May 15, 2004 Senior Editor Regular News Bar leaders happy with ’04 session Bar leaders happy with ’04 session Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Suspended or disbarred lawyers who continue to practice could face prison time as well as additional Bar sanctions under an unlicensed practice of law bill that passed the Florida Legislature and is awaiting the governor’s signature.Lawmakers also approved a new specialty license plate that will raise funds for Florida Bar Foundation legal programs for kids, and continued, albeit with lower funding, the Civil Legal Assistance Act.Legislators also dealt with — or allowed to die — several other issues of interest to the legal profession in the closing days of the 2004 Regular Session.“I think the Bar did very well,” Bar President Miles McGrane said. “The only thing I’m very disappointed about is the failure to raise the Civil Legal Assistance Act to $5.5 million.”He said he was particularly pleased with the UPL bill and that the Bar was able to work out a compromise to head off a proposed constitutional amendment to have the legislature take over from the Supreme Court the oversight of court procedural rules.“All in all, it was a successful session as far as the Bar was concerned,” said President-elect designate Alan Bookman, who chairs the Bar’s Legislation Committee. “I’m very glad to see the license plate was approved; that’s going to raise needed money for children’s programs.“I’m glad to see the penalty was raised for UPL; that’s going to be a third degree felony.” UPL Bill The UPL bill that passed was the House version of the proposal rather than the initial Senate bill, which amended only one section of the law.The bill sent to the governor amends F.S. §§454.23, 454.31, and 434.32. All three sections increase the penalty from a first degree misdemeanor to a third degree felony.The first section makes it a violation for a nonlawyer to practice law; the second applies to suspended or disbarred lawyers who continue to practice; and the third applies to any person who knowingly assists a suspended or disbarred attorney who continues to practice law.If signed by the governor, the law becomes effective October 1.The bill arose from legislators’ frustration with constituents who had been victimized by UPL, particularly in the immigration area, and the Bar responded to requests by strongly supporting the bills which increased the penalties for UPL to a third degree felony. That penalty carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Bar Tag The new license plate was one of a dozen specialty tags lumped into one bill that passed in the closing days of the session.But legislators expressed concerns about the proliferation of specialty tags (with the new bill, the state has almost 100) and the bill included standards for continuing the unique licenses. Those with specialty tags will now have to sell at least 1,000 plates annually, or have their tag dropped.Sen. Skip Campbell, D-Tamarac, also said he’d like to see legislation to audit the nonprofit groups that get tag revenue to make sure it’s used mostly for charitable purposes and not administrative overhead.He also noted there’s concern by law enforcement agencies about the specialty plates because the tags may not be readily recognizable as Florida licenses.Sen. Victor Crist, R-Tampa, said of the 84 existing plates, 34 have sold less than 1,000 plates over the years, and 11 have sold fewer than 100. “If they aren’t going to go out and work their plate, their opportunity should go to someone else who is going to go out and promote it,” he said.Bar and Foundation planners expect to meet the 1,000 plate requirement easily with the “Kids Deserve Justice” tag. The money will go to the Foundation which will use it for children’s legal programs. Civil Legal Assistance The Bar and The Florida Bar Foundation were less successful with their support for the Civil Legal Assistance Act. First approved two years ago after it was proposed by the Bar and the Foundation, the program had $2 million split among six circuits for legal aid programs that helped families. That funding was cut to $1.5 million last year.This year, McGrane hoped to take the program statewide by getting a $5.5 million appropriation. Instead, the program was continued but with only $1 million.“We need to find a source to fund that, other than general revenue,” McGrane said. “Until we do, we’re going to be facing this every year.”He noted that Sen. Rod Smith, D-Gainesville, had proposed a small surcharge on large court awards and there was talk of earmarking some of that money for the act. But nothing came of Smith’s idea. Other Legislation of Interest On other issues:• No further action was taken on a proposed constitutional amendment to have the legislature take over court procedural rulemaking from the Supreme Court. The backer of that bill reached an agreement with President McGrane to have legislators appointed to the various rules committees and also have the legislature notified of recommended rule amendments. (See story in the April 30 Bar News. )• After much jockeying, HB 1357, which passed the House 104-8, was not taken up in the Senate. The bill would prohibit attorneys from running ads that solicit or urge potential clients to file a lawsuit. Although the issue died this year, incoming Senate President Tom Lee is interested in pursuing the issue next year and the House sponsor, Rep. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, said he plans to reintroduce his bill next year and he expects it to pass both chambers. The issue is expected to be studied by a special commission set up by Bar President-elect Kelly Overstreet Johnson to review Bar advertising rules.• HB 1149 died after it passed the House 86-21 on March 29, but was not taken up in the Senate. The measure would have reversed long-standing Florida tradition of giving the defense in a criminal case the first and last say in closing arguments when no evidence other than the defendant’s testimony is presented at trial.• A provision in the House proposed budget striking $1.7 million from the budgets of the state’s capital collateral regional counsels and prohibiting them from representing state death row inmates in federal appeals was omitted from the final budget. The state’s two CCRC offices retained those funds and the ability to handle federal appeals in the final budget.• HB 573, which gave business owners greater protections from lawsuits resulting from third party criminal activity if the owners took steps to make their properties safer, passed the House by a 117-0 vote, but wasn’t taken up in the Senate.• SB 2306 passed unanimously in both chambers. It calls for a study on the availability and usage of mammograms in Florida, with the report to be issued by the end of the year. That language replaced earlier drafts in both House and Senate bills that would have given radiologists reading mammograms immunity from medical malpractice cases except in cases of gross negligence. Bill backers said high malpractice insurance premiums are driving radiologists away from mammography, making it hard for women to get those services in many areas of the state.As for next year, McGrane and Bookman said they expect that court funding will remain a top Bar concern. Although court officials have said they are satisfied with their budgets for the coming year (see story page 1), McGrane and Bookman said they are worried the courts didn’t get enough to cope with the mandates of Revision 7 to Art. V, which requires the state to pay more expenses of the trial courts.“I think the court funding will be back on the table. I expect we’ll discover the amount approved by the legislature is not sufficient,” McGrane said.Bookman noted that rather than directly budgeting to the courts reserve funds they may need to cope with Revision 7 uncertainties, the legislature gave the courts permission to tap into the state’s large working capital fund. He said he would prefer the money had been put in the courts’ budget.“We’ve got a great court system, a functioning court system, and it would be unfortunate for the citizens if we took a step backwards,” he said.
