Saturday, August 30, 2014

Trial & Litigation Section: Settlement Confidentiality Is No Joke!

By Beth M. Coleman

The Third District Court of Appeal has recently confirmed the serious consequences of violating a settlement agreement’s confidentiality provision. These provisions have become fairly routine in settlement documents, but their impact is material. Attorneys should exercise caution in negotiating these terms and ensuring their clients understand them.    

In Gulliver Schools, Inc. v. Snay, 137 So. 3d 1045 (Fla. 3d DCA 2014), a former headmaster sued a school for age discrimination and retaliation. The parties settled, and the school agreed, among other things, to pay the plaintiff $80,000. The agreement contained a detailed confidentiality provision prohibiting the plaintiff from, directly or indirectly, disclosing or discussing the existence or terms of the settlement with anyone other than the plaintiff’s attorneys or spouse. Breach of the provision would result in disgorgement of payments to the plaintiff.

Several days later, the plaintiff’s adult daughter posted a comment on her Facebook page stating “Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.” Id. at 1046. This post went out to approximately 1,200 of the daughter’s Facebook friends, many of whom were former students of the school.

The daughter’s post apparently was false ― the plaintiff never told her he won the case, nor did she plan to or go to Europe. At the evidentiary hearing, the trial court heard the plaintiff’s testimony that he felt he needed to tell his daughter something about the case due to her interest and involvement. He merely told her, however, that the case “was settled and we were happy with the results.” Id. at 1048. The trial court ruled that the plaintiff did not breach the confidentiality agreement.

The Third DCA reversed. Using standard contract principles, the appellate court found the confidentiality provision unambiguous. By telling his daughter that the case settled and he was happy with the result, the plaintiff violated the plain terms of the agreement by directly or indirectly disclosing information about the existence or terms of the settlement to an unauthorized person. The appellate court noted that the plaintiff never informed the school of any need to tell his daughter about the settlement, which might have led the parties to include a mutually acceptable arrangement in their agreement. His daughter then “did precisely what the confidentiality agreement was designed to prevent, advertising to the Gulliver community that Snay had been successful in his age discrimination and retaliation case against the school.” Id.   

Ultimately, the plaintiff’s comment to his daughter cost him $80,000 in settlement proceeds, as well as liability for the school’s appellate attorney’s fees. The Third DCA also denied the plaintiff’s motion for rehearing. 

The moral of the story is that if your client’s settlement agreement contains a confidentiality provision, you may want to take extra care to ensure your client understands what it prohibits and the potential consequences for violating it. As always, be careful what you post on Facebook!   

Friday, August 29, 2014

Executive Director's Message: Ben Hill IV Sworn In As HCBA President; Bar Looks At Changing Legal Profession

By John F. Kynes

Ben Hill III took a moment to reflect on his career, and understandably, he became a bit nostalgic. The occasion was the Hillsborough County Bar Association’s 2014-15 Installation of Officers and Directors event on June 5 at the Chester H. Ferguson Law Center.

You see, Hill III recalled a similar ceremony 33 years ago, in 1981, when he was sworn in as HCBA president. Ten years later, in 1991, Hill III was elected president of The Florida Bar. And in 1999, he was the recipient of the HCBA’s Outstanding Lawyer Award.

At this installation ceremony, however, Hill III was tasked with introducing his son, Ben Hill IV, as the incoming president of the HCBA. Hill III noted that his other son, Gordon, was being installed as a director on the HCBA board as well. All three work at Hill Ward Henderson, where Hill III was a founding member.

In his introduction, Hill III talked about his son’s personal background and professional experience. Hill IV attended Jesuit High School, went to Vanderbilt University, and is a Stetson Law School graduate. In addition, Hill IV is a past president of the HCBA’s Young Lawyers Division, and he is a recipient of the Stetson Lawyers Association’s Outstanding Alumni Representative Award. 

“He brings to the table the culture that hopefully all of you have, and certainly we have in our firm, in that we believe very strongly in giving back to the community … and advancing our profession,” Hill III told those in attendance. 

In his remarks, Hill IV talked about leading the HCBA this year. “It’s special to be a part, much less lead, this association of such great lawyers,” he said.

Hill IV discussed the HCBA’s strong relationship with the judiciary and efforts to increase professionalism and civility in the legal profession. “This is an association about ‘us.’ I’m reminded that the ‘us’ and ‘we’ far outweighs the ‘I’ and the ‘me,’ ” Hill IV said. “That attitude has made the HCBA one of the most highly regarded Bar associations around the country.”

“I believe it’s our duty to maintain, and even enhance, the stellar reputation the Bar enjoys,” Hill IV added.


The fall season and a new Bar year also bring new opportunities for HCBA members. Opportunities to stay connected and forge new relationships with your colleagues in the legal profession. And opportunities to take advantage of the numerous educational and CLE programs made available throughout the year.

