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. 10, 2013
--The Florida Bar--
EMAIL SCAM TARGETS IOTA ACCOUNTS -- The Florida Bar News, http://www.flabar.org, Oct. 15, 2013.
John Kinas, IT director for the District of Columbia Bar, reported that on Oct. 7 the D.C. Bar’s filtering systems detected and blocked numerous email messages addressed to employees bearing a forged firstname.lastname@example.org return addresses with a message alleging that the recipient’s IOLTA account has insufficient funds to pay an outstanding check, and includes a file attachment that is presumed to contain malware. “There is a strong possibility that these messages are part of a broader phishing attack targeted to legal professionals,” said Kinas. Jane Curran, executive director of The Florida Bar Foundation – which oversees Florida’s IOTA program – said payees of checks written on IOTA accounts would not email any state bar, IOLTA program, or trust account holder with such a request.
BLACKS LACK PRESENCE ON FEDERAL APPELLATE COURT -- Miami Herald, Opinion Column, http://www.miamiherald.com, Oct. 10, 2013.
Column by Leslie Proll, director of the D.C. Office at NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. Proll discusses federal judicial nominations, calling the confirmation process "broken," noting that Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has blocked the nomination of William Thomas to Florida's federal district court. Thomas is the first openly gay African-American nominee to any federal court. Proll writes that "this obstruction, in the face of a superbly qualified candidate, is cause for great concern. But it is not the only issue looming for Florida's federal judiciary. Another issue concerns the racial diversity of judges on the federal appellate court that serves Florida, Georgia and Alabama, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit"
APPLICANTS SOUGHT TO FILL JUDICIAL VACANCY -- Lakeland Ledger, http://www.theledger.com, Oct. 10, 2013.
Applications are being accepted to fill a vacancy on the local bench. Circuit Judge Harvey Kornstein is retiring Dec. 31. Applications to fill the vacancy are being accepted by the 10th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission, which will interview and select potential candidates to submit to the governor's office. The deadline to apply is Oct. 30. Circuit judges for the 10th Judicial Circuit oversee cases in Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties. They serve six-year terms.
JQC PANEL WRAPS UP HAWKINS HEARING -- The Florida Current, http://www.thefloridacurrent.com, Oct. 9, 2013. [Also: JUDICIAL QUALIFICATIONS COMMISSION BEGINS DELIBERATIONS IN HAWKINS CASE -- Tallahassee Democrat, http://www.tallahassee.com, Oct. 10, 2013.]
Greg Miller, the former U.S. attorney presenting the case against Leon County Judge Judith Hawkins, asked a judicial panel to consider removing Hawkins from the bench Wednesday [Oct. 9] for repeated abuse of her public office and "lack of candor" in the investigation of her courtroom conduct. But former Florida chief justice Gerald Kogan argued, however, that Hawkins has done a lot of good for students and poor people. Kogan said that Hawkins did not mislead investigators or withhold computer messages or other documents sought by the Judicial Qualifications Commission. Hawkins, a county judge for 16 years, was charged by JQC investigators with failing to conduct herself in a manner reflecting well on the judiciary. The JQC hearing panel will make recommendations in a few weeks.
--Civil Justice Issues--
MIAMI ATTORNEYS ARGUE THEY SHOULD CONTINUE REPRESENTING FLIGHT ATTENDANTS IN TOBACCO CASE -- Daily Business Review (requires subscription), http://www.dailybusinessreview.com, Oct. 10, 2013.
Arguing under the threat of disciplinary action, attorneys Philip Gerson of Gerson & Schwartz and Steven Hunter of Hunter Williams & Lynch asked the Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday [Oct. 9] to allow them to continue representing flight attendants seeking court review of a $300 million settlement in a secondhand-smoke exposure case. Some attendants and the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute asked the court to quash the Third District Court of Appeal decision allowing the attorneys to stay in the case. Chief Justice Ricky Polston indicated during arguments that the attorneys may face discipline from The Florida Bar if the court rules for their disqualification. On rebuttal, FAMRI attorney John S. Mills said the opposing attorneys lied repeatedly during argument and in their briefs. He argued the Gerson and Hunter firms were warned by clients not to take action against their interests. He accused them of improperly withdrawing from representing clients who objected.
FORECLOSURE BILL FALLOUT CONTINUES, BREAK FOR BORROWERS -- Palm Beach Post (requires subscription), http://www.pbpost.com, Oct. 10, 2013.
Palm Beach County’s struggling borrowers caught another break last month as steep drops in new foreclosure filings continued after the July 1 start of Florida’s fast-track foreclosure law. Statewide, new foreclosure filings dropped 59 percent from last year but were up 16 percent from August, as measured by a RealtyTrac report to be released today [Oct. 10]. The new law, which was the first substantial foreclosure-related legislation passed since the housing crisis began, allows any lien holder to ask for a court hearing that will hasten the foreclosure process. But it also requires lenders to have specific paperwork when they first file to foreclose. Oppenheim said the slowdown in filings will add to that backlog once lenders get their paperwork to jibe with the new law. Not everyone believes the new foreclosure law is the reason for the dip in filings. Ken Thomas, a Miami-based bank consultant and economist, said economic improvement, not a document dilemma, is driving the decrease.
'STAND YOUR GROUND' REVISIONS WIN EARLY APPROVAL IN SENATE -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, Oct. 10, 2013.
A Senate panel took the first step toward amending the "stand your ground" self-defense law Tuesday [Oct. 8], approving a bill that would revamp neighborhood watch programs. The proposal, sponsored by Sens. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, and Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, won bipartisan support on the Senate Judiciary Committee. It also received nods from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Florida Sheriffs Association, the state public defenders association and the NAACP. But Rep. Matt Gaetz, the House point person on "stand your ground," has said he opposes any changes to change the law. The bill considered Tuesday would require guidelines and training protocol for neighborhood watch programs.