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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.

Aug. 16, 2013

--Legal Profession--

VENEZUELAN AMERICAN LAWYERS FORM BAR GROUP -- Daily Business Review (requires subscription), http://www.dailybusinessreview.com, Aug. 15. 2013.
A group of Venezuelan American attorneys based in Miami created the Venezuelan American National Bar Association, Venambar. The project has been in the works for nearly a year, as bylaws were written, a board of directors appointed and events planned. The kickoff event for Venambar will be Thursday [Aug. 15] and Federico Moreno, chief judge of the U.S. District for the Southern District of Florida and himself a Venezuelan native, will serve as keynote speaker. The organizers decided to make the group national rather than South Florida-focused due to the growing number of Venezuelan attorneys in other U.S. cities. The group's purpose is to provide Venezuelan American lawyers a chance to network, as well as to help educate Venezuelan lawyers interested in moving to the United States on how to accomplish the move.

--Judiciary--

JUDGE TATTI TRANSFERRING TO OCALA -- Ocala Star Banner, http://www.ocala.com, Aug. 16, 2013.
Hernando Circuit Judge Anthony Tatti will transfer to Marion County in the fall, leaving a vacant seat on the bench in Brooksville. The Marion post is currently held by Circuit Judge Sandra Edwards-Stephens, who will retire Oct. 31. Because none of the other 31 judges in the 5th Judicial Circuit requested by Monday's deadline to transfer to Hernando, the Judicial Nominating Commission will accept applications for the vacant post. Tatti's move is not a surprise, as he has been commuting to Brooksville from his home in Ocala since he was appointed to the seat in 2011. Since taking his seat on the bench, Tatti has handled civil trials, domestic violence injunctions, mortgage foreclosures and probate cases. He was assigned a felony criminal docket in January.

CHIEF JUDGES OF 87 U.S. COURTS DECRY FUND CUTS -- Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, Aug. 16, 2013.
By The Associated Press. A letter signed by the chief judges of 87 federal courts warns that budget cuts threaten the quality of the nation's judiciary system and public safety. The letter was sent Thursday [Aug. 15] to Vice President Joe Biden in his role as president of the Senate. The judges say years of flat funding followed by March sequestration cuts have had a devastating impact on all courts, resulting in reduced monitoring of criminal defendants to crisis levels. They say that, in turn, hinders crime deterrence, detection and response and allows more drugs and illegal weapons into communities.

--Lawyer Ethics/Legal Discipline--

JACKSONVILLE ATTORNEY MATHIS SAID HE DECLINED OPTION TO TALK DEAL IN ALLIED CASE -- Florida Times-Union, http://www.jacksonville.com, Aug. 16, 2013.
Kelly Mathis, the Jacksonville attorney labeled the “mastermind” behind the Allied Veterans of the World gaming centers scandal, said he declined an offer by prosecutors to talk about a plea agreement. Mathis said he declined to even ask about what type of offer he could get. Instead, he vowed to get an acquittal and clear his name. Authorities said the St. Augustine-based nonprofit, which operated dozens of gaming centers, pocketed hundreds of millions of dollars and engaged in illegal gambling. Prosecutors said Mathis, charged with racketeering and money laundering, knew the organization was breaking the law and was helping them get away with it. Lawyers for Mathis said Allied didn’t break the law and that Mathis’ legal advice was sound. The trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 16.

--Civil Justice Issues--

OPENING ARGUMENTS GIVEN IN SPRING HILL MAN'S CASE AGAINST TOBACCO COMPANIES -- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, Aug. 16, 2013. [Also: EX-SMOKER'S LAWSUIT BEGINS -- Hernando Today, http://www.hernandotoday.com, Aug. 16, 2013.]
John Rizzuto's legal team began arguing Thursday [Aug. 15] the case of the 66-year-old retired letter carrier against Philip Morris USA and Liggett Group, claiming the tobacco companies are partially to blame for his lung disease. This week, Circuit Judge Victor Musleh and attorneys took three days to whittle a jury pool of 300 to six members and an alternate. In an hour long opening statement, Tampa lawyer Brent Bigger explained why the companies should pay his client compensatory and punitive damages, even though Rizzuto was the one who put the cigarettes in his mouth for four decades. Observers say Rizzuto's is the first case to go to trial in Hernando. The jury must decide if he was addicted and, if so, whether his chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder was caused by that addiction.

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[Revised: 08-19-2013]