Annual Reports of Committees of The Florida Bar 2018-2019
Adoption Law Certification
The Adoption Law Certification Committee had a productive year in 2018-19. The committee continued its outreach to potential board certification applicants for this specialized area of law. The committee held its October meeting in conjunction with the Florida Adoption Council’s conference in Orlando. The committee marked certification to the adoption attorneys in attendance at the conference and invited certified attorneys to apply for committee membership. The committee was pleased with the positive response. Additionally, with the assistance of our Bar staff liaison, the committee contacted all attorneys who report adoption as a practice area with The Florida Bar to encourage them to consider certification.
The committee met throughout the year by phone and in person to review applications for certification and to prepare the examination and model answers. Two applicants were approved to sit for the examination in March, and grading will be completed in April. The applicant review process includes a determination as to whether each applicant meets the highest standards of professionalism and ethics. This incorporates a comprehensive peer-review process. The committee wishes to express its sincere appreciation to the attorneys and judges who responded to requests for peer reviews and evidence of substantial involvement. The committee carefully considered all submissions in the evaluation of each applicant.
Those adoption attorneys certified in 2014 are due to recertify this summer. Recertification applications have been posted to The Florida Bar website. Recertification requirements must be met by May 31, and the recertification application must be postmarked by June 15. If you need an extension to meet the recertification requirements, the extension paperwork is also posted and due June 15 and will provide an extension until August 31. The filing period for initial certification applications begins July 1 and ends August 31, and the committee encourages all eligible adoption attorneys to apply.
Thank you to my fellow committee members for their contributions this year: Vice Chair Leenetta Carden, Christine Arendas, Maxine Derkatch, Ellen Kaplan, Susan Levin, Michelle Hausmann, Peggy Senetz, and Robert Webster. Finally, a huge thank you to our staff liaison, Arlee Colman, for her dedication, experience, and patience with the committee.
Brian T. Kelley, Chair
The Admiralty Law Committee continues to advance the practice of maritime law and foster continued learning through offering complimentary and well-attended seminars about recent developments and trends in this practice area.
On June 15, 2018, the ALC meeting and seminar was held in conjunction with The Florida Bar Annual Convention at the Orlando Bonnet Creek Hilton Resort. The seminar addressed several marine insurance and maritime-related issues that arise prior to, during, and following a hurricane. Speakers included noted maritime lawyers Capt. Alan S. Richard, Michello Otero Valdes, Eric C. Thiel, Charles S. Davant, Christopher F. Hamilton, Tyler J. Tanner, and Efrain Carlos. We also heard presentations from hurricane and marine industry personnel, including William Ulrich (meteorologist), Capt. Patrick B. Garrison (diver and salvor), John Marchisi (marine insurance broker), and Carl F. Wolf (marina manager and marine investigator).
As many ALC members practice in cruise industry litigation, on October 17, 2018, the ALC presented the Second Annual Cruise Industry Passenger and Crew Claims Seminar at the University of Miami. Building upon last year’s momentum, this event was a huge success, with over 130 maritime practitioners and professionals in attendance. The event was hosted by the University of Miami Maritime Law Society and sponsored by Robson Forensic. Panel presentations were comprised of highly skilled maritime attorneys, each of whom presented on a specific area of law and practice, then engaged the audience and fellow panelists in thoughtful discussion. We heard from some of the best maritime lawyers in the state. The claims management panel included presentations from John Mitchell, Brett Berman, and Andy Waks. The passenger claims panel included presentations from Curtis Mase, Robert Gardana, Richard McAlpin, Noah Silverman, and Carlos Llinas Negret. The crew claims panel included presentations from Jerry Hamilton, Brett Rivkind, Bob Peltz, David Horr, and Judge Ronald Dresnick (retired). We also heard solo presentations from expert witness Capt. Hendrik J. Keiser on Daubert issues in maritime cases and Carlos Llinas Negret on Rule B’s application in passenger shore excursion cases. All speakers were engaging, and the substance was all relevant, recent, and interesting.
On March 29, another ALC meeting and seminar will be held at St. Thomas University School of Law. This will be the third annual Florida Maritime Law and Practice Update and Review. The event sponsors are LexisNexis and Robson Forensic, and we are working in collaboration with the St. Thomas University Admiralty Law Society. By the time this report is published, this event will already have taken place. In light of the success of our recent seminars, as well as the speakers and topics we lined up for this one, the response has been outstanding. There will be three panel presentations: 1) recent developments to the boundaries of admiralty jurisdiction; 2) the limitation act: practice and procedure; and 3) issues unique to the trial of an admiralty case. Speakers include maritime lawyers Matthew Valcourt, Tonya Meister, Michael McCleod, Robert Gardana, Jonathan Dunleavy, Spencer Aronfeld, Michelle Otero Valdes, Allan Kelley, Michael Conroy, Bob Peltz, and Marcus Mahfood. We will also be pleased to participate in presentations from marine and mechanical engineer, Brian Kelley, and professor of admiralty law, Attilio Costabel.
This event will also coincide with the completion of the Admiralty Law Committee’s 2019 publication, Florida Maritime Law and Practice (6th ed. 2019), a Florida Bar publication written by ALC members and distributed by LexisNexis. Many thanks to the several authors, the Steering Committee chair, Ryan Eslinger, and committee members for their hard work and diligent efforts to get this done. The editing process is complete, the final draft has been submitted, and the printed version will be released in June.
All ALC 2018-2019 seminars were joint regional events with the American Bar Association — TIPS Admiralty and Maritime Law Committee. As a result, the committee is pleased to report that all the meetings and seminars were very well attended, each receiving national attention through the ABA-TIPS AMLC’s affiliation, marketed on its LinkedIn pages, encouraging professional development for all maritime practitioners and garnering great interest of the national admiralty bar, thereby increasing attendance at ALC meetings.
Through the willing service and dutiful efforts of its membership and vice chairs, Michelle Otero Valdes, Capt. Alan S. Richard, Carol Finklehoffe, and Jake Munch, the ALC acted cohesively and is certain to build upon its momentum and continue to progress in 2019-2020. We invite interested members of the Bar to attend ALC meetings and encourage them to apply for committee membership.
Tyler J. Tanner, Chair
Admiralty and Maritime Law Certification
This year the Admiralty and Maritime Law Certification Committee continued its work of preparing a comprehensive exam to test the knowledge, experience, and abilities of Florida lawyers striving to become certified in the area of admiralty and maritime law. This unique area of the law provides a challenge to test preparers and test takers. Recent court decisions related to the definition of a “vessel,” punitive damages for maritime workers, and the employment status of cruise line doctors have added another layer of challenge to the exam. The certification exam covers 15 distinct areas of admiralty and maritime law, including admiralty jurisdiction, marine insurance, limitation of liability, maritime liens, and maritime personal injuries. Each area may contain as many as five or six subtopics, all of which are important areas of inquiry for the exam. The exam includes 100 mandatory multiple-choice questions and six fact patterns. The questions reflect the various specialties within the field, testing the applicant’s broad knowledge of admiralty procedure and maritime law. One goal of the committee and the Bar is to increase the number of certified lawyers to 75 as soon as possible. The committee encourages certified attorneys and law firms to mentor younger lawyers who are practicing admiralty and maritime law and will soon be meeting the five-year minimum experience requirement for taking the exam. Presentations promoting certification have been made at admiralty and maritime conferences including the Southeast Admiralty Law Institute held every year in June, Mariner’s Club conferences in Ft. Lauderdale and Tampa, Admiralty and Maritime Law Committee meetings, the ABA TIPS — Admiralty and Maritime Law Committee, St. Thomas University Maritime Law Society, and The University of Miami Maritime Law Society symposium on “A Maritime State of Disformity.” During 2018-19, the committee met to prepare and review test questions. The committee also reviewed the applications submitted by potential test-takers to ensure applications met the minimum qualifications for certification. In addition, the committee reviewed applications for recertification along with applications for advanced admiralty and maritime law certification credits based on seminars and presentations given in Florida and around the country. Admiralty and maritime lawyers who were certified in 1999, 2004, 2009, or 2014, will be due to file a recertification application by May 31. The filing period for initial applications is July 1 through August 31. Thank you to the members of the 2018-2019 committee for their hard work and commitment to ensuring the highest standards for certification are maintained. Committee members for 2018-2019 are Vice Chair Christopher R. Koehler, Theresa M. Bennett, Mark J. Buhler, Raul J. Chacon, Jr., Tonya J. Meister, Frank J. Sioli, Jr., and Howard T. Sutter. A special thank you to our Bar staff liaison, Jason Rawls, whose hard work and support were indispensable to our work throughout this past year.
I invite all eligible admiralty and maritime law attorneys to apply for certification. There is no better way for a maritime attorney to advance his or her skills, professionalism, and ability to network in this exciting and expanding area of the law. C. Ryan M. Eslinger, Chair
The Standing Committee on Advertising is responsible for advising members of The Florida Bar on permissible advertising and marketing practices. The committee, which meets periodically as needed, reviews appeals of opinions issued by staff counsel, offers guidance to staff in evaluating lawyer advertisements, makes recommendations regarding rule changes, and provides guidance to Florida Bar members concerning both the substantive and procedural requirements of the advertising rules.
The committee advises Bar members on the substance of the advertising rules through a variety of different methods. An in-depth analysis of the filing requirements, substantive regulations, and committee interpretations is provided by the committee’s Handbook on Lawyer Advertising and Solicitation. The Handbook is regularly updated by Bar staff to reflect important changes that have occurred and is currently available on the website for easy access by Bar members. The Handbook and other information addressed in this report are available on the Bar’s website at www.floridabar.org.
This was a busy year for the Standing Committee on Advertising. In addition to reviewing advertisements filed by members of The Florida Bar, the committee reviewed numerous articles and opinions regarding significant national trends and developments in legal advertising and marketing.
• Proposed Amendments to Rules on Lawyer Advertising and Solicitation — A subcommittee of the Professional Ethics Committee has recommended an amendment to the comment to Rule 4-7.18 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar which addresses solicitation. The recommended amendment would clarify what types of exchange of information with prospective clients would be acceptable at professional and social gatherings as well as on social media. The issue has been referred to the Standing Committee on Advertising. The committee will be considering the amendment at its next meeting.
The committee also discussed possible amendments to Rule 4-7.22, which the committee deferred pending the Florida Supreme Court ruling on an already-filed petition to amend that rule.
• Other Accomplishments — By far the most time-consuming task of the committee this year, as in past years, has been reviewing advertisements filed by members of The Florida Bar to determine whether they comply with the advertising rules. The committee reviews decisions of its staff regarding lawyer advertisements if committee review of staff’s interpretation of a particular rule or advertisement is requested by an advertising attorney. Advertisers may request review of committee decisions by the Board of Governors if they wish. The committee also provides guidance to its staff and advertisers, pursuant to requests for guidance, in order to foster compliance with the rules and to permit advertisers to accomplish their legitimate advertising goals. The committee works hard to apply the advertising rules fairly to all types of advertisements and to balance the rights of advertisers with the needs and concerns of the public.
The committee has also taken the lead in investigating entities that may be considered lawyer referral services or other qualifying providers under Florida Bar rules and has spent extensive time monitoring these entities to protect the public and the lawyers of the state of Florida from entities that do not follow the advertising and ethical standards of the Florida Bar.
The committee, through its staff, continues to publish a column in The Florida Bar News periodically, “Advertising Updates.” Articles have been published explaining the most recent revisions to the advertising rules and providing information regarding recent opinions of the Board of Governors and the committee regarding compliance with lawyer advertising rules. The committee also updates the Bar’s website with new material and information when needed in order to provide Bar members with as much information as possible to assist them in compliance with the lawyer advertising rules.
• Composition of the Committee and Florida Bar Staff — The Standing Committee on Advertising is made up of nonlawyers as well as lawyers. We believe that this has contributed substantially to our work and our broad perspective on advertising and marketing. I thank each of our committee members: Jackson Wolfe Adams, Zachary Leo Catanzaro, Winston W. Gardner, Jr., Leland Eric Garvin, Neidy Elina Hornsby, Anthony J. Jackson, Alexis Rosenberg, Paul Alan Shapiro, Joseph Buford Towne, and Viviana Pedroso Varela.
Finally, the committee thanks our board liaison, Adam Glenn Rabinowitz, Division of Ethics and Consumer Protection Division Director Lori Holcomb, and our hardworking staff: Assistant Ethics Counsels Joy A. Bruner, Huy-Yen T. Cam, Gail E. Ferguson, Jonathan D. Grabb, Jeffrey M. Hazen, LiliJean Quintiliani, and Kelly N. Smith, Paralegal Donna Hostutler, Administrative Support 4 Pamela Brown, Administrative Support 2 Susan Permenter, and Administrative Support 2 Kelley Hamilton, headed by Ethics Counsel Elizabeth Clark Tarbert. Without the participation, guidance, experience, and hard work of these individuals, the business of this committee could not be accomplished.
Connie Reeves Bookman, Chair
Unconventional. It is a word that could be used to describe the groundbreaking work of The Florida Bar in so many areas this year, as you will read in other section and committee reports. The 2019 Florida Bar Annual Convention celebrates this work with an “unCONVENTIONal” theme running throughout convention. All of your favorite events are back, but with a fresh focus on the member’s convention experience. From committee meetings to receptions, from big luncheons to the hallway magic of networking one-on-one, from CLE seminars to the return of the beloved “puppy pit,” the 2019 annual convention is a don’t-miss event for any Bar member.
The 2019 annual convention will take place June 26-29 at the Boca Raton Resort & Club, recently voted as one of the “Top Ten Resorts in Florida” by Conde Nast Traveler magazine. Situated on 356 manicured acres, this property is well known to Florida Bar members as the site of past conventions. In between meetings, members can take time for health and wellness at the award-winning spa, championship golf and tennis, beautiful pools, flow-rider surf school, marina, fine dining, and expansive beach.
There is so much to offer that I encourage attendees to download and use the 2019 Annual Convention App to keep track of it all. Every day offers CLE opportunities, including two timely and interesting Presidential Showcase CLEs from the Criminal Law Section and the Media & Communications Law Committee. My favorite convention event is the General Assembly with speeches by and about the incoming Bar president and president-elect, the introduction of the Young Lawyers Division president and president-elect, and a recap of the Bar year from the outgoing president.
Several groups have formal luncheons, including the 50-Year Member Luncheon, Diversity and Inclusion Luncheon, and our most popular luncheon, the Judicial Luncheon. The Judicial Luncheon is scheduled for Thursday and is open to anyone who purchases a ticket. This year’s luncheon will feature remarks from Chief Justice Charles T. Canady on the state of the judiciary and the formal introduction to the Bar of our three new Florida Supreme Court justices: Justice Barbara Lagoa, Justice Robert J. Luck, and Justice Carlos G. Muñiz. If you would like to watch the new justices in action, you may also want to attend the final round of the Robert Orseck Moot Court Competition on Thursday afternoon, where some of the state’s best law school students participate in oral argument before the Florida Supreme Court.
Every evening there are a variety of social activities and networking events, including the First Time Attendee and Exhibit & Sponsor Reception Wednesday evening, the All-Member Reception on Thursday evening, and the President’s Reception on Friday evening. The theme of the President’s Reception is “Bright Lights, Big City,” and the party celebrates President Michelle Suskauer and all the shining accomplishments of the Bar and its members this year.
It has been a privilege to plan the 2019 Florida Bar Annual Convention with Vice Chair Vivian Cortes Hodz, an amazing convention committee, and the committed team in The Florida Bar Meetings Department, including Kathy Tucker, Beth Anne Trombetta, Rodney McCammon, Jamie Moore, and Brooke Smith. The annual convention is made possible by the hard work of Bar staff, dedication of committee volunteers, and generous support of our sponsors. We have several named sponsors and a full contingent of exhibitors with booths featuring their products and services, whose names are all available on the convention app. We also had unbelievable support from law firms, sections of The Florida Bar, voluntary bar associations, and law schools who sponsored the Judicial Luncheon. In addition to planning this year’s convention, the committee evaluated previous conventions to continue improving the look, feel, accessibility, and value of the convention for Florida Bar members. We hope you enjoy the “unconventional” convention this year!
Katherine Hurst Miller, Chair
Antitrust and Trade Regulation Certification
The Antitrust and Trade Regulation Certification Committee consists of five board-certified members: Judge Lori Rowe serves as the chair of the committee, and Robert Palmer serves as vice chair. Other members include William Blechman, Lizabeth Brady, and Gregory Hansel. Mark Osherow serves as the BLSE liaison to the certification committee.
Antitrust law is the substantive area of law dealing with anticompetitive conduct or structure affecting consumer welfare. The federal Sherman Act and analogous Florida statutes are the principal laws applicable to antitrust cases. Trade regulation law covers the substantive area of law dealing with deceptive, unfair, or unconscionable acts or practices, and unfair methods of competition under the Federal Trade Commission Act and Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.
The Antitrust and Trade Regulation Certification Committee has worked diligently to propose rule amendments to the standards for certification to expand the practice areas covered by this certification to include the practice of consumer protection law. This proposal is consistent with and reflects the practices of many Florida attorneys certified in antitrust and trade regulation law. Antitrust and trade regulation bar associations, including the American Bar Association’s Section of Antitrust Law, have similarly expanded their focus, recognizing that antitrust attorneys often represent clients in actions involving consumer protection law.
The proposed amendments would provide a pathway to board certification for attorneys whose practices focus on consumer protection law, including actions involving Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. Given the fact that the committee is always seeking to increase the number of board-certified attorneys in antitrust and trade regulation law, adopting the proposed amendments would provide a much-needed boost to that number. The proposed rule amendments are proceeding through the Bar’s review process.
I thank each member of the committee for their commitment to professionalism and their diligent efforts to promote the growth of the certification area. It has been an honor to serve as chair of the committee, and I look forward to a successful year ahead.
Judge Lori S. Rowe, Chair
Appellate Court Rules
Appellate attorneys may not be known for high drama or controversy, but 2018-2019 has been a wild ride for the Appellate Court Rules Committee (ACRC). With major changes to the rules being adopted by the Florida Supreme Court and many more alterations heading toward finalization for our 2020 regular-cycle report, our amazing and dedicated team has spent countless hours in the never-ending quest to make the appellate process easier, modern, and more efficient.
As for the changes that came to fruition this year, the Florida Supreme Court released several opinions that amended, in some significant ways, the appellate rules and appellate procedure as of January 1. The biggest change was the death of the five-day rule in the Rules of Judicial Administration. That opinion can be found at In re Amendments to Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, 257 So. 3d 66 (Fla. 2018). Anticipating the adaptations that would be necessary as a result of the loss of extra time, the ACRC proposed, and the Supreme Court adopted, expanded deadlines in appellate proceedings for responsive pleadings due after service of another brief, petition, or motion. For example, answer briefs are now due 30 days after service of the initial brief and reply briefs are due 30 days after service of the answer brief. Responses to motions in the appellate courts are now due 15 days after service of the motion. Amendments were made to time periods in the following rules: 9.100, 9.110, 9.120, 9.125, 9.130, 9.40, 9.141, 9.142, 9.146, 9.180, 9.200, 9.210, 9.300, 9.320, 9.330, 9.331, 9.350, 9.360, and 9.410.
Another Supreme Court opinion addressed ACRC’s 2017 regular-cycle report and can be found at In re: Amendments to Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure — 2017 Regular-Cycle Report, 256 So. 3d 1218 (Fla. 2018). The major focus of the opinion concerned ACRC’s proposal that the rules require county-to-circuit appeals be heard by three-judge panels. The court did not adopt that proposal, but the chief justice has established a workgroup that is taking a hard look at the feasibility and options for this idea.
Included among the changes the court did adopt from the 2017 regular-cycle report are the following:
• 9.130 — Appealable non-final orders include two new categories: 1) orders that determine, as a matter of law, that a settlement agreement is unenforceable, set aside, or never existed, and 2) orders that grant or deny a motion to disqualify counsel;
• 9.146 and 9.210 — Only one brief per party/attorney may be filed when responding to multiple briefs on the other side;
• 9.380 — New rule that permits notices of related cases;
• 9.400 — Amended the rule to explain when motions for attorneys’ fees are due in cases pending at the Florida Supreme Court; and
• 9.330 — Motions for rehearing and written opinion:
1) rule was cleaned up and reorganized;
2) only one motion now permitted to encompass all post-opinion relief options;
3) expanded the grounds for which a party may seek a written opinion: legitimate basis for supreme court review; or deviation from prior precedent; or guidance needed because a) issue pending in other cases, b) issue expected to recur, c) conflict in lower tribunals, d) issue of first impression, or e) court has exclusive subject matter jurisdiction over issue.
Additionally, there were numerous other changes, some of substance and some of style, to a multitude of the rules. They are far too numerous for this report; I encourage you to read through the new rules carefully if you find yourself filing a notice of appearance in an appellate court.
Finally, several amendments were made in a separate opinion to the citation rule. Those changes mainly cleaned up the rule and indicated that citations to Westlaw and Lexis may also be provided when citing to a slip opinion. That opinion can be found at In re: Amendments to Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.800, 257 So. 3d 91 (Fla. 2018).
Turning from the past to the present, the ACRC has a couple out-of-cycle proposals currently pending at the Florida Supreme Court or quickly on their way. The currently pending proposal is case number SC18-2011, which seeks to amend 1) Rule 9.130 to add orders creating permanent guardianships in dependency cases to the list of appealable nonfinal orders; and 2) Rule 9.200 to fix the problem of over redaction of records on appeal, which results in electronic records that are virtually useless to counsel on appeal. Additionally, the ACRC is planning to propose an out-of-cycle amendment, prompted by the Florida Supreme Court’s referral, to institute a method for respondents to alert the court of any issues they wish to present on cross-review once the court has granted discretionary review.
Finally, looking to the future, the ACRC has been hard at work on the next round of proposed amendments. This summer, the ACRC will publish for comment and present to the Board of Governors our 2020 regular-cycle report. Some of the more significant proposals are:
• Amend Rule 9.040 to require all appellate courts (including circuit courts sitting in their appellate capacity) to make publicly available on the court’s website all written opinions entered on an appeal or petition;
• Create Rule 9.045 to address the form of all documents filed in Florida appellate courts and alter the acceptable font styles for such documents;
• Amend Rules 9.100, 9.125, 9.141, 9.142, 9.210, and 9.370 to change from page to word count limits;
• Amend Rule 9.110(d) to require the notice of appeal to indicate the pendency of a motion postponing rendition;
• Amend Rule 9.110(e) to change the timing of the transmission of the record on appeal so that the record is received prior to the due date of the brief;
• Create Rule 9.210(f) to explain what sections a brief on jurisdiction should contain;
• Amend Rule 9.225 to permit brief argument in a Notice of Supplemental Authority;
• Amend Rule 9.300(d)(13) to remove the requirement that motions filed in the Florida Supreme Court be accompanied by a separate tolling request to toll appellate deadlines;
• Amend Rule 9.320 to add procedures for requesting oral argument in the Florida Supreme Court;
• Create Rule 9.332 to add procedures for en banc determination of circuit court appeals;
• Create Rule 9.425 as an appellate corollary to the civil procedure rule requiring notice be given to the attorney general when the constitutionality of a state statute or constitutional provision is called into question; and
• Amend Rule 9.440 to permit limited appearances by attorneys in the appellate courts.
For detailed information about the proposed amendments, please visit https://www.floridabar.org/about/cmtes/docs/?durl=/cmdocs/cm205.nsf/wdocs and click on the 2020 regular-cycle report.
As I said at the outset, it has been a wild ride. None of it would have been possible without the hard work and dedication of ACRC members. We are so fortunate to have some of the best and brightest folks from across the state with an unmatched depth and variety of experiences volunteering their time and efforts to consider and debate these proposals. I cannot highlight all of the 40-plus members, but particular thanks are due to my vice chairs: Tom Hall, Tom Ward, and, for the first half of my term, now-Justice Robert Luck. Without their wealth of knowledge and seemingly unlimited willingness to share it, this year would not have been possible. And many thanks to Secretary Aaron Daniel, who, as anyone who has ever had to record minutes for a group that loves to debate will know, has the hardest job on the ACRC. Though not far behind him on the hardest job front and equally deserving of my immense gratitude are our liaisons who manage to make it to two raucous rules gatherings during each Bar meeting: Kristina Samuels (RJA) and Andy Stanton (criminal procedure). Special thanks are due to Parliamentarian Rachel Nordby for keeping us all in line. I am so grateful to all of the subcommittee chairs for moving our proposals along, particularly as we were nearing our regular-cycle report deadlines: Diane DeWolf (electronic filing), Tom Hall (Supreme Court conformity), Robin Hazel (family law), Keri Joseph (criminal), David Luck (original proceedings), Rachel Nordby (IOP), Nikole Hiciano O’Neil (general practice), Sarah Rumph (administrative law), Laura Triplett (record on appeal), Tom Ward (civil), and Nicole Ziegler (workers’ compensation).
Last, but never least, we could never do what we do without our amazing liaison, Heather Telfer. From an encyclopedic knowledge of past committee actions, to her love of efficient and organized meetings, through her firm but patient hand in working through technology issues (no matter how obnoxious the mic feedback got!), we simply would not be the fantastic committee we are without her. It has been an honor to be on the ACRC these past six years, and I am so fortunate to have had the chance to work with this wonderful team.
Courtney Brewer, Chair
Appellate Practice Certification
As interest in appellate practice continues to grow, the work of the Appellate Practice Certification Committee continues to expand. The committee was fortunate to gain four new members this year who brought their expertise and enthusiasm to the tasks at hand. In addition to writing the exam questions — a feat in itself — the committee worked on approving those seeking initial certification or recertification.
The start of the year was comprised of reviewing the feedback received on the prior year’s exam and addressing those issues in this year’s exam. Of course, writing the exam takes significant time and effort. Most committee members will agree that writing the questions is much more difficult than anticipated. Given the exam addresses so many areas of appellate practice, most committee members had to draft questions outside their personal expertise. Although daunting, the task does present an opportunity to expand one’s field of knowledge.
In addition to exam writing, the committee is tasked with evaluating those seeking initial certification and/or recertification. This year was a banner year for the committee. Thirty-three initial applications were received. Of those 33, 27 sat for the exam. As of the writing of this report, we do not know how many passed. Twenty-six certified attorneys sought recertification. Of course, as the number of appellate board certified lawyers increases, so will the recertification numbers.
