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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.

April 8, 2013

--Judiciary--

JUDGES GET FREE SPEECH, TOO, THIRD CIRCUIT RULES -- Daily Business Review, (requires subscription), http://www.dailybusinessreview.com, April 6, 2013.
Without clear direction from the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has decided that judicial opinions enjoy First Amendment protections of free speech. "The First Amendment prevents the government from criminally punishing a sitting judge's speech about one of his pending cases unless it poses a clear and present danger to the administration of justice," wrote Third Circuit Judge D. Brooks Smith on behalf of the three-judge panel. The Third Circuit reversed the decision of the Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands, which had held Virgin Islands Superior Court Judge Leon Kendall, now retired, in criminal contempt for an opinion he issued in a contentious case over which he was presiding involving the death of a police officer.

--Legislature--

BUDGET FOR CLERKS OF COURT IS BIG DILEMMA FOR STATE OF FLORIDA -- Florida Times-Union, http://www.jacksonville.com, April 8, 2013.
Legislative budget-writers this year are determined to strike a deal with clerks of court who have had to “beg” lawmakers for additional cash. The clerks run day-to-day operations at county courthouses such as records management, processing appeals and collecting fines, among other things. Since a 2009 change, the Legislature has been responsible for funding the budget. Prior to that, the county-based system was funded by court-related fees it collecteda change that has sparked big money problems. As it has in recent years, the House has proposed pulling the clerks completely from the state budget. On the Senate side, lawmakers want to largely remove the clerks from the state budget but hang onto a fraction of the system’s funding stream. Removing the clerks from the state budget is a move that will have to be done over the opposition of The Florida Bar and state judges. They oppose the clerks’ budget returning to a “revenue-based” structure because they fear it could lead to increased costs limiting access to the courts.

BILL EXTENDS MANDATORY RETIREMENT AGE FOR FLORIDA JUDGES BY 5 YEARS -- Jacksonville Business Journal, (requires subscription), http://www.bizjournals.com, April 8, 2013.
There is a bid again this year to try to increase the retirement age of Florida’s judges and justices. A Senate committee on Monday [April 8] is scheduled to hear a proposed constitutional amendment that, if approved by voters, would raise the mandatory retirement age from 70 to 75. Sen. Rod Bradley, R-Fleming Island, and an attorney who was first elected to the Florida Senate in 2012, is pushing the effort, and his bill has one major change from last year’s version. The higher retirement age would only apply to justices and judges appointed or elected after the amendment takes effect. That major change means it would not apply to any of the current members of the Florida Supreme Court.

--Criminal Justice Issues--

MIAMI-DADE'S COLDEST COLD CASE MAY BE HEATING UP -- Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, April 7, 2013.
There was a time when it was the biggest mystery in South Florida. In the early-morning hours of March 28, 1966, a portly, graying gunman broke into the Surfside house that 17-year-old Danny Goldman shared with his mother and father. The attacker left with Danny, threatening to kill the teen if the Goldmans didn't come up with $25,000 by that evening. The kidnapper never called for the ransom, and Danny Goldman was never seen again. The crime, which occurred 47 years ago this past Thursday [April 4], remains unsolved. Now a group of volunteers - friends and alums of Miami Beach Senior High, where Danny went to school - are trying to bring new attention to the once-famous kidnapping. Leading the cause is attorney Paul Novack, the former mayor of Surfside. The cold-case unit at the Miami-Dade Police Department thought there was enough information to reopen the long-dormant case last year.

--Other--

STEWART STILL IN CHARGE AS FORT LAUDERDALE ATTORNEY SEARCH CONTINUES -- South Florida Sun-Sentinel, http://www.sun-sentinel.com, April 7, 2013.
It has been more than a year since Fort Lauderdale City Attorney Harry Stewart “retired,” but he’s still the one making decisions in the City Attorney’s Office, collecting a pension in addition to the salary he takes in as the city’s top-paid employee. The search committee charged with finding his replacement is getting closer to a recommendation. On April 10 and 11, it will interview 10 candidates for the position. The search committee will meet again on April  17 to recommend three to five finalists and forward their names to commissioners, city spokesman Chaz Adams said.

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[Revised: 04-09-2013]