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.
April 4, 2013
TALBOT 'SANDY' D'ALEMBERTE TO SPEAK AT WESTMINISTER OAKS -- Tallahassee Democrat, http://www.tallahassee.com, April 4, 2013.
Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte will speak about “International Human Rights Law and American Exceptionalism” on Tuesday, April 9, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Maguire Center at Westminster Oaks in Tallahassee. A former president of the American Bar Association (1991-92), D'Alemberte served as dean of Florida State University College of Law from 1984 to 1989 and was appointed president of Florida State University in 1993, serving in that capacity through January 2003. This event, sponsored by the Forum of Westminster Oaks, is free and open to the public.
OUTSPOKEN JUDGE APOLOGIZES, FACES REBUKE, $3,000 FINE -- Palm Beach Post, http://www.palmbeachpost.com, April 4, 2013.
Palm Beach County Court Judge Barry Cohen has admitted he shouldn’t have railed about racial profiling from the bench, publicly questioned the state attorney’s decision to bring minor cases to trial or written letters to the editor about political races. He will accept a public reprimand for his misdeeds. In papers filed Wednesday [April 3] with the Florida Supreme Court, he admitted he violated a canon that requires judges to avoid the appearance of impropriety. The Florida Supreme Court does not have to accept the settlement or the recommendation from the Judicial Qualifications Commission that Cohen be publicly reprimanded and ordered to pay the $3,000 it spent on the investigation, but in the majority of cases the high court accepts the recommendations.
STATES MAKING IT HARDER TO GET TIMELY JUSTICE -- USA Today, Column, http://www.usatoday.com, March 27, 2013.
Bert Brandenburg, the executive director of Justice at Stake, was featured in USA Today discussing changes to state judicial selection systems, which would make them more closely resemble the federal process. Brandenburg writes, “Lawmakers in Kansas and Tennessee voted earlier this month to give governors authority to pick appellate judges, subject to legislative confirmation. Oklahoma’s Senate approved a similar shift. These initiatives would dismantle merit-based selection, a system aimed at keeping campaign cash and politics out of courtrooms and giving every American a fair day in court.” He explains, “States with merit selection rely on nonpartisan nominating commissions to put a list of candidates before the governor, who chooses from it. In many merit selection states, citizens then periodically vote on whether to keep these judges.” Brandenburg concludes, “America's state courts handle 98% of all lawsuits. While these courts are engines of equal justice and economic stability, they're facing mounting budget stress and political pressure. Will state courts really benefit from U.S. Senate-style confirmation politics right now?”
BILL TO END ALIMONY DRAWS ACRIMONIOUS DEBATE IN TALLAHASSEE -- Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, April 4, 2013.
Lawmakers are considering a bill that would put an end to permanent alimony payments, and allow the courts to modify existing arrangements between former spouses. The bill would also require judges to give divorced parents equal custody of their children, unless one parent could make a convincing case otherwise. Proponents of the proposal say it would not end alimony altogether but make it more fair. But the idea has met fierce opposition from lawyers and people who stand to lose their alimony benefits. David Manz, a Marathon-based attorney and immediate past chair of the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar, called the bill anti-family and anti-woman. He said it punishes women who stay at home by pushing them back into the workforce in the aftermath of a divorce.
THURSDAY'S LETTERS: LAWMAKERS VS. LAWYERS -- Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Letter to the Editor, http://www.heraldtribune.com, April 4, 2013.
Norman Vaughan-Birch, the elected member of The Florida Bar Board of Governors from the 12th Judicial Circuit (Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties), replies to a March 31 letter. He writes, "The writer makes an assumption which simply is not accurate. He says "we need not look too far to realize a large number of the Legislature are attorneys." In reality, of the 159 members of the Legislature only 42 are members of The Florida Bar and some do not actively practice law."
FLORIDA PHYSICIANS CLOSER TO MEDICAL MALPRACTICE BILL -- South Florida Business Journal, (requires subscription), http://www.bizjournals.com, April 4, 2013.
The Florida Medical Association is one step closer to passing a medical malpractice bill after it was approved by the Senate Rules Committee on Tuesday [April 2]. The bill contains a trio of changes the FMA has made a top priority for years, including limiting who qualifies as an expert witness in a medical negligence case. Current law allows a physician who specializes in a similar specialty and who has prior experience treating the patient to qualify as a medical expert. The bill would strike that and allow only those with the same specialty to offer testimony. The bill cleared the committee by a comfortable nine-vote margin despite opposition from some members of the committee. It is now available for the full Senate to consider.
--Criminal Justice Issues--
PALM BEACH COUNTY JUDGE CALLS BACK JURY IN SHOOTING OF 15-YEAR-OLD -- Palm Beach Post, http://www.palmbeachpost.com, April 4, 2013.
Circuit Judge Karen Miller is taking the first steps to untangle a murder trial that became snarled after a jury in January found two men guilty of the 2011 shooting death of a 15-year-old South Bay youth. In an unusual move, all 12 jurors and two alternates will be summoned back to court to be quizzed about whether they had made up their minds about the guilt of half-brothers Dexter Dukes, 22, and Kareem Williams, 19, before they began deliberations. If she decides jurors violated the age-old prohibition, the Belle Glade men could win a new trial. Her action was spurred after one of the jurors said in a signed affidavit that she had a “terrible concern that the verdict that the jury reached was not fair.”