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Daily News Summary

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.

January 19, 2017

TITUSVILLE ATTORNEY EARNS STATE HONOR FOR PRO BONO WORK

Florida Today | Article | January 18, 2017

Titusville attorney Brigitta Hawkins is headed to Tallahassee Thursday [Jan. 19] to receive The Florida Bar President's Pro Bono Service Award for 2017 for the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit. Hawkins' pro bono work includes consulting with Brevard County Legal Aid clients who have Social Security and disability-related problems and conducting a monthly clinic on that topic. She also founded Space Coast Community Law School, a program that offers free annual seminars taught by local lawyers and judges with an overview of general legal concepts. For Hawkins, setting an example goes beyond just resolving a case. It means getting to know the people she advises and "helping them get their lives back on track," she said.

DOLLAR-A-MINUTE LEGAL ADVICE HAS ITS MERITS

Fort Myers News-Press | Editorial | January 18, 2017

Lee County Clerk of Court Linda Doggett recently proposed a dollar-a-minute legal help option for those in need of legal advice. From the editorial: "People need legal help but don't want to pay an arm and a leg to get it. . . . Providing a type of drive-through legal service has its own legal hurdles to overcome. . . . . In the meantime, Doggett and the local bar association will pursue the dollar-a-minute help. Actually, the minimum you would pay is $15 -- even if the advice takes only two minutes -- and the most is $60 -- for an hour's worth of a lawyer's time. The jury may still be out on its effectiveness, but people should be able to get some legal advice without going into the poor house."

UCF UNDERGRADUATE IS FIRST TO ENTER LAW SCHOOL THROUGH NEW ACCELERATED PROGRAM

UCF Today | Article | January 17, 2017

Wednesday [Jan. 18] marked the first day of law school for Rafael Casallas, a 19-year-old legal studies senior who is attending Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law through a 3+3 Accelerated Law Program established by UCF and Barry Law. Casallas is the first student in the program, which will enable him to complete a bachelor's degree and a law degree in six years rather than the traditional seven, saving a year of time and tuition expenses. Establishing an accelerated law program was a top goal for Professor James Beckman when he served as inaugural chair of the Department of Legal Studies from 2011 to 2016.

PANEL DISCUSSES JUDICIAL BIAS

Gainesville Sun | Article | January 18, 2017

A panel discussion Wednesday [Jan. 18] night on racial bias in sentencing by judges in Alachua County illustrated the complexity of the issue and the many factors that play into it including policing, education and the ability to pay for a lawyer or for restitution. The Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Florida sponsored the town hall symposium, "Bias on the Bench?," as part of this year's celebration of King. No one on the panel believed judges here are overtly biased, but some said implicit bias likely exists. Regardless, data indicates that blacks typically receive longer sentences than whites for cases with similar circumstances. Panelists included 8th Circuit Chief Judge Toby Monaco, Chief Assistant Public Defender Bill Miller, a University of Florida student government officer and a businessman.

GRANT TO MIAMI FIRM WILL FUND LEGAL PROGRAM AT MIDDLE SCHOOL

Daily Business Review | Article | January 18, 2017

Miami law firm Hamilton, Miller & Birthisel was awarded a $100,000 grant to help fund a mock courtroom and a legal curriculum at Brownsville Middle School. The William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust awarded the grant to Hamilton Miller partner Marlon Hill for carrying on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., according to an announcement. The funds will help turn classrooms at the middle school into a modern courtroom for mock trials and will support law instruction for the students. For the past three years, the firm has done mock trials, field trips and guest lectures to educate Brownsville students about law and the legal profession. Brownsville Middle School is predominantly black, and 97 percent of its students are on free or reduced-price lunch, according to the Florida Department of Education.

SUPREME COURT THROWS OUT SCHOOL VOUCHERS CASE

Florida Politics | Article | January 18, 2017

The Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday [Jan. 18] said it will not take up an appeal on a high-profile school vouchers case. The decision comes as a major setback to vouchers opponents, including the Florida Education Association, the statewide teachers' union, but was applauded by school choice advocates. The Supreme Court's inaction leaves in place a First District Court of Appeal decision, siding with a lower court's decision to throw out the lawsuit filed by the Florida Education Association and others. They had argued that the state's method of funding private-school educations for more than 90,000 school children this year is unconstitutional.

FLORIDA SENATE TO TAKE UP 'STAND YOUR GROUND' BILL

The Ledger | Article | January 17, 2017

The state's Senate Judiciary Committee next week is expected to take up a proposal that would shift the legal burden of proof in "stand your ground" self-defense cases -- but the panel is not slated to consider a controversial measure that would expand the ability of people to carry guns in public. The bill stems from a Florida Supreme Court ruling in 2015 that said defendants have the burden of proof to show they should be shielded from prosecution under the "stand your ground" law. In such cases, pretrial evidentiary hearings are held to determine whether defendants should be immune from prosecution. The bill would shift that burden of proof from defendants to prosecutors.

DEFENSE BAR OPPOSES TERMS LIMITS FOR APPELLATE JUDGES

Daily Business Review | Letter to the editor | January 17, 2017

In a letter to the editor, John S. Leinicke, executive board chair of the Dade County Defense Bar Association, writes: "Because our system of judicial selection and retention must be insulated from electoral politics, the Dade County Defense Bar Association opposes term limits for any trial or appellate state court judge. . . . In December 2016, The Florida Bar Board of Governors unanimously opposed judicial term limits at all levels of Florida's state court system. The DCDBA joins the Bar's opposition and further implores the upcoming Constitution Revision Commission to refrain from needlessly injecting partisan elections into our third, co-equal branch of government."

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