So consider joining the HCBA’s Lawyer Referral & Information Service and help grow your practice through case referrals.

Make it a point to attend the HCBA’s 18th Annual Bench Bar Conference & Judicial Reception scheduled for October 30 at the Hilton Tampa Downtown.

Also, stay tuned for information about a new HCBA health/wellness event later in the fall at the Ferguson Law Center. It will offer free health screenings and valuable personal health information for everyone.

At the same time, the HCBA and legal groups across the country must grapple with changes in the legal profession and evolve in order to stay relevant. That’s why I am pleased to be following the work of The Florida Bar’s Vision 2016 Commission.

Established by former Florida Bar President Eugene Pettis, this group is studying the future of the legal profession in the areas of legal education, technology, Bar admissions, and access to legal services.

“We are at the crossroads of major evolutionary changes in our profession,” Pettis said in a recent column in The Florida Bar Journal. “We must acknowledge a changing world, driven largely by technological advancements, and be willing to adapt.”

As we look to the future, this is something we should all keep an eye on.

See you around the Chet.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Construction Law: Arbitration Jurisdiction And Unlicensed Contractors

By J. Derek Kantaskas

Arbitration provides litigants the opportunity to resolve disputes by arbitrators who are, theoretically, experts in their field, and in a cost-effective and streamlined environment. As a forum, however, arbitration is certainly not without a downside for some, particularly those dealing with unlicensed contractors, as recently highlighted by The Village of Dolphin Commerce Center, LLC v. Construction Service Solutions, LLC, 2014 WL 2116361, (Fla. 3d DCA May 21, 2014). 

In Dolphin Commerce, an owner hired a contractor to build a warehouse. At the time of the contract, the contractor was not properly licensed under Chapter 489, Florida Statutes. During construction of the warehouse, disputes arose, the contractor claimed to be unpaid, and a construction lien was ultimately recorded. The contractor also filed a demand for arbitration based on its contract. In response to the arbitration demand, the owner asserted the defense of section 489.128(1), Florida Statutes, which provides “contracts entered into … by an unlicensed contractor shall be unenforceable in law or in equity by the unlicensed contractor.” Moreover, as raised by the owner, where “a contract is rendered unenforceable under this section, no lien or bond claim shall exist in favor of the unlicensed contractor.” § 489.128(2), Fla. Stat. In addition to the defenses asserted in arbitration, the owner concurrently filed suit in circuit court to dispense with the contractor’s claim based on the unlicensed status.

Because the contractor was unlicensed, the owner’s position was two-fold: (i) the contract and its arbitration provision were unenforceable; and (ii) the lien based on the contract was equally unenforceable. In response to the owner’s circuit court action, the contractor moved to compel arbitration, which was granted by the trial court. The parties then proceeded to arbitrate.  

During arbitration, the owner asserted the contractor’s lack of licensure as a defense as set forth by section 489.128 but apparently failed to object to the arbitration panel’s jurisdiction to hear the issue. Under the Construction Industry Arbitration Rules of the American Arbitration Association, a party must object to the jurisdiction of the panel at the outset, or the panel is deemed to have jurisdiction. See Rule 9(c), AAA. The contractor prevailed at arbitration and sought to confirm its award in circuit court. The owner moved to vacate the award on several grounds, but namely because the underlying contract ― the basis for arbitration and the contractor’s claim ― was unenforceable because of the contractor’s unlicensed status.

The owner’s motion to vacate was denied because the issue of enforceability of the contract in light of section 489.128 was at least properly submitted to arbitration and decided upon by the panel. The Third District Court of Appeal noted the “very narrow” authority trial courts have in vacating arbitration awards and affirmed the trial court. Simply put, “[t]o ask the trial court to revisit this issue would require the trial court to step into an appellate position.” Dolphin Commerce, 2014 WL 2116361, at *3. But for narrow bases, trial courts lack authority to re-litigate the issues presented and decided in arbitration, and here, the enforceability of the contract despite licensure issues had already been decided by the arbitration panel.  

Dolphin Commerce serves as a bright-line reminder for parties of the limited appealability of an arbitrator’s decision and that failing to object to the jurisdiction of the arbitrator may ultimately waive this defense (even if it was presented at arbitration).   

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Community Services Committee: Come Out And Volunteer; It Could Change Your Life

By Lisa A. Esposito

Lara LaVoie and I can’t believe we’re in our second year of co-chairing the Community Services Committee. Last year was great, thanks to many enthusiastic volunteers, such as Mary Snyder at Hill Ward Henderson; Melissa N. Gonzalez at Florida Legal Group; Melissa Knight, a staff attorney for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit; and Tom Curran at Shumaker Loop & Kendrick. In fact, we want to thank all our volunteers for their commitment and dedication.

