The Florida Bar

Florida Bar News

July 1, 2023 Letters

Letters

Remote Hearings

I recently represented a woman whose joint Wells Fargo bank account with her ex husband was garnished for a Osceola County judgment solely against her ex.

All the funds had been deposited by her. A motion had been made to Intervene, Vacate the Writ, and Assess Sanctions. My client was over the age of 72 and resided in Hudson, Florida, which is in Pasco County.

My office is in Boca Raton in Palm Beach County. Motions were made by both sides for a Zoom hearing which were denied. Both my client and I were forced to drive close to 3 hours each way for a 15 minute hearing that resulted in an order vacating the writ as to that account.

I felt the court abused its authority to force us to appear when the hearing could have been handled via Zoom. My client did not pick the Osceola venue, the plaintiff did.

If courts expect respect from attorneys, they should show the same. Zoom should be used to avoid inconvenience to the parties and their attorneys.

David P. Slater
Boca Raton

Ethics

In reading the June article “Proposed ethics rule would bar lawyers from threatening licensed professionals,” two thoughts came to mind.

First, it seems to me that the proposal is more “form over substance,” in that nothing to my knowledge prevents the client from either posting negative online reviews or filing an administrative complaint against a doctor, engineer, or veterinarian. Plus, the defendant/ professional client and his/her counsel should be aware that the opposing party has that ability — meaning that the deemed “threat of extortion” indirectly exists, regardless of the adoption of the proposal.

Second, an unrelated question regarding ethics comes to mind. Specifically, why is it that lawyers are ethically prevented from asking for, or being subject to, a covenant not to compete; but doctors, engineers, and veterinarians are not? In other words, if clients are entitled to the attorney of their choice, why not patients, etc.? Now that is a substantive matter.

James R. Brewster
Tallahassee

Conflicts?

As a member of The Florida Bar, I am appalled at the silence emanating from the  News as it relates to the Forbes Magazine’s recent revelations about the $10 million in legal consulting fees paid to Justice John Roberts wife by law firms who practice before the Supreme Court.

I should not be surprised after the national virtual condonation that was the response to the Justice Clarence Thomas revelations.

Nevertheless, I do not know how the law schools of this state will be teaching conflicts of interest to their students as these revelations unfold. I do not know how The Florida Bar will be prosecuting Rules of Professional Conduct violations of Rule 4-1.7(a) and 4-1.8 if The Florida Bar’s stance is to treat such allegations as acceptable.

I must tell you it is embarrassing to have to explain this conduct by the highest jurists of our land.

As we watch our governor use the power of his office to attack the First Amendment rights of the state’s largest employer,  I would expect at least some response by the legal voice of this state. Yet, The Florida Bar News has absolutely nothing to say on any of these subjects.

There was a time in my 47 years at the Bar where such conduct mattered.

David L. Hirsch
Davie

Fascism

Lawrence A. Steel’s June letter identifies each U.S. Supreme Court justice by religion, climaxing: “The rise of fascism in Europe in the 1930s started with book banning, book burning, arresting gay people and minorities, banning these groups from holding public office, etc., in a strongly Catholic country. Since the majority of my grandparents family ended up as bars of soap in concentration camps I am particularly sensitive to the rise of fascism.”

Instead, when Hitler became chancellor in January 1933, “Almost all Germans were Christian, belonging either to the Roman Catholic (ca. 20 million members) or the Protestant (ca. 40 million members) churches” (Holocaust Encyclopedia, US Holocaust Memorial Museum). Anyway, the first 1930s German federal elections drew three anti-Nazi vote-shares averaging 70.4%. Nazi Party vote-share fell 4.18% between the last two elections (July and November 1932). March 1933’s next federal election drew anti-Nazi vote-share remaining 56.09% (statista.com) even under Hitler.

George Steven Swan
Greensboro, North Carolina

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