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.
Former football player of Široki Brijeg, Zrinjski, and Zagreb Vlado Zadro will again play for BIH premier league team of Široki Brijeg, reports sportsport.baFootball club Široki Brijeg by winning the Cup of BIH has qualified to play at the European Championship.Zadro confirmed to sportsport.ba that he has signed a two-year contract with Široki Brijeg and added he hopes that his team will do well in Europe.(photo: prvaliga.tportal)
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger 1 Arsene Wenger has told Arsenal fans to be patient as he looks to strengthen the squad in January and says he will be doing everything to make a new signing before the end of the month.The Arsenal manager has been strongly linked with moves for West Ham defender Winston Reid, Celtic’s Virgil van Dijk and Newcastle midfielder Moussa Sissoko.Wenger has been plagued with injury problems this season, especially to his defence and suffered another major setback on Sunday when Mathieu Debuchy dislocated his shoulder.But he is not prepared to make a panic buy and says he could wait until the end of January before making his move in the transfer window.Wenger said: “We are active, but not conclusive. That sums it up. We are out there – we look at all the different options.“We know that it’s not an easy market because other clubs are out as well.“You can imagine that the best players are not walking out there looking for clubs.“We have to be patient but creative. If something interesting comes up, it is something we can do.”