We held a number of inspiring events, helped a lot of different people, and perhaps even changed someone’s life, but we couldn’t have done it without you. In fact, we look forward to continuing where we ended last year, with your support, of course! Can we count on you to help us change the negative perception many in the community have about attorneys? We’re doing it one charitable event at a time. It’s working, but we need your assistance. 

This year, we also have more great events planned, and we hope to see many familiar faces back to help, whether it’s adopting needy veterans and making their day with a “We Care” visit, or becoming an elf for an elder, donning antlers, and singing a slightly off-key rendition of Rudolph. We need you! 

We hope to see our local judiciary and courthouse staff come back for another week of Dining With Dignity at Trinity Café, where, with dignity and grace, we serve a sit-down meal to Hillsborough County’s working poor. We also hope to meet some new volunteers as we host another pirate plunder carnival for the children at A Kids’ Place, a nonprofit home for abused children. Join us as we put smiles on the faces of some very deserving kids, hear them giggle, and, most importantly, be a part of letting them just be kids for a day.

If those events don’t inspire you to get involved, well, we plan to add a few more projects to our agenda, more ways to help our community and reach out to those less fortunate. In fact, come to a meeting and help us decide what we’ll do this year. Will we help raise awareness for RVR Horse Rescue, a charity that saves horses from severe abuse? Perhaps we will volunteer with Special Olympics or paint a house for a needy family? Get involved and help us decide what cause we will add to an already exciting array of causes.

Get involved, give back to our community, and you might find you gain more than you give. You can volunteer for one event, like Elves for Elders, Make a Difference Day-Adopt a Veteran, Trinity Café, or A Kids’ Place, or you can volunteer for all of them. So come out, meet some new friends, make a difference in someone’s life, and you may just come away with a lasting feeling of appreciation for what you have and a better understanding for those less fortunate. Be the change you wish to see in our community. Be a volunteer.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Special Feature: An Interview With The Hon. Mary Stenson Scriven

By Michael S. Hooker

The following is an edited excerpt of an interview with the Hon. Mary Stenson Scriven, United States District Court Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, conducted by Michael S. Hooker.

Q. Your Honor, tell us about your background. Where did you grow up?

A. I was born in Atlanta, Ga., but grew up in Macon. My dad was a minister and pastored several churches in Macon over the course of his career, 44 years at St. Luke Baptist Church, and my mother was a nurse at the local hospital, first as a registered nurse on the floor and then as head of the education department for the school of nursing that was an arm of the hospital. I was educated in the public schools in Macon. 

Q. Any particular challenges growing up as a “preacher’s daughter”?

A. Not really. More challenges external to my family than by my family. People had expectations that the “preacher’s daughter” would behave in a certain way. Dad never put those kind of restrictions on our behavior other than that he and my mom led by example and took us to church several times every Sunday and every Wednesday. My mom likes to joke that her kids were drugged. “Drug to church at every opportunity.” So we really didn’t have much time to get in trouble.

Q. Did you have any idea what you wanted to do when you grew up?

A. I wanted to be an elementary school teacher. I love teaching. My mother was an educator, and I thought I was suited for teaching. I taught high school right after I graduated college. I graduated a semester early, and one of my high school teachers then was having a baby. So she took the semester off, and I finished her high school English classes for the rest of the year. I had my fill of teaching after half a year.

Q. Actually, you did a lot more teaching. I noticed in your bio that you taught at Stetson College of Law in ’96 and ’97, you were a former faculty member at the National Institute of Trial Advocacy, serving as a guest faculty member in the Master’s Program for Trial Advocacy at Nottingham Law Institute in England!

A. (Laughs) Well, I guess I didn’t give up the teaching bug. I love teaching. My favorite job was being a law school professor at Stetson. I think that in the context of the idealistic American law student, it’s just a great place to educate. People are open to education; they challenge the norms; you can engage with students; they really want to get a good grade so they work hard; and I really enjoyed it. In fact, when I went once with my son to school, I was there for half a day after having taught a class and gone to lunch, and he asked, “Momma, when are you going to start working?” and I said, “This is my job!”

Q. Your bio says that you are an honors graduate at Duke and obtained a law degree with high honors from Florida State. What was your undergraduate major?

A. Political science and religion. I had the notion, at least by my freshman year in college, that I was going to go into law. I took a survey of constitutional law seminar and picked up the law bug. In my junior year at Duke, I served as the chief judge on the Student Judiciary Council. We considered honors violations, such as plagiarism, or even some misdemeanor violations. I gradually moved into an interest in the law from there.

Q. And I understand that you practiced law for a decade or so at Carlton Fields with an emphasis in commercial litigation and trade regulation. What kind of cases did you handle?

