Daily News Summary
The purpose of this summary provided by the Communications Department of The Florida Bar is to present media coverage that may be of interest to members. Opinions expressed in the articles are attributable solely to the authors. The Florida Bar does not adopt or endorse any opinions expressed below. For information on previous articles, please contact the publishing newspaper directly.
August 14, 2019
The Florida Bar News | Article | August 13, 2019
This week, FloridaBarNews.TV highlights Matt Hall, a Tampa lawyer and U.S. Army veteran who serves as a veteran mentor in the 13th Judicial Circuit Veterans and Treatment Court. Veterans treatment court has all the trappings of a regular criminal court, with a judge, prosecutor and defense counsel, but it gives veteran defendants the ability to avoid convictions if they agree to make restitution, complete a treatment program and complete the terms of a graduation contract. Veteran mentors are active-duty or honorably discharged veterans who help mentees get to medical appointments, find jobs and housing and navigate the labyrinth of local resource providers and Veterans Administration programs.
The Florida Bar News | Article | August 14, 2019
The ABA honored Matthew W. Dietz of the Disability Independence Group, Inc., in Miami, with its Paul G. Hearne Award for Disability Rights. The award was presented at the commission’s Reception for Lawyers with Disabilities during the 2019 ABA Annual Meeting, Aug. 8-13 in San Francisco. A civil rights litigator with a focus on disability rights since 1998, Dietz co-founded Disability Independence Group (DIG) in 2002 to promote recognition and recruitment of persons with disabilities in the legal profession. He advocated for disability to be included in The Florida Bar’s definition of “diversity,” and organized a survey and focus groups of attorneys to increase the Bar’s inclusiveness regarding lawyers with disabilities.
Civil Justice Issues
Politifact Florida | Article | August 12, 2019
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody criticized a proposed amendment to ban assault weapons as “vague” and “misleading.” Advocates for the amendment said Moody misrepresented the goal, which is to ban the type of AR-15 or AK-47 rifles used in mass shootings that allow a shooter to quickly kill multiple people. But the proposed amendment does not specify those weapons, so it could apply to a wide range of popular guns, including semiautomatic shotguns. Politifact consulted seven firearms experts to examine Moody’s warning for voters.
Florida Politics | Article | August 13, 2019
The Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday [Aug. 13] rejected appeals by Death Row inmate Gary Ray Bowles, who is scheduled to be executed next week for the 1994 murder of a Jacksonville man who was hit in the head with a concrete block and strangled. Justices unanimously denied a request by Bowles’ attorneys for a stay of the Aug. 22 execution. The attorneys argued in a brief last month that the Supreme Court should order a hearing about whether Bowles is intellectually disabled and, as a result, should be shielded from execution. But the Supreme Court said Bowles had failed to make a “timely” intellectual disability claim because he did not raise the issue until 2017.
Civil Justice Issues
Gainesville Sun | Article | August 13, 2019
Lawyers representing opposite sides in a federal lawsuit about felons’ voting rights can’t agree on how quickly a judge should decide the issue, potentially affecting whether hundreds of thousands of Floridians will be able to participate in next year’s presidential primary elections. Gov. Ron DeSantis and Secretary of State Laurel Lee, who want the lawsuit dismissed, are asking U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle to hold a trial in the case in November. But plaintiffs say they need more time to gather evidence in their challenge to a state law requiring people convicted of felonies to pay legal financial obligations before they can register to vote. The law, passed during this spring’s legislative session, is aimed at carrying out a constitutional amendment that automatically restores voting rights to felons who have completed the terms of their sentences.
Florida Times-Union | Article | August 14, 2019
The editorial says: “A report by the Florida Auditor General itemizes abuses in former 4th Judicial Circuit Public Defender Matt Shirk’s office that continued even after he was defeated in 2016. . . . One grand jury has already spent time investigating Shirk; in a 2014 presentment it did not indict. But Shirk’s dubious behavior continued. It’s time for another special grand jury to examine new evidence and determine if any crimes were committed.”
Health News Florida | Article | August 12, 2019
Efforts to legalize recreational marijuana in Florida got a big boost this week from Orlando attorney John Morgan, who backs the inclusion of a question about the legalization of recreational marijuana on the state’s 2020 ballot. Florida Rep. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, also introduced a bill this week to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. His proposal (HB 25), seeks to reduce criminal penalties for possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis, and products that contain less than 600 milligrams of THC.