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 21, 2012
PINELLAS CLERK SAYS BUDGET CUTS WILL SLOW DOWN LEGAL PROCEEDINGS– Tampa Bay Times, http://www.tampabay.com, March 21, 2012.
If you have to deal with a legal matter like a landlord-tenant dispute or executing the will of a deceased relative, then prepare to wait for weeks. That’s what Pinellas Clerk of Court Ken Burke is saying in the wake of the Florida Legislature’s recent decision to slash clerks’ budgets. The budget of Florida’s 67 court clerks was reduced by $31 million statewide, or 7 percent. Burke figures he’ll have to cut 38 of about 350 Pinellas workers to help absorb a $1.5 million cut.
NO DRUG TESTS FOR MOST STATE EMPLOYEES UNTIL LEGAL CHALLENGE RESOLVED, SCOTT SAYS– The Palm Beach Post, http://www.palmbeachpost.com, March 21, 2012. [Also: STATE READIES FOR LEGAL BATTLE ON DRUG TESTING-- The Ledger, http://www.theledger.com, March 21, 2012].
Gov. Rick Scott believes state employees should be randomly tested for drug use, and Florida’s chief legal officer is ready for the anticipated legal challenge to a new law that allows for the testing. Scott signed the drug-testing bill (HB 1205) into law late Monday [March 19]. Scott’s office issued a memo Tuesday [March 20] clarifying Scott’s comments earlier in the day that he would order his agency heads to start testing employees for drug use when a new law goes into effect July 1. Attorney General Pam Bondi said Tuesday that her lawyers will be working on the case, but declined to talk about the expected litigation.
‘BOTCHED’ INDICTMENT ENDS IN LOCAL FIRM’S ACQUITTAL– The Gainesville Sun, http://www.gainesville.com, March 21, 2012.
A Gainesville-based construction company and its vice president were acquitted on federal charges of bribing a Polk County school official in Tampa on Monday [March 20] because the grand jury indictment mistakenly referred to the Polk County government and not the Polk County School District. U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara said he has never seen a “botched situation” like this in his 14 years on the federal bench. M.M. Parrish Construction Co. and its vice president, Lloyd Whann, were on trial in Tampa’s federal courthouse for two weeks on charges of bribing Bob Williams, former assistant superintendent of facilities for the Polk County School Board. Prosecutors accused Parrish Construction of gaining a competitive edge by bribing Williams, but the defense argued the company got work based on its reputation for high-quality work. “Witnesses testified one after the other that there was not a better construction company in the state to show they got the work they got because they are the best,” said the company’s attorney Henry M. Coxe III, a past Florida Bar president.
–Criminal Justice Issues–
COURT WARY OF LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE FOR JUVENILES– The Palm Beach Post, http://www.palmbeachpost.com, March 21, 2012.
The article is by The Associated Press. The U.S. Supreme Court appeared ready Tuesday [March 20] to say anew that young people who commit even the most brutal crimes should not be punished as harshly as adults, taking up a pair of cases in which 14-year-olds convicted of murder are serving life sentences with no chance of parole. The precise contours of an eventual ruling were not apparent after arguments Tuesday, but several justices said they were troubled by the way some states try and sentence young people accused of crimes. Justice Anthony Kennedy raised the lack of flexibility in sentencing young killers. Several states that try people younger than 18 in adult courts allow for only one sentence, life with no chance of parole, for defendants who are convicted of murder. The cases are Miller v. Alabama, 10-9646, and Jackson v. Hobbs, 10-9647.
A FLORIDA LAW GETS SCRUTINY AFTER A TEENAGER’S KILLING– The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com, March 20, 2012. [Also: FLORIDA OFFICIAL SAYS HE CAN'T SUSPEND CONCEALED CARRY PERMIT OF TRAYVON MARTIN'S SHOOTER-- The Bradenton Herald, http://www.bradenton.com, March 21, 2012].
Seven years after Florida adopted its sweeping self-defense law, the shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager, in Sanford, has put that law at the center of an increasingly angry debate over how he was killed and whether law enforcement has the authority to charge the man who killed him. The law, called Stand Your Ground, is one of 21 such laws around the country. It gives the benefit of the doubt to a person who claims self-defense, regardless of whether the killing takes place on a street, in a car or in a bar — not just in one’s home, the standard cited in more restrictive laws. The question in this case: Was the gunman, George Zimmerman, in imminent danger and acting in self-defense during his encounter with Trayvon Martin, as he asserts? Meanwhile, in response to civil rights groups, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, whose agency oversees concealed weapons permits, said he can’t suspend Zimmerman’s concealed carry permit without pending criminal charges or a felony conviction.
J. MICHAEL HAYES– The Tampa Tribune, http://www.legacy.com, March 21, 2012.
The obituary is for Tampa attorney J. Michael “Mike” Hayes, who died Saturday morning [March 17] at his home. He was 68. In 1968, he began his law career working for E.J. Salcines at the State Attorney’s Office for the 13th Judicial Circuit, where he rose through the ranks, ultimately becoming the chief assistant state attorney, until leaving for private practice in 1972. He joined the firm of Gregory, Cours, Paniello and Johnson, later becoming a named partner in the firm. Hayes continued to practice law with Paul B. Johnson until 1988. In 1993, he joined State Attorney Harry Lee Coe’s office, first as chief of the Special Projects Unit (white collar crimes) and then as the office’s general counsel. He also wrote “Help Your Lawyer Win Your Case,” published in 1995. He later practiced with the law firm of Hill, Ward, and Henderson until his retirement. Throughout his career, one of his greatest pleasures was mentoring the many bright, young attorneys who revered his intellect and patient disposition.