A. My principal practice was commercial litigation. When I started practicing, the firm represented the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Thus, by happenstance, my practice was almost exclusively federal. Even so, it was a broad-based practice to include commercial litigation over loans, legal malpractice, accountant malpractice, director malpractice. These weren’t the typical federal cases so to speak, but because the government was the plaintiff, all of the cases were litigated and tried in the federal court. That became the source of my introduction to federal court, where I have remained throughout my career. 

Q. Now, you were a magistrate judge for about 10 years, and obviously you’ve been a federal district judge since 2008, so you have served on two different federal benches. What would you say are the biggest differences between the magistrate and the district benches?

A. I think that typically the work as magistrate judge is somewhat more controlled in the sense that you typically know what your day will look like, except in duty week when you don’t know what may come your way. But here in the Middle District, it tends to be more dynamic; because of the number of consents in our district, magistrate judges’ duties tend to run the gamut. The principal difference in district judge work is that a lot of what I do involves sentencing and trying of criminal cases, and it’s both the heavy heart work and heavy trial work in terms of work on the bench. It probably isn’t the heaviest cerebral work. That work is the desk work on the complicated civil cases.

Q. I know that judges typically don’t like to see lawyers embroiled in discovery disputes. But other than discovery disputes, what kind of issues are brought to you on a routine basis that you think lawyers ought to resolve on their own?

A. I don’t abhor discovery disputes like some people say they do. I think one of the functions of the court is to resolve discovery disputes ― real, live, substantive discovery disputes ― such as “Am I entitled to the assertion of the privilege over this set of documents?” and “Does the burden of producing this document or this set of documents outweigh its relevance such that my obligation to produce is eliminated or should the cost be shifted?” I think those are kinds of things judges are supposed to involve themselves in. The timing of and location of depositions, and whether to grant someone an extension of time because of extenuating circumstances that are not repeat extenuating circumstances, are the kinds of things, I think, professional, civil-minded lawyers ought to be able to work out, without resorting to the court. 

Q. What do you see as the key issues in the Middle District of Florida over the next several years?

A. Funding and resources. I think we are statistically one of the fastest growing districts in the country. At least, historically we have been. I haven’t looked at the data in the last couple of weeks, but as our population grows and business grows, litigation ensues and crimes get committed, and so properly funding the federal courts is paramount and should be something the lawyers are really concerned about. I think that lawyers have to be mindful that if they want to continue to have high-minded litigation brought in the courts in the U.S. as opposed to somewhere else or brought in some alternative forum, they need to really be concerned about and work to ensure that the court is fully funded so that we can operate as a court should. 

Q. I know you’re aware of the tremendous push recently by The Florida Bar under the leadership of Eugene Pettis to increase diversity on the state bench. Why is diversity in the judiciary so important?

A. Diversity in the judiciary is important because when people come to court they want to believe that the court is even-minded, and although I don’t know of a judge who looks at a case differently because of his or her gender or race, I think that when people look at the court, they tend to believe it is more fair if it reflects the community that it is supposed to serve. So I believe it provides some sense of integrity to the process as it is viewed from external sources. Then just fundamentally, people bring their varying backgrounds (former prosecutors, defense lawyers, commercial litigators, etc.) to litigation and to dispute resolution, and those varying backgrounds are applied to cases, and I think you want to have people with broad-based backgrounds to do that. 

Q. Judge, you’ve probably sentenced hundreds of defendants on drug charges. If you could say one thing to a young person who was dabbling with the idea of using or possessing drugs, what would it be?

A. Don’t. There is no “little amount” of addiction. Addiction feeds on itself, and because no one knows their propensity to become addicted to so-called recreational drugs, taking them is no different than playing Russian roulette. There may be a person who is resistant to the effects of cocaine, and you may be that person or you may not be that person. If you imbibe and you get addicted, then it feeds on itself, and you’ll do anything to get the drugs. You’ll do anything to keep the high, and then it becomes your way of life. The risks are so tremendously high and the likelihood of your being able to avoid the horrible outcome is so tremendously low that it’s just not worth it. So in the opposite of the Nike mantra, “Just Don’t Do It!”

Q. The practice of law in the federal arena is particularly dependent on the written word. In terms of effective written advocacy, do you have any particular advice you would give to lawyers?

A. The old saying “less is more” cannot be overstated in the context of written advocacy. I think people who have the ability to encapsulate their thoughts in as little space as possible on a page have the greatest opportunity to communicate those thoughts to the court. If you learn to do that and do it consistently, you will see much better results consistently for your clients than a person who writes a 30-page brief and then files a motion for an extension of 10 additional pages because they just have 10 additional pages worth to say. If you can put it in 10 pages or less, you have a true talent for written advocacy. 

Q. You are married to a prominent local lawyer, Lanse Scriven. Does being married to a lawyer affect your role on the bench?

