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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.

March 11, 2013

--Judiciary--

SUNSHINE WEEK: REDACTION CAUSES DELAYS GETTING COURT FILES -- Tallahassee Democrat, http://www.tallahassee.com, March 9, 2013. [Also: SUNSHINE LAWS CRITICAL TO KEEPING GOVERNMENT IN CHECK -- Bradenton Herald, Editorial, http://www.bradenton.com, March 10, 2013; WHY WE ALL SHOULD CARE ABOUT PUBLIC RECORDS -- Miami Herald, Editorial, http://www.miamiherald.com, March 9, 2013.]
By Mike Schneider from The Associated Press. Before the records in a criminal or civil case can be made public, Florida’s clerks of court must purge them of all Social Security, credit card and bank numbers. In many of the state’s 67 counties, that task has caused delays in the release of records that are available to the public under Florida’s public records laws. The Associated Press and newspapers throughout the state visited every county’s clerk of court offices in recent weeks to see whether each is complying with the law and how much of a delay it is causing in the release of information. The project, under the direction of the Florida Society of News Editors, was done in conjunction with this year’s Sunshine Week, an annual initiative starting Sunday to promote greater transparency in government. The news organizations' findings are reported.

RESTORATION OF 1908 COURTROOM SEEN AS A TRIBUTE TO POLK'S LEGAL SYSTEM -- Lakeland Ledger, http://www.theledger.com, March 8, 2013.
The Polk County Courthouse restoration project is part of a larger effort to recognize the history of the 10th Judicial Circuit, an effort that has spawned its own historical society, said Myrtice Young, Polk's historic preservation manager. The antique oak courtroom bench is one of few surviving artifacts from one of the chambers where cases were heard when the former Polk County courthouse opened in 1908. The judge's bench will soon be complemented with a reconstructed replica of a jury box, furnished with chairs salvaged from the 1926 courtroom, which was added as additional wings to the 1908 courthouse.

--Lawyer Ethics/Legal Discipline--

OWEN'S FORMER TOP MAN INVESTIGATED -- Pensacola News Journal, http://www.pnj.com, March 11, 2013.
The Florida Bar is looking into possible ethical violations by the former chief assistant to ex-Public Defender James Owens. Bar attorney Olivia Klein said a case against former public defender Tony Henderson, 51, was opened on Jan. 24, but she does not yet have sufficient evidence to open a case against Owens. The case against Henderson follows a Dec. 18 letter from State Attorney Glenn Hess of Panama City in which he called him “an embarrassment to The Florida Bar” due to incidents over many years involving his clients and sex or drugs. In an ethical misconduct case, the Bar will file charges.

SHAPIRO ATTORNEY FACES SCRUTINY FROM FEDERAL JUDGE -- Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, March 8, 2013.
Maria Elena Perez, the attorney who represents the convicted felon at the center of the Miami athletics scandal, is facing additional scrutiny, with a federal judge asking if her relationship with the NCAA was unethical. Perez's actions will be reviewed and she may face discipline, says the order signed this week by U.S. District Judge Federico A. Moreno. At issue, Moreno wrote, is whether Perez acted unethically in taking money from the NCAA for her work in Nevin Shapiro's bankruptcy case. The Florida Bar is also looking into Perez's work with the NCAA.

--Legislature--

PANEL CLEARS BILL TO END PUBLIC WORKERS' TRADITIONAL PENSION -- Lakeland Ledger, http://www.theledger.com, March 9, 2013.
By The Associated Press. Traditional pensions for new state and county employees, including teachers, would end under a proposal that's advancing through the Legislature. The House Appropriations committee on Friday [March 8] voted 12-9 along party lines on a bill that would do away with guaranteed pensions for workers hired as of January 2014. It would replace pensions with individual investment accounts similar to 401(k) plans. Democrats, labor unions and other critics are fighting the effort, saying state and local governments will have to pay more into the current pension plan because there will be fewer members paying into it. 

DAVID MANZ: ALIMONY LEGISLATION IS "ANTI-WOMAN" -- South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Opinion, http://www.sun-sentinel.com, March 10, 2013.
Opinion piece written by David Manz, past chair of the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar. It addresses issues regarding legislation filed to eliminate permanent alimony. It states that "the epicenter of the attack is House Bill 231 and Senate Bill 718. The overarching theme of those bills is harshness, unfairness and the devastating and unconstitutional potentiality of retroactive application of the bills to existing settlement agreements." Manz urges leaders across the state to "thoughtfully consider their actions regarding this unfair and harmful attempt to change alimony provisions in the state."

VIEWPOINT: FLORIDA NEEDS TO REDUCE LAWSUIT ABUSE -- Pensacola News Journal, Opinion, http://www.pnj.com, March 10, 2013.
Opinion piece by Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. He writes that "as state policymakers work to make Florida more competitive, one key issue is hurting consumers, small businesses and communities. That is the pressing need for lawsuit abuse reforms." The Florida Chamber of Commercerepresenting small business owners, job creators and their employeescontinues to push its Coalition for Legal Reform, which advocates reforms for a fair legal system where businesses and plaintiff trial lawyers have a clear set of rules and are forced to play by those rules.

--Other--

GEORGE C.J. MOORE -- Palm Beach Daily News, http://www.palmbeachdailynews.com, March 9, 2013.
George C. J. Moore of Singer Island, formerly of Palm Beach, died Tuesday, March 5. He was 70. He spent three years at Cambridge University, graduating with honors with degrees in English law and international law. He practiced international law, subsequently gaining admission to the Bar in eight British Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean and in Florida. He served on the editorial boards of The International Lawyer, the American Bar Association journal, and The Trademark Reporter, the International Trademark Association journal.

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[Revised: 03-12-2013]