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 12, 2012
DON’T VIEW JUDICIAL BRANCH AS THE ENEMY– Tallahassee Democrat, letter-to-editor, http://www.tallahassee.com, March 11, 2012 [subscription required]. [Also: JUDGE FOLLOWED THE LAW IN PENSION CASE-- Sun-Sentinel, column, http://www.sun-sentinel.com, March 12, 2012].
The letter and guest column discuss Second Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford’s ruling in the public employees’ pension case. The letter by Tallahassee attorney Kelly Overstreet Johnson, a past Florida Bar president (2004), states: “‘Judicial activism’ is a term that has been used by politicians lately to criticize rulings of our local judiciary with which they do not agree. Unfortunately, most of these people are not lawyers and do not know (or choose not to recognize) the proper role of the judiciary, our third branch of government. I have been a lawyer for 30 years. Our judges are hard-working, ethical and make rulings based upon years of precedent.” The guest column by retired Tallahassee Judge Janet E. Ferris states: “I was stunned by the comments made by Senate President Mike Haridopolos and Gov. Rick Scott about a former colleague, Tallahassee Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford. After receiving her ruling on the public employees’ pension case, they provided Floridians with their opinion that Judge Fulford is an ‘activist judge.’. . . The reality is that . . . Judge Fulford carefully analyzed the issues before her and made a reasoned decision based on the law and the Constitution.”
7 PERCENT BUDGET CUT PUTS HERNANDO COUNTY CLERK OF COURTS IN A BIND– Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, March 10, 2012. [Also: PASCO COUNTY CLERK MULLING LAYOFFS, FURLOUGHS AMID STATE BUDGET CUTS-- Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, March 10, 2012].
Karen Nicolai arrived to work Friday [March 9] with a tough task ahead of her. The budget the state Legislature was expected to pass later in the day included an across-the-board 7 percent cut for county clerk of court operations. It’s now up to Nicolai, preparing her 24th and final annual budget before retiring as Hernando’s clerk, to deal with an increasing case load and fewer resources. Pasco Clerk of Courts Paula O’Neil could lose 19 workers or institute more than two weeks of unpaid furloughs in response to the cuts doled out to Florida’s 67 clerks offices. In last-minute budget negotiations, lawmakers agreed to cut those offices by $31 million. Other court-related groups such as judges, state attorneys and public defenders did not receive budget cuts this year.
FLORIDA LEGISLATURE: WHAT PASSED, AND WHAT DIDN’T?– Naples Daily News, http://www.naplesnews.com, March 10, 2012. [Also: 2012 FLORIDA LEGISLATIVE SESSION WINNERS AND LOSERS-- The Palm Beach Post, http://www.palmbeachpost.com, March 11, 2012; SINE DIE 2012: THE SESSION THAT WAS-- Florida Current, http://www.thefloridacurrent.com, March 10, 2012].
The articles summarize legislation that passed and failed in this year’s legislative session, which ended Friday [March 9]. Key legislation that passed include PIP reform, a requirement that state officials preserve and make public documents they send between their election and taking office and a requirement that legal notices be posted online but also remain in printed newspapers. Legislation failed that would have created a speedier process for resolving mortgage foreclosure cases, given the governor more control over appointing and removing members from judicial nominating commissions and put on the ballot a state constitutional amendment raising the mandatory retirement age for judges and Supreme Court justices from 70 to 75.
ADVOCATES: STATES SHOULD GIVE FOSTER KIDS LAWYERS– Polk County Democrat, http://www.polkcountydemocrat.com, March 11, 2012.
The article is by The Associated Press. When Lauren entered foster care at age 16, she was too scared to go to the court hearings that were deciding her future. However, Lauren’s attorney eventually persuaded her to attend, convincing her of how important it was for the judge to hear about Lauren’s experiences in her own words. Having legal help like that is uncommon for the nation’s more than 400,000 foster children. Massachusetts, Connecticut, and more than a dozen other states require that foster children have appointed attorneys. Compliance, however, is sporadic because of shrinking budgets. Florida has a pilot program that advocates are pushing other states to try. Lauren was appointed an attorney a few years ago after a federal court judge ruled that foster children in two metropolitan Atlanta counties are entitled to be represented. It’s a ruling that supporters, including the American Bar Association, are using to build a national campaign for children to have legal counsel.
DON’T DENY LAW SCHOOL GRADUATE FRUITS OF HIS LABOR– Tampa Bay Times, editorial, http://www.tampabay.com, March 10, 2012.
The editorial states: “He contributed to civic life as an Eagle Scout, high school valedictorian and graduate of New College and Florida State University’s College of Law. But to the credentialing arm of Florida’s legal profession, Jose Godinez-Samperio is little more than the grown-up version of a 9-year-old whose Mexican parents overstayed their visas after entering the United States. His fight for admission to The Florida Bar captures the senselessness of America’s immigration policy, and he should not be punished for the choices made by his parents. The Board of Bar Examiners blocked Godinez-Samperio’s bid to become a lawyer in Florida, ruling the 25-year-old was not qualified because of his status as an undocumented immigrant.”