Two issues continue to hinder the application or recertification process: peer review and oral arguments. As for peer review, many judges and lawyers either fail to return the peer review requests or, if they do return them, state they do not have sufficient knowledge to evaluate the applicant. This requires the committee to send out additional peer review requests which simply slows the process down. This can be frustrating for applicants who are waiting to hear if they may sit for the exam. As for oral arguments, the committee is seeing more requests for waiver of the oral argument requirement on initial certification and recertification. The most common reasons cited are client cost constraints and the appellate courts dispensing with oral argument more regularly.
The committee is also working on 1) amending its rules to address appellate judges who wish to seek initial certification after serving on the bench, and 2) revising its application to make it easier for applicants to complete and committee members to review. As chair of the committee, I am very grateful for the committee members who have stepped up to take on additional tasks this year. I recognize and thank the committee members for exemplary service: Chris Carlyle, David Caldevilla, Kansas Gooden, Jack Pelzer, Duane Daiker, Andy Berman, Carrie Ann Wozniak, and Tom Hunter. The committee thanks the following former committee members and board certified specialists who graciously gave up their free time to serve as pre-testers for this year’s exam: John Greco, Nancy Gregoire, Rob Hauser, and Jack Reiter. Finally, the committee thanks our Bar certification specialist Arlee Colman for her hard work and congratulate her on her move to the Journal & News staff. Thank you to Maritza McGill who seamlessly jumped right in as our Bar certification specialist when Arlee’s move was effective. As usual, everything this great Bar does is a combination of tireless attorney volunteers and dedicated and skilled Bar staff.
Jamie Billotte Moses, Chair
Florida is home to numerous businesses and governmental agencies serving aviation and aerospace industries. The Aviation Law Committee supports its members, whose practices include aviation and space law, through continued education and networking with other experienced aviation lawyers.
The committee holds semi-annual educational sessions in conjunction with The Florida Bar’s winter and summer meetings, covering topics within the broad area of expertise required of aviation lawyers, including criminal, tort, litigation, employment, products liability, transactional, and insurance defense, as well as administrative and regulatory practice before the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), National Transportation Safety Board, and Transportation Security Administration. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, “drones”) have been of special interest to the committee over the past year. Attendance at the sessions satisfy, in part, CLE credit requirements of those who are Florida Bar board certified in aviation law. Additionally, committee members often present sessions during the aviation law board certification exam’s review, held in January of each year immediately following the Embry-Riddle Aviation Law and Insurance Symposium. This seminar includes presentations on topics covered in the certification exam, including litigation, aeronautics and space law, aircraft registration and recording law, international treaties and conventions, airport land use, air taxi operations, airline labor law, and FAA enforcement and administrative actions.
The committee publishes an online newsletter, Vectors (https://www.floridabar.org/about/cmtes/cmtes-cm/cmte-cm015/).
The committee and its members work closely with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University as well as the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Experimental Aircraft Association, International Air and Transportation Safety Bar Association, and Lawyer-Pilots Bar Association. The committee endowed the Eilon Krugman-Kadi scholarship with Embry Riddle, in honor of a former committee member.
We welcome participation of Florida Bar attorneys with an interest in, or who practice, aviation law but are not yet members.
I thank Stefanie Svisco of The Florida Bar and Elisabeth Kozlow, vice chair, for coordinating our January meeting and helping to ensure its success. Finally, I thank those who attend our meetings and contribute to the transfer of knowledge, and committee members who assist The Florida Bar and its membership in this highly technical area of law.
David H. Abrams, Chair
Aviation Law Certification
The Florida Bar now has 42 attorneys board certified in aviation law. Over the years, this committee has met the challenge of changing the exam with the times, such as incorporating space law and drones in the current exam. In addition, the committee has worked to ensure that the exam reflects the very diverse field of aviation law, which includes, but is not limited to, aircraft registration, aircraft transactions, FAA pilot regulation, and the area most identified with aviation law, aircraft crash litigation.
We encourage anyone who wants to be board certified in aviation law to review the criteria on The Florida Bar website, sign up and take the exam. This committee has developed an excellent examination study guide, which is complete with key cases, regulations, statutes, treaties, etc., which is the key to passing the exam, since none of the attorneys who are board certified in this area practice in all the subspecialties of aviation law.
This year we had three applicants take the exam, and we will be publishing the results in the next few months.
If anyone has any questions about the process, committee members and other attorneys who are also board certified in this area are more than willing to help and provide advice and guidance.
There is also a review course held every year to provide substantive information and answer questions.
I thank the committee for their work guided by an excellent Bar liaison, Allison Armour — the best! Specifically, Vice Chair Charlie Morgenstein, Don Anderson, Galen Bauer, Jerry Trachtman, Pat Leid, Pat Phillips, Stuart Goldstein, and Chris Jahr, I sincerely thank you all.
It has been my pleasure to serve on this committee a number of times throughout the years, and I am proud that we have a good group of practitioners who are dedicated to the field and to each other to share advice on cases, updates on the law, and who genuinely love aviation.
John F. Eversole III, Chair
Business Litigation Board Certification
The Business Litigation Certification Committee is composed of nine board certified business litigators, including two that are also sitting as circuit court judges. Hank Jackson is currently serving as committee chair, with Mike Freed serving as vice chair. Other committee members include Donna Solomon, Sheila Biehl, Andrew Lannon, Joanne O’Connor, Jeremy Slusher, Judge Kimberly Sharpe-Byrd, and Judge Janet Carney-Croom. Each committee member values board certification and has given freely of their time to actively participate in committee meetings.
The certification committee had five meetings at which the committee has, among other things, reviewed initial and recertification applications, composed, edited, and reviewed exam questions, as well as discussed various ways to improve the initial and recertification application process.
The committee has also worked diligently on a proposed rule amendment to allow for an advance trial advocacy course, which specifically covers jury trial skills, to qualify as a substitute for the jury trial requirement. This proposed amendment came as result of a decreasing number of applicants who were otherwise qualified but had difficulty meeting the jury trial requirement. The amendment was approved by the Board of Governors in October 2018. The committee has noticed an increase in the numbers of initial applicants as a result of the rule change.
The committee received and reviewed 11 initial applications. The exam is scheduled for May 17. The committee will meet in conjunction with The Florida Bar’s annual convention in Boca Raton to grade certification exams. The committee also received and reviewed 44 recertification applications. There are now 234 Florida attorneys who are board certified in business litigation.
Board certification remains one of the highest honors that a practitioner can achieve. To those who wish to become board certified in business litigation, we appreciate your interest in this certification area and encourage you to persist. To those who are currently board certified in this area, thank you for your continued support of the program.
I personally thank each committee member for their hard work and dedication in enhancing the certification process and providing guidance to those who wish to become board certified and recertified in business litigation. It has been an honor to serve as chair of the Business Litigation Committee.
Hank Jackson, Chair
Board of Legal Specialization and Education
The Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization and Education (BLSE) has the responsibility to administer the programs for regulation of certification according to Chapter 6 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, as well as to oversee the legal education offered to the membership. There are 16 members of the BLSE who serve: Chair Kim Ashby; Vice Chair Steve Lesser, Frank T. Adams, Philip R. Augustine, G. Scott Baitty, Susan J. Cole, Joseph F. “Skooter” Kinman, Jr., Michele L. Lieberman, Robert A. Norgard, Mark Osherow, Colin M. Roopnarine, Elisha D. Roy, Elaine Thompson, Joseph J. Weissman, David C. Willis, and Barbara C. Wingo.
Each member of the BLSE is assigned as a liaison to designated areas of certification and monitors issues and events for the individual certification areas as needed.
During the current Bar year, BLSE has examined the impact of service as a judge or magistrate on a member’s status as board certified. Specifically, BLSE has studied the definitions of “inactive status” to ensure that it is applied logically and uniformly to all areas of certification which may be affected, and to afford recognition for members who serve as judges and magistrates and then returned to practice as a lawyer. BLSE is also in the process of studying the rules as applied to members who become full-time mediators.
BLSE continues to support the program which coordinates and makes available board certified lawyers to answer questions on a pro bono, “on-call” basis, known as the Certified Lawyers On Call Program (CLOC). In its inaugural year, the CLOC Program announced that it went live in January, and has experienced an enthusiastic response to its services. CLOC may be contacted at https://thefloridabarfoundation.org/pro-bono-partnerships/certified-lawyers-on-call/.
In its continuing effort to assure the members applying for board certification are treated fairly and uniformly across the various certification areas, BLSE has engaged a new exam consultant to revisit the methodology for administering and creating the examinations, as well as a review of the grading process. This review is tandem with BLSE’s review of the test specifications, which identify the subject matter areas for examination as well as the courses endorsed for preparation of the examinations.
As part of an integrated effort to apprise the public regarding board certification, the BLSE approved the upgrades and improvements to public service announcements and other media designed to educate the consumers of legal services about board certification and to facilitate the identification of those who are recognized by The Florida Bar as being board certified.
BLSE was asked to speak at the ABA forum on legal specialization and certification in recognition of Florida as one of the states leading the continual development of board certification. BLSE presented on the topics of due process and advertising exclusivity of members who wish to advertise as specialists in a practice area in Florida. BLSE was also specifically highlighted to report at both Council of Sections meetings for The Florida Bar on the state of board certification in Florida.
Finally, BLSE serves as an appellate review board for board certified members and applicants who seek further review of decisions made by The Florida Bar committees overseeing the certification areas.
At The Florida Bar Annual Convention on Thursday, June 27, Chief Justice Charles T. Canady will present the Justice Harry Lee Anstead award in recognition of The Florida Bar board certified Lawyer of the Year. This award goes to the member who is board certified and who demonstrates outstanding excellence, professionalism, and commitment to the certification program and to the practice of law in Florida. BLSE will also host its annual certification forum to serve as a roundtable for discussion on continuing to evolve and improve certification in Florida.
Kim Ashby, Chair
The Florida Bar Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) is composed of 12 nonlawyer Floridians with varied interests and backgrounds who serve to provide two-way communication between the state’s citizens and The Florida Bar Board of Governors.
The objectives of the committee are to serve as a feedback mechanism and sounding board on Bar plans and programs and to advise the Bar regarding public understanding and support of significant legal and justice issues. Up to three attorney members are also appointed to the committee annually to serve as resources. The committee meets three times a year: twice in conjunction with Board of Governors meetings and once at annual convention, and as needed by teleconference on certain matters between the in-person meetings.
During the 2018-2019 Bar year, the CAC will have three in-person meetings and several teleconferences. Larry Tyree, one of the two public members of the Board of Governors is the chair, and Sylvia Carra-Hahn of Tampa, who is in her third year serving on the committee as a nonlawyer, is vice chair. Mary Ann Morgan of Winter Park is the only lawyer member this year. Sharon Middleton, the other public member of the Board of Governors, is serving as the Board Communications Committee liaison.
At the first meeting in July 2018, President Michelle Suskauer spoke to the committee and outlined her priorities for the year. She also asked the committee to do a signature project this year to educate other nonlawyers on how they can get involved in the Bar and the justice system as volunteers. Details on that project are included later in this report. Executive Director Josh Doyle also addressed the committee and thanked them for their commitment to The Florida Bar. An overview and update on The Florida Bar Foundation was presented by President Juliette Lippman who also provided a fact sheet describing the background and mission of the organization, the budget and charitable activities, grants for legal aid, and efforts to improve Florida’s justice system.
For the January meeting in Tallahassee, the committee attended the legislative reception, met with the Board Communications Committee, and attended the Pro Bono Awards ceremony, the Florida Supreme Court Historical Society Annual Dinner, and the Board of Governors meeting. During the committee’s own meeting, they heard an outlook for the 2019 legislative session from BOG Legislation Committee Co-Chair Gary Lesser. Several members offered to serve as key contacts for legislators, and all said they will follow the weekly updates during the session for information on how they may assist further. The members also heard an update from President Suskauer and Executive Director Doyle.
The Bar’s efforts to improve the health and wellness of Florida lawyers have also been of interest to the members of the committee, because healthy lawyers serve their clients best. Of particular interest is the Young Lawyers Division’s #StigmaFreeYLD campaign.
The committee will have one more teleconference meetings in May to prepare the recommendation for the implementation of their project. The purpose of the project is to increase awareness of public/nonlawyer member appointment opportunities to serve in Florida’s justice and legal systems. The committee members researched the following groups/organizations that have nonlawyers on boards, committees, and as volunteers, and they interviewed nonlawyer volunteers about their service. The collected information is being assembled for easy access on a webpage, and the final report will include recommendations on how to create awareness about these opportunities among Floridians through various outreach efforts.
• Judicial Nomination Commissions;
• Judicial Qualifications Commission;
• Florida Board of Bar Examiners;
• Florida Lawyers Assistance, Inc. Board;
• The Florida Bar Foundation Board;
• The Florida Bar Board of Governors;
• Florida Bar Standing Committee on Advertising;
• Florida Bar Standing Committee on UPL and Circuit Committees;
• Florida Bar Circuit Grievance Committees;
• Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators;
• Guardian ad Litem;
• Victim Advocates;
•Legal Aid Organization Boards; and
• Victim Advocates.
The last meeting will be in person at the 2019 annual convention in June, and the members will also attend the Judicial Luncheon, the Foundation’s Annual Dinner, and the General Assembly. During the June meeting, an orientation will be given to new members who will be appointed by President-Elect John Stewart for 2019-2020. Leaving the committee after serving three-year terms are nonlawyers Sylvia Carra-Hahn of Tampa, Louis Kalivoda of Gainesville, Herb Polson of St. Petersburg, and Petula Burks of Plantation. Their service has been greatly appreciated. More information on the Citizens Advisory Committee, including its charter and members’ photos and biographies, can be found at www.floridabar.org/citizensadvisory. Lawrence W. Tyree, Chair
City, County and Local Government Law Certification
As chair of the committee, I thank the committee for their hard work and dedication. It is only through a truly collaborative effort that we have been able to prepare and refine the 2019 examination. In addition to preparing the examination, the committee’s role is to review prospective candidates for first time certification, review applications for those seeking recertification, and grade the examination, which has been written to assess the competency of attorneys seeking to distinguish themselves as specialists in the field of city, county, and local government law.
I am privileged to serve on the committee with Katherine Latorre (vice chair), Donna Marie Collins, Dean DiRose, Anne Gibson, Henry Hunnefeld, Derek Rooney, Sara Taitt, and Kenneth Tinkler. They are all professionals working at the highest level within our field of specialization. In addition, a special thanks to Allison Armour, our staff liaison, who has done a magnificent job of keeping us on track in meeting our assignment objectives and goals.
It has been an honor to serve on this committee, and I urge attorneys who are thinking about becoming more involved to consider serving on a Florida Bar committee. It is a rewarding experience and provides an opportunity to interact with professionals who share your passion for a particular field of law.
Pamala H. Ryan, Chair
Civil Procedure Rules
The Civil Procedure Rules Committee has continued its efforts to develop and improve the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure over the last year. Our committee has worked hard to respond thoughtfully and efficiently to proposals from judges, lawyers, legislative enactments, and directions from the Florida Supreme Court, and we are proud to report that we have approved several rules revisions that were presented in our recent 2019 cycle report to The Florida Bar Board of Governors.
That cycle report proposes many significant revisions and additions to our Rules of Civil Procedure, including amendments to Rule 1.090 (clarifying rules governing time), Rule 1.350 (updating the language governing production of document and things), Rule 1.380 (updating the rule governing failure to make discovery and sanctions in light of the holding in CB Condominiums, Inc v. GRS South Florida, Inc., 165 So. 3d 739 (Fla. 4th DCA 2015), Rule 1.442 (revising the rule governing proposals for settlement to conform with Attorneys’ Title Insurance Fund, Inc. v. Gorka, 26 So. 3d 646), Rule 1.510 (clarifying rules governing summary judgements), Rule 1.535 (adding a new rule governing remittitur and additur), Rule 1.540 (addressing the concerns raised in De La Osa v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 208 So. 3d 259 (Fla. 3d DCA 2016) and permitting relief from final orders and final judgments), Rule 1.610 (revising the rule regarding injunctions in light of the ruling in Salas v. Alexander, 159 So. 3d 387 (Fla. 3d DCA 2015)), Rule 1.650 (updating the outdated, technology-specific terms in the rule governing medical malpractice presuit screening), Rule 1.730 (updating the language of the rule governing completion of mediation), Rule 1.830 (making corrections to the rule governing voluntary binding arbitration), and making improvements to multiple forms used in civil practice: Form 1.902 (Summons), Form 1.923 (Eviction Summons/Residential), Form 1.952 (Proposal for Settlement), Form 1.984 (Juror Voir Dire Questionnaire), Form 1.996(a) (Final Judgement of Foreclosure), Form 1.996(b) (Final Judgment of Foreclosure for Reestablishment of Lost Note), and Appendix I — Standard Interrogatories Forms, Form 1 (General Personal Injury Negligence — Interrogatories to Plaintiff), and Form 2 (General Personal Injury Negligence — Interrogatories to Defendant)).
The committee’s ongoing efforts include proposals to revise pretrial discovery procedures in Rule1.650, undertaking a full review of all forms used in civil practice to ensure they are balanced by addressing the needs of both plaintiffs and defendants, reviewing the guidelines for taxation of costs, revising the rules governing recordable technologies, considering new caselaw governing the service of motions for sanctions under Fla. Stat. §57.105, and working together with the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee to consider rules governing limited appearances in the state of Florida and proposals governing the use of electronic signatures in state courts. The committee also continues to monitor changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and is considering whether to adjust state court filing deadlines to more closely conform to federal practice to provide uniformity for practitioners working in both systems.
Moreover, the committee is looking forward to its upcoming Supreme Court oral argument regarding proposed cy pres Rule 1.220, which would clarify the mechanism for distributions of residual and unclaimed funds in class action lawsuits as part of a joint project with the Pro Bono Legal Services Committee.
The committee has also worked to improve the rulemaking function itself by joining the Florida Supreme Court to consider structural improvements to the process. It is our collective hope that the procedure for revising the rules governing our courts be more efficient and inclusive. We have worked together with the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration, our other fellow rules committees, and Chief Justice Canady to consider improvements to the rulemaking process in this state.
The extensive and difficult work of this important committee is done by some of our state’s most esteemed practitioners and jurists, all of whom demonstrate a selfless devotion to improving the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. I recognize my impressive team of co-chairs: Ardith Bronson, Miguel Chamorro, and Rachael Loukonen, who have devoted countless hours to leading the committee, as well as rolling up their sleeves to serve as chairs of important subcommittees.
I also acknowledge the broad-ranging contributions of Keith Park, who assists the committee as its parliamentarian and who chairs an important subcommittee revising the taxation of costs guidelines; Ceci Berman for her critical work as chair of the standing drafting subcommittee; and Judge Daryl Trawick for his ongoing efforts to review and revise all Supreme Court approved civil procedure forms. And none of those excellent projects could have progressed without the wise and steady efforts of our immediate past chair, Judge Rodolfo Ruiz II, who continues his good work and leadership on our committee. Finally, I and the entire committee offer our wholehearted thanks and appreciation to our Florida Bar representative, Mikalla Davis, without whom it would have been impossible for us to accomplish so much over the course of this year.
It has been my great pleasure and honor to serve as chair of the Civil Procedure Rules Committee. I am proud of the committee’s great efforts and many accomplishments, and I am proud and very grateful to have had the opportunity to assist in the betterment of civil practice in Florida courts.
Scott M. Dimond, Chair
Civil Trial Certification
Civil trial law is the practice of law dealing with the litigation of civil controversies in all areas of substantive law before Florida circuit courts or other equivalent courts of the states and federal district courts. In addition to the pretrial and trial process, civil trial law includes evaluating, handling, and resolving civil controversies prior to the initiation of suit.
Civil trial law is one of Florida’s first certification areas, having been approved by the Florida Supreme Court in 1983. Currently, less than 1 percent of Florida lawyers are board certified civil trial lawyers. More than 100 board certified civil trial lawyers have been continuously certified since 1983.
The Civil Trial Certification Committee is charged with the responsibility of reviewing and recommending changes to the standards for certification in civil trial law; evaluating applications for certification and recertification; and preparing and grading the annual examination, which is a requirement for all applicants. In the 2018-19 year, we continued the work begun by past Chair Charles Ingram, thoroughly reviewing our protocols and making necessary changes. We’ve increased our emphasis on peer review and continue to develop ways to recognize trial participation for qualification purposes.
In 2018-2019, the committee successfully reviewed 209 applications for recertification. There were 35 applicants for initial certification who were eligible to sit for the March examination. The committee is currently in the process of grading the examinations and results will be sent to newly board certified attorneys before June 1. Last year, we proudly welcomed 20 new board certified civil trial lawyers.
This year, we made major changes to the exam in terms of format and grading designed to make it more reflective of the skills a practicing trial lawyer relies upon. The committee also embarked on a mission of promoting board certification. I spoke at the civil trial review seminar, and some members, led again by Ingram, will be working at this year’s Advanced Trial Advocacy seminar to fulfill that goal. We want to work more closely with the Trial Lawyers Section to accomplish that goal.
The committee owes special thanks to outgoing Vice Chair Charles Morehead III for his effort and input on policy; and of course, Amanda Barrett, our civil trial certification specialist from The Florida Bar, without whom we’d be lost.
Michael B. Feiler, Chair
Clients’ Security Fund
The Florida Bar Clients’ Security Fund was established in 1967 as a voluntary, discretionary fund to reimburse clients who have suffered a monetary loss as a result of misappropriation, embezzlement, or other wrongful taking by a member of The Florida Bar when acting as the claimant’s lawyer. The Clients’ Security Fund is currently financed by $25 of every active and inactive Florida Bar member’s annual fees, as well as each application to appear pro hac vice in Florida, and has over $2.6 million budgeted for fiscal year 2018-19 to pay claims brought by former clients. The fund reimburses clients under two circumstances: where an attorney takes an advance fee, but then fails to provide any services up to a maximum amount of $5,000, and for misappropriation or theft of client monies up to a maximum amount of $250,000. In the last fiscal year, the fund received 175 new claims and paid out nearly $2 million to clients for claims filed against 103 Florida lawyers. As of the date of this report, for the fiscal year ending June 30, the fund has received 144 new claims against 81 lawyers and has currently approved 35 claims with approved losses of over $2.5 million. Claims are paid only after a lawyer has been suspended, deceased, placed on the inactive list for incapacity not related to misconduct, or has had the member’s status as a member of The Florida Bar revoked or terminated. Fee claims, and misappropriation claims less than $1,000, are paid promptly after approval. All other claims are paid on a pro rata basis after the end of the fiscal year if there are not enough funds available to pay 100 percent of the approved losses.
Since its inception, the Clients’ Security Fund has processed more than 12,600 claims and paid out nearly $41 million dollars to victims of attorney theft.
Claims are filed in writing by the former client, reviewed by Bar staff and, when appropriate, referred to a voluntary member of the committee for investigation. The 2018-19 Clients’ Security Fund Committee is composed of 25 of these volunteer attorneys appointed from all regions of Florida by the Bar’s president-elect. The committee meets four times during the year, but its volunteer members are actively engaged in the review and investigation of claims throughout the year. This is a true working committee. Membership on the committee involves extensive time and energy in the investigation of claims and preparation of reports. Guided and assisted by dedicated Bar staff, claims are thoroughly investigated, and members make recommendations for approval or denial by the committee. Many investigations require active debate at committee meetings and discussions of claims at meetings are spirited, but always with the goal of doing the right thing for the injured client as well as being good stewards of the fund. Although committee meetings are confidential, final action on claims is subject to limited disclosure. Committee recommendations are ultimately submitted to the Board of Governors for final consideration.
As lawyers, we tend to hold ourselves in high regard, especially after the rigors of law school, scrutiny by the Florida Board of Bar Examiners, and continued oversight by The Florida Bar throughout our careers. Even though we feel this way about ourselves, during the investigation of claims and discussions with clients, we are repeatedly humbled by the notion that individual clients impart an unbelievable amount of trust in their chosen counsel. Breach of this trust devastates clients financially and emotionally. Bar staff and the Clients’ Security Fund Committee are devoted to repairing the public’s trust in members of the Bar and the legal system in general.
There are more than 106,000 lawyers in the state of Florida and claims under the Clients’ Security Fund are made against less than 0.1 percent of Florida lawyers. The work of the Clients’ Security Fund is an integral part of recovery and mitigation of losses to clients and the public whose trust and confidence in the legal profession has been negatively impacted by the wrongful acts of a few. The fund is one way in which the Bar strives to improve the public’s perception of Florida lawyers and to restore confidence in the profession.
I have served on this committee for six years and currently serve as chair. I have met some of the finest lawyers the Bar has to offer. Every member of the committee is to be commended for their diligence and hard work in processing claims.
All who serve on a Florida Bar committee know that this important work would not be accomplished without the dedication of Bar staff. Committee members and clients rely heavily on Bar staff, and without their commitment, we could not do our jobs. Thank you to Stacey Thrash, administrative support; Celia Connell, CSF administrator; and Lori S. Holcomb, division director of Ethics and Consumer Protection, for the tremendous effort, work, and discipline they have given to this committee.
Richard Montecalvo, Chair
Code and Rules of Evidence
The charter of the Code and Rules of Evidence Committee (CREC) requires this committee to consider proposals for changes to the Florida Rules of Evidence. For the 2018-2019 term, CREC successfully fulfilled its mission by considering bills and amendments to Florida legislation that would potentially impact the Florida Evidence Code and suggestions from practitioners and private citizens for improvements to the Florida Evidence Code.
CREC filed its regular-cycle report with the Florida Supreme Court on January 24 and proposed that the court adopt F.S. §90.204(4) as a rule of evidence, to the extent it is procedural. F.S. §90.204(4) authorizes judges in family cases to take judicial notice of certain court records without prior notice to the parties “when imminent danger to persons or property has been alleged” and it is impractical to give prior notice. This recommendation was approved by a CREC vote of 31-1-1. The Board of Governors concurred in the recommendation by a 36-0 vote.
In addition, and pursuant to the provisions of Standing Board Policy 9.20(d), CREC reviewed the sunsetting of Florida Bar legislative positions for the 2016-2018 biennium and voted to renew each position relating to F.S. Ch. 90, including amendments to F.S. §§90.202(9) and 90.205 (to modernize language for judicial notice); F.S. §90.406 (to conform relevance to Fed. R. Evid. 406 and Florida common law); F.S. §§90.603-90.607 (to align witness testimony provisions with other statutes and the federal rule); F.S. §90.803 (to make four subdivisions of the hearsay rule conform to the federal rule); F.S. §90.951 (to modernize language regarding writings, recordings, and photographs by adding new technology); and to support amendments to F.S. §§458.3175(2)(b), 459.066(2)(b), and 466.005(2)(b) “if otherwise qualified under Chapter 90 and 766, F.S.” and with the further understanding that The Florida Bar considers F.S. §§766.101(12) to be unconstitutional.
