An electronic digest of media coverage of interest to members of The Florida Bar compiled each workday by the Public Information and Bar Services Department. Electronic links are only active in today’s edition. For information on previous articles, please contact the publishing newspaper directly.
March 14, 2012
VITAL FUNDING FOR LEGAL AID– Sarasota Herald-Tribune, column, http://www.heraldtribune.com, March 14, 2012. [Also: LEGAL AID BENEFITS ALL FLORIDIANS-- Tampa Bay Times, letter-to-editor, http://www.tampabay.com, March 14, 2012].
The guest column by Michele Kane Cummings, president of The Florida Bar Foundation, which also ran as a letter-to-editor in the Tampa Bay Times, states: “In the United States, when a suspect is accused of a crime, he or she is guaranteed the right to an attorney. But when someone is the victim of an abusive spouse or landlord, when a foster child needs help navigating the legal system, or when a disabled veteran is improperly denied government benefits, there is no such guarantee of representation. For low-income individuals and families confronting civil legal issues such as these, often there is only legal aid. Even in the best of times, legal aid has historically only been able to meet about 20 percent of the need for civil legal assistance. And these are not the best of times. . . . As it has for the last 10 years, the Florida Legislature has appropriated funding for legal aid again this year; this time $2 million. Clearly, our Legislature recognizes the need for this critical funding for civil legal assistance. We are hopeful that Gov. Rick Scott will recognize the tremendous benefits of this program and will allow it to continue to assist so many of Florida’s low-income families.”
FAMILY LAW SECTION GIVES $75,000 TO SUPPORT CHILDREN’S LEGAL SERVICES– The Florida Bar News, http://www.floridabar.org, March 15, 2012.
The Family Law Section has provided The Florida Bar Foundation with a $75,000 charitable gift to support Children’s Legal Services grants to Florida’s local legal aid organizations. The gift is in response to the impending loss of legal aid attorney positions throughout Florida and the potential impact on the availability of legal services for low-income children, such as foster children and those in need of access to medical, mental health, and special education services. “A core mission of the Family Law Section is to be at the forefront of efforts to protect children’s rights,” said David Manz, chair of the Family Law Section. “We are proud to be able to provide this contribution to the Foundation’s Children’s Legal Services Grant Program as a way to effectuate our mission.”
FIRST COAST LAWYER HONORED FOR PIONEER MORTGAGE FRAUD CASES– The Florida Times-Union, http://www.jacksonville.com, March 14, 2012.
”I’m a death-penalty prosecutor who is fairly conservative who now sues banks for a living.” That’s how James Kowalski Jr. described himself in a nutshell. Kowalski was recently named by The Florida Bar as a winner of one of its 2012 Pro Bono Service Awards. He was recognized from the state’s 7th Judicial Circuit, consisting of Volusia, Flagler, Putnam and St. Johns counties. Although his office is in Mandarin, most of Kowalski’s pro bono work is done in St. Johns County with a focus on something he helped pioneer. Now a national issue, mortgage fraud was a rarely used term when Kowalski’s first such client walked into the firm where he began his civil career a few year ago. Kowalski said he and his partner found that the mortgage company had signed documents in New York and then had them notarized in Pennsylvania. That’s when Kowalski said he realized the bank’s words were not the Gospel. Jacksonville maritime lawyer Suzanne Judas was named as winner of The Florida Bar’s Pro Bono Service Award in the 4th Judicial Circuit, made up of Duval, Clay and Nassau counties.
CHIPLEY NATIVE RECEIVES AWARD– Chipley Bugle, http://www.chipleybugle.com, March 14, 2012.
The Tallahassee Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) selected Dawn Pompey Whitehurst as the 2011 Trial Lawyer of the Year. ABOTA is a national legal organization whose goal includes preserving the right of trial by jury and promoting professionalism and the independence of the judiciary. Whitehurst has been a practicing trial attorney for the last 22 years. Over her career, she has worked as a prosecutor in Tallahassee with the Second Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office, an assistant general counsel with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and an assistant city attorney for the City of Tallahassee City. She is currently a plaintiff’s trial attorney with Knowles Randolph, P.A., in Tallahassee.
FIU LAW SCHOOL JUMPS IN THE RANKINGS– The Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com, March 14, 2012.
Florida International University’s young law school continued its steady rise in the U.S. News World Report graduate school rankings — jumping from 132nd to 113th in this year’s rankings, released Tuesday. Though FIU’s No. 113th rank still places the school well behind more-established programs such as the University of Florida (No. 48) and the University of Miami (No. 69), FIU College of Law Dean R. Alexander Acosta praised what he called FIU’s steady string of accomplishments since opening its law school 10 years ago. Those accomplishments include FIU law graduates ranking first in the state in Florida Bar passage last summer.