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.
June 13, 2014
YOUNG LAWYERS SHARE JOY OF BOOKS WITH YOUNG READERS -- Westside Gazette, http://thewestsidegazette.com, June 13, 2014.
The Broward County Young Lawyers Section recently launched its Broward Young Lawyers for Literacy Initiative with the goal of sparking a passion for reading in pre-K and kindergarten students. The initiative was founded by attorneys Marissa Pullano and Cherine Smith Valbrun and subsidized through a grant received by The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division. Attorneys recently served as guest readers at three local elementary schools and two local early childhood centers throughout Broward County. A two-part literacy initiative will set the stage for local participation in the Read for the Record Campaign in October, when millions of people around the nation read the same book on the same day to promote early childhood education. The Young Lawyers Section will fund the purchase of the selected book for more than 600 community early childhood learning centers in Broward County, many of which will be able to participate for the first time.
--Civil Justice Issues--
SCOTT TARGETS LEGAL AID - AGAIN -- Sarasota Herald Tribune, Editorial, http://www.heraldtribune.com, June 13, 2014.
The editorial states that "With his fourth veto of state funding for legal aid organizations, Gov. Rick Scott thumbed his nose at the Legislature and low-income Floridians who can't afford to hire a lawyer in civil cases involving foreclosures, child custody and bad debts . . . He ignored research indicating that adequate funding of legal aid groups provides across-the-board economic benefits . . . Certainly lawyers could do more to help by representing clients free of charge -- either through their own firms or legal aid organizations. But that form of assistance can only go so far . . . The available money from the Interest on Trust Accounts Program has been severely diminished by a long period of historically low interest rates on safe investments. The Florida Bar Foundation, which administers the accounts, and The Florida Bar are considering short-term approaches to replenishing the fund . . . Yet, while other entities do their share to ensure access to the civil courts and prevent unnecessary economic and social losses, Florida government does nothing because of Gov. Scott's four vetoes."
FLORIDA SUPREME COURT: RED-LIGHT CAMERA ORDINANCES INVALID -- Daytona Beach News-Journal, http://www.news-journalonline.com, June 12, 2014. [Also: ORLANDO LOSES RED-LIGHT COURT CASE -- Orlando Sentinel, http://www.orlandosentinel.com, June 12, 2014; AVENTURA, OTHER CITY RED-LIGHT CAMERA PROGRAMS CIRCUMVENTED STATE LAW, FLORIDA HIGH COURT RULES -- Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, June 12, 2014.]
The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that red-light camera ordinances in effect prior to the enactment of a 2010 state law are invalid. The high court’s decision came eight months after oral arguments were heard in two cases, one in Orlando and the other in Aventura. Motorists in each of those cities had challenged their citations and appellate courts ruled differently each time. They were merged into one case and brought before the state’s high court. By a 5-2 margin, the justices sided with the 5th District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach, which ruled in favor of the plaintiff in Orlando, and quashed the decision from the 3rd District, which had ruled in favor of the city of Aventura. A municipality is given broad authority to enact ordinances under its own home rule powers. However, Justice Charles T. Canady stated in the majority ruling that municipal ordinances “must yield to state statutes.” While the ruling applies directly to the two plaintiffs, it opens the door for people who were issued tickets prior to 2010 to file suit and request their money back.
--Criminal Justice Issues--
FLORIDA HIGH COURT OKS LAW MEANT TO SPEED UP DEATH PENALTY -- Orlando Sentinel, http://www.orlandosentinel.com, June 12, 2014. [Also: FLORIDA COURT UPHOLDS DEATH PENALTY CHANGES -- Tampa Tribune, http://tbo.com, June 12, 2014.
By News Service of Florida. The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the constitutionality of a 2013 law, the so called "Timely Justice Act," that legislative supporters said would reduce delays in carrying out the death penalty. Justices, in a unanimous decision, rejected arguments that the law would be an unconstitutional infringement on the court system's authority and separation of powers and violate due-process and equal-protection rights. In a concurring opinion, Justice Barbara Pariente emphasized that the law would not affect the Supreme Court's "solemn responsibility" to block executions if needed to ensure that defendants' rights have been protected. Attorneys for Death Row inmates argued that the law violated due-process rights because it would impose deadlines that could affect certain legal proceedings, but the Supreme Court rejected that argument.
FLORIDA SUPREME COURT DENIES APPEAL FROM PASCO MAN ON DEATH ROW -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, June 12, 2014. [Also: CONVICTED PASCO KILLER LOSES DEATH PENALTY APPEAL, FACES EXECUTION -- Tampa Tribune, http://www.tbo.com, June 12, 2013.]
The Florida Supreme Court rejected an appeal from Pasco killer John Ruthell Henry Thursday [June 12], just days before he is set to be executed. Henry, who has been on Death Row for 27 years, is scheduled to die by lethal injection Wednesday [June 18]. Defense attorney Baya Harrison filed a last-minute appeal on the grounds that Henry is intellectually disabled, in response to a recent decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court that said Florida has been misinterpreting the standard for calling a person mentally disabled. The attorney requested at least a hearing to determine Henry's mental capacity and was denied by a lower court. The Florida Supreme Court denied his appeal as well. Harrison called Thursday's decision a disappointing setback and is preparing one final appeal at the federal level.
PONZI SCHEMER ROTHSTEIN'S FORMER PARTNER PLEADS GUILTY IN MIAMI -- Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, June 11, 2014. [Also: FORMER ROTHSTEIN LAW PARTNER ROSENFELDT PLEADS GUILTY -- South Florida Business Journal, http://www.bizjournals.com, June 12, 2014.]
Fort Lauderdale attorney Stuart Rosenfeldt, the onetime law partner of Scott Rothstein, on Wednesday [June 11] pleaded guilty in Miami federal court to a conspiracy charge that he made illegal campaign donations, committed bank fraud and threatened a high-priced prostitute to keep their sexual encounters secret, all unrelated to Rothstein's notorious $1.2 billion investment scam. By pleading guilty to the single conspiracy count, Rosenfeldt will face up to five years in prison at his sentencing on Sept. 24 before U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke. He will also lose his license to practice law, but he avoids the risk of a potential racketeering charge that could have led to stiffer punishment. After his guilty plea, Rosenfeldt became the 21st co-defendant to be convicted in the ongoing Rothstein investigation conducted by the FBI and Internal Revenue Service.