The Legislative Relations Subcommittee, led by G.C. Murray (also CREC vice chair), has quickly undertaken review of H.B. 409 and S.B. 548 relating to the admissibility of electronic legal documents, even though the 2019 Florida Legislature has been in regular session for less than two weeks. Murray has introduced himself to the members and staff of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and the House Committee on Constitution and Civil Law and will work in tandem with the Fast-Track Review Subcommittee (chaired by Wayne Hogan) to monitor and review proposed and pending legislation and appropriately advise the full committee on laws that may impact the Florida Evidence Code.
Greg Borgognoni, chair of the Education Subcommittee (and former CREC chair), has again handled the heavy lifting of planning and organizing CREC’s Hot Topics in Evidence seminar. This highly anticipated and successful seminar is scheduled for June 7 at the Orange County Bar Association offices in Orlando. The seminar agenda features well-qualified and respected judges, professors, and leading practitioners who will cover a broad range of topics. Of great interest to attendees will be the presentation on pitfalls associated with the admissibility of digital evidence. Bar members can attend in person or by webcast. We look forward to a solid attendance at this event.
Jonathan Galler, as chair of the LinkedIn Updates Subcommittee, led efforts to update the case law evidence summaries posted on CREC’s committee page of The Florida Bar website and reestablish CREC’s LinkedIn page highlighting recent judicial rulings on issues of evidence. Included in the posted case law evidence summaries is a synopsis of DeLisle v. Crane Co., 258 So. 3d 1219, 1229 (Fla. 2018), prepared by Wayne Hogan, who is also vice chair of CREC. In DeLisle, the court held that both the Daubert test and the Frye test are procedural, concluded that the “competing methods” for testing reliability conflicted, and reaffirmed “that Frye, not Daubert, is the appropriate test in Florida courts.” Cynthia Ross and Andrea McMillan were also instrumental in preparing and editing the posted summaries. CREC will also circulate the case law evidence summaries to other relevant rules committees and Florida Bar sections.
The Code Improvement Subcommittee, chaired by Jenifer Fortenberry, is monitoring and reporting to CREC all new case law from the Florida appellate courts concerning evidence, the workings of the federal judiciary and Congress related to the development of the Federal Evidence Code, and scholarly research discussing evidence law and trends.
CREC officers (Wayne Hogan, vice chair; G.C. Murray, vice chair; Andrea McMillan, vice chair; and Michael Strauch, secretary) provided critical leadership and reliably rose to answer every call to action. In addition, CREC’s committee liaisons continued to work hard and act as a vital resource to CREC. Curry Pajcic, as liaison to the Rules of Judicial Administration, dedicated extensive time toward attending the meetings and presenting on the activities and proposals of the RJA members. Judge Christine Marlewski kept CREC members informed about the Family Law Rules Committee’s activities. Cynthia Ross and Mara Marzano, both assistant state attorneys, educated CREC members on the activities of the Juvenile and Criminal Rules Committees respectively, and David Buckner kept tabs on the appellate rules’ proceedings. In addition, David Caskey assumed the newly created liaison position to the Probate Rules Committee.
Melissa Bodnar continued to be a leader on CREC. She was appointed to head a special subcommittee established to review and consider whether H.B. 21, creating F.S. §456.0301, implicated the Code and Rules of Evidence to the extent it is procedural. This act establishes certain requirements for medical practitioners with respect to administering controlled substances and the management of the controlled substance database and protects certain disclosures from the database. This subcommittee met and determined F.S. §456.0301 does not impact the Code and Rules of Evidence and that no further action is required.
Cynthia Ross was appointed to chair a special subcommittee to reconsider and review a private citizen’s proposal to amend or abolish the excited utterance and present sense impression exception to the hearsay rule [F.S. §90.832(2) and (3)]. The chair expects a report from this special subcommittee to be presented at the next CREC meeting.
Mikalla Davis, CREC’s Bar staff liaison, has been an invaluable CREC resource. Davis has expeditiously, competently, and patiently performed the functions of her role throughout the year. On behalf of all CREC members, we thank her for her exceptional support.
I also extend my gratitude to President Michelle Suskauer for not only giving me the opportunity to serve the legal community as the chair of CREC, but also for initiating meetings, led by Chief Justice Canady, allowing for collaboration by all rules committee chairpersons toward improving the Florida rules making process. Suskauer should be lauded for her creative ingenuity and effort toward improving the legal profession and practice.
In closing, I recognize all members of CREC for their time and contributions toward improving the Florida Evidence Code and Rules of Evidence that allow our courts and practitioners to engage in the fair administration of justice. To that end, I wholeheartedly support the ongoing effort and proposal to approve CLE credit for members of all rules committees for their time commitment and resulting legal education that is concomitantly required and received by participation in the process.
Patricia M. Dodson, Chair
Condominium and Planned Development Law Certification
This is a relatively new committee, and The Florida Bar, through the oversight of the Board of Legal Specialization and Education, certified the first class of 128 attorneys on June 1, 2018.
This committee certifies attorneys whose practice of law involves 1) serving as counsel to community associations, developers, lenders, property owners, community association members, sellers, purchasers, governmental agencies, and investors in matters related to condominiums and planned developments; 2) drafting governing documents or their amendments and preparing filings with governmental agencies that regulate community associations or planned developments; 3) serving in or for governmental agencies that regulate community associations or planned developments; 4) representing parties in construction lien and defect claims, collection of assessment actions, covenant and rule enforcement and dispute resolution, such as litigation, arbitration, and mediations in matters relating to community associations or planned developments; and 5) planning, developing, constructing, and financing of condominium or planned development communities.
The committee received 85 applications for the second class; 44 qualified for an exemption from the examination having practiced at least 20 years in this area of law; 41 were approved to sit for the examination; and 31 applicants actually sat for the examination administered March 7. This is the final year practitioners are entitled to receive an exemption from the examination.
During the 2018-2019 fiscal year, the committee met numerous times by conference call and in person to 1) review any possible lessons learned from the inaugural examination; 2) review and evaluate the credentials of the applicants; 3) prepare the second examination; and 4) grade of the examination.
Members of the Condominium and Planned Development Law Certification Committee are Christopher N. Davies, chair, Naples; Joseph E. Adams, vice chair, Ft. Myers; Margaret (Peggy) Ann Rolando, Miami; Peter M. Dunbar, Tallahassee; Mark F. Grant, Ft. Lauderdale; Lisa A. Lerner, Miami; Chad M. McClenathen, Sarasota; Kenneth S. Direktor, Ft. Lauderdale; and William P. Sklar, West Palm Beach. I thank each member for their outstanding contributions to the committee this year.
On behalf of the entire committee, I express our appreciation for the support of Cathy Fisher, our Bar staff liaison, and Maritza McGill. We also thank Steve Lesser, our Board of Legal Specialization and Education liaison, for providing key advice on Bar policies and procedures.
On a final note, it was with great sadness to learn that one of our committee members, Karl M. Scheuerman, of Tallahassee, passed away in September after a heroic battle with lung cancer. Karl was instrumental in advocating for the implementation of board certification in condominium and planned development law. Karl was a close, personal friend of each of the committee members whose lives were enriched by his presence. He is sorely missed.
Christopher N. Davies, Chair
Construction Law Certification
The committee has continued to pursue additional initiatives to improve the quality of the construction law certification exam for 2019. As of this date, there are 387 board certified construction lawyers. We have 51 applications to take the 2019 exam in May, which is one of the highest number of applicants to date.
The committee has spent countless hours working on this exam to ensure it addresses concerns brought up earliest this year. The committee created new multiple-choice questions and revised our test bank questions to address certain past concerns. We have also tailored the 2019 exam to test more evenly those subjects described by the specifications with the goal of testing examinees on whether they have “walking-around” knowledge of construction law that would justify their board certification.
As of last year, the pass rate was 13 percent when only 38 individuals took the exam. This year our exam will consist of multiple-choice questions and essay questions and will be further edited and evaluated prior to the May exam to ensure the finished product is one we all feel confident releasing to 51 examinees as they take the exam, some for the second or third time.
This year the chair welcomed the potential test takers with an intro to the exam at the certification review course on March 7.
The committee has also recertified 49 members, both through application approval online and in an in-person meeting. We held one meeting in Orlando this past January and have held conference calls approximately every six to eight weeks to discuss updates.
We have continued to have outstanding staff support from our Florida Bar representative, Jacqueline Faerman, and owe her the highest accolades for her diligent efforts in assisting our committee and making our work product ever better in 2019.
Finally, thanks to all our committee members for their steadfastness and devotion to ensuring that Florida maintains the highest ethical standards for construction lawyers.
Jayne Pittman, Chair
Consumer Protection Law
The Consumer Protection Law Committee educates consumers and Bar members about consumer protection laws and issues, as well as provides expert resources to attorneys, judges, and lawmakers. The committee has been extremely active since its last report in 2018.
• Bench Manual — The Publications Committee of the Florida Court Education Council approved use of the Florida Bar Consumer Protection Law Committee bench book last year. The project had been in the works for several years. Going forward, the plan is to have the manual printed and distributed to the bench (currently, it is only posted online on the court system’s intranet). This committee will continue to review the manual and begin the process to update existing chapters and add new ones as needed. Special thanks go to Michael Ziegler, the past subcommittee chairperson who brought this project to fruition, and to the many members who have contributed this year and in previous years, as well. They are Barry Balmuth, Laura Boeckman, Delton Chen, Mary Ann Etzler, Steven Fahlgren, Shaunda Hill, Jared Lee, Lesly Longa, Patrice Malloy, Craig Rothburd, Taras Rudnitsky, Mark Schweikert, Elizabeth Star, Edrei Swanson, Alice Vickers, Dennis Wall, David Weintraub, and Vicki Butler.
The manual is posted on the intranet of the Office of the State Courts Administrator. It covers:
• Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act;
• Auto Sales and Finance;
• Lemon Law;
• Credit Card Actions;
• Residential Evictions;
• Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act;
• Homeowner’s and Condo Association Issues; and
• Home Solicitation Sales.
• CLE for Annual Convention — The committee is planning a full-day seminar, “Protecting Consumers Who Have unConventional Needs with Conventional Strategies: Making Florida Safe for Military and Elderly Consumers” in conjunction with the Elder Law Section. The committee has lined up 16 presenters (including three judges, representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Florida Attorney General’s Office and the JAG Corps) at the annual convention in Boca Raton. The seminar will focus on transactions and lending involving the military and the elderly, investigations and enforcement involving the military and the elderly, protecting against the financial exploitation of vulnerable adults and the Veterans’ Courts and U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. The seminar will be held on Saturday, June 29.
• Legislative Outreach — The committee tracked eight bills of consumer interest, from consumer loans to notices in foreclosure actions. Members of the committee discussed and analyzed the effect on consumers for proposed legislation. As in past years, the committee was available for legislators if they sought further insight and analysis on particular issues and, in fact, have been asked and responded to requests for information from the Legislature on consumer issues, such as PACE loans and high cost consumer loans. This active subcommittee is headed by Alice Vickers with input from committee members Charles Geitner, Beth Norrow, and Barry Balmuth.
• Consumer Protection Lawyer of the Year — For the ninth year, the committee will honor an attorney for excellence, character, and commitment to the practice of consumer protection law. The committee is still considering its selection for this year and is accepting nominations. Lynn Drysdale, a former recipient of the award, heads the subcommittee leading this effort.
• Pamphlets Updated — When consumers need basic legal information on a variety of topics from landlord-tenant issues to writing a will, they can turn to The Florida Bar’s consumer pamphlets. The committee reviews and updates these pamphlets, which are available on The Florida Bar’s website. Special thanks go to Brett Foster for leading this productive subcommittee and to Lisa DiFranza, Shana Bell, and Jennifer Newton for making sure this valuable consumer information is accurate and up to date. For the 2018-2019 Bar year, updates are:
• A Civil or a Criminal Case;
• Handbook for Jurors;
• Homeowner’s Insurance;
• Identity Theft;
• Mass Disaster;
• Intellectual Property;
• Binding Contracts; and
• Small Claims.
• Social Media Outreach — Committee chair Jennifer Newton and members Rachel Bentley, Dennis Wall, and Lisa DiFranza organized events around National Consumer Protection Week in March for ask-a-lawyer events throughout the state at four locations: Palm Beach/Lake Worth, Winter Springs, Jacksonville, and Miami/Ft. Lauderdale. The Consumer Protection Law Committee also continued to use Twitter to communicate with and educate attorneys and the public on consumer law issues.
I thank vice chairs Laura Boeckman and Lisa DiFranza for their dedication to the committee and their support for its work and in assisting me in leading this valuable committee for both The Florida Bar and Florida consumers. Their efforts, along with the efforts of our active members, contributed to another successful year for the Consumer Protection Law Committee.
Craig E. Rothburd, Chair
The charge of the Constitutional Judiciary Committee is to strengthen the public’s understanding of the role of the judicial branch of government, the constitution, the rule of law, and the role of judges and juries in the administration of justice. In addition to Benchmarks: Raising the Bar on Civics Education and the Guide for Florida Voters, the committee oversees The Florida Bar Merit Retention Poll, Confidential Judicial Feedback Program, and Judicial Candidate Voluntary Self-Disclosure Statements.
• Guide for Florida Voters — The Florida Bar’s Guide for Florida Voters answers questions about judicial elections such as:
• What is the difference between a county and circuit court judge and an appellate judge?
• Do appeals court judges and Supreme Court justices have opponents?
• Why is it important to vote in judicial elections and merit retention elections?
This six-page guide was in its fourth edition for the 2018 election and printed in both English and Spanish. Of the 100,000 copies printed in English, nearly all were distributed statewide through county supervisors of elections, public libraries, voluntary bar associations and local civic and political groups.
The Bar also printed 5,000 copies in Spanish and distributed those through Hispanic bar associations. For their help in distribution, we thank the Cuban America Bar Association; Tampa Hispanic Bar Association; Puerto Rican Bar Association of Florida; Caribbean Bar Association; the Palm Beach County Hispanic Bar Association; and the Hispanic Bar Association of Central Florida.
Additionally, in 2018, the committee oversaw The Vote’s in Your Court page on The Florida Bar website. The page served as a hub for election-related information. It posted results of The Florida Bar Merit Retention Poll, links to the voter guide, and other voter resources and judicial biographies. In 2018, the page also amplified its reach with posts on both Facebook and Twitter (@VotesInYrCourt) providing information on merit retention as well as timely news.
To prepare for the 2020 election, a subcommittee is at work, reviewing the guide’s content and format to suggest changes for the fifth edition. Thanks to Richard Levenstein for chairing this subcommittee with Vice Chair Melina Buncome, Rebecca Vaccariello, and Judge Joseph Williams.
• Benchmarks — Benchmarks: Raising the Bar on Civics Education is a pioneering Florida Bar program that offers attorneys civics education presentations they can use when they are invited to speak to adult civic, community, and religious groups. All Benchmarks materials are available at www.floridabar.org/Benchmarks. Attorneys either attend a seminar to learn how to make Benchmarks presentations or watch a webinar.
Benchmarks is included in the Bar’s strategic plan under the goal to “Enhance the Legal Profession and the Public’s Trust and Confidence in Attorneys and the Justice System.” The committee accomplishes this goal through hosting seminars to train attorneys, recording webinars, and having committee members make presentations in their communities. This past year the Bar held seminars to train attorneys at the fall meeting and annual convention. Additionally, the committee added these Benchmarks presentations to the ones available:
• Civics Refresher reviews basic concepts by defining and outlining the U.S. Constitution; defining the rule of law; examining the roles and powers of the branches of U.S. government; distinguishing the judicial branch from the political branches of government; and comparing federal and state governments.
• Constitution Match-Up explores the U.S. and Florida constitutions by comparing the two documents.
• Do You Have the Right? examines freedom of speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; the role of judges; and judicial decisionmaking.
• Judicial Selection looks at the distinct role of the judicial branch and examines judicial selection methods nationally and in Florida.
• Six in the Sixth considers the rights found in the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The committee also posted two new webinars online to help attorneys learn how to present Benchmarks.
• Merit Retention Poll — The Florida Bar considers it vitally important to attract and retain appellate court judges and justices with the highest qualifications to ensure that Florida’s courts have the confidence and respect of all Floridians. To this end, since 1978, the Bar has polled members to gain their opinions about appellate jurists on the ballot in merit retention elections and then widely publish information to help voters.
In 2018, the poll regarding one state Supreme Court justice and 17 appellate court judges on the merit retention ballot indicated support for all to be retained, with recommendations ranging from 92 percent to 66 percent approval.
Through Election Services Co. of New York, 76,529 ballots were distributed to in-state Bar members, and 5,239 lawyers (6.85 percent) took part in the poll. That participation rate, only slightly less than in previous years, was not unexpected, considering that the confidential poll asks for direct knowledge of appeals court judges and Supreme Court justices. Only responses by lawyers saying they have considerable or limited knowledge of the judges are included in poll results.
The Bar’s merit retention poll is a valuable resource for the public and media with many media outlets publishing both news stories about the poll as well as editorials.
• Judicial Candidate Voluntary Self-Disclosure Statements — This program, initiated in 2010 to assist the public in making educated decisions when voting for judicial candidates, was used for the 2018 primary and general elections. Judicial candidates for county or circuit seats were invited to submit 10-page statements with information about their backgrounds as well as personal statements. One hundred and eight candidates submitted statements, which were posted on the Bar’s website on July 9, 2018.
This year, the committee appointed a subcommittee to review and suggest possible changes for this valuable voter education program. Subcommittee members are Chair Judge Aikens, Vice Chair Melina Buncome, Joseph Eagleton, Richard Levenstein and Judge Joseph Williams.
• Confidential Judicial Feedback Program — The committee inherited the judicial feedback program from the Judicial Administration and Evaluation Committee when it was merged into the CJC in 2017. The goal of confidential judicial evaluation is to survey attorneys anonymously about the performance of judges and give that feedback to judges. Unfortunately, the program has low participation rates. This year, the committee formed a subcommittee to make a recommendation to the Board of Governors regarding the future of the program. Subcommittee members are Judge Augustus Aikens, Vice Chair Melina Buncome, Judge Edward LaRose, and Judge Joseph Williams.
Thanks to The Florida Bar leadership for appointing attorneys to this committee who are willing not only to attend meetings but also to teach fellow Floridians about the importance of the courts and the rule of law by making Benchmarks presentations.
I thank and commend Annette Pitts, executive director of the Florida Law Related Education Association, for her continued work and support of Benchmarks, and to Richard Levenstein, who participates in training attorneys for Benchmarks, both in Florida and in other states that have adopted programs modeled after Benchmarks.
The committee also commends member Alvan Balent, Jr., for his article about the Constitution Revision Commission, which was published in the University of Miami Law Review. The article, “Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission: Behind-the-Scenes Insights from Bob Butterworth, Florida’s Former Attorney General and Member of the 1998 CRC” was published in Vol. 72, No. 4.
My deep thanks and appreciation also go to committee Vice Chair Melina Buncome, whose dedication to the committee’s work and continued support are most welcome.
Judge Augustus D. Aikens, Chair
Continuing Legal Education
The mission of the Continuing Legal Education Committee is to assist the members of The Florida Bar in their continuing legal education. The committee includes representatives from other committees and sections. This allows various sections and committees to share ideas regarding successful programming techniques as well as marketing models to reach wide audiences. The committee is also responsible for the coordination of the preparation and distribution of continuing legal education publications, including practice manuals, practice systems, rules pamphlets, and video and audio programs.
The committee updated its handbook this past year. The handbook provides a comprehensive discussion of the policies that govern continuing legal education courses and board certification. The handbook can be used by any steering committee member, program chair, or speaker in preparation for continuing legal education programs since it includes tips for each person acting in those capacities.
This year the committee undertook a limited survey of almost 200 individuals who served as speakers at continuing legal education courses during the 2017-2018 Bar year to gather data regarding the diversity of the presenters, the sizes of their law firms, and the geographical area from which those speakers hail. With this research, we are prepared to present our first continuing legal education course in many years. “Speaker Fever: Secrets to an Amazing CLE Presentation!” a free, three-hour course is being presented at the annual convention on June 27 from 2:30 until 5:30 p.m. The course has been approved for three hours of continuing legal education credits.
This course is designed to help lawyers improve the quality of their CLE presentations. Attendees will learn about the nuts and bolts of creating a CLE program, including recruiting speakers and the requirements for accreditation. The course will help improve the quality of course materials for their presentation by discussing tips on gathering and organizing research. Finally, the course will help improve the lawyer’s personal speaking skills by addressing learning styles, effective public speaking techniques, and the use of audio-visual materials.
Our efforts have been directed to trying to diversify the pool of speakers at The Florida Bar’s various programs. The course is free so that we can encourage every member of The Florida Bar who seeks to become a presenter to offer their services to this profession. It is our goal to record this course and make it available online for those who are unable to attend. We are hoping that our sections and committees will continue to enact practices and policies that develop the confidence and skills of newer members of The Florida Bar to allow those persons to assume leadership roles. Thus, you can say that this year our committee was focused on activities designed to make all members of this profession feel like the programs are preparing them to lead.
Elaine L. Thompson, Chair
Criminal Law Certification
The Criminal Law Certification Committee is responsible for overseeing the process of certifying attorneys as either criminal trial specialists or appellate specialists recognized by The Florida Bar and for reviewing the applications of currently certified attorneys seeking recertification because their terms are expiring. The certification process includes the following requirements: satisfactory peer review references, passing the certification examination (initial applicants only), substantial involvement in either criminal appellate law or criminal trial law; and a handling of either appellate actions or trials. For initial criminal appellate applicants, representation of at least 25 appellate actions; for recertification criminal appellate applicants, representation of at least 10 appellate actions; for initial criminal trial applicants, at least 25 contested criminal cases with 20 jury trials tried to a verdict, 15 of which involved a felony charge, 10 as lead counsel, and five that occurred within the five years preceding application. For recertification, criminal trial applicants: at least five contested criminal cases, with four that were before a jury, and three that involved a felony charge.
As chair of the Criminal Law Certification Committee, I am happy to report another successful year of overseeing the certification of Florida criminal lawyers. The committee is comprised of 12 geographically diverse, board certified attorneys who practice in a variety of areas, including criminal trial, criminal appellate, criminal prosecution, and criminal defense. The committee consists of government attorneys, public defenders, and private practitioners. The committee began drafting the 2019 examination in August 2018 and met in October 2018 to review initial and recertification applications. Over the next several months, the committee worked to continue the prior committees’ improvement of the quality of the certification exam to meet the high standards expected by committee members and The Florida Bar.
Both the criminal trial and criminal appellate law exams contain five essay questions and 50 multiple-choice questions addressing procedural and substantive law in both state and federal court. The exam is written to assess a criminal lawyer’s fundamental knowledge of the law, analytical reasoning, and skill in applying knowledge to practical situations. On May 17 in Tampa, applicants will answer these questions in two, three-hour blocks and will be advised of their results by August 1.
At its final meeting, the committee will grade the 2019 examinations. The committee grades the examinations on an anonymous basis, with each examinee identified to committee members only by a number assigned by Florida Bar staff. Those attorneys who meet all requirements for a certified attorney and achieve a passing score on the examination will earn the designation as a criminal appellate law board certified specialist or criminal trial law board certified specialist.
Of the more than 100,000 members of The Florida Bar, 442 are currently board certified in criminal trial law and 47 are board certified in criminal appellate law. Forty-four attorneys applied to take the 2019 criminal trial law certification exam. Fourteen of these applicants submitted “abbreviated applications” after either failure or nonattendance at the 2018 exam. Five attorneys applied to take the 2019 criminal appellate law certification exam, one of which was an abbreviated application. This year the committee also reviewed 83 criminal trial recertification applications and nine criminal appellate recertification applications.
The committee is grateful to the lawyers who participate in the confidential peer-review process. Without candid commentary from applicants’ peers, the committee’s ability to properly review applicants’ qualifications would be severely curtailed. The committee emphasizes to Bar members and judicial officers that commentary is confidential and will not be divulged to any applicant.
This year the committee worked to finalize a proposed rule amendment to Rule Chapter 6-8 “Standards for Board Certification in Criminal Law,” which has been submitted for review to the Criminal Law Section. One feature of the rule amendment is to expand the types of hearings and/or cases that may be considered for trial or appellate action for initial certification or recertification.
It has been an honor for me to serve as chair of the committee this year, along with Michael Ufferman (vice chair), Huda Alani, Lawrence Avallone, Judge William Burgess III, Andrew Carrabis, Pamela Koller, Lisa McLean, Melynda Melear, Christina Pacheco, Michael Salnick, and Jessica Travis. None of our work could have been accomplished without our staff liaison, Sheila Whaley, who will be sorely missed. I thank everyone for all their hard work and great effort.
Ilana Marcus, Chair
Criminal Procedure Rules
The Criminal Rules Committee is currently comprised of county and circuit judges, including both trial and appellate judges; prosecutors; public defenders; private defense attorneys and professors. Each member brings to the committee extensive experience in the application of the criminal rules and criminal laws. The professional diversity of backgrounds and practice areas of the committee members ensures that each referral will be viewed from many different perspectives before a criminal rule is added, amended, or deleted, so that the impact on the criminal justice system is positive and beneficial to all who use it.
Issues come before this committee for review through referrals, which can come from any interested person or entity; legislative enactments; referrals from the Florida Supreme Court; as well as from the committee itself based upon its own review of the law, including, constitutional, statutory and case law. In January 2018, the committee submitted its regular-cycle report of proposed amendments to the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure, in accord with Florida Rules of Judicial Administration 2.140(b). See In RE: Amendments to the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure — 2018 Regular Cycle Report, 2018WL4868730 (Fla. 2018). The 2018 report was completed due in large part to the experienced guidance of the former chair, Judge Jon Morgan, and resulted in the court’s adoption of the committee’s proposed amendments to over 30 different criminal rules that became effective January 1. I congratulate the current committee members and all former members that were involved in the submission of that report, as it represents three years of hard work by all that culminated in making some very necessary amendments to the criminal rules.
