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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.

January 13, 2021

  1. The Florida Bar

    PROSECUTORS, PDS LOSING STAFF, STRUGGLING WITH BUDGET CUTS

    The Florida Bar | Article | January 13, 2021

    Public defenders and state attorneys are concerned that further budget cuts from the Legislature would leave them unable to handle all their cases, including addressing trial backlogs from the COVID-19 pandemic. Prosecutors and defenders are already dealing with a 1.5 percent per quarter, or 6 percent annual, budget “withholding” and legislators as part of annual budget exercises have asked them to project how they would deal with further 8.5 percent and 10 percent budget cuts.

  2. Judiciary

    JURY TRIALS ON HOLD IN POLK THROUGH JANUARY

    Lakeland Ledger | Article | January 12, 2021

    Chief Judge Ellen Masters of the Tenth Judicial Circuit issued an order Monday [Jan. 11] afternoon suspending all jury trials in Polk County through January in response to current COVID-19 statistics. Some trials had been scheduled for the coming weeks. Polk County has seen a record surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations since December. Polk County Clerk of Courts offices remain open, though appointments are required for some services, such as marriages and passport applications.

  3. Judiciary

    CORONAVIRUS DEALS SOUTH FLORIDA PROSECUTORS A RARE LOSS WITH THE GRAND JURY OUT

    Miami Herald | Article | January 13, 2021

    Monday [Jan. 11] U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks in the Southern District of Florida delivered a powerful response to prosecutors who used a dismissal rule to their advantage while grand juries were suspended because of COVID-19 by dismissing charges with prejudice. Middlebrooks found the government’s attempt at charging, dismissing and recharge of the defendant under more favorable circumstances would have infringed on the Fifth Amendment right to be prosecuted by grand jury indictment and “would not serve the strong public interest of upholding statutory and constitutional protections.” The U.S. Attorney’s Office said it is considering its options.

  4. Civil Justice

    AFTER 6 MONTHS OF SPARRING, STATE TEACHER UNION DROPS LAWSUIT OVER REOPENING FL SCHOOLS DURING COVID

    Florida Phoenix | Article | January 13, 2021

    The Florida Education Association filed a lawsuit in July 2020 challenging Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran’s emergency order mandating that “all school boards and charter school governing boards must open brick and mortar schools at least five days per week for all students” even during COVID 19. The FEA’s concern was that forcing school districts to reopen during the pandemic conflicted with the Florida Constitution’s language about students participating in a “safe, secure” free public school system. In addition, the FEA believed the emergency order overstepped the constitutional authority of local school boards.  At the time, some districts didn’t think schools should be open. The FEA and other plaintiffs filed a notice of voluntary dismissal on Dec. 23, and the statewide teachers union is moving on from the case.

  5. Judiciary

    TREASURE COAST JUDGES TOLD BY CHIEF JUDGE THAT FACE COVERINGS REQUIRED AT ALL TIMES IN COURT

    TC Palm | Article | January 11, 2021

    Treasure Coast judges are to wear face coverings in court with no exceptions, according to Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Lawrence Mirman, who emailed judges last week seeking better compliance. The circuit covers Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee counties. Mirman emailed judges after hearing a few of them weren’t consistently wearing face coverings in court in violation of updated Florida Supreme Court rules issued in late December.

  6. Legislative

    DEMOCRATIC LAWMAKERS FILE BILLS TO ELIMINATE THE DEATH PENALTY

    Florida Politics | Article | January 12, 2021

    Sen. Gary Farmer and Rep. Joe Geller proposed legislation that would strike the death penalty from Florida’s penal code. The two South Florida Democrats’ proposals would repeal all mentions of capital punishment from state law. Farmer, the Senate Democratic Leader, filed his bill (SB 568) Tuesday [Jan. 12] after Geller filed his version (HB 6019) Monday [Jan. 11]. However, the Republican-led House and Senate are unlikely to act on those bills. The pair filed similar bills in the 2020 Legislative Session that gained no traction.

  7. Judiciary

    FEDERAL JUDGE REJECTS ‘UNREASONABLY HIGH’ ATTORNEY FEES FOR MCDERMOTT, TROUTMAN PEPPER

    Reuters | Article | January 12, 2021

    U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart in West Palm Beach has nearly halved the attorney fees and expenses McDermott Will & Emery and Troutman Pepper Sanders Hamilton are in line to receive for their successful representation of Wells Fargo in a real estate-lending fight. In Tuesday’s [Jan. 12] order, lawyers at the two firms will receive $2.68 million – not the $4.9 million they requested – from Wells Fargo’s opponent, CityPlace Retail.

  8. Judiciary

    ‘HEIGHTENED ALERT,’ AMID FBI WARNINGS, COURTHOUSES WEIGH SECURITY BEFORE INAUGURATION DAY

    Law.com | Article | January 12, 2021

    Federal and state courts in Florida, New Jersey, New York, Texas and across the nation are discussing extra security after the FBI warned that armed protesters might storm courthouses on or before Inauguration Day. “We intend to close our clerk of courts offices at noon on Inauguration Day,” said an email by Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Jack Tuter of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale. “Most courthouses are substantially abandoned due to COVID.”

  9. Obituary

    FLORIDA ATTORNEY FRED LEVIN, WHO FOUGHT TOBACCO INDUSTRY, DIES AT 83

    Tampa Bay Times | Article | January 13, 2021

    Florida attorney Fred Levin, who won a major legal battle against the tobacco industry in the 1990s, died Tuesday [Jan. 12], several days after contracting the coronavirus. He was 83. Levin’s career began in 1961 when he joined the Levin and Askew law firm founded by his brother David with Reubin Askew. The University of Florida named its law school after Levin in 1999 after he gave $10 million to the school where he earned his undergraduate degree in 1958 and his law degree in 1961.

  10. Wellness Wednesday

    BUILDING BETTER MENTAL HEALTH

    The Florida Bar | Article | January 13, 2021

    Whether you’re looking to cope with a specific mental health problem, handle your emotions better, or simply to feel more positive and energetic, there are plenty of ways to take control of your mental health—starting today.

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