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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.

March 30, 2017

FLORIDA COULD BE THE FIRST STATE IN THE NATION TO PUT TERM LIMITS ON JUDGES

Miami Herald | Article | March 29, 2017

A proposed constitutional amendment that would force justices on the Florida Supreme Court and judges on state appellate courts out of office after 12 years barely passed the Florida House on Wednesday [March 29]. The measure, which would be the first of its kind in the country, is opposed by The Florida Bar, business groups and conservative and liberal lawyers. To make it into the state Constitution, it needs to pass the Florida Senate, where it has not been given a single committee hearing, and gain 60 percent of voters' support. It passed 73-46 in the House. Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R-Mount Dora, says the amendment (HJR 1) would give greater accountability to the judicial branch. Opponents say term limits will lead to a lack of expertise on the bench, high turnover and inconsistent rulings.

CROWD COMES OUT FOR 1ST FLORIDA CONSTITUTION HEARING AT UCF

Orlando Sentinel | Article | March 29, 2017

The Constitution Revision Commission's first public hearing Wednesday [March 29] night at the University of Central Florida drew a crowd that overflowed the 200-seat meeting room, then overflowed the 86-seat overflow room, and then filled the hallway of the Fairwinds Alumni Center. More than 100 people signed up to speak. Most of them offered recommendations on changing the Florida Constitution, with wants ranging from restoration of felons' rights, to closure of a perceived loophole in order to help regulate abortions; from abolishing Florida's right-to-work status, to preventing judges from overturning elections. Some complained about the commission itself and its rules, claiming its policies override some of Florida's Sunshine laws. Chairman Carlos Beruff stuck to his promise to just listen, even if other commissioners complained about such things as applause for speakers interrupting proceedings.

LEGISLATURE TRIES TO TURN THE TABLES ON JUDGES IN REDISTRICTING CASES

Tampa Bay Times | Article | March 29, 2017

The House Public Integrity and Ethics Committee on Wednesday [March 29] passed legislation to create new hurdles to legal challenges to the maps lawmakers draw. The panel voted to change the implementation of the anti-gerrymandering provisions of the state constitution, which subjected the Legislature to years of litigation and an admission that they intentionally drew districts that favored incumbents and parties in violation of the law. Under the amendment, any challenges to a redistricting map would have to occur within 60 days after the maps are passed, effectively short-circuiting the time challengers can obtain records and documents to prepare a case. The bill also suspends any litigation that occurs 71 days before candidates qualify for election and freezes the districts in place until after the election. In addition, the bill subjects judges to cross-examination.

U.S. SUPREME COURT NEEDS TO OPEN ORAL ARGUMENTS TO TV

Florida Times-Union | Editorial | March 28, 2017

The editorial supports a bill that calls for public airings of U.S. Supreme Court arguments in open sessions. From the editorial: "The few negatives of allowing cameras in the open sessions before the Supreme Court would be overwhelmed by the advantages of seeing the legal system at its best. . . . Florida's experience shows that cameras in the court work well. Cameras have been allowed in Florida courts since 1979, and live coverage has been allowed since 1997. . . . The American Bar Association supports cameras in the Supreme Court, saying the closed policy nurtures distrust of the judiciary, hinders development of legal talent and is inconsistent with the spirit of openness contained in the First Amendment. . . . The Supreme Court, like most other institutions these days, is suffering from a lack of public confidence. Seeing the best and brightest legal minds in action will help."

NATIONAL LGBT BAR ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT SAYS GROUP HAS 'A LOT OF WORK TO DO'

Daily Business Review | Article | March 27, 2017

Several months ago, the National Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Bar Association announced that Akerman associate Dale Noll would become the groups' president. Noll began his term this month. The National LGBT Bar Association is primarily a professional networking group­ -- not an advocacy group. But how the current political climate ultimately will affect the practice of law and legal professionals remains to be seen. The Daily Business Review talked to Noll, who is based in South Florida, about the role the association will play to ensure that protections for LGBT people remain.

SOUTH FLORIDA'S LEGAL BILLING RATES REMAIN STABLE; SMALLER FIRMS GET MORE THAN HALF THE WORK

Daily Business Review | Article | March 29, 2017

Lawyer billing rates in the South Florida market grew more slowly than in most large markets through 2015, and a larger percentage of the work went to smaller law firms, according to an analysis of legal invoices from nearly 100 companies compiled by the legal management firm Wolters Kluwer ELM Solutions. The report showed that corporations used lawyers from smaller firms in the Miami area more often than they did in other large markets. The report also showed that larger firms have higher billing rates, while the smaller firms offer more competitive prices.

UF LEVIN COLLEGE OF LAW RAISES AWARENESS FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Independent Florida Alligator | Article | March 28, 2017

As part of its No More Silence, No More Violence event, the University of Florida Levin College of Law hopes to give students, faculty, lawyers and judges a platform to discuss stalking, domestic violence, sexual violence and intimate partner violence. The two-day-long event began Tuesday [March 28]. Student organizations have booths in the college's courtyard and organizers are passing out purple ribbons to show their support. Leif Stringer, a resource counselor at Levin, said the first-ever event was inspired by a student who was a survivor of sexual assault, who visited his office and talked about the topic with him.

FLORIDA AUTO INSURERS DENIED REHEARING BY STATE SUPREME COURT

Orlando Sentinel | Article | March 29, 2017

The Florida Supreme Court this week rejected a request from medical providers that the court revisit a dispute about payments by Allstate Insurance Company to care for auto-accident victims. In a 5-1 decision, the justices said they would not rehear the dispute. The Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision Jan. 26, ruled in favor of Allstate in the underlying dispute, which focused on the personal-injury protection insurance system and attempts by Allstate to reimburse providers under fee schedules from the Medicare program. The Fourth District Court of Appeal, in a 2015 ruling that involved 32 consolidated cases, backed the providers. But the Jan. 26 Supreme Court opinion said Allstate's policies provided "legally sufficient notice" that the insurer would use the Medicare fee schedules.

JUDGE STRIKES DOWN MIAMI BEACH’S MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE

Miami Herald | Article | March 28, 2017

Miami Beach's new minimum wage law, which aims to raise the mandatory citywide wage to $13.31 by 2021, was struck down in Miami-Dade circuit court Tuesday [March 28], setting the stage for an escalation in the legal showdown. The Florida Retail Federation, Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association and Florida Chamber of Commerce filed suit against the city in December over the city law, arguing that it is preempted by state law. Later, state Attorney General Pam Bondi filed a motion to intervene to defend the constitutionality of the state preemption law. Judge Peter Lopez invalidated the ordinance, ruling in favor of the alliance of the state and the statewide business groups. Robert Rosenwald, first assistant city attorney, said the city wants to skip the appellate court and go straight to the Florida Supreme Court with the case.

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