As the committee submitted its regular-cycle report last year, most of the committee’s work this year involved reviewing and responding to new requests for amendment and completing the review of some amendments that were not included in the 2018 report. The committee reviewed several proposed amendments this year including Amendment 6, also known as Marsy’s Law. The committee decided that the amendment did not require the creation of any criminal rules at this time. The committee will continue to monitor the amendment and create rules in the future if it is deemed necessary.
I thank all of the members of the committee for their dedication and hard work throughout the year. It takes an immense amount of commitment to perform committee work in addition to the daily demands upon our time that our careers and/or clients require. I give a special thanks to the vice chairs (Judge Wendy Berger, Jane McNeill, and Danielle Sherriff) because this committee would not be as effective without their historical knowledge and guidance. Additionally, I thank the subcommittee chairs. Because the committee only meets three times a year, the day-to-day work of the committee would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of the subcommittee chairs (Judge Angela Dempsey, Hunter Chamberlin, Robert Scavone, Jude Faccidomo, Rich Mantei, Roseanne Eckert, and Patrice Behnstedt). Likewise, thanks to our liaisons (Sam Masters, Judge Jon Morgan, Judge T. Kent Wetherell; Judge Angela Dempsey; Judge Stephen Everett, Jude Faccidomo, Adrienne Ellis, and Diane Bock), who worked very hard to keep the committee apprised of matters being considered by other committees or groups that could impact the Criminal Rules Committee; and thanks to our parliamentarian (Robert Holborn) for making sure the rules were always followed and our secretary (Caitlin Mawn) for making sure our meetings were accurately memorialized. Each of these men and women rose to the challenge to ensure a superior work product was presented to the committee for review. With such a great group of members, I am confident the committee will continue to be exemplary guardians of the criminal rules under the direction of the incoming chair, Jane McNeill.
I also thank the Bar leadership, especially our Bar liaison, Heather Telfer, for their ongoing support and guidance to this committee so that its members have the privilege of being able to improve the criminal justice system for the benefit and protection of all of its users. Without a doubt, it is Heather Telfer’s wealth of knowledge, patience, and ability to multi-task that enabled this committee to respond to all of its requests for amendment, and to meet all of its many filing requirements, in a timely and professional manner.
Last, but certainly not least, I thank our Bar president, Michelle Suskauer, for providing me with the opportunity to be the chair of this committee. It was an honor to be part of something so much bigger than myself and my position as a prosecutor, and I thank you for entrusting me with the position. In closing, whether you view committee membership as a right, a privilege, or a responsibility, I encourage all practitioners to get involved with the committees and the rulemaking process that relates to their field of interest to help improve the system for everyone.
Sheila Ann Loizos, Chair
Diversity and Inclusion
This year, the committee on Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) continued to develop and implement a multitude of projects and programs to further its mission to increase diversity and inclusion in the Bar so that the Bar will reflect the demographics of the state, to develop opportunities for community involvement, and to make leadership roles within the profession and the Bar accessible to all attorneys.
The CDI administers the Diversity Leadership Grant Program, which provides funding to local and specialty bar associations for conferences, initiatives, and programs that encourage diversity, provide diversity training, and provide the opportunity for dialogue about diversity and inclusion issues in Florida. Vice Chair John Schifino led the team in partnership with more than 283 local and specialty bar associations, wherein all Bar funds budgeted for this program year were allocated and used to fund 24 diversity and inclusion programs around the state.
The Get Involved Subcommittee focused on building bridges and deepening connections with our colleagues. Vice Chair Katherine Scott directed this team and in doing so, established valuable partnerships with Florida Bar sections, divisions, and committees. Each of these groups appointed liaisons to serve on CDI to ensure we have an open, continuous, and consistent line of communication regarding issues of diversity and inclusion. CDI represented its mission and purpose by supporting and attending the Broward County Bar Association’s South Florida Mentoring Picnic at C.B. Smith Park; the inaugural Palm Beach County Legal Diversity and Inclusion Summit; and the Central Florida Diversity and Inclusion Picnic held at Barry Law School in Orlando. Each of these opportunities represented cross-cultural collaborative efforts of dozens of voluntary bar associations and related organizations across the state.
The CDI’s Law Pipeline School Subcommittee, under the leadership of Vice Chair Robert Saunooke, strategized to balance short- and long-term goals to impact younger students, including those in high school, as well as future and current law students. We expect the subcommittee to bring forward a plan by the end of the Bar year that will map out next year’s goals.
This year the Multicultural Program Development Subcommittee, under Vice Chair Julian Jackson-Fannin, was tasked with revisiting and finalizing the “Bias-Motivated Took Kit,” which was previously reviewed by the Bar’s general counsel for approval. The committee was also tasked with helping to align the “Bias-Motivated Tool Kit” and the “Gender Bias Tool Kit” developed by the Gender Equality Subcommittee. Members of the subcommittee were also responsible for the March/April 2019 feature in The Florida Bar Journal, which was dedicated to topics related to diversity and inclusion. This was our inaugural appearance as a cover feature in the Journal. Separately, the subcommittee is also taking leadership in collaborating with the National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts (NCREFC), which is hosting the 2019 Conference in Miami in May under the leadership of Judge Scott Bernstein of the 11th Judicial Circuit Court in and for Miami-Dade County.
Additionally, our team is continuing its work on the Gender Equality Subcommittee, under the leadership of Vice Chairs Paul SanGiovanni and LaKisha Kinsey-Sallis. In 2017-2018, the Special Committee on Gender Bias produced a final report outlining the issue of gender bias in the profession. After a full study of the issue, the special committee developed a report outlining 12 recommendations for The Florida Bar to undertake to address the issue. These recommendations included the development of toolkits to assist women in the profession and firm leaders in educating the Bar on the issue, providing practical ways to address the issue, and promoting best practices for attorneys and firms. The recommendations also included the development of a Blue-Ribbon Firm Program to recognize law firms that are actively addressing the issue of gender bias and promoting gender equality.
Pursuant to the report, the CDI formed the Gender Bias Subcommittee, originally co-chaired by Fentrice Driskell and Paul SanGiovanni. Under their inaugural leadership, the subcommittee developed a workgroup for each of the recommendations assigned to the committee and other workgroups to facilitate coordination of the Bar’s work on gender equality with the work of other sections and committees of the bar. Each workgroup has continued to diligently work on their recommendations. The work to date includes identifying other programs throughout the country, including programs of other bar associations, nonprofits, and corporations to review their work and effectiveness. Each workgroup continues to work toward developing deliverables for Bar members to implement each recommendation. The roll-out of the deliverables has begun, including an evaluation of the blue-ribbon effort and the Gender Equality Toolkit. The subcommittee will continue its efforts on these fronts in alignment with the Bar’s strategic plan.
This year, pursuant to the recommendations issued by the Bar’s Program Evaluation Committee (PEC), CDI also 1) established the inaugural CDI Executive Council Subcommittee; 2) drafted, approved, and submitted for Board of Governors’ ultimate approval the inaugural CDI Policies & Procedures; and 3) implemented the CDI New Member Orientation to be led by Diversity Manager Arnell Bryant-Willis and Diversity Program Coordinator Brittney Clemons during the Bar’s annual convention in June 2019. Each of these measures, we believe, were recommended by the Program Evaluation Committee (PEC) to bring more structure and collaboration to the CDI’s efforts. We look forward to the PEC’s response to these efforts in the coming Bar year or as deemed appropriate by the Board of Governors.
In closing, we are a uniquely inclusive committee with 160+ members appointed to serve this year, including members of the judiciary, representatives from law schools and universities, members of other Bar committees, and representatives from many statewide, local, and specialty bar associations. We have no dues requirement and welcome the participation of all individuals and groups that support diversity within the legal profession. We thank President Suskauer for her continued support and for appointing CDI’s Board of Governor’s liaison, Jay Kim. We also thank the section chairs, committee chairs, and division presidents for appointing liaisons this year to ensure we are cross-pollinating our inclusive efforts. Our CDI members have worked to continue to bring forward the vision of full inclusion in The Florida Bar. I am personally thankful to each one of them for their sacrificial service. On behalf of the entire CDI, I thank the Bar leadership; Arnell Bryant-Willis; Brittney Clemons; Lori Holcomb; and other Florida Bar staff for their dedication and support.
Nikki Lewis Simon, Chair
The Education Law Committee (ELC) is responsible for bringing together attorneys who solely practice in education law and others who practice in the different areas of education law. As a substantive law committee, the ELC is responsible for serving its purpose by reviewing existing areas of education law, studying developments in education law, and informing members of the bar of significant developments in education law. This year the ELC honored its commitment in these areas through its journal publication, committee meetings, and CLE offerings.
The ELC began this year with the distribution of the Education Law Journal – Volume II, Issue 1 (September 2018). Topics in this edition included open enrollment, “K-20 Collective Bargaining: A Case for Collaborative Conversations,” and “Issues with Applicants for Positions with Florida School Districts in Regard to the Use of Medical Marijuana.”
The ELC has also had a robust CLE offering this year. As there are a number of committee members seeking certification in education law, the goal was to provide multiple CLE opportunities to earn the credits necessary to qualify to sit for the certification exam. The ELC began this effort on November 7, 2018, with the presentation of Cybersecurity & Data Privacy: HIPAA and Intellectual Property Considerations and a presentation on Sexual Harassment: What Is Going on Out There in the Employment Arena, the Media and the Courts? This webinar was hosted by Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, PC.
During the 2019 Florida Bar Winter Meeting on January 19, the ELC conducted business to discuss increased participation on the Education Law Journal, Education Policy and Education Law CLE subcommittees. Following the meeting, CLE presentations were conducted on School Issues Faced by Transgender Youth, 2019 Open Government Update, and an Overview of Special Education.
For the benefit of members taking the education certification exam on March 9, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, PC, provided an on-demand platform for participation in an education law certification review covering 14 topics. This CLE was organized as a webinar that members could independently access by selecting all or individual topics.
ELC member Gregg Morton has submitted for approval to update the Education Law Journal template and to establish an online presence for the ELC on social media. Accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are planned to be maintained to promote the ELC and to produce real-time content related to topics in education law. The current chair and Morton will initially serve as administrators for these accounts.
The ELC experienced this year’s success with the help and support of ELC Vice Chair Mark Lupe and Staff Program Liaison Tom Miller. Mark and Tom offered valuable and timely assistance without hesitation in the spirit of the ELC’s mission. Thank you! Much appreciation for Allison Evans and Shareen Jordan of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, PC, who played a vital role in the ELC’s ability to organize and deliver CLE webinars.
Looking forward to next year, the ELC seeks to be more innovative in its response to fulfilling its mission and purpose. As a point of personal privilege, I am thankful for the opportunity to provide leadership to a committee full of highly qualified and knowledgeable attorneys. Thank you to each member that offered assistance and words of encouragement throughout our efforts!
Joy Smith-McCormick, Chair
Education Law Certification
The Education Law Certification Committee serves to promote certification among attorneys who practice education law. “Education law” means the practice of law involving the legal rights, responsibilities, procedures, and practices of educational institutions (schools, colleges, and universities, whether public, charter, or private), students, personnel employed by or on behalf of educational institutions, and the guardians and parents of students participating in education. The practice area covers a broad range of legal matters, with the common element being that these legal matters are on behalf of, or related to, an educational institution. This year marks the ninth year of education law certification. As of the writing of this annual report, there are 51 board certified attorneys in education law; with six applicants who sat for the March 8 examination.
The committee met regularly through the year, both in person and by telephone. The committee continued its ongoing work to add, update, and improve the examination based on the ever-changing legal landscape of education law. The committee also reviewed initial and recertification applicants for this area. Last, the committee promoted education law certification to education law practitioners, and worked to expand the recognition of this important certification area and attract new applicants for certification. The members of the 2018-2019 Education Law Certification Committee are Karen Meta Chastain, chair; Heather Wallace, vice chair; Marylin Batista; John Paul Carland; Youndy Cook, David Delaney; Sarah Koren; Laura Pincus; and Gerard Solis. I am so grateful of the extraordinary efforts of the committee members this year. On behalf of the entire committee, I thank and commend Maritza McGill and Diana Kellogg for their assistance in completing the committee’s work for the 2019 examination.
The committee acknowledges the efforts of the Education Law Committee, which has promoted this certification area and provided certification examination review courses for the benefit of applicants and members of the Education Law Committee alike. Karen Meta Chastain, Chair
Elder Law Certification
The Elder Law Certification Committee is responsible for administering the process of certifying attorneys as elder law specialists recognized by The Florida Bar. The certification committee had four meetings throughout the year to process new applications for eligibility to sit for the certification exam, review recertifications, and prepare the 2019 board certification exam. Currently, there are 105 board certified elder law attorneys in Florida. The committee reviewed 23 recertification applications, 16 initial applications, and 12 attorneys were confirmed to sit for the exam on March 8. It has been a successful year for the certification committee!
This year’s Elder Law Certification Committee was chaired by John Clardy (Crystal River), with Amy Fanzlaw (Boca Raton) as vice chair, and consisted of members Victoria Heuler (Tallahassee), Edwin M. Boyer (Sarasota), Sara Caldwell (Daytona Beach), Alex Cuello (Coral Gables), Christopher Likens (Sarasota), Laurie Ohall (Brandon), and Jill Ginsburg (Ft. Lauderdale). Thank you to our wonderful certification specialist, Laurinda Babers, whose organization and patience makes us a more effective and efficient committee, and to all our fantastic committee members for their dedication and hard work to make this past year a success!
John Clardy, Chair
The Florida Bar’s stated function of the Eminent Domain Committee is to study and keep informed of recent developments in the field of condemnation of private property for public use by governmental agencies or private companies who have the power of eminent domain. The Bar states that the committee should keep the members of the Bar informed of developments of great significance in this field, maintain liaison with private companies and governmental agencies who have and use the power of eminent domain, and study and consider legislation, law, or problems in the area of eminent domain law as developed by the committee or assigned by the president or the Board of Governors.
Membership in the committee has grown slightly since last year to the current 94 members. As in the past, members of the committee approach eminent domain from varying perspectives. The committee is made up of both government employee attorneys and private practice attorneys. The private practice attorneys represent both government entities (and utilities) and land/business owners in eminent domain matters; exclusively government agencies in these matters; or exclusively land/business owners in eminent domain matters. Some of the attorneys practice exclusively in the area of eminent domain, but many do not. Several of the committee members also serve as mediators in eminent domain and inverse condemnation cases.
Committee Chair D. Tobyn DeYoung acknowledges with gratitude the hard work of the committee vice chairs: Kenneth C. Pope and Deborah A. Ruster. The vice chairs have served on the committee for many years. The vice chairs helped plan the meetings, obtain speakers and sponsors, and introduced the speakers. Further, the chair gives great thanks to our past committee liaison with The Florida Bar, Charles Early, and our new committee liaison, Emily Young, who helped organize the resources for the committee meetings including projectors, podiums, etc., obtained CLE credits, and were instrumental in setting up the committee’s email exchange. On behalf of the committee, the chair also notes the contribution of the committee’s liaison with The Florida Bar Board of Governors, Thomas P. Wert, and expresses appreciation for the interest of Florida Bar President Michelle R. Suskauer in the committee’s work.
The chair also expresses the committee’s appreciation of meeting sponsors Rick Dreggors of Calhoun Dreggors & Associates, Inc.; Rebecca Lyles, CVA of Berryhill, Hoffman, Getsee & DeMeola; Rachel Sanders of NAI REALVEST; and Eric Rahenkamp and Steve Semonich of Rahenkamp Design Group, who generously underwrote continental breakfasts and sodas for the meetings, and of course, Helinger DeYoung, for the exceptional omelet station and other refreshments at the committee’s October meeting.
The chair also appreciates those who donated their time to serve as speakers for the committee meetings: Jay W. Small, Christina Martin, S. Brent Spain, Deborah Ruster, Keith Williams, Jess E. Collister, Barry S. Balmuth, Joseph M. Hanratty, Charles Stratton, Dean DiRose, Prineet Sharma, and Andrew Diaz. Last, but certainly not least, the chair thanks those committee members who regularly attended the meetings.
The chair is pleased to announce the publication in mid-2019 of the supplement to the 10th edition of Florida Eminent Domain Practice and Procedure, an important Bar publication whose authors are largely comprised of members of the committee. In this regard, the committee expresses its appreciation for the efforts of the authors; Andre G. Diaz, chair of the publication’s Steering Committee; and Diane Suhm, legal editor, at The Florida Bar.
Planning is underway for the June 28 committee meeting. The meeting will include presentations regarding numerous topics of great significance in the area of eminent domain, as well as a case law update. Speakers and topics will be announced closer to the meeting. This meeting will be the conclusion of a productive year for the committee.
The leadership of the committee is in good hands going forward with Kenneth C. Pope taking over as chair, Deborah A. Ruster and D. Tobyn DeYoung being reappointed as vice chairs, and with Prineet Sharma and Gregory S. Rix being appointed as incoming vice chairs for the upcoming year.
D. Tobyn DeYoung, Chair
Family Law Rules
It has been an eventful year in the Family Law Rules Committee. To fast track committee matters, we continued to have telephone conferences in between in-person meetings, a practice established by our previous chair. I am extremely thankful for all the hard work our past and current members have done, and I appreciate the opportunities to address fundamental issues with the Supreme Court.
In 2017, the Supreme Court directed this committee, the Juvenile Court Rules Committee, and the Steering Committee on Children and Families in the Court to jointly review Rule 12.407 pertaining to the testimony and attendance of minor children in court. The joint committee has since worked diligently in formulating a proposed amendment to address the court’s concerns. In May 2018, the joint committee submitted a final proposed amendment to the Supreme Court that was accepted in SC18-853. The opinion was published on December 13, 2018, and the amended rule became effective immediately. The adopted amendments resolve the pressing issue of conflicting Juvenile Court Rules and the Family Law Rules with regard to children in court. For their efforts, I thank the members of the joint committee for their collaboration in addressing the definite need for protecting children from harmful and unnecessary exposure to litigation.
In August 2018, the Florida Supreme Court had adopted part of the committee’s proposal to align form 12.961 with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Turner v. Rogers, 564 U.S. 431 (2011). The Florida Supreme Court fully adopted the proposed amendments to the form that now notifies a contemnor that their ability to pay is a critical issue in a contempt hearing. However, the court declined to adopt a proposal of making the form universal for both general magistrates and child support hearing officers. Instead, the court determined that any proposed changes to forms 12.921 and 12.920(c) should be made in a separate case. This committee has since revisited the court’s concerns and a proposed change will be submitted in the 2020 cycle report.
This past November, the committee filed an out-of-cycle report to address the longstanding confusion of the federal income withholding order and its inconsistencies with Florida’s income deduction order. The report was acknowledged by the Supreme Court in SC18-1908 and was published for comments in the December 2018 issue of The Florida Bar News. Since then, only one comment was filed during the comment period by the Florida Department of Revenue. The comment received was in support and consistent with this committee’s proposal in the initial report. The case was submitted without oral argument on March 13. With only one comment submitted, and it being favorable to the committee’s position on the issue, I am optimistic the Supreme Court will consider and fully adopt the committee’s proposed changes.
The forms to accompany the Florida Collaborative Law Process Act statute and a rule of professional conduct for the collaborative process were approved by the committee and published for comments in The Florida Bar News. The committee is now considering revisions on the forms based on the comments received, and I anticipate the forms will be presented to the Supreme Court before the June Bar meetings.
The committee continued to actively work in addressing the nomenclature of the family law forms, the streamlining of the financial affidavit forms, and a subcommittee was created to evaluate the need of amendments to Rule 12.410(d)(2), as it relates to domestic violence injunction cases, which requires notice of a subpoena be provided to the respondent even though he or she may not have yet been served with the temporary injunction. Additionally, this committee is working together with our fellow standing committees of The Florida Bar to enhance the overall efficiency of the rulemaking process in future report cycles.
With this being my final year in my term, I am extraordinarily grateful to have served on a committee whose members reflect exemplary professionalism, character, and passion for family law. It was an absolute honor to serve as chair of the Family Law Rules Committee for The Florida Bar. I, and on behalf of the committee, recognize our incredible attorney liaison, Mikalla Davis, whose commitment and selfless contributions made being chair an absolute joy. I also thank the vice chairs of the committee, Norberto Katz, Caroline Sikorske, and Harriet Williams for offering their experience and direction. Lastly, I especially thank our previous chair, Robert J. Merlin, for all his leadership and guidance to give me the foresight to lead this remarkable committee.
Maria Liliana Obradovich, Chair
Federal Court Practice
The Federal Court Practice Committee (FCPC) serves as The Florida Bar’s liaison to our federal courts, Florida-based chapters of the Federal Bar Association, the 11th Circuit Judicial Conference, and federal practitioners throughout Florida (and beyond).
The FCPC hosts its signature event, the Federal Judicial Roundtable, annually at The Florida Bar’s annual convention. In last year’s roundtable, we invited the chief judge of each district court in Florida to give a brief state-of-the-district address. This is something we will continue at the 2019 roundtable, which is scheduled for June 27. This year’s roundtable will be moderated by Professor Howard M. Wasserman from FIU College of Law and will focus on practical and challenging discovery issues and other aspects of federal practice, including issues created by use of technology, ethical issues, and judicial expectations in presenting and arguing motions. The roundtable historically draws dozens of federal appellate, district, magistrate, and bankruptcy judges from around the state. Thus, the roundtable offers a unique opportunity for practitioners (new and experienced) to interact with the federal judiciary in an informal setting and discuss issues of interest to the federal practitioners. Additionally, the roundtable will conclude with a reception that will allow additional interaction between our federal bench and bar. This year’s roundtable is chaired by Dora Kaufman from Liebler, Gonzalez & Portuondo and Dan Newman from Nelson Mullins Broad and Cassel.
In addition to the roundtable, the FCPC has presented several CLEs for our members and also joined with several local chapters of the Federal Bar Association to co-sponsor CLE events. For example, the FCPC presented a CLE on how utilizing technology and design thinking can help “secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action.” Also, the FCPC has joined with the Federal Bar Association to prepare a joint, two-day CLE in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale taking a deep dive into witness preparation. The FCPC will also be hosting a statewide live webinar on April 30 featuring Judge Sheri Chappell discussing court technology and automation. Jason Kairalla from Carlton Fields served as a CLE presenter and co-chairs the Education Subcommittee along with fellow co-chair Mark Rankin from Shutts & Bowen.
Another key component of the FCPC is the preparation and maintenance of the Guide to Judicial Practices in Florida’s Federal Courts, or as it is more affectionately known as “the guide.” Through much effort, our committee members have polled our federal judiciary to learn their preferences in a wide array of topics in order to assist our federal practitioners (and the judiciary) in efficiently resolving matters in federal court. Jerry Gewirtz, a subcommittee chair, authored a full-page article about the guide that was published in the October 1, 2018, edition of The Florida Bar News. This subcommittee is also co-chaired by Anitra Raiford from Shook Hardy & Bacon and Barbara Junge.
One of the newer components of our FCPC is its social media outreach. Our social media efforts create an active voice on various social media platforms in which the FCPC can better serve its role as liaison by blasting updates on relevant issues involving federal practice — everything from job openings in the courts, to relevant decisions, to court closures. Our social media team has also allowed the FCPC to deepen its ties with the local federal bar associations by marketing CLEs and other relevant events and programs to the Bar at-large. In addition to providing an active voice on several social media platforms, our group maintains the Federal Corner on The Florida Bar’s website (http://www.floridabar.org/directories/courts/fed-corner). While every member of the FCPC serves as a “roving reporter” in helping us distribute relevant content to the Bar, our subcommittee is spearheaded by Co-chairs Andy Doyle and Erik Johanson from the Jennis Law Firm.
The FCPC’s newest committee is the Pro Bono Subcommittee, which launched this year and has been lead admirably by April Walker of Upchurch Watson White & Max and Ana Martinez. As the FCPC has a large number of government attorneys and judges who are limited and often prohibited from performing pro bono services, April and Ana have been able to creatively navigate ways for the FCPC to provide and support meaningful pro bono services, projects, and clinics.
We would be remiss not to mention the efforts of our Long Range Planning Subcommittee that helps steer the FCPC forward and has been a key component to our committee’s growth over recent years. FCPC Vice Chair Melissa Visconti of Damian & Valori also wears the hat of Long Range Planning Subcommittee chair. Also, we thank Judge Amanda Sansone and Jennifer Corinis for their efforts in leading our federal rules subcommittee and keeping FCPC members up-to-date with new and proposed rules in each of the districts.
This past year was a challenging year for many of our committee members, as we saw Florida’s panhandle decimated by Hurricane Michael, which destroyed the federal courthouse in Panama City and affected numerous committee members and practitioners. Additionally, we experienced the longest federal government shutdown in history, something that had a unique impact on the FCPC with a significant percentage of our members employed by the federal government. I cannot thank enough our committee members for their efforts to make this year successful and productive despite the obstacles.
Finally, the FCPC also gives special thanks and recognition to our Bar liaison, Lani Fraser. Not even a hurricane could stop one of the hardest working people in Tallahassee! Her devotion to and relentless effort in all aspects of the FCPC’s work this year and in years past have allowed the FCPC to continue to grow and better achieve its mission as the liaison between our federal judiciary and federal practitioners. Thank you Lani!
Matthew F. Hall, Chair
Florida Bar Journal & News Editorial Board
The Florida Bar Journal & News Editorial Board works closely with staff to develop articles of current interest and concern to the profession, as well as serving as a reviewing board that advises and assists staff in publication of scholarly works. The Florida Bar Journal provides scholarly, peer-reviewed articles on substantive Florida law topics, while the News keeps Bar members up-to-date on significant news and events. These publications are available to the more than 100,000 Florida Bar members both online and in print.
New this year, members of the Bar have access to daily online content. Staff has improved and strengthened the Journal and News electronic presence, and both publications continue to be the go-to source for news and substantive law articles for Bar members. Bar members can visit http://www.floridabar.org/news/news-journal to find scholarly articles, current events, legal news, and an archive of more than 20 years of Journal and News articles. The website also includes links to share articles on social media and members can even follow the Journal and News on Twitter @FLBarNews.
Bar members may have noticed some changes in their mailbox. Beginning this year, the number of Journal issues was reduced to six from 10, and the number of printed issues of the News was reduced to monthly from biweekly. These changes were approved by the Board of Governors in December 2017 with the goal of substantial cost savings. Bar members are still getting the same great news and scholarship, however, more of it is available online and more frequently.
