Briefs

first_imgEach year in Broward County more than 6,500 people charged with traffic violations beat the system because arresting officers don’t make it to trial.That prompted County Court Clerk Howard Forman to launch a new computerized court calendar system to coordinate the appearances of all law enforcement agencies. Forman said it should reduce the number of cases that are tossed out.The Web-based program for coordinating schedules of the court dockets and the arresting officers from agencies includes the police departments of 16 municipalities, 18 Broward sheriff districts, and the Florida Highway Patrol.The system, created by Infocom Systems and called the Judicial Automated Court Scheduling (JACS) Module, applies just to traffic court, not criminal court, proceedings. It is hoped the program will reduce scheduling conflicts between the court docket and officers’ availabilities, and reduce the need and costs for rescheduling hearings.Here is how it works: At each of the law enforcement agencies, no more than two supervisors will be trained to input officer schedules. The individual officers will not be able to access the system. At the same time, the docket supervisors in the Office of the Clerk of the Court load in the cases that need to go to trial. The system will then set a trial date within the 180-day limit and coordinate it with the availability of the law enforcement officer who issued the ticket. Ultimately, schedules for 3,000 officers will be tracked by the system, which costs about $470,000. Forman said it is anticipated that costs will be recaptured by the enhanced efficiency of the traffic ticket process. On an average day, 400 traffic pre-trial and trial hearings are held at each of the county’s four courthouse locations.Orange County honors bro bono volunteers Animal law Committee gets okayed The 19th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission is now accepting applications for a circuit judge position.Applicants must be a registered voter, live within the 19th Circuit, and have been a member of The Florida Bar for the past five years.Applications may be downloaded from The Florida Bar’s Web site at www.flabar.org or pick them up from the office of Nita Denton, JNC Chair, at 100 E. Ocean Blvd, Ste 400, Stuart 34994. The applications may be obtained from Denton’s office anytime between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.An original plus a copy must be received by Denton and one copy delivered to each member of the JNC by September 10 at noon. Briefs Creation of a new Animal Law Committee for The Florida Bar and the renewal of the Education Law Committee have been approved by the Board of Governors.The board acted on the recommendation of the Program Evaluation Committee at its August 13 meeting.PEC Chair Richard Tanner said the committee’s recommendation for the Animal Law Committee came after a careful review and assurances that the committee will not be a platform for lobbying animal rights matters.There is a whole area of animal law, ranging from veterinary matters to estate planning, he said, and the committee will be focused on those issues. He said the recommendation was to approved the new panel as an interim committee, which means the PEC will review it after one year, instead of the normal three-year review for new sections and committees.The board approved the committee’s recommendation.On the Education Law Committee, Tanner said the PEC was satisfied the group was fulfilling its functions, although it had suffered a decline in membership. The board, on the PEC’s recommendation, also approved the continuation of that panel.On other matters, Tanner said the PEC was reviewing Board of Legal Specialization and Education operations, and was recommending a minor change in how CLE courses are classified as advanced, intermediate, or beginner. The board approved that change.The committee also completed its review of the Clients’ Security Fund and found it operating well with no need for changes, Tanner said.Board member Henry Latimer asked if the PEC was looking at the diversity of certification committees as part of its BLSE reviews. He noted there is a lack of women and minority lawyers on many of those committees. Bar President Kelly Overstreet Johnson said the Bar needs to encourage more women and minorities to become certified so there is a bigger pool of applicants for those committees.Board member Mike Glazer, chair of the Communications Committee, said that panel is also looking at that issue.Personal solicitation of storm victims is a Bar rules violation The Bar’s Young Lawyers Division is now accepting nominations for its YLD Pro Bono Award.The Florida Bar YLD Pro Bono Award recognizes public service or legal aid performed by a young lawyer (under the age of 36 or one who has not practiced for more than five years in any jurisdiction) who provides outstanding contributions to those in need of free legal services.The purpose of this award is to encourage more Florida young lawyers to freely contribute their time and expertise in providing legal services to people in their community who cannot otherwise afford those services. In some instances, this will include legal services to charitable organizations which serve the poor. The award is intended to provide recognition to young lawyers who have made an outstanding contribution in this area. The emphasis of these awards is on legal services to the poor.Nomination forms may be found on the YLD Web site at www.flayld.org/Scholarships/probonoawards.htm and nominations must be submitted on or before October 15 to The Florida Bar, Austin Newberry, Young Lawyers Division Program Administrator, 651 E. Jefferson Street, Tallahassee 32399-2300.19th JNC seeks judge applicants The Bar’s Education Law Committee will present a CLE program September 10 at the Tampa Airport Marriott beginning at 1:30 p.m., immediately following the committee’s business meeting.The presentors will include Bob Minnix, associate athletic director for compliance at Florida State University, who is responsible for overseeing the Department of Athletics compliance issues. Also Luis “Tony” A. Cabassa will be making a presentation on the Fair Labor Standards Act and regulations and their impact on educational entities, and Daniel Woodring, general counsel for the Department of Education, will discuss the new Florida education system. Woodring is responsible for providing legal advice and representation to the State Board of Education, the Florida Board of Governors, the commissioner of education, and the Department of Education.