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.
Oct. 8, 2008
HIGER WINS RUNOFF FOR BOARD OF GOVERNORS SEAT-- Daily Business Review, http://www.dailybusinessreview.com, Oct. 8, 2008.
Aventura litigator Michael Higer carried a runoff election for a seat on The Florida Bar's Board of Governors by 16 votes against Antonio Castro, a former president of the Cuban American Bar Association, who requested a recount shortly after the results were announced Tuesday. Higer had 1,428 votes to Castro's 1,412. The executive committee of the Bar's Board of Governors was set to vote by e-mail on whether to send the race to a recount.
--Lawyer Ethics/Legal Discipline--
FLORIDA HIGH COURT REPRIMANDS 19 LOCAL ATTORNEYS-- South Florida Business Journal, http://southflorida.bizjournals.com, Oct. 8, 2008. [Also: FLORIDA SUPREME COURT SUSPENDS BOCA RATON DEVELOPER FROM PRACTICING LAW-- Sun-Sentinel, http://www.sun-sentinel.com, Oct. 8, 2008].
From the South Florida Business Journal: A wealthy Boca Raton developer, a disgraced sheriff and a former prosecutor are among 19 South Florida attorneys facing discipline by the Florida Supreme Court. Boca Raton developer James Batmasian was suspended from practicing law. Batmasian pleaded guilty to tax evasion in July and was sentenced to eight months in jail, followed by two years of supervised release and a $30,000 fine. He is serving time in a South Carolina federal prison. George Dean Cholakis, a veteran Miami-Dade County prosecutor, was suspended for 91 days, effective 30 days from a Sept. 4 court order. Former Broward Sheriff Kenneth (Ken) Clarence Jenne II, of Fort Lauderdale, has been disbarred for five years, effective retroactive to December 2007.
CORAL SPRINGS ATTORNEY CONSENTS TO DISBARMENT-- Daily Business Review, http://www.dailybusinessreview.com, Oct. 8, 2008.
Coral Springs attorney Laura Hess, a principal in a family of shuttered debt settlement companies accused of scamming consumers, pleaded guilty to violating numerous Florida Bar rules and agreed to be disbarred for five years. The deal reached last week headed off a Bar trial set for this past Monday on a 10-count complaint. The state tracked $20 million moving from the affiliated Hess Kennedy companies to nonclients in less than two years. Hess, who received her law license in 2000 and launched Hess Kennedy LLC in 2003, admitted her debt settlement companies used agreements telling clients that their payments would be deposited into trust accounts for payments to creditors, but no such deposits were made.
ATTORNEY PLACED ON THREE YEARS' PROBATION, BAR ANNOUNCES-- Sarasota Herald-Tribune, http://www.heraldtribune.com, Oct. 8, 2008.
Osprey attorney Peter S. Baranowicz was publicly reprimanded and placed on probation for three years for failures in representing clients and keeping them informed, the Florida Bar announced. The discipline resulted from two 2006 cases.
STATE JUDICIARY: 'YES'-- Sarasota Herald-Tribune, http://www.heraldtribune.com, Oct. 8, 2008. [Also: JUDGES FACING RETENTION VOTE NOV. 4-- Ocala Star Banner, http://www.ocala.com, Oct. 8, 2008].
From the Sarasota Herald-Tribune: "Florida uses a hybrid system to seat seven justices on the state Supreme Court and judges on five district appeals courts. Floridians never directly elect the justices or the 62 appellate court judges seated statewide: The state constitution calls for those members of the judiciary to be appointed by the governor. . . Voters do, however, determine whether those judges remain on the bench after their six-year terms expire. That's why the ballot for the general elections that culminate Nov. 4 includes judicial "merit retention" questions for voters. . . . The judges have at least two things in common, however: They all have been retained by at least 75 percent of voters in previous elections, and all were recommended for retention this year by at least 85 percent of the lawyers who have "considerable knowledge" about their work, according to the Florida Bar poll."
ASHENAFI RICHARDSON IS TOP CHOICE-- Tallahassee Democrat, editorial, http://www.tallahassee.com, Oct. 8, 2008.
The Tallahassee Democrat endorses a candidate for Leon County Judge, Seat 5.
--Civil Justice Issues--
FLORIDA TO GET $3.6 MILLION IN ELI LILLY SETTLEMENT-- Jacksonville Business Journal, http://jacksonville.bizjournals.com, Oct. 8, 2008.
Florida will get $3.6 million of a landmark $62 million that drug maker Eli Lilly and Co. has agreed to pay to 32 states to settle claims that it improperly marketed Zyprexa, a drug used to treat schizophrenia. It is the largest multistate consumer protection-based pharmaceutical settlement, even larger than the $58 million agreement reached in May with Merck & Co. regarding its product Vioxx. The litigation alleged that Eli Lilly engaged in unfair and deceptive practices by marketing the drug for uses other than treating schizophrenia. The company also allegedly failed to adequately disclose the medication’s potential side effects to health care providers.
JUDGE ORDERS 17 GUANTANAMO DETAINEES FREED-- The Gainesville Sun, http://www.gainesville.com, Oct. 8, 2008.
A federal judge on Tuesday [Oct. 7] ordered the Bush administration to release 17 detainees at Guantánamo Bay by the end of the week, the first such ruling in nearly seven years of legal disputes over the administration's detention policies. The judge, Ricardo M. Urbina of Federal District Court, ordered that the 17 men be brought to his courtroom on Friday [Oct. 10] from the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where they have been held since 2002. He indicated that he would release the men, members of the restive Uighur Muslim minority in western China, into the care of supporters in the United States, initially in the Washington area. The ruling was a sharp setback for the administration, which has waged a long legal battle to defend its policies of detention at the naval base at Guantánamo Bay, arguing a broad executive power in waging war.
--Criminal Justice Issues--
JUDGE RAISES CONCERN OVER WEEKEND WORK PROGRAM-- The Tampa Tribune, http://www.tbo.com, Oct. 8, 2008.
Highlands County Court Judge Anthony Ritenour will not allow inmates to serve jail time on the weekend work release program until changes are implemented. Defendants who have already been sentenced, however, will continue to have access to the program. Ritenour said the "integrity of the weekend work release program has been severely compromised," in an Oct. 1 letter to the Highlands County Sheriff's Office. Sheriff's Detention Maj. David Paeplow said Ritenour's concerns stemmed from procedures not being followed by Levon Stukes, one of the detention deputies.
COURT IN MIAMI BEACH TO REOPEN JAN. 1 IN OLD CITY HALL-- The Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, Oct. 8, 2008.
Miami Beach residents will soon be able to contest parking tickets, dispute issues with their landlord and get married in front of a judge without having to trek to the downtown Miami courthouse. The Miami Beach branch of the Miami-Dade court system is coming back to Miami Beach's Old City Hall after an almost three-year absence. Scheduled opening: Jan. 1. The move makes it convenient for residents, police, lawyers and court officials from Miami Beach and nearby Northeast-Dade municipalities to deal with legal matters close to home. Old City Hall closed in 2006 for extensive structural repairs. Contractors finished the $7 million makeover last month.