The primary role of the Editorial Board, comprising 39 members, is to review “feature” articles for publication the in the Journal. Section editors review and serve as subject-matter experts for columns. The Editorial Board works with staff editors to undertake an impartial peer review of articles submitted for consideration, as well as edit and cite-check. Articles ultimately selected for publication are not only of high quality but also seek to educate and inform our readership on issues of substantive law and matters of practical concern to lawyers. This, as every year, the Journal published articles and columns on a wide range of topics. Journal issues also included a focus on the Constitution Revision Commission amendments, the Criminal Justice Summit, diversity and inclusion, and solo and small firms.
Thank you to all authors who have submitted articles for consideration and congratulations to all authors who have been published; the Editorial Board appreciates your contributions to the Journal. The Editorial Board annually selects the best feature article of the year for The Florida Bar Journal Excellence in Writing Award. This year, “The Mixed Meanings of Metaphors in Voir Dire,” authored by Judge Matthew C. Lucas, was selected as the recipient of the 2018 award. The Editorial Board congratulates Judge Lucas and thanks him for his scholarship.
The Editorial Board and staff works diligently to ensure the highest quality and integrity of the Journal and News publications for Florida Bar members and will continue to do so, whether available in print or online.
Jamie W. Karpman, Chair
Florida Probate Rules
The Florida Probate Rules Committee had a productive 2018-2019 year. During the past Bar year, the committee filed an out-of-cycle report as well as its regular-cycle report, continued working on updates to conform its rules to changes in the Florida Probate Code and Florida guardianship law, worked with other rules committees regarding proposals affecting various areas of practice, and worked on findings and proposals regarding forms and rule amendments recommended by the Guardianship Workgroup established under the Florida Supreme Court’s Judicial Management Council.
The committee filed an out-of-cycle report on August 30, 2018, that proposed rule amendments that the committee passed this past Bar year to address the statutory adoption on July 1, 2018, of F.S. §825.1035, which created a cause of action for an injunction for the protection against the exploitation of a vulnerable adult. The committee proposed amendments to Rule 5.025 regarding adversary proceedings, to add proceedings for an injunction under F.S. §825.1035 to the list of adversary proceedings and to exclude such proceedings from the formal notice requirements for adversary proceedings. The Supreme Court adopted these amendments on September 27, 2018. No comments were filed and the Supreme Court’s adoption of these amendments became final on December 10, 2018.
The committee filed its regular-cycle report on February 1, which includes the following rule amendments passed by the committee this past Bar year: 1) revisions to Rule 5.200 regarding the petition for administration to require a statement identifying any other person who has equal or higher preference than the petitioner for the appointment as personal representative and a statement of specific facts that show the petitioner’s qualification to serve as personal representative; and 2) revision to Rule 5.499 regarding the Form and Manner of Objecting to Personal Representative’s Proof of Claim to eliminate the 10-day deadline for service on a claimant of an objection to an item listed on a proof of claim as to be paid.
The committee is currently working on several projects, including the creation of forms for proceedings under F.S. §825.1035 for injunctions to protect against the exploitation of vulnerable adults and findings and proposals requested by the Florida Supreme Court regarding the forms and rule amendments recommended by the Guardianship Workgroup established under the court’s Judicial Management Council.
As new legislation is passed, the Florida Probate Rules Committee will continue to review and analyze the legislation to determine whether corresponding or related amendments to the probate rules are necessary and, if so, whether such amendments should be proposed on a fast-track basis or as part of the committee’s next three-year cycle report. The committee continues to work closely with the Real Property, Probate, and Trust Law Section (RPPTL) in order to revise and update the rules to correspond with legislation promulgated by the RPPTL Section.
Meeting schedules and agenda for the committee are posted on the Florida Probate Rules Committee website: https://www.floridabar.org/cmdocs/cm230.nsf/WDOCs. The Florida Bar’s liaison to the Probate Rules Committee, Heather Telfer, works to keep this information easily accessible to the committee members and others who have an interest in the committee’s work and current activities.
We urge practitioners to monitor The Florida Bar News for the publication of proposed rule changes, as well as the Florida Supreme Court’s webpage, which lists the pending rules cases. The Florida Probate Rules Committee also welcomes comments to the published proposals and pending projects, as well as suggestions for rule changes based upon procedural problems encountered by courts and practitioners.
It has been a privilege and honor to serve as co-chairs of the Florida Probate Rules Committee this year. We thank all of the Probate Rules Committee members, Florida Bar staff, and the members of the other rules committees for their contributions during this Bar year. And a special thanks to Sean Lebowitz (vice chair and liaison to the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration Committee), Jeffrey Goethe (vice chair), Michael Kangas (subcommittee chair), Stacy Rubel (subcommittee chair), Jean Sperbeck (subcommittee chair), Terrence Dariotis (subcommittee chair), Charles Holloman (subcommittee chair), Matthew Triggs (subcommittee chair), Alexandra Rieman (chair of the Ad Hoc Subcommittee regarding the Guardianship Workforce recommendations), and Heather Telfer (our Florida Bar liaison) for all their hard work and assistance this year.
Theodore Kypreos and Cristina Papanikos, Co-Chairs
Florida Registered Paralegal Eligibility and Compliance
The Florida Registered Paralegal Eligibility and Compliance Committee, formerly known as Florida Registered Paralegal Standing Committee, reports another successful year since its inception in 2008. The committee’s primary purpose is to assist in the implementation of the Florida Registered Paralegal (FRP) program. The FRP program determines whether a paralegal has met the education, training, certification, and work experience required for registration as set forth in Ch. 20 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar. The duties of the committee include proposing rule amendments to Ch. 20, setting policy for the program and providing guidance to Bar counsel and the district paralegal committees.
There are currently 4,755 FRPs. This year, the committee is focusing on creating initiatives that will enhance and increase membership.
The committee is always looking for ways to improve the existing program, particularly in light of the new directed focus on FRP eligibility and compliance. This year the committee brainstormed and discussed various eligibility initiatives that will enhance the FRP program and increase its recognition among college and university students in various paralegal studies programs, including a student-to-FRP pipeline and internship opportunities. The committee addressed some sections of Rule 20 regarding the work requirement and continuing education compliance.
I have served on this committee for four years and as chair for the past year. As a member of the Bar, I am committed to not only expanding the FRP program but maintaining the rigorous academic and professional requirements needed to obtain and maintain the FRP designation. This year would not have been a success without the time, dedication, and hard work of all committee members, Vice Chair Richard Tejeda, Wendy Toscano, Steven Sanchez, Kendra Ann Hollern, Nicole Noel, and Olga Patterson, as well as outgoing committee members who remain actively dedicated to the success of the FRP program through the FRP Enrichment Committee and various local bar associations, Lori Spangler and Patricia DeRamus. Extra special thanks goes to Wayne Smith, our fearless board liaison who has fiercely advocated the program’s messages and importance to the Board of Governors and, last but certainly not least, The Florida Bar staff and Shannon Fleming, whose dedication is greatly appreciated by the committee and FRPs all over the state. I’m thankful to have worked with an outstanding group of professionals and look forward to even more success in the upcoming year.
Cary A. High, Chair
Grievance Mediation and Fee Arbitration
The Standing Committee on Grievance Mediation and Fee Arbitration has remained focused in three substantive areas: rules, forms, and training. The subcommittees have been working on each of these areas and report to the general committee on a quarterly basis. The Rules Subcommittee promulgated revisions to Ch. 14 that are being considered in the current rules package. Additionally, the Forms Subcommittee approved several forms for use by our volunteer arbitrators and mediators in the program. The most significant accomplishment this year was by the Training Subcommittee that worked hard to create and implement training sessions for current and potential arbitrators and mediators. The sessions were videotaped at the winter meeting in January and will be available to program volunteers and applicants this spring. We are hopeful that this training will be useful to all those participating in the grievance mediation and fee arbitration process.
Virginia Easley Johnson, Chair
Health Law Certification
The Health Law Certification Committee oversees the certification of attorneys as health law specialists recognized by The Florida Bar. The Florida Bar certified the first class of health specialists in 1995, and there are currently 129 health-certified lawyers in The Florida Bar. Board certified specialists in health practice under a myriad of public and private sector health laws, providing advice and counsel in transactional, litigation, and appellate practices.
The Health Certification Committee reviews the applications for those lawyers seeking initial certification, as well as the renewal applications for certified attorneys seeking recertification every five years. To initially qualify for health certification, lawyers must be a member of The Florida Bar for five years, be substantially involved (at least 40 percent of their practice) in health law, complete 60 hours of advanced CLE of approved health-law credits, pass a rigorous peer-review process, and pass a certification exam. The certification exam currently consists of 56 multiple-choice questions along with four essays. Congratulations Jacqueline Anne Bain and Daniel Gerard Musca, who passed the 2018 health law certification exam.
For the 2018-2019 certification year, the Health Law Certification Committee reviewed 20 initial applications. The committee also reviewed and renewed 20 recertification applications this year. The committee met numerous times since June 2018 to review applications and draft and grade the certification examination.
The hard working and dedicated members of the Health Law Certification Committee include Vice Chair Radha Bachman, former Chair Erin Aebel, Charmaine Chiu, William Eck, Carol Ann Kalish, Michael Levinson, Steven Resnick, and Adam Rogers. Thank you for your efforts, diligence, professionalism, and commitment to upholding the high standards of this certification section. The committee also wishes to extend our thanks to our staff liaison, Jason Rawls. Our work on the committee could not have proceeded as smoothly without his dedication and attention to detail.
Andrij B. Susla, Chair
Immigration and Nationality Law Certification
The 2018-2019 Florida Bar Immigration and Nationality Law Board Certification Committee consisted of Elizabeth Blandon, chair; Gina Polo, vice chair; Robert Bell, Kari Ann Fonte, John Gihon, Michael Harris, Jacob Ratzan, Alan Seagrave, and Francisco “Frank” Symphorien-Saavedra. Special thanks to Allison Armour of The Florida Bar for working with us to achieve our objectives throughout the year.
We also recognize the board certified attorneys who served as pre-testers by giving their time to review the questions prepared for the 2019 exam. The feedback helps ensure the accuracy and integrity of the exam. I encourage each board certified attorney to participate as a pre-tester if invited to do so.
During 2018-2019, 10 recertification applications were received and approved. Twenty-four initial applications for board certification were received and approved to sit for the exam. Of those, 19 took the exam. Grading is scheduled, and results will be announced by The Florida Bar no later than June 1.
Presently 75 attorneys are board certified by The Florida Bar in immigration and nationality law. An attorney meeting the requirements should consider applying for board certification. Members can refer with confidence to practitioners who are recognized by The Florida Bar as an expert in this ever-changing field.
It has been my honor to lead the committee this year and work with the best of the best. The committee strives to maintain the standards of excellence set for board certification in immigration since its inception in 1995. I am grateful to the committee and Bar staff for making this year a success.
Elizabeth R. Blandon, Chair
Intellectual Property Law Certification
Intellectual property law comprises the areas of patent prosecution, patent infringement litigation, trademark law, and copyright law. Board certified attorneys may practice in only one or a combination of these areas. A total of 141 attorneys now are board certified in intellectual property. This year’s Intellectual Property Law Certification Committee was chaired by Brian Gilchrist, with Dineen Wasylik serving as vice chair, and consisted of members Francisco Ferreiro, John Fulton, Samuel Lewis, Julee Milham, Woodrow Pollock, Jerold Schneider, and Heather Bond Vargas. The committee has worked diligently to prepare for the 2019 exam, which will be administered on May 16 in Tampa. Six applications were received for this year’s exam. This year, lawyers who became board certified in intellectual property law in 2014 needed to apply for recertification. Without recertification, 16 attorneys’ certification will expire this year. The recertification application is available online at www.floridabar.org/about/cert/cert-ip/. Recertification requirements can be found in Rule 6-26.4, Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, and must be met by July 31. Questions regarding certification or recertification should be directed to certification specialist Jacqueline Faerman at 850-561-5777 or by email at [email protected] Brian Gilchrist, Chair
International Law Certification
The International Law Certification Committee’s focus this year was directed to revising the exam and making improvements to define the difference between the international law certification and the separate international litigation and arbitration certification. International lawyers who do not handle disputes, but focus instead on areas such as cross-border transactions, international taxation, customs, and immigration, will appreciate the revised exam as well as the professional benefits of board certification in international law.
• Board Certification in International Law — Of those states that offer specialty certification for lawyers, Florida is the only state that offers board certification in international law. Currently, 53 Florida lawyers are board certified in international law. That means that there are only 53 lawyers in the nation who have certified their expertise in international law. In 2018, six candidates were recertified and one new candidate applied and took the international law exam.
• Modifications and Improvements to the Certification Examination — The committee has continued to review and revise examination questions that for any reason were determined to be less than optimal for their intended purpose. Questions were assigned to individual committee members for initial review and, when appropriate, revision, and then assigned to a second committee member for further review. At the same time, the examination specifications were reviewed to ensure that the areas of knowledge deemed necessary for a specialist in international law were appropriately covered by both the multiple-choice and essay examinations. As a result, the committee is confident that its examination is well-designed, up-to-date, and appropriate for testing expertise in international law.
• Promotional Efforts — The committee continues to discuss and promote the benefits of certification as well as the certification process at various international law events, including the International Law Section’s iLaw conference, held every year in Miami, as well as the Florida Bar’s annual convention.
I express my strong appreciation to our Florida Bar liaison, Jacqueline Faerman, as well as all committee members for their efforts and contributions. This year’s members are Margarita P. Muina, Harout Samra, Angelika Hunnefeld, John Murphy, Clarissa Rodriguez, Robert Becerra, and Theodore Walters. The International Law Certification Committee encourages all members of The Florida Bar for whom international law forms a substantial portion of their practice to seek board certification. Alvin F. Lindsay III, Chair
International Litigation and Arbitration Certification
This year was the inaugural year for The Florida Bar’s latest board certification: international litigation and arbitration. The committee was very busy this year, first with the drafting of a whole new certification exam. The exam will have 100 multiple-choice questions and four essay questions. In addition, the committee administered the first application process. This included analyzing and judging the applications of prospects who will take inaugural exam this year and also examining the applications of long-term practitioners in this area who are eligible to waive the requirement of sitting for the exam. Those practitioners who have practiced in the area for 20 years and have had international litigation and arbitration as a substantial part of their practice are eligible for one more year to seek a waiver. The committee is excited about the response it received from prospects and has marketed the new certification to various interested groups, including The Florida Bar International Law Section and the Miami International Law Society. Next year the committee will be focusing on continuing its efforts to raise awareness of this new certification and to continue to work on the certification exam.
Edward M. Mullins, Chair
Judicial Nominating Procedures
The purpose and mission of this committee is to assist the governor and the judicial nominating commissions (JNCs) in performing their duties under Fla. Const. art. V, §11 and under F.S. §43.291. The committee assists the governor with presenting an annual training program for all JNC commissioners and will continue to offer suggestions for improvements to the judicial nominating process. The committee also spent considerable time this year discussing the need for more diversity on the JNCs so that the JNCs can benefit from the talents, skills, and experiences of all members of The Florida Bar. The insight and hard work of Vice Chairs Judge Stacy Ross, Robert Vaughn, and Richard Bush has been greatly appreciated this year.
• Featured Speakers — We thank all the speakers who gave up their time to come to our committee meetings and share information about the JNC process this year and the importance placed on this committee by members of The Florida Bar. Special thanks go to President Michelle Suskauer, Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commissioner Israel Reyes, and YLD President-Elect Santo DiGangi.
• Subcommittees —
1) JNPC Member Liaison, Matthew Posgay, chair. Each JNC in Florida now has a liaison from the JNPC. Each liaison is available to help their respective JNC, make resources available to their JNC, and be a readily available point of contact when anyone with their JNC has a question for the JNPC.
2) Diversity/Implicit Bias, Robert Vaughn, chair. This subcommittee is continuing to develop concrete goals for improving diversity and inclusion of the JNCs and the judiciary. It is addressing concepts of implicit and explicit bias and has made recommendations to improve the nominating and training processes.
3) Voluntary Bar Association Liaisons, Cory Person, chair. This subcommittee has assisted voluntary bar associations that wish to educate their members about the JNCs with JNPC members serving as liaisons to those voluntary bar associations. This subcommittee also spearheaded a special issue of The Florida Bar Journal last year and continues providing insight and education on the JNC process and how to serve on a JNC to voluntary bar associations.
4) Implicit Bias Video, Judge Stacy Ross, chair. The subcommittee has identified three video resources that are being considered by the JNPC to help train people to confront and eliminate the negative impacts of implicit bias. The JNPC will ultimately decide which of the videos to recommend for use by all JNCs in the required training of all JNC members.
5) JNC Demographics, Loreal Arscott, chair. The committee has collected demographic data regarding the composition of the JNCs and the composition of the judiciary. This data has helped the JNPC with discussing the need for diversity throughout the JNC process.
All of the above described work led to a unanimous vote by the JNPC that the JNC Rules of Procedure and all JNCs’ local rules adopt language on diversity similar to the language found in F.S. §43.291(4), which would state: “Furthermore, the commission shall seek to ensure that, to the extent possible, it nominates to the governor for appointment highly qualified candidates who reflect the racial, ethnic, and gender diversity, as well as the geographic distribution, of the population within the territorial jurisdiction of the court for which nominations will be considered.”
The JNPC has also requested that all JNCs vote in favor of a rules convention at the fall 2019 JNPC meeting, so that the desired rule change can be implemented on a statewide basis. Further, the rules convention could also be used to determine whether there are local rules that would benefit the entire judicial nominating process by having them apply on a statewide basis.
Matthew Posgay, Chair
Juvenile Court Rules
The Juvenile Court Rules Committee has made significant accomplishments this past year to improve the delinquency and dependency court system for children and their families. The committee is comprised of dedicated and committed judges, general magistrates, and attorneys who represent children, parents, and state and county agencies. Many committee members are board certified in juvenile law. The committee is divided into two subcommittees, the Delinquency Subcommittee, led by Linda Berman, and the Dependency Subcommittee, led by Matthew Wilson. Committee members spend a considerable amount of time working on rule changes and attending monthly subcommittee meetings. The committee has begun to use Skype and uses a projector in the meeting room to enhance the members’ ability to see the proposed changes before voting.
This year the committee considered and addressed many significant issues. The committee submitted its three-year cycle report to the Florida Supreme Court. The court held oral argument on the committee’s proposed changes to Rule 8.010(e)(10) regarding the advisement of children of immigration consequences as a result of a plea; Rule 8.090(m)(3) which establishes a 15-day speedy trial recapture window; and Rule 8.255(e), which addressed testimony through the use of communication equipment. The court modified Rule 8.010(e)(10) and Form 8.953 changing the term “immigration consequences” to “deportation consequences.” The court declined to adopt Rules 8.090(m)(3), 8.255(e), and 8.257(d)(3) and directed that the committee coordinate with other rules committees on these proposals. The court adopted proposed changes to rules regarding custody orders for a child’s failure to appear, discovery of informant witnesses, the use of restraints on children in court, and the appointment of an attorney for children and young adults who have special needs.
The committee passed several proposed changes to the delinquency rules regarding remote testimony and the protection of sensitive witnesses at depositions. The Delinquency Subcommittee has made significant progress in the revision of Rule 8.095 to improve the process for determining whether children are incompetent to proceed with trial. The committee passed revisions to proposed dependency Rule 8.255(e) regarding remote testimony after reaching consensus with the chairs of the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee and the Civil Rules Committee. The Dependency Subcommittee is involved in the daunting process of reviewing and making proposed changes to all the dependency court rules. The committee has also provided comments and input to the parental leave proposal and Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.407.
I cannot thank the committee members enough for their dedication and outstanding work. Although members may represent opposing parties and have differing viewpoints, they have worked together in an exemplary manner to improve the court system for children and families. Their high level of professionalism is truly inspiring. I sincerely thank Vice Chairs Lina Berman and Matthew Wilson for their excellent leadership and hard work. They have done a fantastic job conducting monthly subcommittee calls and doing the heavy lifting of the committee. I also thank Matthew for serving with distinction as the committee’s liaison to the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee. I thank our past chairs, Kara Fenlon, Ward Metzger, and Joel Silvershein, for providing the committee with historical guidance and expertise. I thank Amy Farrior, the committee’s liaison to the The Florida Bar Board of Governors, for her dedication and assistance to the committee. She faithfully attends every committee meeting. I thank our Bar liaison, Mikalla Davis, who has done an excellent job coordinating meetings, drafting documents for filing with the court, and keeping the committee (and me) focused on our efforts. I am honored to work with such exemplary individuals on the committee. I and the committee are forever thankful to Rob Mason, former chair, for his guidance and impact (proposed the anti-shackling rule), and he is sorely missed at meetings during his hopefully short break from the committee.
David Neal Silverstein, Chair
Juvenile Law Certification
Juvenile law is a new area of certification. The committee is pleased to report that after two years of certification examinations in 2017 and 2018, there are 137 lawyers who are certified in juvenile law. We anticipate that between 15 and 20 attorneys will sit for the exam in May and wish each of them success in this endeavor.
There is minimal, if any, professional gain to the attorney certified in juvenile law beyond the sense of professional pride in the accomplishment. This is due to the nature of the work on behalf of children. Our certified attorneys have demonstrated a breadth of knowledge in all areas of the law affecting children, while also demonstrating a depth of knowledge in their juvenile law specialty. All certified attorneys have been peer reviewed for their demonstration of ethical and professional practice.
The committee has been struggling with the requirement that it no longer offer sub-specialty examinations. Although the ideal juvenile law practitioner would have both the breadth and depth of practice over the entire spectrum of areas in which children require legal representation, the reality is that there are far too many legal issues affecting children for this to be true for most juvenile law practitioners. The current reality is that these practitioners typically work for governmental or nonprofit entities, such as the state attorney, public defender, guardian ad litem, legal services, or similar advocacy law firms. With a few exceptions, these attorneys work almost exclusively in a single area of delinquency, dependency, or education and public benefits.
The practical question is whether certification should drive lawyers to achieve the ideal in their practice area, or whether certification should reflect current practice.
Recognizing that all attorneys certified in juvenile law must have competence in the legal issues affecting children, regardless of how one answers the question, the examination for all applicants includes questions related to all areas of the law. However, to ensure that practitioners seeking certification also demonstrate a depth of knowledge in the areas in which they practice, the applicants have been able to designate either delinquency or dependency in which to be tested more thoroughly. Doing away with the subspecialty exams will diminish the ability to ensure that a certified attorney has a depth of knowledge and expertise in any either of the two primary areas of juvenile law practice.
The committee will finalize its specifications for the unitary examination as required, but fears that the unitary exam will have a chilling effect and that practitioners will no longer find certification in this area to be feasible. We hope that juvenile law practitioners will strive to become the ideal practitioner and continue to sit for certification.
I am grateful to my committee members for their help and guidance throughout this year: Vice Chair Tamara Gray, Immediate Past Chair Robin Rosenberg, Gerry Glynn, Laura Klossner, Judge Meshon Rawls, Maria Schneider, Whitney Untiedt, and Laura Vaughan-Bosco. The committee members are sad to see Judge Rawls and Maria Schneider leave the committee after serving this committee well in its inaugural years. Special thanks to our former Bar staff liaison, Arlee Colman, and our midyear appointee liaison, Charlotte Bell.
Deborah A. Schroth, Chair
Law Related Education
The Law Related Education Committee (LREC) continued to provide nonpartisan, law-related educational programs to students and adults with the goal of increasing their knowledge of political institutions, systems, and processes. The LREC partnered with the Florida Law Related Education Association (FLREA) on a variety of age-appropriate programs and activities tailored to the knowledge, experience, and learning objectives of the target audiences. Below are a few of the LREC’s activities for 2018-2019:
• #JustAdulting App and Legal Guide for New Adults — In 2016, the LREC designed a digital communications tool to allow the committee to present in an electronic format the information found in its Legal Guide for New Adults pamphlet. The pamphlet has been published and updated annually by the committee for decades. The Legal Guide for New Adults pamphlet was revised with updates based on legislative activity in 2018 and recent court rulings.
The LREC monitored the data analytics for the use of the #JustAdulting web and mobile applications. Since the launch of the digital tool, there has been growth in new users from all over the world. A recent spike in new users correlates to the committee’s Facebook advertising promotion. Additionally, the LREC expanded the target audience to include college students. As a result, the largest demographic for use of the app is the 18 to 24-year-old age range, followed by 25 to 34.
The LREC also continued to develop an animated YouTube video library, to include videos regarding the court system, jury duty, judicial selection, and landlord/tenant matters. LREC members sought input from individuals in the targeted age groups to ensure that the videos are engaging and consistent with the learning styles and communication methods of young people who will benefit from the LREC’s efforts. All the campaign enhancements can be viewed on the Bar’s website at www.floridabar.org/justadulting.
• Moot Court and Mock Trial — It was an extraordinary year for the Florida Mock Trial Competition. LREC members assisted with case development and review and served as judges for the state and local mock trial competition. The Florida High School Mock Trial Competition is an academic competition in which a team of six to eight students simulate the roles of both attorneys and witnesses in a fictional trial situation. The Florida High School Mock Trial Competition took place in Orlando from March 14-16.
The Middle School Virtual Mock Trial Competition allows middle school students to participate in a simulated trial at their school or at a local courthouse. Judges score the teams based upon videos submitted by the teams. Entry packets and video submission were due on March 15.
The High School Moot Court Competition invites teams of high school students to write briefs based on case materials provided. The final round of the Moot Court Competition will take place from May 6-7 in Tallahassee before the Florida Supreme Court justices.
• K-12 Civics Education — LREC members assisted the Law Related Education Association by serving as judges for the “We the People” and “Project Citizen” competitions. The “We the People” competition enhances elementary and secondary students’ understanding of American institutions, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. The competition took place on Feb. 1.
“Project Citizen” is a curricular program for middle, secondary, and post-secondary students; youth organizations; and adult groups. The program helps participants learn how to monitor and influence public policy. “Project Citizen” portfolios will be evaluated in April.
• Outreach and Development — The LREC supports the Justice Teaching Program, founded by former Florida Supreme Court Justice R. Fred Lewis, and assists in the awards nominations process. Justice Teaching pairs legal professionals with elementary, middle, and high-school educators in Florida. Every year nominations are sought for volunteer (attorney) of the year, judge of the year, and teacher of the year awards, with the winners selected by Justice Lewis. The following recipients were recognized during the Judicial Luncheon on Thursday, June 14, 2018, at The Florida Bar’s annual convention in Orlando:
• Annette Boyd Pitts Teacher of the Year: Sonia Johnson, Delray Beach;
• John F. Harkness, Jr., Volunteer of the Year: E. Ashley Hardee, Viera;
• Justice R. Fred Lewis Judge of the Year: Judge Timothy Koenig, Key West.
