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.
June 25, 2014
--The Florida Bar--
THIS WEST PALM BEACH LITIGATOR TO TAKE OVER FLORIDA BAR LEADERSHIP -- Daily Business Review (requires subscription), http://www.dailybusinessreview.com, June 24, 2014.
West Palm Beach litigator Greg Coleman was drawn to a career as a trial lawyer after wandering into a Volusia County courtroom one day when he was 19 to pay a traffic ticket. Fast forward 32 years, and Coleman will be sworn in Friday [June 27] as president of the nation's third-largest bar with nearly 100,000 members. Coleman wants to be known as the technology president. His primary platform is to make technology choices easily available to new and small-firm lawyers who may not have access to the latest technology or information technology assistance. In becoming the 66th president of The Florida Bar, Coleman succeeds Eugene Pettis, a Fort Lauderdale litigator and the first black president of the Bar, and precedes Miami litigator Ramón Abadin. After chairing nearly every Bar committee he could, Coleman agreed to become Bar president last year and was unchallenged for the top leadership post after serving a year as president-elect.
FUNDING FOR LEGAL AID REACHES CRISIS POINT IN FLORIDA -- Florida Times-Union (requires subscription), http://www.jacksonville.com, June 25, 2014.
Legal aid in Florida is at a crisis. In 2008, The Florida Bar Foundation gave $29 million to legal aid. This year, legal aid is getting just $12 million. That means fewer attorneys will be helping fewer poor people navigate the legal system. Gov. Rick Scott has vetoed legislative funding for legal aid every one of his four years in office. The city of Jacksonville gives less money to legal aid than much smaller Clay and St. Johns counties. Raoul Cantero, a former state Supreme Court justice, brought a petition to the high court last week, backed by hundreds of attorneys, to raise Bar fees by $100 to provide more money for legal services for the poor. The Florida Bar Board of Governors, however, unanimously opposed the idea with the Bar president saying there must be fairer ways to pay for legal services than raising attorneys' dues from $265 to $365. The Florida Bar agrees there is a crisis, but President Eugene Pettis doesn’t think raising fees will solve it. A long-term solution is needed first, he said.
LAWYERS NEED TO DO A BETTER JOB GUARDING SENSITIVE INFORMATION -- The Florida Bar News, http://www.floridabar.org, July 1, 2014.
Some Florida lawyers are still not complying with a Rule of Judicial Administration intended to minimize the amount of sensitive personal information contained in court filings, according to a recent Florida Bar poll of lawyers and judges. The poll showed that while most thought that the majority of attorneys were complying with RJA 2.425 (Minimization of the Filing of Sensitive Information), about a third of those responding said they knew of instances where sensitive information had been filed. One problem is that attorneys may not understand the interplay between RJA 2.420 (Public Access to Judicial Branch Records) and 2.425, according to Rules of Judicial Administration Committee member Paul Regensdorf, who helped write both rules. Some attorneys said violations were fairly rare and usually the result of oversights. Regensdorf emphasized that unlike RJA 2.420, which tasks clerks of court with confidentiality obligations, RJA 2.425 is solely the responsibility of the legal profession.
ENSURE COURTS REFLECT STATE'S DIVERSITY: EDITORIAL -- Orlando Sentinel, Editorial, http://www.orlandosentinel.com, June 25, 2014.
"When it comes to diversity in Florida's judiciary, the ball is in Gov. Rick Scott's court. And The Florida Bar has made it easy for the governor to hit back a winner. Earlier this year, the Bar issued a report detailing how minorities are underrepresented among Florida's judges. Now, it has recruited a diverse list of highly qualified men and women willing to serve on the nine-member commissions that vet and nominate candidates for judicial vacancies committees that also fall short of reflecting the state's ethnic and racial diversity. Scott should take full advantage of the Bar's worthy effort and comb its list to choose more black, Hispanic and Asian members for the state's 26 Judicial Nominating Commissions. It'd be a mistake for him to dismiss the effort . . . Florida is a growing state with an increasingly diverse population. The state's judiciary, to maintain its legitimacy, should reflect that. The Bar has done its part to advance this important goal. Now it's Scott's turn."
--Lawyer Ethics/Legal Discipline--
BAR ASKS STATE SUPREME COURT TO SUSPEND LAWYER OVER MICROCHIP CLAIM -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, June 24, 2014.
The Florida Bar on Tuesday [June 24] asked the state Supreme Court to suspend lawyer Janice L. Jennings, who asserts that others hurt and control her through a microchip illegally implanted in her brain. The emergency petition contains a transcript of a May 16 hearing in U.S. District Court in Tampa, during which Jennings voiced a belief that the opposing counsel in a case before the court had used the microchip to torture her. She made similar accusations in a written court filing and the two incidents gave rise to a Bar investigation. "Those statements suggest a lack of stability on your part which may impact on your ability to competently represent your clients," Bar counsel Randi Klayman Lazarus wrote to Jennings on May 21. The Bar is asking the Supreme Court to suspend Jennings from practice, order a psychological evaluation within 30 days and order her to cease representing clients after 30 days, among other measures.