A. It does. It keeps me grounded in the practice of law, and I think as a judge one can tend over time to forget what it really feels like to practice law. It makes it less likely that I’ll just flippantly deny requests for extensions of time for reasons that are properly articulated to be important, even if they are personal. It makes it more important to me to really allow people to be heard on all sides of an issue. I think the constant reminder that there are litigants who are out there working on important, highly contested issues and they are spending enormous resources doing it and having that sort of paramount in my mind on a daily basis keeps me grounded and aware of how important it is for a judge to be tempered in his or her judgment and to allow everybody to be heard.

Q. Judge, I understand from a particularly reliable source that you are an exceptional chef. What are your signature dishes?

A. Chicken Captiva, a dish of chicken, fresh shrimp, bacon, and a Dijon cream sauce topped with mozzarella cheese, which I stole from a lawyer named David Snyder, so I have to give attribution. It has become our family’s favorite. I love fresh seafood dishes like Florida grouper. I am a German chocolate cake queen. I would say quite confidently no one has had a better German chocolate cake than mine, ever! And my husband’s favorite probably is my New York-style cherry cheesecake.

Q. And finally, on a sad note, I understand that your father, who you already mentioned today, passed away last December. What one attribute of his are you most proud of?

A. There are so many attributes my dad had, it’s hard to pin down one, but what comes to mind first is the famous Rudyard Kipling verse: “If you can walk among kings and not lose the common touch. ...” My dad was very well educated. He was biblically a genius in the sense that he could identify a verse in the Bible that could address any given concern on any given day, but he didn’t lord the Bible over people or lord his religious education over his parishioners or the people he encountered. And everyone considered him to be a friend, and he was able to maintain that persona. I think in the context of what we do as judges for a living, just being able to stay normal and remember that we put our pants on one leg at a time like everybody else is important to avoiding “robeitis,” as I think it used to be called back in the ’90s, and it’s something that I try to aspire to as a judge. 

Q. If you had it to do all over again, would you still be a judge?

A. Absolutely, I would. I love the work. It is rarely ever boring. I mean, there are some things that I do that aren’t particularly scintillating, but the work is almost always intellectually stimulating. I get to work with the brightest young minds in the country. When I hire law clerks, I get 100 to 200 applications for every job, and I get to choose the best, the brightest to work with. I still get to teach because those become my students. I am also a law junkie. I can do this work all day. I can go home and watch “Law and Order” and “Judge Judy” and then I can read a John Grisham novel and go to sleep. It’s what I really love and feel called to do. So, I would, if I could start all over again and knew I would wind up in the same place. There are things about my life I would change, obviously ― I would try to take better care of my health, I would travel more with my husband, I would spend more time with my children when they were smaller and all of that. But ultimately I would hope to be in the same place that I am today. My vocation is truly my avocation. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Corporate Counsel: Agencies Target Business Use Of Social Media

By James B. Lake

Businesses, be careful when using social media in your marketing activities.  A single mouse click intended to appreciate a customer’s kind words could prompt a federal investigation.

This summer a maker of natural cough syrups and sleep aids learned the Food and Drug Administration has been reviewing the company’s website and social media pages.  In a “warning letter,” the FDA scolded the company, Zarbee’s Inc., for a number of online statements.  The FDA also faulted the company for “liking” its customers’ Facebook posts.  One post said a Zarbee’s product gave a child with cerebral palsy the “best sleep she has had in years.”  A Zarbee’s employee “liked” that comment and responded, “Thank you for writing this!!!  We love to hear that we have helped people.” Another customer posted that, after taking a Zarbee’s product, a two-year-old’s colds and congestion cleared up in two days.  Zarbee’s “liked” that post, too.

The company’s politeness, the FDA found, amounted to endorsing or promoting “personal testimonials” about its products “for the cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease.”  To the FDA, that meant the products were being marketed as “drugs,” as defined and regulated by the agency.  This was a problem because the Zarbee’s products were not FDA-approved.  Although the company website acknowledges the lack of FDA approval, the agency demanded that Zarbee’s identify “specific steps you have taken to correct the violations noted” in the FDA’s letter.

The FDA is not the only federal agency monitoring businesses on social media.  The Federal Trade Commission investigated shoemaker Cole Haan’s activities on Pinterest, a social media site used to share and view images.  According to the FTC, Cole Haan encouraged Pinterest users to display images of Cole Haan shoes and the users’ “favorite places to wander.”  Cole Haan promised a $1,000 shopping spree for the user with the most creative entry.  The FTC alleged that the displays amounted to product endorsements without adequate disclosures that the displays were part of a contest.  In a letter this spring to a Cole Haan lawyer, the FTC said federal law “requires the disclosure of a material connection between a marketer and an endorser when their relationship is not otherwise apparent from the context of the communication.” Entering the contest, the FTC wrote, “constitutes a material connection that would not reasonably be expected by viewers of the endorsement.”