Additionally, committee member Annette Boyd Pitts assisted the Florida Supreme Court with Justice Teaching Institute from February 17-21.
• LREC Facebook Page — The LREC also continued to share information with the general public about the LREC, The Florida Bar, FLREA, and other law-related education programs.
Thank you to our committee members for their attendance at our meetings and hard work on our committee projects. For more information, please visit our committee website, our Facebook page, the new “Just Adulting” app, and the Florida Law Related Education Association, Inc., website for more information on how you can get more involved in law related education.
Kalinthia R. Dillard, Chair
Labor and Employment Law Certification
The Labor and Employment Law Certification Committee oversees the certification of attorneys as labor and employment law specialists recognized by The Florida Bar. The Florida Bar certified the first class of labor and employment certified specialists in 2001, and there are currently 199 labor and employment certified lawyers in The Florida Bar. Board certified specialists in labor and employment practice under a myriad of public and private sector labor and employment laws, providing advice and counsel for both employee- and employer-side representation in transactional, litigation, and appellate practices.
The Labor and Employment Certification Committee reviews the applications for those lawyers seeking initial certification, as well as the renewal applications for certified attorneys seeking recertification every five years. To initially qualify for labor and employment certification, lawyers must be a member of The Florida Bar for five years, be substantially involved (at least 50 percent of their practice) in labor and employment law, complete 60 hours of advanced CLE of approved labor and employment law credits, pass a rigorous peer-review process, and pass a certification exam. The certification exam currently consists of 50 multiple-choice and 20 short-answer questions, along with four essays.
For the 2018-2019 certification year, the Labor and Employment Certification Committee reviewed 11 initial applications. Of those, eight sat for the certification exam administered in March in Tampa. As of the publication of this report, exam results are still pending. The committee also reviewed and renewed 23 recertification applications this year.
The committee met numerous times since June 2018 to review applications and draft and grade the certification examination. The hard-working and dedicated members of the Labor and Employment Certification Committee include Chair Michelle E. Nadeau, Vice Chair Erick M. Drlicka, Frank E. Brown, Sacha Dyson, Lorraine M. Hultman, Ellen M. Leibovitch, Bradley P. Rothman, Patricia R. Sigman, and Janet E. J. Wise. Thank you all for your efforts, diligence, professionalism, and commitment to upholding the high standards of this certification section. The committee also thanks our Florida Bar staff liaison, Jason Rawls. Our work on the committee could not have proceeded as smoothly without his dedication and attention to detail.
Michelle E. Nadeau, Chair
The Wm. Reece Smith, Jr., Leadership Academy (LA) will graduate its sixth class during the 2019 Florida Bar Annual Convention. Class VI is comprised of 30 exceptional lawyers from Gainesville to Miami, practicing law as solo practitioners, government lawyers, public interest lawyers, associates, and partners in law firms throughout Florida. The Leadership Academy Committee (LAC) is similarly populated with 48 lawyers and four judges and is charged with administering the Leadership Academy. For the first time since its inception, the LAC is co-chaired by two of its alumni, John Howe (Class I) and Anthony Visone (Class II).
In March, the LAC held its annual selection meeting and selected another 30 exceptional lawyers for Class VII and six potential alternates. Class VII will be composed of a professionally, ethnically, economically, and socially diverse group of lawyers originating from the Florida panhandle to Miami. Class VII’s first session will commence immediately following Class VI’s graduation at The Florida Bar Annual Convention.
Like previous years, this year’s LAC built upon the success of previous years to create a new and enhanced curriculum for Class VI. This year, while continuing to meet the goals of the Program Evaluation Committee (PEC), the LAC co-chairs began the year by reviewing the recommendations from the prior year’s PEC Evaluation Report and consulted with the PEC’s leadership to discuss several concerns and ideas for improvements in the functioning and effectiveness of the LA moving forward. Particularly, the PEC recommended that an objective of the LA should be to become financially independent from The Florida Bar through its own independent fundraising initiatives. However, concerns arose relating to the LA’s fundraising efforts and its ability to maintain control over the funds raised independently, as well as from the absence of a commitment from The Florida Bar to provide base-level funding each year in its budget. To address these concerns, the LAC’s co-chairs consulted and worked consistently with PEC Chair-Elect Scott Westheimer and Florida Bar Budget Committee Chair-Elect Renée Thompson during the course of the year. We are happy to report that the concerns of the LAC’s leadership have been addressed.
The LAC has undertaken the task of raising additional funds for its programming through the creation of a Fundraising and Budget Subcommittee (FBSC) co-chaired by LAC members Nicholas Johnson and Brittany Maxey-Fisher. The FBSC has recently rolled out its first alumni-focused fundraising campaign with the objective of raising $7,000 prior to The Florida Bar Annual Convention. In addition to the FBSC, the co-chairs formed four new subcommittees to achieve the LAC’s objectives. The additional subcommittees created by the LAC co-chairs are the Curriculum Subcommittee (Judge Pauline Drake and Melanie Chung-Tims, co-chairs); Projects Subcommittee (LaShawnada Jackson and Elizabeth McCausland, co-chairs); Communications and Marketing Subcommittee (Kelly Schwartz, chair); and Leadership Academy Alumni Relations and Recruitment Subcommittee (LAARRS) (Michael Schmidt and Lisa Capote, co-chairs).
This year, the Curriculum Subcommittee revamped LA educational programming to facilitate increased interaction and engagement between the fellows and presenting faculty. The subcommittee also expanded the range of presenters and panelists to include LA alumni, legislators, current and former Florida Bar leaders, senior law enforcement leaders, local elected officials, and members of the judiciary. Session I was conducted at The Florida Bar’s Annual Convention in Orlando. Session I is customarily a welcome and orientation meeting. During this session, Rebecca Bandy, director of the Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism at The Florida Bar, facilitated an introductory ice-breaker with the new class. This exercise presented a great opening to emphasize the importance of class cohesion and interaction, which the fellows took to heart.
This year, Session II was held in Jacksonville. For the first time, the LA was honored and privileged to have Florida Bar Executive Director Josh Doyle in attendance. The Session II curriculum included a powerhouse of presenters, including Florida Bar Past President Hank Coxe, former Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, a panel composed of LA alumni, Fourth Circuit Judge Lester Bass, federal Magistrate Judge Patricia Barksdale, Past President of Edwin Waters College and former Jacksonville Sheriff Nathaniel Glover, and former Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney, among many others.
At Session III, held in conjunction with The Florida Bar’s fall meeting in Tampa, Class VI was welcomed by President Michelle Suskauer, President-elect John Stewart, and several other members of the Board of Governors, one of whom was a BoG member and LA alumnus, Jay Kim. One of the other highlights of the Tampa session was a newly added joint presentation by Judge Mary Scriven and former Board of Governors member Lansing Scriven on the topic of “Professionalism and Civility — When it Matters Most,” which was well-received by the Fellows.
At Session IV in Tallahassee, the fellows had an opportunity to tour the Florida Supreme Court complex and to meet the court’s justices, three of whom were newly appointed. For the first time at the Tallahassee session, a tour and presentation inside the Florida State Senate Chamber was arranged, during which the fellows were instructed on Senate decorum and were able to conduct a mock debate, complete with the passage of a mock bill introduced by one of the fellows. The Senate visit was punctuated with a presentation by Sen. Audrey Gibson and Sen. Jason Pizzo and Rep. Margaret Good. The added senate tour was highly rated by the fellows.
Session V was conducted in March following the LAC meeting in Orlando. During this session, the class was taken though the “Privilege Walk” presentation, conducted by presenter Betty Martinez Lowery. The Privilege Walk is an amazing presentation designed to demonstrate how disparities in economic, racial, educational and social advantage shape each person’s respective life trajectory. The class also heard from Florida Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company (FLMIC) President/CEO Edwin Skoch. FLMIC has been a consistent supporter of the LA and has presented to each LA class. The fellows also heard from a panel comprised of LA alumni who have been elevated to leadership positions in The Florida Bar, the bench, and local government.
As of the submission of this report, Session VI, which will be held in Ft. Lauderdale, is in its finishing stages, and the graduation for Class VI will be held at The Florida Bar Annual Convention in Boca Raton. Notwithstanding that Class VI remains under way, the group has exhibited an unprecedented level of camaraderie and cohesion.
Each year, LA classes are tasked to complete a project. This year, for the first time, The Florida Bar Board of Governors requested Class VI undertake a special project for the creation and production of an informational video. The goal of the video to be produced by Class VI is to make a succinct video to inspire Florida lawyers to join a section or division of The Florida Bar and inform them about the sections and divisions and how to get involved.
In addition, this year President Michelle Suskauer tasked the LAC to create a video promoting the LA and highlighting the many accomplishments of LA alumni. In order to complete each of the respective video assignments, the LAC and its subcommittees worked in concert to create the concept and content for the videos, professional production, and budgeting. The LAC can report that both video projects will be completed prior to the conclusion of Session VI.
The stated mission of the LA is to identify and train a diverse group of lawyers for leadership within the ranks of The Florida Bar, the bench, government, and the community. The LA has proven itself to be a highly effective means of realizing these objectives. To date, four LA alumni have been elected to The Florida Bar Board of Governors, four alumni have been elected or appointed to the bench, and several alumni now serve on the Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors, have been appointed to JNCs across the state, and currently serve on various Bar committees and sections.
The Leadership Academy program could not succeed without the contributions of our Florida Bar staff leaders. The Leadership Academy’s activities were expertly coordinated and administered by Arnell Bryant-Willis, the diversity initiatives manager for The Florida Bar, and her assistant, Brittney Clemons. Mike Garcia, the Bar’s director of research, planning, and evaluation, also provided his expertise and created the surveys for the academy. We thank these Florida Bar staff members and friends of the academy for always doing their utmost to maintain the success of the Wm. Reece Smith, Jr., Leadership Academy.
Anthony J. Visone and John M. Howe, Co-Chairs
Legal Needs of Children
The mission of Legal Needs of Children Committee (LNOCC) is to monitor and promote the implementation of recommendations of The Florida Bar Commission on the Legal Needs of Children June 2002 Final Report. The committee also studies developments in this specialized area of practice of the law and keeps members of the Bar informed of significant developments in this practice area through periodic updates. Members of the LNOCC have a breadth of knowledge and expertise that spans the substantive areas of juvenile law, from delinquency to dependency to mental health to education. LNOCC members also vary in their perspectives of representation, from private attorneys who volunteer as guardians ad litem to government attorneys in state attorney and public defender offices to legal services attorney. For this reason, LNOCC is often called upon to lend advice and perspective on various issues affecting the legal welfare of children. Our debates are robust and respectful and also provide members the opportunity to learn and share best practices from their communities. The committee meets regularly throughout the year to consider current issues and share new information related to this distinctive practice area.
For many years, the LNOCC has focused its efforts on the worthwhile issue of legal representation for children. During 2018-2019 term, the LNOCC decided to give attention related legal issues the members agreed were equally pressing, ripe to be addressed, and to which LNOCC members could lend their expertise and leadership. In an effort to make significant progress on these issues, the LNOCC decided to move from a subcommittee format to workgroups with distinct objectives.
The Solitary Confinement Workgroup was tasked with drafting a legislative position on solitary confinement to hopefully be adopted by The Florida Bar. The workgroup researched issues surrounding the solitary confinement of juveniles who are housed in both adult and juvenile centers. The workgroup examined the past CRC proposal, past legislative proposals, solitary confinement rules for the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Department of Corrections, and legislative analysis. The workgroup drafted a position on solitary confinement and also amended the prior position on direct-file of children from juvenile to adult court. Both legislative positions were adopted by the Legal Needs of Children Committee at the last Bar meeting on Jan. 17, but were subsequently not adopted by the Bar’s Legislation Committee. The Public Interest Law Section, whose members also actively participated in the workgroup, is now considering both the solitary confinement and direct file legislative positions.
The LNOCC Solitary Confinement Workgroup ultimately became a statewide workgroup on solitary confinement with members from a wide variety of agencies and organizations, both state and national. The workgroup is in the process of trying to raise awareness of this issue and advocate for the needed for reform. Though it is aware that it cannot lobby at this particular time for any particular legislation, and has refrained from doing so, the workgroup does serve as a forum for advocates and experts on the issue to discuss their current projects, vet ideas through workgroup members, and coordinate efforts and research on the issue of the solitary confinement of juveniles.
The Incarcerated Parent and Child Workgroup was created in response to new legislation passed in 2018. “An Act Related to Incarcerated Parents” was made law and went into effect on July 1, 2018, as F.S. §39.6021. The law creates requirements for the Department of Children and Families and incarcerated parents regarding communication between the agency and incarcerated parents, case planning, and tasks completed while incarcerated. The workgroup discussed the creation of a best practices guide for all those interacting with incarcerated parents, including case managers, guardians ad litem, attorneys, and children. The workgroup reached out to statewide and national organizations versed on the interplay between children, their caregivers, and incarcerated parents. The Incarcerated Parents Workgroup continues to gather information, develop new standards, and create new documents that will be available to everyone in the system of care.
The Parent Guideline Workgroup is diligently working to create a Florida-specific Guideline for Practice for parent’s attorneys. The workgroup is working from the ABA Model Standards of Representation for Attorneys who Represent Parents in Abuse and Neglect Proceedings. LNOCC workgroup members worked on an initial review of the national standards and have now broadened the workgroup to include several other parents attorneys who are interested in the topic.
The LNOCC created a workgroup to address issues related to the deposition of child-victims of sexual assault in response to a presentation during the June 2018 meeting by Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. This workgroup has approached its mandate cautiously due to both the sensitive nature of the topic and its intersection with the constitutionally protected right of criminal defendants. The workgroup is currently coordinating with the 11th Circuit state attorney to obtain parameters for their initial request to the LNOC to investigate this issue. The workgroup then intends to bring the matter before the entire LNOCC membership for comments and consideration regarding the scope of the workgroup’s mission.
The Guardianship for Children Aging Out of Care Workgroup considered pending legislation proposed by the Statewide Office of the Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) to ameliorate jurisdictional problems related to the issue of guardianships for children aging out of foster care. The workgroup reviewed the legislation and offered comments to the GAL on challenges to obtaining guardianship for this population. The workgroup reviewed the GAL bill, Charting a Positive Path for the Future, and invited representatives of the Statewide Office of the Guardian Ad Litem to the January meeting of the LNOCC to hear comments and concerns from the LNOCC members.
The workgroup for the University of Miami Report on Confidentiality continued to monitor progress on the report the LNOCC commissioned with the Youth and Family Law Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law to determine how the recommendations of LNOCC 2002 report have been implemented. To further this effort, Professor Bernie Perlmutter and his students have undertaken research on behalf of the LNOCC to explore the following questions: How is the Department of Juvenile Justice/Department of Children and Families inter-agency agreement being implemented across circuits? Which judicial circuits have access to school district and Department of Juvenile Justice liaisons in the courtroom? How can the judicial bench book be updated to better address issues of confidentiality? What are best practices with regards to attorney ad litem access to confidential records? Results of this research will be used to develop best practices regarding the representation of children in dependency.
In the midst of all this work, the LNOCC reviewed proposed changes to juvenile certification, heard presentations from attorneys who represent children in crossover delinquency/dependency cases, closely followed developments from the Bar’s Criminal Justice Summit, and tracked legislation that affects children throughout the state. Our members shared their expertise and continue to serve as leaders and passionate advocates for the legal needs of children in Florida.
Thank you to the entire committee for your hard work this year. Thank you also to the vice chairs and workgroup chairs who helped throughout the year: Matt Bachman, Robin Rosenberg, Usha Maharajh, Stephen Teaster, Kimberly Hosley, and Amy McBride. Thank you to Sharon Middleton, the Bar’s liaison for LNOCC. Finally, a special thank you to Rick Courtemanche for his invaluable and patient guidance. Shahar Pasch, Chair
Marital and Family Law Certification
The Marital and Family Law Certification Committee is responsible for overseeing the process of certifying attorneys as marital and family law specialists recognized by The Florida Bar and reviewing the applications of currently certified attorneys seeking recertification because their terms are expiring. The certification process includes the following requirements: extensive peer and judicial review references, substantial involvement in complex marital and family law cases, trial of many family law cases, and passing a comprehensive all-day exam. The committee encourages those attorneys who meet the criteria for certification to join their colleagues in the select group who have been “evaluated for professionalism, tested for experience.”
As chair of the Marital and Family Law Certification Committee, I am happy to report another successful year. The committee is comprised of nine board certified attorneys who work throughout the state. The committee had its first telephonic meeting in early July 2018 and regular meetings thereafter (both telephonic and in-person) to draft the 2019 examination and to review initial and recertification applications. During that time, the committee worked to continue the prior committees’ improvement of the quality of the certification exam to meet the high standards expected by committee members and The Florida Bar.
Of the more than 100,000 members of The Florida Bar, 276 are currently board certified in marital and family law. Thirty-nine total attorneys applied to take the 2019 marital and family law certification exam. Seventeen of the 39 applicants submitted “abbreviated applications” after either failure or nonattendance at the 2018 exam. Ultimately, 30 applicants sat for the exam. The committee also reviewed 48 recertification applications this year.
The marital and family law certification exam contains five essay questions, 30 multiple-choice questions, and 25 short-answer questions. The exam is written to assess a marital and family lawyer’s fundamental knowledge of the law, analytical reasoning, and skill in applying knowledge to practical situations. On March 8 in Tampa, examinees answered these questions in two, three-hour blocks. Grading is scheduled for late April and the results will be announced by the Bar no later than June 1.
The committee is grateful to the lawyers who participate in the confidential peer-review process. Without candid commentary from applicants’ peers, the committee’s ability to properly review applicants’ qualifications would be severely curtailed. The committee emphasizes to Bar members and judicial officers that commentary is confidential and will not be divulged to any applicant.
I am truly honored to have served as chair of the committee this year, along with Doreen Inkeles (vice chair), Jennifer Ficarrotta, Joe Hunt, Douglas Reynolds, Mary E. Quinn, Laura Davis-Smith, Karen Weintraub, and A. Sam Jubran. The dedication and hard work exerted by this committee is nothing short of extraordinary. I am proud to call each of the committee members my colleague.
My deepest and sincerest condolences to the family of Sheila Whaley, our certification specialist and staff liaison, who passed away unexpectedly and suddenly in February. She was an integral part of this committee’s success and will be sorely missed.
Benjamin T. Hodas, Chair
Media & Communications Law
The Media & Communications Law Committee (MCLC) shares information about free speech and communication, exploring legal issues on a range of communications methods, including print, broadcast, cable, and emerging technologies. MCLC seeks to enhance the communication between The Florida Bar and the news media, focusing attention upon mutual problems and developing amicable solutions to those problems. The committee plans the annual Reporters’ Workshop, coordinates the annual Media Awards and produces the online Reporter’s Handbook. This year the committee introduced a new Education and Outreach Committee. The MCLC was also selected, for the first time, to have a seminar featured as the President’s Showcase at The Florida Bar Annual Convention.
Chair Mamie Joeveer, launched the Education and Outreach Subcommittee. Its goal includes organizing CLE, speaking events, seminars, and webinars of related to media law and First Amendment issues. The MCLC submitted their first project, a proposal for the 2019 President’s Showcase. The topic: “Fake News, the First Amendment and Defamation — The Power of the Pen.” The committee recommended the showcase as “a series of panel discussions which includes an esteemed group representing the judiciary, local and national media law attorneys, journalists, and law professors.” Our expert panelists have represented both plaintiffs and defendants in high-profile defamation cases, such as Hulk Hogan v. Gawker, led the fight in human rights cases dealing with First Amendment issues, and have made high-level editorial decisions in the newsroom. This collaboration with The Florida Bar Annual Convention will be mutually beneficial as it will attract a sizeable audience and serve as a central platform and roundtable forum for leading experts to discuss questions about “liberty, freedom of the press, and free speech.”
Craig Waters, communications counsel for the Florida Supreme Court, chaired the 29th Reporters’ Workshop. He called this year’s Reporters’ Workshop “one of the best.” Twenty-one journalists from around the state participated in the two-day workshop on legal reporting in Florida.
The 63rd Annual Florida Bar Media Awards, chaired by Sam Morley, general counsel of The Florida Press Association, are presented to recognize outstanding legal journalism. Qualified entries consist of stories that highlight the system of law and justice as it affects Floridians.
The Media Awards name was changed to The Parker Thomson Media Awards. This Bar year was the inaugural year for the Parker Thomson Awards for Outstanding Legal Journalism in Florida. The awards are named for an acclaimed First Amendment attorney who coincidentally was a mentor and/or colleague to several members of the Media & Communications Law Committee. Five awards were presented in three categories: radio, television, and print.
Along with a name change, the Media Awards will also have a venue change. The 2019 Media Awards will be included with the Florida Media Law Conference, hosted by the Florida Press Association this summer in St. Petersburg. The call for entries went out in February. The MCLC will continue to be involved with organizing judges for the contest.
Continuing with its long tradition, the MCLC’s annual convention CLE program on First Amendment issues before the U.S. Supreme Court was organized by Thomas R. Julin of Gunster Law Firm. The panel analyzes the newest and most controversial First Amendment cases decided by the Supreme Court.
In 2018, the panelists were Richard J. Ovelmen (Carlton Fields), U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Adalberto Jordan, U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks, Prof. Lili Levi (UM), Prof. Howard Wasserman (FIU), Dean Lyrissa Lidsky (U. Missouri) and Timothy J. McGinn, Jr. (Gunster). The panelist for 2019, will include a new face with the inclusion of Judge Leslie Rothenberg (retired).
Seminar coordinator Tom Julin proposed giving a special one-time award to Atty. Rick Ovelmen for his 18 years of service on the distinguished panel. Committee members approved. The award will be presented in June at the seminar.
In closing, I recognize and thank Vice Chair Dwayne A. Robinson for his outstanding service. Further, my gratitude and sincere appreciation to Karen Kirksey and Francine Walker for their support of the committee and the efforts of the members of MCLC.
Mamie C. Joeveer, Chair
Member Benefits Committee
The mission of the Member Benefits Committee is to review and evaluate existing benefit programs for Bar members, evaluate programs and services offered to the Bar for members, and make recommendations to the Board of Governors on changes or additions to the benefits program. During the past year, the committee, under the leadership of Sebastian Jaramillo has taken this mission seriously and worked diligently evaluating existing programs and reviewing potential member benefit programs. The committee reviewed a number of proposals from potential Bar member benefit providers during the 2018-2019 fiscal year and approved several new member benefits for recommendation to the Board of Governors. Recently, the committee has sought to add member benefits specifically in the health and wellness area and is actively pursuing the evaluation of potential programs in this area. Among the new benefits are Page Vault, eHome Counseling, Local Hospitality, and TimeSolv benefits. One additional benefit, UniCourt, has been recommended for approval by the Board of Governors.
Chair Jaramillo encourages all Bar members to visit www.floridabar.org/MemberBenefits to take advantage of the wide array of discounted professional and personal services offered to Bar members through The Florida Bar member benefits program. Please also check out the revamped Practice Resource Institute of The Florida Bar at https://www.legalfuel.com/.
Sebastian Jaramillo, Chair
Mental Health and Wellness of Florida Lawyers
The purpose of the Standing Committee on Mental Health and Wellness of Florida Lawyers is to implement the 2018-19 Florida Bar Strategic Plan priority that focuses on the mental health and wellness of Florida lawyers. The committee is continuing the work of the Special Committee on Mental Health and Wellness of Florida Lawyers, including:
• An educational component to destigmatize mental illness in the legal community;
• Educating employers, judges, and lawyers how to identify and address mental health illness of Florida lawyers and create “best practices” on how to address mental health issues;
• Educating lawyers about the benefits of balancing personal life and career obligations;
Provided health and wellness programs to provide Florida lawyers with healthy strategies to deal with the pressures of their practices to enhance the mental health and wellness of Florida lawyers;
• Educating voluntary bar associations on mental health and wellness programs so they may better assist their members at the local level;
• Expanding the accreditation definition so as to broaden the scope of what constitutes and health and wellness CLE program;
• Developing new and innovative CLEs on mental health and wellness issues;
Interfaced with Florida Lawyer’s Assistance, Inc., to broaden their reach to all members, not limited to those members facing Bar grievance issues; and
• Creating a special, interdisciplinary committee to study and improve The Florida Bar’s rules and programming related to mental health and wellness of Florida lawyers and ensuring that Bar members (including judges) are aware of mental health issues and can access those needed services.
The committee had three meetings this year and formed four subcommittees to better focus the work of the committee: Continuing Legal Education; Member Benefits & RFI Review; Outreach to Law Schools; and Communication and Outreach to Voluntary Bar Associations.
• Accomplishments —
• Created a new page on The Florida Bar website for all resources and member benefits associated with mental health and wellness.
• Produced a free two-hour CLE for the 2018 Florida Bar Annual Convention Presidential Showcase: Mental Health and Wellness of Florida Lawyers.
• Sponsored the CLE webinar “The Highly Energized, Engaged, and Effective Attorney,” presented by Amy Wood.
• Sponsored the CLE webinar, “Law and the Good Life” presented by Amy Wood.
• Added two new member benefits related to mental health and wellness: Wellbeing Coaches allows members to work with a certified coach in partnership with HMC HealthWorks to develop a personalized program to achieve health and wellness goals for both mind and body; and eVideo Counselor offers private sessions face-to-face via video or chat on a computer, tablet, or mobile device with a licensed counselor.
• Media presence created to promote mental health and wellness as a strategic priority of The Florida Bar with relevant social media postings, and traditional media, including the placement of editorials in major newspapers on this issue and multiple segments on Florida Bar TV.
• Two members of the special committee were certified in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) to evaluate the program for wider dissemination to all Florida Bar members.
• Mental Health First Aid CLE was approved as an eight-hour certification course.
• The University of Florida Law School hosted a very successful Mental Health Day for the students. Committee member Carl Schwait reached out to all Florida law schools to address mental health and wellness of law students.
• Designation of May as Health and Wellness Month by joining with the YLD and assisting in profiles and programming for the month.
• Committee Chair Dori Foster-Morales participated in the ABA Working Group to Advance the Well-Being of Legal Profession, including the drafting of an Impairment Policy to disseminate to members.
• Challenges and Items in Progress — A request for information for a new 24/7 mental health hotline/helpline for both crisis intervention and resources went out. Three responses have been received. The committee needs to evaluate the responses that have been received. Additionally, the committee needs to add additional member benefits in the area of mental health and wellness.
