-sentinel.com, May 10, 2014.
When Broward County's judges move into the new courthouse now under construction in downtown Fort Lauderdale, they will forfeit one cherished privilege, private bathrooms. In the old courthouse, each judge had their own bathroom off chambers. But in the new $220 million facility, scheduled for completion next May, judges will have to share special men's and women's bathrooms on each floor occupied by the judiciary. The restrooms will be accessed only through keys and private hallways, however. "There are people who would much rather have it the old way," Chief Judge Peter Weinstein said. "I just say we have to move forward, that's all."
--Criminal Justice Issues--
FLORIDA LAW EMPOWERS CLERKS TO GO AFTER GUARDIANSHIP FRAUD -- Palm Beach Post, http://www.palmbeachpost.com, May 12, 2014.
Guardianship fraud programs like the one Palm Beach County Clerk and Comptroller Sharon Bock initiated last year have become the basis for a proposed Florida law that would give local court clerks more power to review how guardians handle money. Though two arrests from the guardianship fraud program in Palm Beach County involved guardians of children, Bock and others believe the proposed law is a necessary measure in large part because of the state’s aging population. The program, complete with a fraud hotline, has uncovered more than $3 million in questionable, misused or misappropriated expenditures surrounding accounts for minors and disabled, elderly citizens deemed either wards of the state or unable to care for themselves. Bock and her guardianship fraud investigator, Anthony Palmieri, drafted a bill and presented it to the Florida Association of Court Clerks. The bill passed both the House and Senate unanimously and awaits Gov. Rick Scott’s signature.
CARROLL "CJ" ABERNATHY -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, May 12, 2014.
Carroll "CJ" Abernathy, 77, of Saint Petersburg, passed away May 9. He graduated from Stetson University and Stetson College of Law and was an Army veteran. He is warmly remembered as a dedicated criminal defense attorney.