The Florida Bar

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.

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Dec. 31, 2012


FORMER FLORIDA JUSTICE BEN F. OVERTON, 1926-2012-- Supreme Court of Florida, news release,, Dec. 30, 2012. [Also: FORMER STATE SUPREME COURT JUSTICE BEN OVERTON DIES-- Tampa Bay Times,, Dec. 30, 2012; FORMER STATE SUPREME COURT JUSTICE OVERTON DIES-- The Tampa Tribune,, Dec. 31, 2012].
Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Ben F. Overton died Saturday, [Dec. 29], in Gainesville following complications from heart surgery. He was 86 and was Florida's 62nd justice. In the mid-1970s, Overton was one of several newly appointed justices who elevated the reputation of the court after it had become involved in scandal. He was the first justice chosen through a merit selection process created by Gov. Reubin Askew that soon was added to the Florida Constitution. From his appointment on March 27, 1974, until his retirement on Jan. 4, 1999, Overton wrote more than 1,400 decisions. Overton served nearly 10 years on the Sixth Circuit court and, for several years, as its chief judge. He was well known for his work in legal education and dispute resolution and was chairman of the Dispute Resolution Section of the American Bar Association. He was also an active adjunct professor of law at the University of Florida's Levin College of Law.

SENATE DELAYS ON NOMINEES HURTS U.S. JUSTICE SYSTEM-- Tampa Bay Times, editorial,, Dec. 29, 2012.
The editorial states: "The presidency comes with certain powers, including making nominations to the federal judiciary. The U.S. Senate is given the power of 'advice and consent' to confirm or reject the president's choices, but the process was never intended as a tool to obstruct the very operation of justice. . . . When [President Barack] Obama came into office there were 55 vacancies on the nation's federal district and circuit courts. Now there are 73 vacancies, with dozens considered 'judicial emergencies,' meaning caseloads are already too high to be reasonably handled."

--Legal Profession--

MATHIS RETIRING FROM STATE ATTORNEY'S OFFICE-- St. Augustine Record,, Dec. 30, 2012.
   The last time Robert Mathis retired, he did it because he felt he had to get away. Now he can retire because it's what he wants to do. The former county and circuit judge left the bench fulltime at the end 2004 for his first "retirement." That had been a difficult year for him because he'd lost his son David and daughter-in-law Mary Kathryn in a fatal automobile accident. After four years working sporadically as a senior judge, the lure of trial work pulled Mathis back. In 2009, he decided to return to the state attorney’s office, which is where his legal career started in 1974. Now Mathis, 63, has decided to give up his position as an assistant state attorney at the end of the year.

--Civil Justice Issues--

JUDGE ORDERS STATE TO PAY $190,589 IN DRUG TESTING SUIT-- Winter Have News Chief,, Dec. 29, 2012.
The article is by the News Service of Florida. Florida's attempt to drug test employees will cost taxpayers $190,589.74 after a federal judge in Miami on Friday [Dec. 28] ordered the state to pay lawyers' fees in a case challenging an executive order issued by Gov. Rick Scott last year. U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro ordered the payment to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 79, which filed suit in May 2011. The union is plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging Scott's ability to randomly drug tests workers in agencies his office oversees.


ROBERT H. "BOB" STAHLSCHMIDT-- Sarasota Herald-Tribune,, Dec. 30, 2012.
The obituary is for attorney and former judge Robert H. "Bob" Stahlschmidt, who died Dec. 19. He was 85. After serving in World War II, he attended Indiana University Law School, earning his law degree. Later, he also received an honorary Juris Doctorate from the Nevada Judicial College. After moving to Sarasota in 1958, he served as a Sarasota County prosecutor from 1960 to 1972, and as a county judge from 1972 to 1984.

JOHN CALLOWAY SPENCER-- Pensacola News Journal,, Dec. 29, 2012.
The obituary is for attorney John Calloway Spencer of Pace, who died Wednesday [Dec. 26]. He was 69. A third generation Santa Rosa County resident, he earned a B.A. degree from Duke University in 1965 and graduated from the University of Florida Law School with honors in 1968. He spent nine years in private practice in Jacksonville representing business and commercial clients. He served as an assistant state attorney from 1977 until his retirement in 2008.

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[Revised: 01-02-2013]