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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.

Feb. 27, 2014

--The Florida Bar--

FLORIDA BAR TASK FORCE TO STUDY HOW DIVERSITY ON THE BENCH, APPOINTMENT PANELS CAN BE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE STATE -- The Florida Bar, http://www.floridabar.org, Feb. 26, 2014. [Also: REACTING TO SCOTT'S CHOICES, FLORIDA BAR FORMS PANEL ON DIVERSITY -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, Feb. 26, 2014; RETIRED VOLUSIA JUDGE ON DIVERSITY TASK FORCE -- Daytona Beach News-Journal, http://www.news-journalonline.com, Feb. 27, 2014.]
Focusing on how Florida can bolster diversity among its judges and the commissions that nominate qualified judicial candidates is the mission of a new task force appointed by Florida Bar President Eugene K. Pettis. The President’s Task Force to Study the Enhancement of Diversity on the Bench and the Judicial Nominating Commissions will work to determine why diverse candidates are not applying for appointment to the JNCs nor for judgeships. The 10-member task force is headed by Frank P. Scruggs II of Fort Lauderdale. This year, the Bar is nominating candidates for two seats on each of the 26 JNCs. Pettis said the Bar extended its original Feb. 11 application deadline to March 21 to allow for additional recruitment of JNC applicants from the Bar membership.

--Legal Profession--

LAW DEAN CANDIDATES DOWN TO THREE -- Gainesville Sun, http://www.gainesville.com, Feb. 27, 2014.
The search for the next dean of the University of Florida Levin College of Law has been narrowed to three people: David Brennen, the current dean of the University Kentucky College of Law, a Florida native and UF alumnus; Sam Donaldson, a law professor at Georgia State University and a former associate dean at the University of Washington College of Law, who got his master of laws degree from UF Law; and David Huebner, a former ambassador to New Zealand and a managing partner in two large international law firms, who has an Ivy League pedigree. Eliminated from the running, despite strong support from two alumni members of the search committee, was Alexander Acosta, the current dean of the Florida International University College of Law and a former U.S. prosecutor in Miami, due to overwhelmingly negative reaction by the law faculty. Scott Hawkins, an UF alum member of the search committee and past president of The Florida Bar, said faculty opinion should be weighed along with the candidates' records, resumes, letters and the answers given during interviews.

TALLAHASSEE BAR ASSOCIATION AND LEGAL AID FOUNDATION HOST 18TH ANNUAL CHILI COOK OFF -- Tallahassee Democrat, http://www.tallahassee.com, Feb. 27, 2014.
The 18th Annual Tallahassee Bar Association and Legal Aid Foundation Chili Cook Off held on Wednesday, Jan. 29 enjoyed a record turn-out. TBA and LAF salute everyone who braved the weather to enjoy the great music, food, and drink, making this one of their most successful Chili Cook Offs in years. Sixteen teams comprised of over 120 total team members brought their best chili and margarita recipes to compete in five award categories.

FORMER GULFCOAST ATTORNEY FILES WHISTLEBLOWER SUIT -- Sarasota Herald Tribune, http://www.heraldtribune.com, Feb. 27, 2014.
Elizabeth Boyle, the former head of Gulfcoast Legal Services' Sarasota office, has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the St. Petersburg-based nonprofit. The suit came after Boyle's request to be reinstated as a staff attorney was rejected by Gulfcoast. Boyle had sought to rejoin the firm after the departure of Kathleen Mullin, Gulfcoast's former executive director, who left abruptly this month. Mullin fired Boyle in May. Boyle contends her dismissal stemmed from a federal age discrimination complaint she filed four months earlier, and for her refusal to drop a case involving a quadriplegic woman whom she hoped to assist in finding longterm care. Boyle alleges Mullin discriminated against her because of her age. Because she filed the federal age discrimination complaint, in addition to bringing to light “unlawful behavior,” Boyle contends she qualifies for whistleblower protections, and is seeking reinstatement and back pay, or, in lieu of reinstatement, compensatory damages, costs and fees.

--Judiciary--

JUDICIAL CHARGES FILED AGAINST CIRCUIT JUDGE -- Gainesville Sun, http://www.gainesville.com, Feb. 27, 2014.
Third Circuit Judge Andrew Decker III faces formal judicial charges on allegations that he lied during a campaign debate and spoke of his Christian beliefs, Republican Party affiliation and anti-abortion positions in violation of state standards, according to the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission. The filing states that an investigative panel found that probable cause exists for the formal charges to be brought against Decker, who has served as a circuit judge since January 2013. A statement made by Decker during his campaign where he stated that he would not leave his Christians beliefs aside if elected allegedly violates several judicial canons, the report states, including Canon 2 that a judge shall not allow family, social, political or other relationships to influence the judge's judicial conduct or judgment. Decker has 20 days to file a written answer to the charges.

--Legislature--

ELISHA ROY: DIVORCE 'REFORM' WILL HURT SPOUSES AND FAMILIES -- Tallahassee Democrat, http://www.tallahassee.com, Feb. 26, 2014.
The column was written by the chair of the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar, Elisha D. Roy. She writes, "Recently unveiled by advocates for so-called 'reform' in family law, a new movie called 'Divorce Corp' attempts to portray divorce as a multibillion-dollar industry, foisted upon society by greedy lawyers and judges . . . The Family Law Section of The Florida Bar has always supported eliminating long and drawn-out fights, and, to that end, the section is actively involved in drafting legislation to create a more family-friendly legal process . . . The alimony law proposed and passed in 2013, and vetoed by the governor, was a lawyer relief act, virtually begging for litigation in every case. If that law had been enacted, family law attorneys would have reaped a tremendous financial benefit. But it would have detrimentally affected a tremendous number of spouses and families. That is not our goal. We represent all Florida's citizens, not just those who seek to change the laws for their personal benefit."

--Criminal Justice System--

ZIMMERMAN LAWYER SEEKS CHANGE IN FLORIDA TRIALS ON 'STAND YOUR GROUND' LAW -- South Florida Sun-Sentinel, http://www.sun-sentinel.com, Feb. 27, 2014.
By Reuters. Attorney Mark O'Mara, who represented acquitted killer George Zimmerman, said the rules for Florida murder trials should be changed so jurors are only instructed to consider the lenient standards of the state's "stand your ground" self-defense law when a case merits it. O'Mara said he will send to The Florida Bar this week a proposal to let judges decide when juries should be instructed to consider stand your ground. O'Mara said his proposal was "a nice polishing of the jury instructions that will address people's concerns that juries are getting confused about stand your ground when it's not appropriate." O'Mara's proposal may not be so easy to implement, other legal analysts said.

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[Revised: 02-28-2014]