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. 9, 2013
LAW SCHOOL STUDENTS ACE BAR EXAMS -- Florida A&M Famuan, http://www.thefamuanonline.com, Oct. 9, 2013.
Florida A&M College of Law had a 70 percent passing rate for more than 150 students who took the Bar exam in July, beating state averages. That was the highest passing rate for such a large group. FAMU’s College of Law was recently under review by the American Bar Association for the quality of its program. The association said that the school was not meeting the criteria to stay accredited. The Orlando-based college of law recently made some changes to its program. LeRoy Pernell, dean of the College of Law, and Alicia Jackson, director of academic success and bar preparation, implemented a fee included in the students’ tuition to ensure all students had access to a Bar exam prep class. Assistant Dean of Admissions John Washington said the overall group of July test takers was advancing towards a “steady mark of improvement.”
FEWER JOBS, HIGHER COSTS KEEP STUDENTS FROM STUDYING LAW -- Lakeland Ledger, http://www.theledger.com, Oct. 9, 2013.
Original article from San Jose Mercury News. Across the country last year, 46,000 newly minted law school graduates hit the job market bearing the crushing weight of their student-loan debts. Nine months later, only 27,000 had found full-time jobs as lawyers. Once considered a sure bet for a stable, well-compensated career, law has become a riskier gamble. Not only is it harder to become a lawyer now; it also has become much more costly. Would-be applicants are taking note; across the country, the number of people applying to law school has fallen by nearly a third since 2010, the lowest number in more than a decade. Last week, an American Bar Association task force described the crisis in stark terms, noting mounting financial pressures on law schools, high student debt and years of sharply falling applications. The report called for sweeping changes in legal education, such as greater flexibility in what law schools must teach and how, and new licensing programs for basic legal services now too expensive for most Americans to afford.
WITH MERGER, TAMPA LAW FIRM CARLTON FIELDS TO GROW TO 370 ATTORNEYS, CONSULTANTS -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, Oct. 8, 2013. [Also: CARLTON FIELDS MERGING WITH 60-LAWYER FIRM, COMBINING MIAMI OFFICE -- South Florida Business Journal, http://www.bizjournals.com, Oct. 8, 2013.]
Carlton Fields, a major Tampa law firm with 300 attorneys and consultants, said it plans to merge with the 70-attorney Jorden Burt law firm. Initially, the name of the combined firm will be Carlton Fields Jorden Burt with 10 offices. Carlton Fields chief executive officer Gary Sasso will serve as CEO of the combined firm. Jorden Burt operates from three offices in Washington, D.C., Miami and Hartford, Conn. The deal, whose terms were not disclosed, is expected to close in early 2014.
CIRCUIT JUDGE JACK SINGBUSH TO RETIRE -- Ocala Star-Banner, http://www.ocala.com, Oct. 9, 2013.
Circuit Judge Jack Singbush recently announced his resignation, informing Gov. Rick Scott in a one-page letter that he intends to leave office on Jan. 3. The judge's decision comes just 10 months before the August primaries, when voters would decide whether to give Singbush a fifth term on the bench. "I've spent my entire adult life helping other people, and now I want some time for me and my family," Singbush, 62, said in an interview Tuesday [Oct. 8]. In his letter to Scott, which the Star-Banner obtained Tuesday, Singbush wrote that serving the people of the 5th Judicial Circuit had been "one of my greatest professional honors and achievements." Singbush first ran for election in 1990, ousting Circuit Judge Wallace Sturgis, an 18-year incumbent. He took office in January 1991.
JURY'S CONDUCT, JUDGE'S ACTIONS IN DRESHAWNA DAVIS CASE CONCERN FLORIDA SUPREME COURT -- Florida Times-Union (requires subscription), http://www.jacksonville.com, Oct. 9, 2013.
One of the jurors who convicted Rasheem Dubose of the first-degree murder of 8-year-old Dreshawna Davis was so disturbed by what happened while the jury was deliberating that she ended up contacting two attorneys and attempted to speak to the judge before Dubose was sent to Death Row. The actions were enough to alarm the Florida Supreme Court during Dubose’s appeal Tuesday [Oct. 8] in Tallahassee. Dubose’s attorney told the Florida Supreme Court that his death sentence should be set aside and the murder conviction thrown out because of juror misconduct. Justice Barbara Pariente expressed concern about the possibility that jurors were making racist comments while deliberating and wondered why Circuit Judge L. Page Haddock didn’t mention the issue at all when he denied Dubose’s motion for a new trial. Justices expressed puzzlement over the case, but did not indicate which way they would rule.
--Lawyer Ethics/Legal Discipline--
SCHOOL BOARD ATTORNEY DORAN AGREES TO 60-DAY SUSPENSION FOR BAR VIOLATIONS -- Daytona Beach News-Journal, http://www.news-journalonline.com, Oct. 9, 2013.
Ted Doran, the prominent and outspoken Daytona Beach attorney whose firm represents Volusia County Schools, will serve a 60-day Florida Bar suspension as punishment for a series of Bar complaints against him, according to a plea filed this week with the Florida Supreme Court. The suspension won’t take effect until the Supreme Court approves it. It would resolve three separate complaints that stem from Doran’s lawyering in a 2006 divorce case, his personal relations with another divorce client in 2010 and his flirtations with an opposing lawyer at a recent trial in Miami. In his plea document, Doran admitted violating the oath and rules of the Bar.
SECOND COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GULFCOAST LEGAL SERVICES DIRECTOR -- Sarasota Herald-Tribune, http://www.heraldtribune.com, Oct. 9, 2013.
A second Gulfcoast Legal Services staffer has resigned and filed a complaint with The Florida Bar alleging that the nonprofit's executive director, Kathleen Mullin, practiced law without a license. The Florida Bar confirmed Tuesday [Oct. 8] that an unlicensed practice of law complaint has been filed against Mullin — the second such complaint lodged against the director in recent months. The specific allegations were not released. The Bar itself initiated an investigation against Mullin after reading a series of stories about her firing of Elizabeth Boyle, the longtime head of Gulfcoast's Sarasota office, and allegations that Mullin had made legal decisions even though she is not admitted to The Florida Bar. Mullin's firing of Boyle, and dozens of volunteer lawyers who worked with her, has drawn criticism from Southwest Florida's legal community, county officials and the public.