Thank you to my fellow committee members for their contributions this year: Vice Chair Carl Schwait, BOG Liaison Wayne La Rue-Smith, Judge Susan Bedinghaus, Nora Bergman, Bruce Blitman, Richard B. Bush, Mandi Ballard Clay, Alexcia Cox, Dr. Kristie Deblasio, Benjamin Gibson, Judge William Matthewman, Judge Nushin Sayfie, Alexandra Echsner-Rasmussen, Michael Pike, Joshua Spector, Jane Springer, and our staff liaison, Christine Bilbrey.
Dori Foster-Morales, Chair
• Military Spouse Rule — In 2018, the Military Affairs Committee finally had the military spouse admission rule approved by the Supreme Court. This is a milestone achievement that permits military spouses to practice in Florida without taking the Bar exam when their spouses are on orders in the state. In March, the first military spouse attorney was admitted to practice under this rule. The committee continues to develop an oversight/mentorship program that will partner admitted military spouses with appropriately qualified supervising attorneys. Supervising attorneys will need to meet minimum professional qualification standards and will serve in a voluntary capacity. Guidelines are being developed to ensure this supervisory role is not unduly burdensome to the mentor/supervising attorney.
•Website — The committee continues to work on developing a comprehensive resource-based website that will provide direction and assistance to service members and veterans. Areas of need with respect to legal resources sought are being identified, as are ways to address those needs including the provision of pro-bono or reduced-rate services where upfront fees ordinarily would be required.
• Pro Bono Initiative — The committee has been developing a database identifying service and goods resources, particularly for veterans. These services include identifying programs to assist with homelessness where VA services are not available. The program will contain a list of attorneys that could assist with obtaining VA benefits and other social services, etc.
It became clear that this initiative had significant overlap with website’s resource-based objective, and it was decided that the subcommittee for the pro bono initiative would work closely with the website subcommittee to facilitate a more comprehensive outcome.
• Veterans’ Treatment Courts — The committee is staying abreast of new Veterans’ Treatment Courts being established in the various judicial circuits and is offering assistance and volunteers as appropriate.
• Military Rules Conflict — LTC Edward Osheehan, Florida National Guard, staff judge advocate, identified a possible conflict between Florida law and §§1 and 2 of art. V, re: Rules for Guard Courts-Martial. This topic is being research and will be discussed at upcoming meetings.
• 2018 Military Law Symposium — The 2018 Military Law Symposium was the highest attended event hosted by this committee to date. The committee was honored to welcome some extremely esteemed guests including Judge Robert Davis, chief judge of the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claim. Judge Davis graciously updated us on the status of the court as well as challenges the court faced and changes he anticipated.
Col. Thomas Gray Bowman, USMC (retired), gave an engaging address on what to anticipate in the VA system in the future. Col. Bowman has been involved with the VA at the highest levels in Washington, D.C., and provided unique insight into the challenges faced on an executive level in addressing the needs of the growing veteran population. He also addressed the political issues surrounding revamping the appeals processes and addressing the concerns with the VA health system.
Judge Susan St. John from the Sixth Judicial Circuit gave the committee another update on family law matters, particularly as they related to service members and challenges she has seen in this regard.
David Swindall, a licensed mental-health professional, discussed the psychological impact on veterans and service members of service, war, military sexual trauma, and other challenges, and the methods for coping with such challenges.
Dr. Claudia Chavez, a psychologist, discussed PTSD and military sexual trauma issues from her clinical perspective. She discussed the dangers of underreporting sexual trauma in service and the long-term implications to those service-members.
Finally, a panel discussion regarding MST and psychological issues gave some insights on holistic approaches to caring for veterans and service-members.
• 2019 Military Law Symposium — The 2019 symposium promises to be even more exciting and educational than last year. The theme of the symposium, “#MilToo – Military Law in the @MeToo Era” will address sex crimes under the UCMJ and the role of the court system and victims’ advocates. The program will also address current Department of Defense sexual harassment and transgender policies, and a panel will address changes in the military justice system in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
Vanessa L. Brice, Chair
Prepaid Legal Services
The Prepaid Legal Services Committee of The Florida Bar is — as it has been for all times since the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar first created this Public Service Standing Committee in 1974 — entrusted with the responsibility to ensure that legal services plans submitted by members in good standing of The Florida Bar are in full and complete compliance with the rules and regulations of Ch. 9 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar.
The committee was established to further The Florida Bar’s policy to promote and improve citizens’ access to justice and the legal system. And in doing so, there are entrepreneurial benefits in creating and managing legal service plans, which include expanding a client base.
In addition to fulfilling its stated mission, the committee has expanded its scope and focus to include 1) educating the membership of The Florida Bar on the various rules and regulations that govern the operation of legal services plans in Florida, including a) the entrepreneurial aspects of the creation and establishment of plans by and under Ch. 9 and b) the availability of those certain other legal and business opportunities provided in the “Legal Expense Insurance Act,” by and under the provisions of F.S. Ch. 642; and 2) creating a greater awareness among Florida consumers that membership in plans affords members with tangible, real-life, benefits, and, most importantly, the opportunity to better gain access to the legal system. Plan application forms can be found on The Florida Bar website at https://www.floridabar.org/public/prepdsrvs/.
During this 2018-19 Bar year, the committee successfully carried out its responsibilities upon undertaking and completing various tasks and projects throughout the year. First and foremost, the committee had the opportunity to review, discuss at length, and, ultimately, approve, amend, or deny the submission of a number of Ch. 9 plans, including plans that do not necessarily fall within the traditional examples of a “group” as defined under Ch. 9 — i.e., churches, educational institutions, credit unions, employing units, and associations.
The committee is again privileged to co-sponsor an informative CLE seminar with the Florida Lawyers Legal Insurance Company during The Florida Bar 2019 Annual Convention on June 26.
The chair would be remiss not to acknowledge the performance of a couple individuals whose great work has contributed significantly to permitting the committee to accomplish its goals and, in turn, further its mission, during this year.
I thank and acknowledge the work of the committee’s program administrator, Ricky Libbert, for her efforts to keep both the chair and the committee on task during the course of this year and the committee’s vice chair, John Schaefer, for his guidance. It has been such an honor to serve with John, who first started serving on the committee in 1985. Since then, he has lectured, assisted in revising the Ch. 9 rules along with creating the Ch. 9 plan application packet, and educated the membership of The Florida Bar on Ch. 9 plans.
In conclusion, it has been an honor to serve as chair of the Prepaid Legal Services Committee, and it is now my privilege to pass the leadership to John Schaefer and John Joseph as the committee’s incoming chair and vice chair, respectively, and wish them well as they strive to fulfill the committee’s mission during the upcoming 2019-20 Bar year and beyond.
Kelli Lueckert, Chair
Pro Bono Legal Services
During 2018-19, the Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services saw several of its current objectives fulfilled:
The Rules subcommittee, chaired by Dominic MacKenzie, continues to propose important rule changes aimed at increasing pro bono participation and opportunities:
• The Rules Subcommittee drafted and approved changes to Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.220 that suggest residual funds in class-action lawsuits be designated as cy pres awards to The Florida Bar Foundation or other designated nonprofit legal services providers. Serving as the Bar’s charitable conduit for the funds, the Foundation uses the funds to benefit consumers and pro bono programs. The committee and The Florida Bar’s Civil Rules Committee jointly obtained The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors’ approval for the rule change petition. The rule change petition has been filed with the Florida Supreme Court. Oral argument on the rule change petition was scheduled for April 3.
• The committee is monitoring the delivery of legal assistance to victims of Hurricane Michael, and together with The Florida Bar Foundation leadership, legal aid providers, and other stakeholders, is analyzing whether Florida would benefit from changes to its rules to permit out-of-state attorneys to provide pro bono assistance to disaster victims (similar to the changes implemented in Louisiana and Mississippi in the wake of Hurricane Katrina).
• The committee is monitoring Florida’s improved pro bono reporting compliance following modifications to the Bar’s online annual renewal statement that now requires Bar members to complete the pro bono reporting entries. The standing committee will continue to monitor the Bar staff’s follow-up with its members who submit incomplete dues statements by mail. Additionally, the committee approved a plan to send communications to Bar members who have not performed pro bono work during the prior reporting year to remind them of the opportunities in their community to perform pro bono work.
• The All Circuits Subcommittee, now led by Jacksonville Circuit Judge Virginia Norton, again held joint meetings with all 20 circuit pro bono chairs at the fall meeting of the Bar. The subcommittee has attained its initial goals for the circuit committees: identifying all legal aid providers and pro bono work in each circuit; producing a one-page listing of all pro bono activities of the Circuit Committee; and having all statewide pro bono opportunities listed on the circuit’s webpage on the floridaprobono.org website. The All Circuits Subcommittee works closely with the director of pro bono programs with The Florida Bar Foundation and participates in quarterly telephonic conferences to coordinate statewide efforts to increase overall pro bono hours and lawyer participation.
• The pilot triage program implemented in Clay County continues to have the full support of the committee as the Florida Justice Technology Center, Inc., and The Florida Bar Foundation work toward statewide implementation of a triage portal.
• The committee is working with The Florida Bar’s Appellate Practice Section to provide pro bono counsel to unrepresented domestic violence victims in appeals relating to domestic violence protection orders.
Through the united efforts of so many pro bono stakeholders, including the committee’s 25 members from throughout the state; The Florida Bar Foundation; circuit pro bono committees; the Florida Supreme Court and its Commission on Access to Civil Justice; nonprofit legal services, legal aid, and voluntary bar programs; and law school clinical programs, Florida continues to make improvements in the delivery of pro bono legal services to low-income Floridians.
At the committee’s January meeting in Orlando, we grieved collectively at the loss, too soon, of a statewide pro bono champion — retired Judge William “Bill” Van Nortwick, Jr., who passed away January 12. Bill chaired the committee for years, was president of The Florida Bar Foundation, won every pro bono award imaginable, and was a charter member of the Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice. He represented pro bono clients while in practice and truly “walked the walk.” He lives in our memories and in the progress attained by the pro bono community because of his efforts and successes.
The committee also gratefully acknowledges the unrelenting support provided by past, present, and future Bar presidents and presidents-elect, including but not limited to, William J. Schifino, Jr. (2016-17), Michael J. Higer (2017-18), Michelle R. Suskauer (2018-19), and John Stewart (2019-20). The continuity of that leadership from the top for pro bono activities is a vital underpinning of the committee’s work over the years. Bar staff liaison attorney, Francisco-Javier P. Digon-Greer, also has helped us every step of the way.
Kathleen S. McLeroy and Judge Vance E. Salter, Co-Chairs
The purpose of The Florida Bar Standing Committee on Professionalism (SCOP) is to assist the Florida Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism and Civility, The Florida Bar, and The Florida Bar’s Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism. SCOP is comprised of several working groups, all designed to develop and assist with implementation of events and activities to promote professionalism throughout the state. The annual charges assigned to each working group change each year but are designed around the specific tasks SCOP is directed to undertake.
Since January 2018, Rebecca Bandy has been serving as executive director for the center. In this role, Rebecca leads the center and acts as a liaison for SCOP. Since assuming this role, Rebecca and the team at the center have worked to achieve the center’s goals and advance the work of SCOP. Adriannette Williams has continued to serve as assistant director of the center. In 2018, the center welcomed Beth Kirkland as its new program coordinator. Beth is currently a student at the University of Alabama where she is pursuing a degree in finance and economics. Beth has been a welcome addition to the center’s team.
Throughout the year, the center has been actively developing and delivering a variety of continuing legal education courses around the state, including, but not limited to, topics covering emotional intelligence, mindfulness, and mentoring. Most recently, in early March, the center, in partnership with the Student Education and Admission to the Bar Committee, hosted a CLE along with FSU Law’s Professionalism Center. The event was titled “How to Become the Lawyer You’re Supposed to Be.” It was very well received and attendance was strong. Additionally, the center is partnering with FSU Law for a law student writing contest on the topic of professionalism. The winning essay will be published in the center’s newsletter, The Professional.
• Awards Working Group — Led by Matthew Feeley, chair, and Judge Gisela Laurent, co-chair, this group oversaw the process for the solicitation and selection of this year’s professionalism award recipients, including the William M. Hoeveler Judicial Award, the Law Faculty/Administrator Award, and the Group Professionalism Award. This group has focused on spreading awareness of the professionalism awards and have made direct inquiries with potential applicants. The winners of these awards will be announced at the annual convention in June.
• Education and Resource Working Group — This group is chaired by Howard Marsee. Charges for this group include locating potential professionalism articles and videos in order to enhance the center’s library guide, which is located on the website. Members have contributed articles covering a wide variety of professionalism topics for publication in The Professional, with a focus on mentoring as integral to the promotion of professionalism.
• Gender Bias — This is a new working group for the 2018-19 year. Led by Ita Neymotin, chair, and Amy Borman, co-chair, this working group has been working on the development and production of a CLE on gender bias-related issues, such as implicit bias, the business case for gender inclusion, gender-neutral hiring and evaluation criteria, conflict avoidance and resolution, and fixed versus growth mindset. This is a large undertaking, so it is anticipated that this project may continue through next year.
• Health and Wellness Working Group — Consistent with the Bar’s focus on health and wellness of its members, this newly created working group is charged with aiding in the development and production of a CLE on health and wellness-related issues, such as fitness, mental health, suicide awareness, mindfulness, emotional intelligence, nutrition, social well-being, travel, parenting, aging, and coping with life-changing events. The group is led by Kirsten Davis, chair, and Judge Patricia Barksdale, co-chair. The group is committed to ensuring that awareness of the negative impact of loneliness is considered during the evaluation of the health and wellness of attorneys, as well as ensuring that substance abuse is specifically addressed when discussing the health and wellness of attorneys.
• Mentoring Initiatives Working Group — This group is led by Kara Rockenbach, chair, and Sarah Zabel, co-chair. This group is charged with using available data regarding mentoring initiatives from other state bars and reviewing and revising the center’s mentoring toolbox. Additionally, members of the group have provided articles, videos, podcasts, and other media pertaining to mentoring for inclusion in the center’s library guide. The group considered the idea of adding a mentoring professionalism award, but it was decided that was not appropriate at this time for various reasons.
• Stakeholders Workshop on Law Student Professionalism — At the winter meeting, the center and SCOP hosted the first Stakeholders Workshop on Law Student Professionalism. The idea for the event was created by Tim Chinaris, former chair of SCOP, who currently serves as associate dean for information services at Belmont University College of Law. The event brought together law school personnel who work directly with law students, together with judges, Bar leaders, members of the Board of Bar Examiners, and lawyers who represent Bar applicants. Each table was comprised of a mix of these representatives and each group was asked to review a hypothetical situation designed to elicit exchange of information and ideas on how to most effectively enhance professionalism among today’s law students. Once the hypotheticals had been reviewed and analyzed by each group, an open discussion took place addressing issues currently facing law schools, law students, and The Florida Bar.
Opening remarks were provided by Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court Charles Canady. Additionally, Florida Bar President-Elect John Stewart, Michele Gavagni, executive director of the Florida Board of Bar Examiners, and Scott Baena, chair of the Board of Bar Examiners, were also presenters. Feedback received by attendees at the event was overwhelmingly positive and participants found the workshop to be both unique and beneficial to the promotion of professionalism at the law schools.
In closing, it has been a personal and professional honor to lead SCOP this year. This committee is comprised of dedicated members who are keenly focused on promoting professionalism in the Bar. They are creative and enthusiastic about the future of professionalism in the Bar, and I am confident the committee’s work this year will leave a lasting impact.
Starling N. Hendriks, Chair
The Professional Ethics Committee is responsible for providing guidance to Bar members on the Rules of Professional Conduct. Formal committee opinions are available on the Bar’s website at www.floridabar.org. The committee also provides informational packets and topical information on the website. A link to “Rules & Ethics” is included at the top of every page of the website. This link leads to a landing page with a link to the main ethics page, which includes links for formal ethics opinions, the Rules of Professional Conduct, informational packets, Bar News and Journal articles on ethics issues, and other topical information relating to lawyer ethics.
The committee is staffed by the Bar’s Ethics Department. The Bar’s ethics attorneys research and draft informal staff opinions and maintain the toll-free ethics hotline for Bar members. The committee reviews informal written opinions issued by the Bar’s ethics attorneys and reconsiders them sua sponte if the committee deems appropriate or if the inquiring attorney seeks review of the informal staff opinion. In addition, the committee sponsors an annual professional ethics seminar. The committee met three times this year to consider a variety of ethics issues.
• Formal Advisory Opinion Procedures — The Florida Bar Procedures for Ruling on Questions of Ethics govern the process by which staff issue informal oral and written opinions and by which the committee issues formal opinions. The committee may issue formal opinions on review of staff opinions and existing formal opinions. Additionally, the Board of Governors may request that the committee issue a formal opinion concerning the application of the ethics rules to certain facts. When issuing proposed formal opinions, the committee publishes official notice in The Florida Bar News, inviting Bar members to comment. The committee values the input provided by these comments and encourages Bar members to comment on proposed ethics opinions. The procedures are available on The Florida Bar’s website at www.floridabar.org by choosing the “Rules & Ethics” link and then “Ethics” on the resulting landing page.
• Final Advisory Opinion — Advisory Opinion 18-2. This opinion addresses whether a lawyer may charge a lawful rate of interest to a client on costs advanced by the lawyer. The inquiring lawyer represented a client on a contingency fee in a personal injury matter. The contingency fee agreement made the client’s repayment of costs advanced by the lawyer contingent on the outcome. The lawyer proposed to secure a nonrecourse loan from an outside funding company. Interest would only be owed to the funding company if there was a recovery. The committee first noted that a prior opinion, Opinion 86-2, stated that lawyers could charge a lawful rate of interest in liquidated fees and costs. Opinion 86-2 did not define the term liquidated. In Opinion 18-2, the committee opined that a cost was liquidated when the cost was incurred by the lawyer and became known. The committee stated that a lawyer could charge a lawful rate of interest on contingent costs if the client gives informed consent in writing as the earliest opportunity, such as in the contingent fee agreement. The committee stated that a lawyer could charge interest under these conditions, whether the costs are advanced from a funding company or other financial institution specific to the client’s case, a general line of credit available to the law firm, or from the firm’s operating account. The committee also stated the rate of interest must be lawful and reasonable. The committee cautioned that the client’s interest must come first, and the lawyer should not use a funding company or other financial institution if the lawyer could get a lower rate at another institution.
• Review of Written Staff Opinions — At its meetings, the committee considers appeals by attorneys of written staff opinions in response to inquiries submitted by the attorneys. Among such appeals considered by the committee was whether a lawyer can collect a referral fee or commission for referring a client to an independent insurance broker. The committee also has a subcommittee that reviews staff opinions and can ask the full committee to review particular staff opinions. The staff opinions reviewed at the request of the subcommittee concerned the following issues: a lawyer’s reporting obligations concerning potential future criminal conduct by a client who is the guardian of, or has a power of attorney over, an elderly person; whether and how a lawyer can respond to a negative online review; the ethical obligations applicable to a lawyer’s participation in a networking group; the ethical obligations relating to a firm merger; and potential conflicts involving payment methods to court-appointed criminal defense lawyers.
The committee also considered ethics inquiries in which staff declined to issue an opinion, including a denial of a staff opinion concerning whether a retired member could use the title “Dr.” in conversation and correspondence and a denial of a staff opinion regarding the division of fees with a retired member who is ineligible to practice.
• Masters Seminar on Ethics — The Professional Ethics Committee’s yearly CLE program addresses ethical issues of great significance to Bar members at the annual convention. The seminar subcommittee is chaired by Caroline Johnson Levine. The other members of the subcommittee are Alexander Caballero, Anne Dalton, Gregory D’Incelli, Leora Freire, Loula Giannet, Hope Newsome, Steven Teppler, and Jill Weiss. The seminar will be presented at the June 2019 annual convention and provide 4.0 hours of general CLE credit (4.0 Ethics and 2.0 Technology). The 2019 Masters Seminar on Ethics will present an array of ethical topics, including cybersecurity and other technology issues affecting lawyers, how to handle a bar grievance, and a judicial panel. Speakers scheduled to participate are Michael Aisenberg, Andrew Berman, Peter Blanc, retired Circuit Judge Eric Hibbard, John Jorgenson, Jude Krista Marx, Tatiana Melnik, Ali Sackett, and Steven Teppler.
• Informal Ethics Opinions Service — The ethics opinion process continues to rate as among the most desirable services on membership surveys. The committee is committed to providing ethics guidance to Bar members. The committee thanks the staff of the Ethics Department for their dedication, assistance, and support in providing such guidance throughout the year. Staff had another busy year on the ethics hotline handling more than 25,000 calls, in addition to providing hundreds of written staff opinions and other ethics correspondence.
Finally, the committee thanks our board liaison, Thomas R. Bopp, Ethics and Consumer Protection Division Director Lori Holcomb, and our hardworking staff: Ethics Counsel Elizabeth Clark Tarbert, Assistant Ethics Counsels Joy A. Bruner, Huy-Yen T. Cam, Gail E. Ferguson, Jonathan Grabb, Jeffrey M. Hazen, Kelly Smith, LiliJean Quintiliani, and Paralegal Donna Hostutler. Without the participation, guidance, experience, and hard work of these individuals, the business of this committee could not be accomplished.
Jean Marie Middleton, Chair
Real Estate Certification
The Real Estate Certification Committee had another busy year. In addition to the chair, the 2018-19 members of the committee are Vice Chair Robert Fleitas III, of Miami, immediate Past Chair Mary A. Robison of Jacksonville, Past Chair William Kramer of Ft. Lauderdale, Diana Davis Basta of Palm Harbor, Michael Chesser of Shalimar, Charles Klug, Jr., of Tampa, Lynn Lovejoy of Tallahassee, Past Chair Deborah Boyd of Port St. Lucie, Wylie Boston of Orlando and Michelle Hinden of Orlando. By having committee members from all reaches of our diverse state we are able to construct an examination that is representative of the practice of real estate law throughout our state. We are also very honored that the 2018 Board Certified Attorney of the Year, Meredith Level, was not only a member of our committee, but also a past chair.
The committee is charged with evaluating and approving lawyers who apply to become board certified in real estate law, evaluating and approving existing board certified real estate lawyers for recertification (every five years), and preparing and grading the annual certification exam. The latter process takes up the bulk of the committee’s time and effort. As dictated by the Florida Supreme Court, the evaluation of applicants necessarily involves the determination of whether an applicant meets the highest standards of professionalism and ethics. This process is often difficult and is taken very seriously by the committee members. The committee strives to prepare the exam from year to year in a manner that best tests those high standards as well as the knowledge and skill expected of members of The Florida Bar holding themselves out as experts in real estate law.
The real estate certification program was established in 1986 with the first class becoming board certified in 1987. Real estate has historically been the second-largest area of certification in terms of number of individuals who are board certified by The Florida Bar. There are currently 454 board certified lawyers, 13 of which (out of 35 exam takers) became certified in 2018, and 43 lawyers are anticipated to sit for the 2019 exam.
The present format of the exam includes 45 multiple-choice questions, six mandatory short-answer essay questions, a homestead essay question, and a transactional analysis law question. The exam is scheduled for three hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon. While not everyone will pass the exam, we regularly hear that the process of preparing for the exam causes every examinee to be a better real estate lawyer. Of those who do not pass the exam on the first try, many find success in the year that follows.
We encourage all experienced and eligible lawyers to apply for board certification. Certification identifies a lawyer to the public and other lawyers as having specialized knowledge and capabilities. We also encourage board certified lawyers to apply to serve on the committee; it provides invaluable exposure to other real estate law experts in a collegial and intellectually stimulating setting.
As chair of the committee, I thank the members for their hard work and dedication to the exam preparation and applicant review process. Additionally, the committee extends its thanks and gratitude to several former committee members who have graciously volunteered their time to serve as exam pretesters: Lloyd Granet, John Soileau, Joshua A. Escoto, Richard C. Grant, Richard A. Miller, Michael Mirrington, Russell Robbins, and David Weisman. The committee members also thank David Willis, our new BLSE liaison to the committee, as well as Steve Rubin who is our immediate past BLSE liaison. Finally, the Real Estate Certification Committee acknowledges the hard work and service of Cathy Fisher, the Bar staff certification specialist, who joined our committee this year. Our job would be impossible without the assistance of Bar staff.
Denis A. Cohrs, Chair
We are the Senior Lawyers Committee, but don’t confuse us with AARP. Most of us are age 55+, but we do have younger members, and we are currently are partnering with the Young Lawyers Division on programming. Our membership includes lawyers who are in different stages of their legal careers: some are semi-retired, while others are contemplating a change of career, retirement, or early retirement. Many of us have no plans to ever retire.
With 185 members joining or renewing their appointments this year, the Senior Lawyers Committee became the largest standing committee of The Florida Bar. What was perhaps even more impressive was the fact that almost one-third of our members committed to working on one or more of this year’s projects.
To a great extent, our accomplishments this year — including our tremendous growth in membership — was the result of the Program Evaluation Committee’s (PEC) review and recommendations. The PEC’s recommendations, along with the results of our 2017 Survey of Florida Bar Members over the age of 55, focused our efforts and became the Senior Lawyers Committee’s roadmap for 2018-19. (For information about the Senior Lawyers Survey, see the Senior Lawyers Committee 2017 annual report).
One of our first tasks this year was to restructure the committee to be able to take advantage of our almost 150 new members, most of whom were eager to be actively involved in the committee.
Now our structure includes a leadership team (chair, Vice Chairs Leslie Stein and Donald Smith, and Immediate Past-Chair Bill Davell) that holds monthly phone conferences with our Bar staff liaison, Cheryl Wright. The leadership team reviews the work of the committee’s focus groups, who are the teams of member volunteers that do the heavy lifting on the committee’s projects. The focus group structure grew out of our recognition that at this stage in our careers, we senior lawyers prefer to work on those discrete tasks that are of particular interest to us, as opposed to joining standing subcommittees that look impressive on our resumes.
The 2018-19 focus groups are:
• 50 Year-Member Luncheon — This year, the Senior Lawyer’s Committee assumes responsibility for planning and hosting the 50-Year Member Luncheon held at the 2019 annual convention. We look forward to having the opportunity to honor the 1969 class of Florida Bar members and senior counselors.
• CLE Plug-Ins — CLE Plug-Ins are one-hour CLE presentations on topics relating to health and wellness, financial security, retirement planning, and other topics that can provide an “ethics” credit when added as a component of certification training and substantive law CLE programs.
