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.
November 20, 2020
The Florida Bar
The Florida Bar News | Article | November 20, 2020
The need for help with housing problems by low-income Floridians is apparently rapidly increasing because of the COVID-19 pandemic but the peak demands aren’t expected until next year. Legal aid agencies are also helping Floridians who may have had trouble getting their federal stimulus checks and dealing with other continuing issues, including domestic violence cases. “ I don’t think we’re at surge levels yet because with evictions the [federal Centers for Disease Control] moratorium was extended until December 31,” said Leslie Powell-Boudreaux, executive director of Legal Services of North Florida. Statewide the Florida Online Intake system, operated by a consortium of legal aid offices, has seen a 238 percent increase in housing cases from Sept. 1 through Nov.18.
News4Jax | Article | November 19, 2020
Both trials scheduled to begin this week in Duval County were put on hold over possible exposure of jurors to a person who believed he was exposed to COVID-19. Attorney Regina Wright also said her client tested positive for the virus after being exposed last week to a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office fingerprint examiner who had tested positive. News4Jax obtained court records of a motion prosecutors filed Wednesday [Nov. 18] asking for a continuance of two trials.
WINK | Article | November 19, 2020
Veteran Jessie Beardsley was hit by a car in 2019 and was given a ticket for going the wrong way. He won a settlement of $100,000 in the case, but he hasn’t seen a penny of it. Beardsley underwent numerous surgeries due to injuries form the crash and hired attorney Stephen Jones of Orlando to sue the driver. They settled for $100,000. Beardsley assumed his lawyer would use the settlement money to pay his medical bills, but that never happened. During an investigation filed by another client with The Florida Bar, it was discovered that Jones “depleted” Beardsley’s settlement.” The Florida Supreme Court suspended Jones from practicing law on Nov. 9.
Tampa Bay Times | Column | November 20, 2020
Tachana Joseph-Marc, a policy analyst focused on criminal justice issues at the Florida Policy Institute, writes: “As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the nation, Gov. Ron DeSantis has called for agencies to submit proposals that would cut their respective budgets by 8.5 percent in the current fiscal year and a whopping 10 percent the following year. In order to meet the governor’s request, the Department of Corrections has offered up a long list of cuts. . . .Most of the department’s proposals are recommendations that criminal justice advocates have been heralding for years but that have received little buy-in from the Legislature. On the upside, these are recommendations that would — if enacted — effectively reduce Florida’s prison population.”
WESH 2 | Article | November 19, 2020
Former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg is facing a 12-count federal indictment alleging child sex trafficking, stalking, identity theft and more. Those charges may be just the start of his legal troubles, as the U.S. Department of Justice has subpoenaed a newly released audit that sharply criticizes the spending practices of the man who outfitted himself and staffers with guns and badges soon after taking office. The audit claims Greenberg wasted more than $1 million on vendor contracts and hired unnecessary staff to the tune of $1.65 million on administrators, a security force, marketing and public relations staffers. The audit also shows he had questionable credit card charges of $384,000, including purchases of weapons, ammo, body armor and a drone. County officials said they also had little they could do. “We can’t say cut that budget,” said Jay Zembower, chair of the Seminole County Commission.
Tampa Bay Times | Article | November 19, 2020
For the second time in four months, Hillsborough County Property Appraiser Bob Henriquez has won a tax lawsuit involving private businesses operating in public spaces. A circuit court judge ruled Thursday [Nov. 18] that the property appraiser can levy taxes on space leased to private tenants by the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, the public entity that runs Tampa International Airport. The ruling affects nearly 15 parcels at Tampa International Airport, Tampa Executive Airport, Peter O. Knight Airport and other facilities.
Hometown News | Article | November 19, 2020
Tethering is generally considered the action of tying an animal with a rope or chain so as to restrict its movement. To many, like animal advocate Debbie Darino, it is considered cruel. Animals left outside chained on a hot day without access to adequate shelter can die of heat stroke, for example. Darino is on a mission to ban tethering throughout Volusia County and is seeking a uniform standard and law enforcement response relating to tethering and providing shelter for tethered animals in the county, and possibly at the state level. Darino is seeking to get the state statute amended in the 2021 legislative session so that it has a clear definition for what shelter should entail.
Miami Herald | Article | November 20, 2020
When Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty in state court in June 2008 to two sex solicitation charges, which came with an 18-month sentence but avoided tougher federal sex-crimes charges as part of a deal with the feds, colleagues of the federal prosecutor who had led the investigation flooded her with congratulations. But Ann Marie Villafaña was in no mood to celebrate. “He should be spending 18 years in jail,” she wrote to a colleague. That’s according to a look-back report from the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). A summary of the report was issued last week. The fuller document, provided to members of Congress, who requested the inquiry, was obtained by the Miami Herald and its parent McClatchy.