RelatedPosts Derby County want Jordon Ibe EPL: Newcastle set to extend winning streak EPL: Crystal Palace stun sloppy Man U Released Bournemouth winger Jordon Ibe is attracting Premier League interest.Cut loose by the relegated Cherries before the Prem restart, Ibe is still attracting top-flight suitors. Report claimed Crystal Palace and Newcastle United are keen on the winger.Ibe struggled throughout his stay at the Cherries after joining for £15 million in 2016.But that isn’t putting off Newcastle and Palace, who are both looking to strengthen their attacking options.Neither club has huge sums to shell out on transfers this summer and Ibe appeals on that front.The fact he has Premier League experience is another driving factor, with both Steve Bruce and Roy Hodgson keen to add more quality to their squads Former England youth international Ibe started at Wycombe before joining Liverpool in 2012.Tags: Crystal PalaceInterestJordon IbeNewcastle United
Press Association Manchester City put themselves firmly in the title picture with a convincing 6-3 win over leaders Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium. The prolific strikeforce of Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo were again on target while Fernandinho struck twice and David Silva and Yaya Toure also got on the scoresheet. Theo Walcott marked his first start since September with two fine goals to keep Arsenal in contention but Per Mertesacker’s late header was mere consolation for a side ultimately well beaten. It was the Argentinian’s 18th goal in his last 16 games and 19th overall in a so far prolific season. City will hope the injury that later ended his involvement is not serious. City should have doubled their lead as Vincent Kompany showed great footwork to skip around an Aaron Ramsey challenge to feed Negredo, but the Spaniard missed the target. Arsenal finally responded but Mesut Ozil failed to take advantage after Costel Pantilimon, again preferred to Joe Hart, palmed away weakly. The visitors did pull level on 32 minutes after Ramsey robbed Toure and sent Ozil clear. The German pulled the ball back and Walcott coolly slotted in from the edge of the area. City’s lead should have been instantly restored by Negredo but he curled wide from a fine Silva through ball. Negredo did get it right on 39 minutes as he tucked home a Pablo Zabaleta cross from close range after the right-back had been picked out by a Toure crossfield pass. Problems appeared to worsen for Arsenal as Laurent Koscielny suffered a deep cut to the knee in attempting to tackle Negredo and was forced off. Demichelis then glanced a header over from a Nasri corner as City ended the first half strongly. They continued in much the same fashion after the break but suffered a blow when Aguero slumped to the turf with what appeared a calf injury. He was replaced by Jesus Navas but there appeared no discernible difference to City’s performance as they added a third after 50 minutes. Ozil lost possession and Fernandinho took full advantage curling in from the edge of the area for his first goal since his £30million summer move from Shakhtar Donetsk. Arsenal were far from beaten but Olivier Giroud fluffed a shot from in front of goal and then headed wide from a Bacary Sagna cross. The visitors appealed for a penalty for handball against Zabaleta but contact, after the ball had ricocheted off his thigh, was deemed accidental. Walcott did pull Arsenal back into the game with a sublime goal just after the hour. Ramsey found Walcott in space and, spotting Pantilimon off his line, he brilliantly lobbed into the far top corner. City hit back in the way they know best as Navas weaved his way through the defence on the right and pulled the ball back for Silva to side-foot home from eight yards. Navas rounded Wojciech Szczesny as City went in search of more but could only find the side-netting before Toure flashed a long-range effort wide. Fernandinho also stung the palms of Szczesny and Nasri was denied a shooting chance by a good tackle. Nasri put another opportunity over before laying off for Fernandinho to cleverly dink in a fifth goal in the closing moments. Nicklas Bendtner thought he had headed in a late consolation only to be flagged offside but Pantilimon, who earlier saved well from Wilshere, was beaten in injury time by a Per Mertesacker header. Toure had the final word from the penalty spot after substitute James Milner was tripped by Szczesny. City, who have now scored 35 goals in their eight home games this season, fully deserved the three points to move within three of the Gunners. The only major downside for Manuel Pellegrini’s men was the loss of Aguero early in the second half with what appeared a calf injury. Yet for now the statement from City in title terms, particularly at home as they maintain their 100 per cent record, is resounding. As has become the norm at Eastlands, they began at a lively pace. Not in the least bit intimidated by Arsenal’s superb form this season, they attacked at their fluid best. Twice good balls were delivered into the Arsenal box early on but first former Gunners star Samir Nasri could not turn and then Aguero saw the ball nicked away. Remarkably, despite seeing little of the ball, Arsenal actually had the first clear-cut chance but Jack Wilshere screwed a shot horribly wide. City deservedly opened the scoring after 14 minutes when Martin Demichelis flicked on a corner and Aguero once again showed perfect balance to hook in a volley at the back post.