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Annual Florida Bar Convention set for Orlando June 19-22

Senior Editor Top Stories
Annual Florida Bar Convention set for Orlando June 19-22
Chief Justice Carlos Muñiz

Chief Justice Carlos Muñiz

Supreme Court Chief Justice Carlos Muñiz’s “State of the Judiciary” address, a General Assembly to install new officers, and a 50-Year Member/Senior Counselor Awards ceremony will highlight the 2024 Annual Florida Bar Convention, June 19-22, at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek & Waldorf Astoria.

Recently elected by fellow justices to serve a second, two-year term, Muñiz is scheduled to deliver an annual assessment of the Florida courts at the Judicial Luncheon from 12:15 p.m. to 2 p.m., on Thursday, June 20.

Last year, Muñiz praised a “seamless” implementation of the new Sixth District Court of Appeal and the Legislature’s willingness to invest tens of millions of new dollars in critical due process resources. He also warned Florida judges to be mindful of an erosion in trust and confidence in public institutions, including the courts.

“I think we would just be naïve if we thought we could just not be aware of that and hope that it all goes away,” Muñiz said.

Roland Sanchez-Medina

Roland Sanchez-Medina, Jr.

President Scott Westheimer will give his assessment of the State of The Florida Bar before he hands the reins to President-elect Roland Sanchez-Medina, Jr., at a General Assembly from 9 a.m. to noon, on Friday, June 21.

Westheimer is likely to look back on the success of his priorities, including creating some the nation’s first ethical guidelines for using generative AI in the practice of law, and developing “Nota” — a free, automated platform for managing trust fund accounts. The platform is designed to help lawyers avoid the most common reason for falling out of compliance with Bar rules.

After he is sworn in, Sanchez-Medina will announce his priorities for the coming year.

A Miami transactional lawyer and managing partner of SMGQ Law, the 1991 Boston College of Law graduate earned an L.L.M. from the New York University School of Law in 1992.

A former president of the Cuban American Bar Association, the veteran Board of Governors member was a boy when his family fled the Castro regime and settled in the U.S. — after a brief stay in Africa and Spain. Sanchez-Medina will share leadership responsibilities with another veteran Board of Governors member, President-elect Designate Rosalyn “Sia” Baker-Barnes, a shareholder at Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley in West Palm Beach.

Rosalyn “Sia” Baker-Barnes

Rosalyn “Sia” Baker-Barnes

Board certified in civil trial law, Baker-Barnes is a 2000 FSU College of Law graduate who will become The Florida Bar’s first Black woman president when she succeeds Sanchez-Medina in 2025. With more than 20 years of service in various volunteer bar associations, Baker-Barnes became the 95th president of the Palm Beach County Bar Association in 2017.

“Whether it is through my 20 years of involvement in our voluntary bars statewide and community organizations, or giving back and mentoring lawyers and future leaders, my unwavering commitment remains focused on supporting others and our great profession,” Baker-Barnes said in a campaign platform statement.

The 50-Year Member Luncheon/Senior Counselor Awards is scheduled from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, June 21, shortly after the General Assembly.

More than 700 lawyers will celebrate a half-century of Florida Bar membership.

Retired Okaloosa Judge Patt Maney, a Republican member of the Florida House of Representatives since 2020, will be the keynote speaker.

Rep. Patt Maney

Rep. Patt Maney

Also a retired Army general, Maney won the support of the active and retired service members who dominate his Northwest Florida district after he helped establish one of the state’s first veterans treatment courts.

The 60-day session that concluded in March marked the highlight of Maney’s legislative career, with the passage of HB 7023, “Mental Health Treatment and Substance Abuse.”

The measure cleared the House unanimously March 14, but has yet to reach the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantis. It calls for some of the most sweeping reforms in decades to Florida’s Baker and Marchman acts, which govern the involuntary commitment of people with mental health and substance abuse disorders, respectively.

The $50 million proposal would, among other things, give police more discretion not to detain suspects for involuntary psychiatric evaluations, lift a 30-bed cap for “crisis stabilization units,” and pour more money into enhancing “involuntary services.”

“So, we’ve got to take care of both public safety and individual liberty, and it’s a difficult balance,” Maney told the Bar News after the bill passed.

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