Although the FTC decided not to bring an enforcement action against Cole Haan, the letter marked the FTC’s first public indication that a consumer’s entry into a contest amounts to a “material connection” that must be disclosed.  The letter was also the FTC’s first explicit determination that a display on Pinterest is an endorsement.  Therefore, the FTC letter – like the FDA’s letter to Zarbee’s – is a warning to businesses to consider federal law when encouraging or responding to social media posts about their products.

Collaborative Law: We Invite Your Participation!

By Christine L. Derr

I am pleased to be co-chairing the Collaborative Law Section of the Hillsborough County Bar Association for 2014-2015 with Jon Wax. The Collaborative Law Section has many goals for this year. We are developing networking opportunities, enhanced public awareness of the benefits of collaborative law, lawyer training, and continuing education, as well as providing education to the judiciary about the collaborative process as an alternative dispute method. We invite your participation!

There has been a cooperation developing between our collaborative community and the HCBA Collaborative Law Section, only beginning its third year, and it is gaining steam. One of our primary objectives is to expand the education of professionals and prospective clients to the alternative that is available through collaborative law. Although locally, collaborative law has made the most progress in the family law arena, the collaborative process may become a significant alternative dispute resolution process in other practice areas.

In the family law setting, collaborative law is growing rapidly. Each year, more Tampa Bay family law attorneys, financial experts, and collaborative facilitators have been trained in the process and have developed the skills necessary to manage these cases effectively. Collaborative cases typically cost less, take less time, cause less stress, and open up possibilities that are not available in a traditional litigation-based setting. By taking a cooperative approach, rather than an adversarial one, parties can resolve difficult issues that would otherwise lead to expensive and time-consuming litigation.

We have courts that support the philosophy that the interdisciplinary collaborative practice model may be a suitable alternative to full-scale adversarial litigation in family law cases if the parties agree to such a model. Although the collaborative law bills introduced for Florida’s 2014 legislative session did not pass this year, the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar has a standing position supporting the statutory recognition of collaborative law as a form of alternative dispute resolution in family law cases and the establishment of a privilege regarding the disclosure of information related to collaborative proceedings.

One of the benefits of being a member of the Collaborative Law Section is sharing information, knowledge, and materials with other members. The synergy between our local and statewide collaborative practice groups and the state council creates an environment ripe for growth. We plan to work in partnership with the two collaborative groups in the Tampa Bay area: the Tampa Bay Collaborative Law Group and Next Generation Divorce. Many members of the Collaborative Law Section are members of both groups. We invite interested members of the HCBA to join the Collaborative Law Section for our luncheons on October 22, December 18, February 25, and April 22. There will be a charge for lunches, but there will be no section dues, so those interested in joining will not have to pay extra to participate. Non-lawyer affiliate members of the Bar interested in collaborative law are also encouraged to attend. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Appellate Practice: Protecting The Ruling On Your Motion In Limine

By Michael M. Giel 

Whether you’re handling the entire trial or providing support, you know that motions in limine can shorten trial and simplify issues. Such motions can also relieve the pressure to object in the heat of trial, thanks to section 90.104, Florida Statutes, which deems objections preserved for appeal if the court already issued a definitive ruling. But a recent case clarifies that securing an early ruling is only the beginning of your work on that evidentiary issue.

In Boyles v. A & G Concrete Pools, Inc., 2014 WL 2957473 (Fla. 4th DCA July 2, 2014), the plaintiff moved in limine regarding 45 categories of evidence more than 18 months before trial, securing a ruling that granted the motion on some topics, denied it on others, and denied without prejudice on still more. The new judge presiding over trial noted that on many topics, the order indicated only “denied without prejudice to making contemporaneous objections.” Noting the difficulty of deciphering such an old order decided by a predecessor judge, the trial judge concluded, “You are going to have to raise your objections because I don’t know what has been done.” At trial, the defendant solicited testimony violating the previous order, but the plaintiff did not object.

The Boyles majority essentially concluded that the trial court’s admonition to “raise your objections” vacated the previous order, requiring contemporaneous objections on all evidentiary issues. Id. at *4-5. The dissent argued the trial court’s statement had been taken out of context and would have held the issue preserved. Id. at *12. Regardless, Boyles raises two questions you must answer to ensure preservation.

Was the motion clearly ruled on? Get a definitive ruling on the motion in limine. If you don’t, and you don’t contemporaneously object at trial, then you have waived the objection. Tolbert v. State, 922 So. 2d 1013, 1017-18 (Fla. 5th DCA 2006). Also, Boyles shows that if the court later rules in such a way that part or all of its previous ruling might be vacated, then seek clarification immediately.

