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 14, 2013
DEATH-PENALTY BILL SEEKS UNITED JURY -- Florida Capital News, http://www.tallahassee.com, March 13, 2013.
The death penalty remains on the books in 33 states, and Florida is the only one that allows juries to recommend death sentences by a simple majority vote. Florida's procedures for recommending death sentences have been a perennial topic of newspaper editorials and the subject of an extensive study by The Florida Bar, but legislation that would require unanimous death-sentence recommendations has seen little discussion in the Legislature until this week. A bill by Sen. Thad Altman, R-Viera, would change the state's sentencing laws to require unanimous sentencing recommendations in capital cases. The measure remains a long shot, but it received its first legislative hearing on Monday [March 11].
FLORIDA LEGISLATURE READY TO OUTLAW INTERNET CAFES IN WAKE OF RACKETEERING ARRESTS -- Jacksonville Business Journal, http://www.bizjournals.com, March 14, 2013.
The Internet Cafés that have popped up around the state, which some say are essentially strip mall gaming parlors, appear about to be finished as an industry in Florida. The president of the Senate and the speaker of the House both said Wednesday [March 13] that the cafes should be shut down, and a bill doing that is likely to be heard on the House floor as soon as next week. It would almost assuredly pass there and in the Senate quickly thereafter. Legislative leaders said they wanted the ban hours after state and federal officials announced a massive investigation into the industry, a probe that also led to the resignation of Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, who has done consulting work for the organization at the center of that probe.
--Lawyer Ethics/Legal Discipline--
OFFICIALS: FLA. LAWYER AT CENTER OF $300M SCHEME -- Florida Times-Union, http://www.jacksonville.com, March 14, 2013. [Also: FLA. CHARITY PROBE TO NEXT FOCUS ON CAMPAIGN MONEY -- Florida Times-Union, http://www.jacksonville.com, March 14, 2013]
Articles by The Associated Press. Authorities in Florida say three men are at the center of a scandal involving a purported veterans charity that law enforcement officials say was a $300 million front for illegal gambling. Jacksonville lawyer Kelly Mathis was identified by authorities Wednesday [March 13] as the mastermind of the alleged racketeering scheme, which led to charges this week against nearly 60 people. The Florida Bar has opened a file on Mathis and is investigating. Two other men, Johnny E. Duncan and Jerry Bass, were called "co-conspirators" of the operation by officials. The organization under investigation — Allied Veterans of the World — ran more than 40 Internet parlors offering computer games of chance, until this week. The next phase of an investigation will focus on lobbying and campaign donations, authorities said.
ETHICS COMMISSION CLEARS BOYNTON CITY ATTORNEY -- Palm Beach Post, http://www.palmbeachpost.com, March 14, 2013.
City Attorney James Cherof will not be sanctioned by the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics for the way he handled the infamous video of former Mayor José Rodriguez’ wife talking to police, an interview that indirectly led to Rodriguez’ arrest on political corruption charges. David Floering, a frequent critic of the city in general and Cherof in particular, had filed the complaint on Feb. 13, alleging Cherof “misused his official position” by not releasing the video in a timely manner. The commission’s staff concluded the complaint was “legally insufficient,” and the commission concurred at its March 7 meeting.
--Criminal Justice Issues--
APPEALS COURT LEAVES PAROLE ISSUE TO FLORIDA HIGH COURT; UPHOLDS MARTIN COUNTY YOUTH'S 60-YEAR SENTENCE -- Palm Beach Post, http://www.palmbeachpost.com, March 14, 2013.
Like other appellate courts in Florida, the West Palm Beach-based Fourth District Court of Appeal said Wednesday [March 13] there are serious problems with applying a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision that juveniles can’t be sentenced to life without parole for non-homicide crimes. It upheld a 60-year sentence for Gerardo Guzman, a Martin County youth convicted of multiple violent crimes, and asked the Florida Supreme Court to sort it out. The state high court is already considering several similar cases.
BETTER HANDLING OF NON-VIOLENT FELONS IN FLORIDA -- South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Column, http://www.sun-sentinel.com, March 14, 2013.
Opinion piece by Barney Bishop III, chief executive officer of the Florida Smart Justice Alliance. The Florida Smart Justice Alliance is promoting legislation this year to enhance public safety. Non-violent felons make up a significant portion of Florida's inmate population and Smart Justice is providing these inmates things like behavioral health-care treatment in prison, help getting GEDs, training in job skills and help obtaining government-issued identification cards so they can get jobs. The Alliance recently presented a proposal to the Florida Legislature to provide such treatment. Under their proposal, all prisoners would be housed in one of three secure state prisons and the DOC would still perform each inmate's initial assessment and determine which felons receive treatment.