“Education Law Committee members should find these presentations very beneficial to their practice,” said Committee Chair Virginia Tanner-Otts.The committee’s business meeting and CLE presentations are offered at no cost to members or guests. E-mail [email protected] for more information.Citizens Forum to help out with Bar Communications The Communications Committee is looking at ways to better utilize the Bar’s Citizens Forum, a mostly nonlawyer group that reviews and advises on Bar-related activities.Glazer told the Board of Governors at its Ponte Vedra Beach meeting that the Bar is always looking to get feedback from residents about law- related issues, ranging from lawyer advertising to merit selection, and the forum is an excellent way to get that.The Communications Committee is asking the forum to review the Bar’s Advertising Task Force 2004, which is reviewing Bar advertising rules, and the Clients Security Fund.“We think they are an underutilized resource and we want to work more closely with them and take more issues to them,” Glazer said.On other matters, Glazer said final details have been worked out for a promotion campaign for the certification programs run by the Board of Legal Specialization and Education. He said BLSE funds will be used to hire a part-time contract worker who will be housed in the Bar’s Public Information and Bar Services Department and will work to increase awareness of certification among both lawyers and the public.“I’m very committed to moving that forward,” Glazer said.The committee also is continuing to audit the Bar communications activities, including its Web site, and the Bar News, Journal, and directory publications. Glazer said the main finding of the audit is that the Web site needs to be updated and redesigned to improve access and ease of use.The Bar also has hired a staffer in the public information office, Ann Baxter, whose duties include increasing and improving Hispanic media relations.Grant will assist abused women in Hillsboroughcenter_img September 1, 2004 Regular News The Hillsborough County area will receive $1.2 million in two awards from the president’s Family Justice Center Initiative, in a new pilot program to prevent and respond to violence against women, according to Tampa lawyer Michael Bedke, who spearheaded the effort to create the Hillsborough County Family Justice Center.“We are pleased and grateful that our area’s program has received this award, which will enable us to embark on this important new approach to helping the victims of domestic violence,” Bedke said. “It will save lives and help transform victims into survivors.”Of the two awards under the Family Justice Center Initiative, $1,098,000 will go to Hillsborough County and $150,000 will go to Bay Area Legal Services, Bedke said.The Family Justice Center Initiative is a new pilot program intended to make it easier for domestic violence victims to find support and aid by gathering in a single location the full array of professionals who provide them services. These include victim services advocates, law enforcement officers, civil attorneys, clergy, and others, all based under one roof. Pilot Family Justice Centers are being put in place in 15 communities across the country, and this week they received a total of $20 million in awards from the Department of Justice.Speaking in Washington, D.C., U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said, “The Family Justice Center Initiative Awards will make a tremendous difference for women in these communities who are victimized by domestic violence, allowing those who desperately need help to find it in one place…. The Family Justice Centers will ease their burdens and demonstrate that the most compassionate way of helping victims can also be the best and most effective way.”Broward launches court scheduling for traffic cases The Legal Aid Society and the Orange County Bar Association honored the annual recipients of pro bono awards at a recent ceremony.The winners included James Magee, winner of Judge J.C.‘Jake’ Stone Distinguished Service Award; Tiffany M. Chill and Gayle A. Owens, winners of New Lawyer Awards; Mark L. Graham, winner of Government Attorney Award of Excellence; Jeannteer Churn, winner of Volunteer Advocate for Children Award; Fisher Rushmer Werrenrath Dickson Talley & Dunlap and Nebel & Bachman, winners of Law Firm Award of Merit.Individual Award winners included Joseph L. Amos, Jr., Grady G. Ayers, Craig Brams, Andrew Cameron, Mary Ann Morgan, Jon M. Oden, Leslie O’Neal-Coble, John J. Reid, and Nick Shannin.Nominees sought for YLD pro bono award Board of Governors also renews Education Law Committee Florida lawyers are being strongly cautioned against engaging in solicitation of hurricane victims.Solicitation, whether by the lawyer personally or by someone else on behalf of the lawyer, is prohibited by Rule 4-7.4(a), according to Elizabeth Tarbert, the Bar’s ethics counsel.“Solicitation includes any direct contact face-to-face, by telephone, by fax or telegraph,” Tarbert said. “It includes passing out business cards or other law firm information.”Lawyers also cannot mail solicitations within 30 days of the disaster, according to Rule 4-7.4(b)(1)(A). Any direct mail solicitations must comply with Rules 4-7.2 and 4-7.4(b) and must be filed with The Florida Bar for review.“I would caution lawyers not to in-person solicit victims, including sending runners,” Tarbert said, noting that a Florida lawyer was suspended for one year for in-person solicitation in the wake of the tornados that hit the Orlando area a few years ago ( TFB v. Wolfe, 759 So.2d 639 (Fla. 2000), Tarbert also said fees from solicitation, as with any form of advertising that does not comply with the rules, are also subject to forfeiture.Tarbert noted, however, volunteer lawyers offering their services to accident victims at no charge do not violate the anti-solicitation rule.Tarbert said it is her office’s position that if attorneys are simply advertising that their offices are open, or where they are practicing, that doesn’t have to be submitted for review.“We view that more in the nature of a client service — informing their existing clients where they are located and how they can be contacted,” Tarbert said. “The rules would still apply if they are advertising for the purpose of offering legal services to new clients.”It is also anticipated some lawyers will directly advertise toward other lawyers, saying, “We lost all our records, and if you were on the opposite side of any cases we were on, would you please make copies of your records available to us.”Those ads also would fall outside the usual ad review process, Tarbert said.“Anyone with information that a lawyer is engaging in solicitation should report the lawyer to The Florida Bar,” Tarbert said.Questions or complaints about a lawyer’s conduct can be made toll free to (800) 342-8060, ext. 5839, or contact the closest Bar branch office. Lawyers with questions concerning whether their own future conduct violates Bar rules may call 1-800-235-8619.Education Law Committee sets September 10th CLE programlast_img

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