What has changed since the ruling? This means more than “is the ruling dated?” If the ruling was based on representations about how the evidence will unfold, then the ruling is definitive only as to the facts as represented to the court. Powell v. State, 79 So. 3d 921, 923 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012). If the evidence at trial paints a different picture than what you or opposing counsel drew before, then be ready to act. Id. Orders on motions in limine are subject to change during trial as the court better understands the evidence. Hawker v. State, 951 So. 2d 945, 950 (Fla. 4th DCA 2007).

Know the answers to both questions. Then, if opposing counsel violates the order and evidence slips in without a contemporaneous objection, you have increased the odds an appellate court will someday affirm sanctions for violating the order, Adams v. Barkman, 114 So. 3d 1021, 1024 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012), rather than explain how you waived the issue.

Friday, August 15, 2014

President's Message: A Salute To Our Mission Of Respect And Service

By Benjamin H. Hill IV

Why are we here?  Nothing like starting a new Bar year with a challenging question, huh?  Attempting to answer that short yet deep question has produced endless answers, opinions, arguments, and even other questions over the years.  Without getting too heavy, I simply want to pose the question in a less traditional frame.  Specifically, I narrow the scope to our local Bar.  Why are we ― the Hillsborough County Bar Association ― here?

I submit that the answer lies in an oft-overlooked, and perhaps even unknown, sentence within the “HCBA Purpose.”  In planning for this year, I frequently found myself returning to this sentence to gauge whether an HCBA event or action was worthy or appropriately purposeful.  Now that the year is underway, I continue to revisit it.  As with any important sentence, I encourage you to not only read it, even aloud, but also to reflect on it as I believe each of us, as HCBA members, should.  So here it is:

Our mission is to inspire and promote respect for the law and the justice system through service to the legal profession and to the community.

In considering this well-stated mission, my eyes (and ears) repeatedly focused on two words:  respect and service.  Perhaps you had similar takes.  In any event, I want to lift up “respect” and “service” as our focal points for this year and hope that you will also embrace them as we strive to carry out our Bar’s mission.  Further, because one of this year’s means to advance our mission will be to highlight military and veterans affairs, I hereby dub this year’s mission “Operation Respect and Service.”

Speaking of highlighting, I want to identify a few events during the first half of the Bar year in which we welcome your participation.  First, as referenced, we are revamping our outreach efforts to our area military and veterans under the newly named Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.  As reflected in the committee’s inaugural article in this issue, this group is already busy planning its success.  If you would like to volunteer for this committee or simply learn more about it, please contact the co-chairs, Lt. Col. Chris Brown ( or Bob Nader (

On September 11, we will hold our first General Membership Luncheon at the Hilton.  We are thrilled to have Brig. Gen. Dixie A. Morrow, commander of Air Force Legal Operations Agency at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C., as our guest speaker.  Noted for her informative and inspirational speeches, she also has a long and distinguished legal career within the service, as well as multiple ties to Florida (a “double Gator” and service at MacDill AFB).  Trust me, you will not want to miss this lunch.

On October 17, our Young Lawyers Division will host its annual YLD Golf Tournament.  To be clear, you need not be a “young lawyer” ― I remain in denial ― to play.  October 19-25 is the National Pro Bono Celebration, which we, along with the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, will be supporting (see the HCBA website for details).  Then, on October 30, we will host our 18th Annual Bench Bar Conference & Judicial Reception.  Judges Caroline Tesche and Samantha Ward and their fabulous committee have worked hard on this event, so you will not want to miss it.

On November 7, in an effort to provide additional benefits to our members, we will be hosting the first HCBA Health & Wellness Expo.  While we will provide further information on this soon, please save this date.

Finally, I pause to acknowledge how fortunate I am to have such a talented and diverse leadership team around me.  Our board members are genuinely committed to representing the well-being of our nearly 4,000 members.  The chairs of our multiple sections and committees are organized and energized to lead meaningful programming, pro bono and community service projects, and social and networking events.  Our dedicated HCBA staff, led by our incomparable Executive Director John Kynes, continues to work hard daily to meet our membership’s needs and further our mission.  In the spirit of Operation Respect and Service, I salute all of you and look forward to a great year together!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

News From Around The Association

The Hillsborough County Bar Association would like to recognize the following members for their recent accomplishments: 

Ed Armstrong, shareholder at Hill Ward Henderson, was recently appointed by Governor Rick Scott to the Southwest Florida Water Management District. The appointment is for a term ending March 1, 2018, and is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate. The district encompasses roughly 10,000 square miles in 16 counties and serves a population of 4.7 million people. The mission is to manage water and related natural resources to ensure their continued availability while maximizing the benefits to the public.

Radha Bachman, a shareholder at Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, has been selected to serve on the American Health Lawyers Association Women’s Leadership Council for a one-year term. The council guides the activities of AHLA’s new Women’s Network. Bachman is in the firm’s national health care practice group.

