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.
THE Georgetown Guinness ‘Greatest of the Streets’ Championship culminated on Saturday night at the Durban Park Tarmac with defending champions, Gold is Money, retaining their title and winning $500,000 in front of a capacity crowd as Albouystown-B failed to dethrone the back to back Georgetown champions.Action between Gold is Money (white bibs) and Albouystown-B in the Georgetown Guinness ‘Greatest of the Streets’ Championship.Jermin ‘Pankie’ Junor’s fifth-minute tap-in was all Gold is Money required as they held Albouystown scoreless; Gold is Money’s defence withstood the stern challenge of negating Albouystown’s attacking Lennox Cort, keeping a third consecutive clean sheet on the night.Earlier, regulation time and extra time failed to separate Sophia and Broad Street in the third-place playoff as both periods of play ended goalless, however, Sophia held their nerveto win 1-0 from the penalty spot on sudden death penalties.Meanwhile, Leopold Street defeated Sparta Boss 2-0 in the Plate final to grab $60,000. En route to that final, Leopold Street beat Tiger Bay 5-0 while Sparta required extra time to get past Back Circle with a 2-1 victory.With their win, Gold is Money pocketed $500,000 along with a trophy while Albouystown-B settled for $300,000 and a trophy. Third place finishers, Sophia, got $200,000 plus a trophy while fourth placed Broad Street copped $100,000.NSC Director of Sport, Christopher Jones, hands over the winner’s trophy to Gold is Money’s Hubert Pedro as Guinness Brand Manager, Lee Baptiste (extreme right) and other players look on.All six teams have also earned berths to the National Championship which is slated for August 9th and 10th at the Durban Park Tarmac.Beacon and Police from Bartica, High Rollers from Linden, Brothers United along with Showstoppers, Ballers Empire and Up Top Bosses from West Coast Demerara, Melanie-B and Paradise-A from East Coast, Tralfagar from Berbice and Gold is Money, Broad Street, Sophia, Albouystown-B, Leopold Street and Sparta Boss will be in action on Friday and Saturday nights when the National Playoffs kick off.
The No. 3 USC men’s golf team, playing without the injured Jamie Lovemark and on the brink of having a promising season end prematurely, shot a final round four-under par 284 to grab the last NCAA national championship qualification spot by one shot over New Mexico. The Trojans were led by freshman Steve Lim, whose last day 66 was deemed “hands down, the best round of the year” by coach Chris Zambri. Lovemark, a two-time All-American, sustained a muscle tear in his rib section two weeks ago during practice and was clearly not his usual self in the first two rounds of the NCAA West Regional at Lake Merced Golf Course, shooting 76 and 83. He withdrew from the tournament before Saturday’s final round, meaning that all four of USC’s other golfers would have their scores count, severely limiting the Trojans’ room for error. “The safety net [of the fifth player] makes it a lot easier,” sophomore Matt Giles said. “It’s difficult playing with only four guys.”The Trojans got off to a rough start, with senior Tom Glissmeyer six-over par after his first five holes and no other player under par at the time. “Even though I was struggling early on, I knew that I needed to grind it out,” Glissmeyer said. “Every stroke could be the difference and it turned out it was, one stroke.”Glissmeyer settled down and was one-under par on his remaining 12 holes, finishing with a 77. Giles had two birdies in his last five holes to shoot 72, while sophomore Tim Sluiter birdied four of his last seven holes to shoot 69. Lim, the only non All-American regular starter for USC, was the unexpected source of the low round on Saturday, making six birdies and an eagle over his last 13 holes. “He’s been a great addition to our team all year,” Zambri said. “The only thing he hadn’t been doing was finishing off good rounds that he had started. On Saturday, our assistant coach [Josh] Brewer walked the course with him the whole time and just kind of talked him through every shot because the decision making can be tough when [you’re under pressure].” The decision to have Brewer basically caddy for the freshman proved huge down the stretch when Lim shook off a bogey on an easy 16th hole to finish birdie-birdie and help USC qualify for the NCAA finals to be held at Inverness Country Club in Toledo, Ohio. The focus for the Trojans now turns to fine tuning their games and waiting to see if Lovemark will be healthy enough to play in less than two weeks. Even without Lovemark, the Trojans believe they have as good of a chance as anyone at taking home the national title. “Every guy on our team, of the four that are going for sure, has proven that they can play big time golf on a big stage,” Zambri said. “Everything else was just preparation,” Glissmeyer added. “I don’t really care if we went the whole season without winning if we get this next one. That’s all that matters.”