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.
September 20, 2023
The Florida Bar
The Florida Bar | Article | September 20, 2023
President Scott Westheimer assured the Board of Governors that the special committee studying generative AI and its impact on the legal profession is making impressive progress. The “Special Committee on AI Tools & Resources” is expected to present proposed amendments and a draft ethics opinion to the board in December. The committee, headed by Co-Chairs Duffy Myrtetus and Gordon Glover, is exploring how generative AI interacts with current rules, how it may change aspects of legal practice, and how it can improve access to justice. The committee has formed two subcommittees, one focusing on the regulation of attorneys and the other on court proceedings. Proposed amendments to the Rules of Professional Conduct have been submitted, and an ethics opinion regarding AI is being requested. The subcommittees are also investigating issues related to AI use in filings, evidence integrity, and access to justice for self-represented litigants.
Sarasota Herald Tribune | Article | September 20, 2023
City Commissioner Erik Arroyo has filed a Florida Bar complaint accusing the Bentley Goodrich Kison law firm of attempting to embarrass and harass him. Arroyo alleges that attorney Ashley Gaillard provided prosecutors with a document and communication that focused investigators on a charity Arroyo helped create, called the Sarasota City Foundation, using “rumor and innuendo.” The complaint states that the law firm violated Florida Bar rules by lobbying law enforcement officials in a civil matter, leading to a “baseless criminal complaint” that found Arroyo did not willfully break the law. The firm’s managing partner, Morgan Bentley, denies the allegations, asserting they are frivolous. Bentley Goodrich Kison is representing the Ritz-Carlton residences condo board and opposing the development of One Park Sarasota. Arroyo accuses the firm of unethical conduct and claims it damaged reputations and drained public resources.
Daily Business Review | Article | September 19, 2023
In anticipation of the tort reform law signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, South Florida courts experienced a surge in filings. Broward Chief Circuit Judge Jack Tuter stated that the court considered implementing measures such as delaying the prosecution of new cases, but filings decreased in April and remained steady thereafter. Miami-Dade Chief Circuit Judge Nushin Sayfie reported a significant increase in caseloads per judge, with Miami-Dade having over 1,300 cases compared to Palm Beach’s approximately 540 case increase per judge. The tort reform law, known as House Bill 837-Civil Remedies, brought changes to the comparative negligence system and aimed to establish uniform standards for civil trials. Plaintiff attorneys expressed concerns about the elimination of payments if a jury assigns 51% fault to the plaintiff. Attorneys have observed legal strategies involving initial bare-bones lawsuits followed by amended complaints naming all parties involved.
News Service of Florida | Article | September 19, 2023
The 1st District Court of Appeal in Florida has announced that it will hold an “en banc” hearing, involving the full court, to consider a dispute over a congressional redistricting plan backed by Governor Ron DeSantis. This decision came despite requests from both sides to fast-track the case to the Florida Supreme Court. The court’s order did not provide specific reasons for this decision. The case centers around North Florida’s Congressional District 5, which was redrawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature and DeSantis last year. On September 2, Leon County Circuit Judge J. Lee Marsh ruled that the redistricting plan was unconstitutional. The parties involved now have until 5 p.m. on Wednesday to provide an expedited briefing schedule. It remains crucial to resolve this case before the start of the 2024 legislative session in January.
Pensacola News Journal | Article | September 19, 2023
Republican Rep. Linda Chaney has filed a bill, HB 49, targeting Florida’s child labor laws. The proposed legislation aims to eliminate hours restrictions for 16- and 17-year-olds, revise the age at which employment restrictions apply, and prevent counties and municipalities from enforcing stricter ordinances than state laws. One noteworthy change in language is replacing “shall” with “may,” which creates ambiguity in the interpretation of the law. The bill also seeks to remove restrictions on the number of hours 16- and 17-year-olds can work. Additionally, the legislation would revise the age at which certain employment restrictions apply from 17 years old or younger to 15 years old or younger. HB 49 is set to be considered during Florida’s 2024 legislative session, starting in January, and would take effect on July 1, 2024, if passed.
City & State Florida | Article | September 19, 2023
The pass rate for first-time takers of the July Florida bar exam has rebounded to 71.6%, up over 7 percentage points from last year. These results almost match the pass rate of 71.7% for the online-only bar exam administered in October 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Florida Supreme Court released the results, with 1,548 out of 2,163 applicants passing the exam. Among Florida law schools, Florida International University College of Law had the highest pass rate at 91.1%, followed by Florida State University College of Law at 83.4%. Stetson University College of Law and the University of Florida College of Law tied for third place at 80.6%. The exam was temporarily moved online last year but has now returned to in-person administration.
News4Jax | Article | September 19, 2023
Attorneys representing Patrick McDowell, who pleaded guilty to killing Nassau County Deputy Joshua Moyers, are seeking to have brain scans conducted by the end of October. McDowell’s defense plans to raise questions about his psychological state, citing his history of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from military service. McDowell’s sentencing trial has been delayed until at least April 2024 due to ongoing questions about Florida’s new death penalty law. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty under the updated law, which requires an 8-4 jury vote instead of a unanimous decision. McDowell’s attorneys are filing a motion to apply the previous law requiring a unanimous recommendation. The Florida Supreme Court has yet to set a date to discuss the retroactive application of the new law. McDowell shot Deputy Moyers during a traffic stop in September 2021 and was arrested following a manhunt. The next pre-trial hearing is scheduled for October 24.
The Florida Bar | Article | September 20, 2023
Reading a book before bed has numerous benefits for overall wellness. It can help you fall asleep faster by promoting sleepiness and reducing sleep latency. However, it’s important to choose a physical book over an e-reader to avoid exposure to blue light, which can disrupt sleep patterns. Reading also reduces stress and calms racing thoughts, with even just six pages of reading capable of reducing stress by up to 68 percent. It can provide relaxation, distract from daily stressors, and stimulate the release of feel-good neurotransmitters. Additionally, reading is a great cognitive exercise that improves memory, cognitive function, and critical thinking skills. It strengthens neural pathways and enhances creativity. In contrast, scrolling on phones or watching TV before bed can negatively affect sleep quality and disrupt the circadian rhythm. Avoiding screen time for at least two hours before bed and opting for a book instead is recommended for better sleep.