• CLE Presentations — This group plans the free CLE programming offered in conjunction with the Senior Lawyers Committee’s winter and annual convention meetings. Our winter meeting featured a free CLE presentation titled, “10 Tech Tips to Optimize Efficiency and Reduce Stress,” presented by Adriana Linares, legal technology therapist at LawTech Partners. The presentation was recorded and will be made available on the committee’s webpage free of charge for those Bar members who missed the live presentation.
• Generations Conversations— This group is partnering with YLD and the Standing Committee on Diversity and Inclusion to develop programs addressing the issue of generational diversity and commonality, encompassing both unstructured social conversation and CLE programming.
• Member Benefits — This group will work with The Florida Bar Member Benefits Committee to identify benefits programs of particular interest to senior lawyers.
• Website — At our winter meeting, this group previewed the committee webpage that is currently in development. The inaugural page will feature a video of our winter CLE and a Florida Bar-produced how-to video on navigating The Florida Bar website.
• Newsletter — This group is working on an email newsletter that features Senior Lawyers Committee exclusive content and links to the committee webpage.
• Pro Bono Opportunities — This group identifies volunteering opportunities outside the legal field, as well as law-related and pro bono opportunities for members who are looking for new ways to continue to serve in the community as they leave their practices or cut back on their hours.
Starting with our first year, Senior Lawyers Committee meetings have had a higher percentage of members attending remotely than other Bar committees. We believe that our members’ preference for remote rather than in-person attendance is due to a number of factors: 1) the physical limitations on travel, 2) the unreimbursed expense of travel and attendance by law firms due to our members’ senior status, 3) the reduced ability to pay for travel and attendance from their income from their current practices, and 4) less incentive to travel to Bar meeting locations designed for families with young children. Additionally, many of our members no longer attend other Bar committee or section meetings, having completed the maximum number of allowable terms. The Senior Lawyers Committee — which currently has no limit on the number of one-year terms to which members can be reappointed — provides a way for members to continue their service to the Bar and the profession.
With our current membership numbers, it would have been difficult or impossible to accommodate a high in-person attendance at this year’s meetings. With the Bar’s help, remote attendees at our midyear meeting and CLE had the option to participate via video or phone conferencing using Zoom Video, both of which options provided better sound quality, accommodated more remote attendees and allowed better participation than our old system. Using Zoom also allowed us to share documents and PowerPoint slides with remote attendees and to record the proceedings.
The final step in the Senior Lawyers Committee’s restructuring process was to hold a strategic planning session, the first one in this relatively young committee’s (pun intended) history. The leadership team, focus group chairs, and focus group members came together at The Florida Bar’s fall meeting to share ideas and coordinate their efforts.
The result is that as of March, we have either completed or made significant progress on our strategic planning goals, including the PEC recommendations. We are looking forward to continuing our work during 2019-20.
Susan R. Healy, Chair
Small Claims Rules
The Small Claims Rules Committee had a productive year for the 2018-2019 term, highlighted by the filing of the committee’s regular-cycle report with the Florida Supreme Court in February. It has been a pleasure to serve as chair of this committee and participate in its work over the past six years. The committee has worked diligently throughout the past three years to eliminate archaic language, enhance consistency where appropriate and without diminishing the unique character of small claims as the “People’s Court,” and enable access and participation on behalf of both pro se and represented parties.
The regular-cycle report contains proposed amendments for 17 rules. Changes were made to address outdated language, clarify potential ambiguities, and extinguish inconsistencies between the Small Claims Rules and the Rules of Judicial Administration and the Rules of Civil Procedure, where deemed advisable by a majority of the Small Claims Rules Committee. Two entirely new forms were proposed in this cycle to allow designation of, and changes to, an email address, as this content was not previously contained in the Small Claims Rule set. Fifteen forms already present in the Small Claims Rules have had amendments submitted. The amendments focus on making the forms more accessible to pro se litigants and enhancing consistencies across the rules and forms as a set. The regular-cycle report (case no. SC19-155) is available on the Supreme Court’s docket for review.
The Small Claims Rules Committee also receives community members’ requests to consider changes to the rules. These suggestions are evaluated by committee members and their ongoing dedication to responding to these requests is greatly appreciated.
I thank every member of the Small Claims Rules Committee for their hard work and dedication over the last year, especially Maureen Walsh (vice chair), Brooke Teal (secretary), and Michael Debski (RJA liaison). This committee benefits enormously from its Bar liaison, Heather Telfer. Her contributions to making sure the committee hits its marks with respect to the regular-cycle report cannot be overstated.
In Florida, we are privileged as lawyers to participate in the rulemaking process that affects our day-to-day practice of law. I encourage all members of The Florida Bar to exercise that entitlement and get involved in committee work — it is so worth the effort.
Christina Magee, Chair
State and Federal Government and Administrative Practice
Currently, there are 80 board certified lawyers in state and federal government and administrative practice. Our committee covers a broad practice area that includes state and federal rulemaking, administrative adjudication and agency interaction, along with state and federal government practices, and practice areas.
This year, only one person applied for certification. A total of 24 certified attorneys submitted applications for recertification in 2017-2018.
We obviously need to encourage administrative practitioners to apply for certification, and our committee has worked hard over the past year to address the scope of our certification area. Last year’s chair, Tim Atkinson, began an effort to modify our certification requirements, and this year’s committee worked closely with Administrative Law Section Chair Judge Gar Chisenhall to come up with some meaningful proposed revisions to the requirements for certification. We will be working with the BLSE and other persons within the Bar leadership to implement our revisions.
While we are working to revise our criteria for the future (which includes jettisoning the horribly unwieldy name for our certification area), our committee also worked to evaluate our current examination structure. We realized that we need to offer an examination that will truly test expertise in administrative law. Over time, certification examinations can grow increasingly esoteric, and we worked hard to rework our examination to focus our test on the relevant areas of administrative and government law.
The 2018-2019 committee has been very active and dedicated. Vice Chair Brittany Long has worked well with me and Tim Atkinson in pursuing our long-term goals, and Tim remains a very active participant. Kenny Hayman has been a long-serving and constant help on the committee. John Rimes, Michael Cook, Bruce Lamb, and Judge John Van Landingham have each provided great service, and I am very grateful to each for attending all of this year’s meetings. Our Florida Bar liaison, Allison Armour, has been extremely supportive, and has assisted us greatly in helping us to figure out how we can make needed changes to our examination and certification area.
If you have any questions about certification in the area of state and federal government and administrative practice, please visit The Florida Bar’s website or call Allison Armour at 850-561-3143. If you have any complaints regarding the practice area, please wait until next year, and then direct them to Brittany Long.
Tad Delegal, Chair
Student Education and Admissions to the Bar
The 2018-2019 Bar year has been a tremendous one for the Student Education and Admissions to the Bar Committee. There has been an incredible amount of tangibly productive results due to the hard work of the committee members and Florida Bar staff this year. Overall there has been much increased committee member engagement as well.
The committee put on several events on law school campuses, which advanced the goals of the committee and impacted law students and law school administrators and faculty.
The committee also met its goal of working together more with other divisions and sections of the Bar to advance goals related to preparing students to pass the bar, professionalism, increasing awareness of The Florida Bar, and making students aware of opportunities for Bar involvement both in law school and after law school.
The five subgroups within the committee did a great job as well. The Law School Gender Bias, Legal Education & Reform, Mission & Vision, Mentoring Initiatives, and the Student Education Handbook subgroups all hit the ground running, advanced efforts and goals of their respective missions, held conference call meetings to advance to the next step of each goal from last year, and are finishing the Bar year by holding additional conference call meetings to ensure the committee is prepared to start the next Bar year.
A major goal of the committee this year was to interact with law students and law school campuses in person. An event focusing on health and wellness on law school campuses was a joint event together with the Young Lawyers Division’s Law Student Division at the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida in Gainesville in November 2018, and it was amazing, informative, and engaging.
The event consisted of an interactive panel discussing the causes of mental and overall health issues that law students and Bar exam takers are experiencing, what is going on now to help law students and bar takers, practices that current lawyers use to manage similar issues and stress, and what else could be done in the future to tackle challenges facing law students and bar takers.
The group then held a roundtable with multiple student leaders and discussed issues facing students on campus, such as what is currently working on campuses to help with mental health and wellness, what more can occur, and their concerns related to submitting applications for admissions to the Bar. The concerns were forwarded to The Florida Bar’s governor assigned to the committee.
Next, an extremely successful CLE event was held at the Florida State University College of Law in March, where the committee teamed together with The Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism to put on a CLE with FSU Law’s Professionalism Center called, “How to Become the Lawyer You’re Supposed To Be,” which included a panel with members of the committee, Florida Bar staff, and other leaders in the legal community.
Additionally, the committee then worked together with student leaders from the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Society at the Shepard Broad College of Law at Nova’s College of Law to hold a panel titled, “A Day in the Life of a Transactional Real Estate Attorney and Real Estate Litigation Attorney,” with the focus on real estate law in both the transactional and litigation fields. This also took place in March.
The committee was thankful to be invited to and take part in the Young Lawyers Divisions’ 2019 Deans’ Summit, which was held in January.
Another goal for this year was to build the electronic infrastructure for the committee within the committee member’s portal on The Florida Bar’s website. The committee has thus far been successful with this effort, as there has been improved and increased correspondence with the committee.
There is still more work to do, of course, and the committee will be working up to the annual conference in June to ensure as many goals are met as possible.
A major thank you to the wonderful staff of The Florida Bar who are always available for committee members and greatly assist in the daily efforts of the committee. Without the assistance of the Bar’s staff, much of the above accomplishments would not have been possible.
It has been an honor and privilege to work with committee members and Bar staff this year and for the previous six years as a member of the committee. The biggest gifts from this past year have been the impact we have hopefully had on law students across Florida and the inspiration I have drawn from the amazing work of so many committee members and Bar staff who really are the ones who made this past year a success.
Jason D. Silver, Chair
The Committee on Technology consists of 33 members with a stated interest and competence in technology, data security, and privacy. The scope and function of the Committee on Technology is to interact regularly with LegalFuel: The Practice Resource Center to assure that technology tools for lawyers and educational assistance concerning technology and the law is readily available to Florida lawyers. The Committee on Technology was chaired by Al Saikali (Miami) with Dario Diaz (Tampa) and Christine Senne (Lake Placid) serving as co-vice chairs. During the 2018-2019 Bar year, the committee held three in-person meetings in conjunction with The Florida Bar fall meeting, winter meeting, and the annual convention.
This year the committee collaborated with LegalFuel and other Bar sections on several continuing legal education opportunities. Al Saikali and Valerie Barton Barnhart each recorded a one-hour CLE for the LegalFuel Speaker Series. The LegalFuel Speaker Series features well-known Florida lawyers discussing relevant topics from technology to work-life balance and social media marketing. Saikali’s CLE was titled, “Cybersecurity for the Everyday Lawyer,” and highlighted best practices for a law firm to take to protect their computer systems and data. Barnhart’s CLE was titled, “Making the Jump: A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Launch Your Law Firm,” and highlighted best practices when starting a new law practice. Both CLEs are available for free on LegalFuel.com.
The committee coordinated with the Solo and Small Firm section of The Florida Bar in providing several presentations for the Solo and Small Firm section’s annual conference which occurred in conjunction with The Florida Bar winter meeting. The committee collaborated with LegalFuel: The Practice Resource Center as well as the Business Law Section of The Florida Bar to put on two technology seminars at the annual convention. These seminars highlighted current trends and best practices in technology as well as cybersecurity and data privacy. The seminars were recorded and are available on LegalFuel.com for free for CLE credit.
The Committee on Technology has been asked by the Board Technology Committee to work on guidelines for Bar members to use to secure and protect their data and information technology infrastructures. The committee is currently drafting this set of standards and guidelines. The committee is also drafting a companion document that will outline all the rules, statutes, and other legislation that affect data security and privacy. This document will explain each item, why an attorney should be concerned, and link to resources to assist attorneys to ensure compliance. Once completed, the documents will be published on LegalFuel.com for Bar members to reference and download.
The Committee on Technology published in the Bar News a nomination form for law firms or legal organizations who are using technology to improve efficiencies and better serve their clients. These nominations were reviewed by the committee and selected firms or organizations were interviewed and featured in articles on LegalFuel.com to highlight how they have implemented the technology. These help to demonstrate to Bar members how to implement new technologies and how the technology could improve the efficiencies in their law office’s.
We thank the committee members for their hard work and dedication.
Al Saikali, Chair
Traffic Court Rules
During the first year of the Traffic Court Rules Committee’s regular cycle, the committee proposed out-of-cycle revisions and amendments to three rules, as a result of the adoption of the Victims’ Rights Amendment to the Florida Constitution. The committee also obtained the withdrawal of amendments to Rule 6.455, which was to become effective on January 1 due to concerns that the amended rule would cause unpredicted results. The committee will be proposing new amendments to Rule 6.455 in its next regular-cycle report.
The committee’s out-of-cycle proposals updated the language within the rules and carries out the intent of the voters in adopting the Victims’ Rights Amendment known as “Marsy’s Law.” Additionally, the goal of the committee was to eliminate archaic references, redundant language, and legalese. The committee hopes these changes will aid pro se defendants and the general public with an easier and better understanding of the Traffic Court Rules.
The highlights of the amendments proposed for the out-of-cycle report are as follows:
•Rule 6.040 (Definitions) — The committee’s proposal organizes the definitions into alphabetical order and, pursuant to Fla. Const. art. 1, §16, creates a definition for “victim.”
• Rule 6.100 (Traffic Violations Bureau) — The committee’s proposal requires the posting of a notice in all traffic violations bureaus that simply paying a citation without a hearing is an admission of guilt that results in a conviction and assessment of points against the defendant’s driving record. As such, consultation with an attorney beforehand is strongly recommended. The proposal also requires the posting of a notice outlining a victim’s rights as stated in Fla. Const. art. 1, §16.
• Rule 6.150 (Witnesses) — The committee’s proposal requires an officer issuing a citation to file a written list containing the names and addresses of all witnesses needed to prove the infraction. If the case is set for trial, the proposal requires the clerk to issue subpoenas to the named witnesses, with the applicable fees assessed against the defendant. An officer issuing a citation is also required to provide the clerk with a copy of the crash report for any infraction involving serious bodily injury or death. Finally, the officer is required to provide the clerk with the name and address of a deceased’s next of kin.
I thank everyone on the committee for their hard work and dedication to serve. I also thank Vice Chair Ira Karmelin, who is always willing to lend a hand no matter how big or small the task, and extend an extra-special thanks to Heather Telfer, attorney liaison extraordinaire. I attribute our committee’s success to her dedication, patience, and knowledge.
Anne Marie Gennusa, Chair
Unlicensed Practice of Law
The Florida Supreme Court approved the standing committee’s proposed formal advisory opinion in the case of Shore v. Wall. The petitioner was a defendant in an interpleader action filed by the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Manatee County (case no. 2014 CA 3155), who alleged in his response that a co-defendant asserting a claim to surplus funds from a tax deed sale engaged in the unlicensed practice of law. The circuit court, citing Goldberg v. Merrill Lynch Credit Corp., 35 So. 2d 905 (Fla. 2010), found that it did not have jurisdiction over the unlicensed practice of law claims and stayed the case pending a determination by the Florida Supreme Court on whether the conduct constitutes the unlicensed practice of law. In Goldberg, the court held that the standing committee must issue a formal advisory opinion in such circumstances. The standing committee opined that the nonlawyer company’s conduct in trying to recover excess proceeds from the tax deed sale on behalf of another as alleged by Wall, if true, would constitute the unlicensed practice of law. The Florida Bar re: Advisory Opinion – Shore v. Wall, et al., SC17-1510. In approving the proposed advisory opinion, the court’s opinion has the force and effect of an order of the court.
The standing committee and Florida Bar UPL staff continued their efforts to protect the public from UPL. We approved litigation for injunctive relief against individuals and businesses for holding themselves out as lawyers and providing legal services in immigration and family law matters and in the recovery of unclaimed funds. We also approved litigation for injunctive relief against an out-of-state licensed lawyer for establishing a law office in Florida.
We continue to receive complaints against out-of-state licensed lawyers for assisting individuals with Florida legal issues. Under the MJP (multijurisdictional practice of law) rules, out-of-state lawyers may provide limited legal services in Florida on a temporary basis under certain circumstances. The rules also subject out-of-state lawyers to the disciplinary authority of the Florida Supreme Court while providing those legal services. Thus, while out-of-state lawyers may not be engaged in the unlicensed practice of law if their activity falls within the rule, they can be disciplined for unethical conduct. The MJP rules also require out-of-state lawyers who appear in a Florida court or arbitration to file a copy of their pro hac vice motion and verified statement, respectively, with The Florida Bar. To check whether opposing counsel has complied with these filing requirements, you may contact the UPL department at 850-561-5840.
As we conclude this year, I thank all the public members and lawyers on the standing committee for their dedicated service; it has been a pleasure working with you. The standing committee gives special thanks to the circuit committees; we know you are the unrecognized heart and soul of UPL enforcement for the court. All committee members who contribute their valuable time and energy in protecting the public are especially appreciated.
I also thank and recognize Will Spillias, UPL director; Jeffrey Picker, assistant UPL director; and UPL Branch Counsels Jacquelyn Needelman (Miami), Ali Vazquez (Ft. Lauderdale), Ghunise Coaxum (Orlando), Maria Torres (Tampa), Karen Dexter (Tallahassee), and their excellent support staffs. These dedicated and hard-working public servants do an incredible job year after year.
It has been my sincere honor and pleasure to work with you all.
Dwayne L. Dickerson, Chair
Voluntary Bar Liaison
In 2018-2019, the state of Florida boasted 284 voluntary bar associations consisting of diverse subgroups of thousands of community-involved lawyers across the state. The Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee (VBLC) serves as the connection between The Florida Bar and these organizations. The committee is composed of both attorney and executive director representatives. The mission of the VBLC is multi-faceted and includes:
• Improving communication between The Florida Bar and voluntary bar associations;
• Coordinating programs of The Florida Bar involving voluntary bar associations;
• Advising the Public Information and Bar Services Department regarding public relations needs of the voluntary bars;
• Providing a resource and information bank with activities and tools to address the problems of voluntary bar associations; and
• Advising the Board of Governors regarding interpretation of The Florida Bar programs to voluntary bar associations and individual members.
The VBLC undertook several new projects this year, which are directly in line with the above-stated mission. First, it established a new Voluntary Bar Center, which can be found at https://www.floridabar.org/about/volbars/. This page is a wealth of information for bar leaders, and it is separated into five sections: 1) bar listings; 2) The SideBar; 3) Bar leaders conference; 4) voluntary bar calendar; and 5) resources. The Voluntary Bar Center houses a collection of resources and information to assist Florida’s local and specialty bar associations with leadership, operations, and membership.
Under the “Resources” tab, bar leaders can find the VBLC’s new “Information Clearinghouse,” which contains sample documents and useful materials to assist voluntary bar leaders in leading and managing their respective bar associations. These materials were donated by a variety of voluntary bar associations across the state to create a diverse database. VBLC members solicited the materials from each circuit, and Kimberly Lopez, Matthew Frey, and Victoria Estrada-Mesa organized them by relevance and topic to help leaders quickly find what they need. This substantial project is still ongoing, and documents will continue to be added to the website as they are received.
The VBLC has also taken steps to better communicate with the voluntary bar associations this year. In October 2018, the committee members voted to rebrand the newsletter to The SideBar, a name submitted by member Mandi Clay. A new logo was also chosen to give it a fresh, updated look. The SideBar provides monthly highlights of the incredible work of voluntary bar associations and is a great source of inspiration to plan an event in your community. When you participate in a voluntary bar activity, please submit the photo and brief write-up to the VBLC for publication.
Next, the VBLC created a series of free webinar recordings designed to teach voluntary bar leaders how to build and strengthen their leadership, management, and technical skills throughout the year — not just at our yearly conference. These webinars are conducted via Skype once a month; they are then posted on the Voluntary Bar Center under the “Resources” tab. Participants who join the live webinar can interact with the presenter through the question and answer functionality of Skype. Examples of webinars that have already taken place are “Making Social Media Communication Relevant and Meaningful: Facebook for Voluntary Bars” and “Making Social Media Communication Relevant and Meaningful: Twitter for Voluntary Bars.” Both sessions were led by Danny Aller, the social media coordinator for The Florida Bar. An hour of CLE credit was given for each, and a new topic will continue to be rolled out each month.
Finally, the VBLC currently hosts a calendar of events on the Voluntary Bar Center to showcase the programming of associations across the state. We rely on the voluntary bar associations to submit their events to the VBLC at [email protected]. However, we have taken steps toward a more global, centralized calendar that would allow the associations to post their events in one place. This repository would then be searchable, providing the Board of Governors with a reference point for upcoming events in each circuit, which would in turn enable them to attend more voluntary bar events. The VBLC hopes to have a prototype to unveil at its July 2019 conference.
Every July, the VBLC hosts the Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference, which is the culmination of the committee’s year-long planning efforts. In 2018, the conference was held at the Hutchinson Shores Resort and Spa in Jensen Beach, and the theme was “Catch the Wave to Success.” Bar leaders came from all over the state to learn about pressing issues for both staffed and unstaffed bar associations. Examples included membership recruitment and retention, budgeting, strategic planning, social media, disaster planning, revenue generation, volunteer motivation, and more. President Michelle Suskauer gave opening remarks, followed by a keynote address by Meagan Hooper, the founder and CEO of bsmartguide.com. Attendees had an opportunity to listen to, learn from, and interact with experienced bar leaders from all over the state, including Florida Bar leaders Michelle Suskauer, John Stewart, Greg Weiss, Scott Westheimer, Josh Chilson, and Lorna Brown-Burton.
A new addition to the conference this year was the Healthy Hour Challenge, in which the VBLC challenged the voluntary bar associations to submit creative health and wellness-themed events that they have hosted. The winner for the most creative event was the Trial Court Staff Attorneys Association for its “A Circuit of Circuits” event. Fifty people participated in virtual exercise tracking for 60 days, during which the members submitted weekly reports and photographs. The winner for the most well-attended event was the St. Petersburg Bar Association, who hosted a September luncheon with speaker Nora Bergman titled, “Improve Your Practice and Your Life,” as well as a panel discussion in April featuring members from small, medium, and large firms discussing how they incorporate wellness.
The conference experienced a much higher than expected attendance, and the attendees left feeling enthusiastic and inspired to begin their bar leadership year. The attendees’ positive feelings toward another successful conference were reflected in the favorable survey reviews. The VBLC is very grateful to everyone who helped put on such a successful event. We also appreciate our sponsors, including the continued sponsorship of the Young Lawyers Division, which pays to send 20 of its members each year.
The 2019 iteration of the conference will be held on July 12-13 at the Tampa Marriott Waterside, and it will be co-chaired by Vivian Hodz and Kimberly Lopez. The theme is “Anchors Aweigh!” More information about this year’s conference can be found on the Voluntary Bar Center under the conference tab.
Thank you to everyone who participates in the VBLC, but most of all, a deep and sincere thank you to The Florida Bar staff. Without them, the VBLC’s many accomplishments would not be possible.
Lillian B. Ewen, Chair
Wills, Trusts, and Estates Certification
The Wills, Trusts, and Estates Certification Committee consists of nine board certified attorneys. Curtis Cassner is currently serving as chair of the committee with Nancy Freeman currently serving as vice chair. Other committee members include Laurence Blair, Beverly Furtick, Gary Leuchtman, Daniel Medina, Duane Pinnock, Forrest Bass, and Charles Callahan III. Frank Adams is currently the appointed Board of Legal Specialization and Education liaison to our committee.
This has been a productive year. The committee had four in-person meetings as well as several conference calls and has worked diligently to review applications, draft, review, and edit exam questions, discuss ways to enhance the standards for certification/re-certification, and to discuss various topics pertaining to board certification in the area. In 2018, the committee received and reviewed 44 recertification applications and 30 initial applications. There are currently 316 board certified wills, trusts, and estates attorneys. The 2019 exam will be held on May 17 in Tampa.
It has been my pleasure to serve as chair of the certification committee. I thank each member for the hard work and dedication to the committee. To those that are currently certified in the area, thank you for your continued support; and to those aspiring to become certified in the area, thank you for your interest and best wishes in your endeavors.
Curtis Cassner, Chair
Workers’ Compensation Rules Advisory
Available on our website is a copy of the proposed rule changes our immediate past chair, Kevin Murphy, prepared on behalf of our 2017-2018 committee and sent directly to Chief Judge Langham in April 2018. These proposed changes would allow hearings on motions at the discretion of the judge instead of requiring exceptional circumstances to get a hearing on a motion. Another proposal includes a change that would remove the requirement of conferring with opposing counsel on motions to withdraw as counsel. Our committee has also recommended a change in definitions to specify that “efiling” is the same as electronic filing. Among other rule change proposals, the committee has recommended some minor title modifications and filing requirement changes.
In August 2018, the members of this committee held a live meeting at the annual Florida Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference in Orlando. Since then, the committee has had several telephonic conferences. Our next live meeting will be April 11 at Champion’s Gate. Judge Langham has accepted our invitation to attend this meeting.
The committee is working on a number of rules, including those that deal with good-faith effort, service of process, and bifurcation. Our committee is also updating our internal operating procedures.
As with past committees, the current membership is equally bright and professional. Indeed, the combined years of legal experience that makes up this year’s committee, as well as the diversity of practices, is significant. I thank each member of the committee who serves with me. The committee includes Tracey Hyde, vice chair, Lorna Brown-Burton, board liaison, Paul Anderson, Michele Bachoon, John Brooks, Richard Chait, James Fee, Hayley Folmar, Rachic Glover, Marissa Hoffman, Jonathan Israel, Paolo Longo, Wendy Loquasto, Jodi Middleton, Kevin Murphy, Lawrence Sanders, Peter Schwedock, Mary Ann Stiles, Henry Suarez, Kimberly Syfrett, Frank Taddeo, Jane-Robyn Wender, Paul White-Davis, and Judge of Compensation Claims Jack Weiss.
In addition, I extend thanks to our Bar liaison, Mikalla Davis, who keeps us organized and on track. I invite any workers’ compensation practitioner to contact any committee member if any idea, issue, or concern arises for which a possible solution may exist in the rules. This committee is devoted to ensuring that the practice of workers compensation is fair for everyone.
Kellye A. Shoemaker, Chair