Chris Brown of Trenam Kemker has been appointed to the Hillsborough Community College Foundation Board of Directors. Brown joined Trenam Kemker in October 2013 in the firm’s commercial litigation group.

Robert Chapman has joined Sivyer Barlow & Watson, P.A., as an associate. Chapman’s practice focuses on commercial litigation and real estate transactions.

Marina A. Choundas of Foley & Lardner LLP was elected to the board of directors of Seniors in Service Inc. Choundas is a member of the firm’s business law, tax and Latin-American practice groups.

Fentrice Driskell, a shareholder at Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, was elected president of the George Edgecomb Bar Association for a one-year term. As president, Driskell will be responsible for setting the strategic vision of the organization, which has more than 100 members, a 10-member board, and 10 standing committees. GEBA is a voluntary bar association in Hillsborough County that is dedicated to the advancement of African Americans in the legal profession. Driskell also was awarded GEBA’s President’s Award during the association’s annual scholarship banquet on April 28. This award is given to a Bar member who has gone above and beyond to carry out the association’s mission and who aids the president in leading the organization. Driskell has significant experience representing banks and other financial institutions in commercial business litigation and bankruptcy matters.

Nancy J. Faggianelli, chief diversity officer at Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, has been presented with the LGBT-Allies Leader Award by The Florida Diversity Council. Faggianelli received the award during the council’s LGBT-Allies Diversity Summit in Orlando. Faggianelli received the award based on her visibility in the LGBT community; ability to create awareness and increase communication and understanding of the LGBT community; ability to make significant contributions to the promotion of broadening civil adoption and/or acceptance of LGBT equality in the workplace and the community; support of the LGBT community in shaping a future where everyone can live authentically and completely; and reputation with colleagues and superiors.

T.J. Ferrante, an associate at Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, has been selected to serve on the American Health Lawyers Association Young Professionals Council for a one-year term. He also was selected into the Leadership Development Program of the AHLA’s Hospitals and Health Systems Practice Group for a one-year term. Ferrante is in the firm’s national health care practice group.

Michael L. Forte of the Tampa office of Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell, P.A., recently presented “Strategies for Negotiating Legal Claims” to the Tampa Bay chapter of the Risk Insurance Management Society.

Michele Leo Hintson, partner in the Tampa office of Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP, has been named vice-chair of The Florida Bar’s Thirteenth Circuit Grievance Committee (“B”). This local grievance committee is composed of lawyers and non-lawyers and is responsible for continuing the investigation of possible lawyer misconduct referred by Bar discipline attorneys. Hintson dedicates her practice to representing businesses, insurance companies, health care organizations, and individuals in all aspects of the dispute resolution process.

Lawrence P. Ingram, a partner with Phelps Dunbar, was presented with the Paul M. May Meritorious Service Award in June at The Florida Bar Annual Convention in Orlando. Stetson University College of Law Dean Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz presented the award, which recognized Ingram’s years of service in support of  Florida’s first law school and its students. Since receiving his J.D. from Stetson University College of Law, Ingram has been engaged in a number of student and alumni-related events at the school. In the past several years, he has focused his efforts on encouraging planned giving to Stetson.

Jody Keeling and Michael Maguire have joined the law firm of Trenam Kemker. Maguire is an associate in the real estate and lending transactions practice group. His practice focuses on real estate lending, real property transactions and investments, asset-based lending, eminent domain, and property rights litigation. Keeling is an associate in the business transactions practice group. His practice focuses on corporate law, securities, mergers and acquisitions, and taxation.

Ken Mather has joined Gunster’s business litigation practice and will work out of the firm’s Tampa office. Mather joins the firm from Broad and Cassel in Tampa, where he was a member of the firm’s bankruptcy and creditors' rights, special assets and banking, and institutional lending practice groups.

Victoria McCloskey, a shareholder at Bush Ross, was recently sworn-in as president-elect of the Hillsborough Association of Women Lawyers. Her term as president-elect began in May 2014 and will be followed by a yearlong term as president, to commence in May 2015. McCloskey also was recently awarded the 2014 HAWL President’s Award for outstanding service to the organization. The main objective of HAWL is to “promote and recognize the contributions of women in the legal profession and judiciary.” McCloskey’s practice focuses on health care defense litigation and general civil trial matters.

Erin M. McKenney, associate in the Tampa office of Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP, has been elected to the Board of Trustees for Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, whose mission is to provide environmental education and volunteer opportunities that develop individual responsibility and environmental stewardship. McKenney primarily focuses her practice in health law.

Dennis A. Meyers has joined World Wide Medical Services Inc. in Tampa as corporate counsel. World Wide Medical Services is a provider of physician-prescribed home electrotherapy and orthotic devices for the effective treatment of non-narcotic pain management and rehabilitation.

Hal Mullis, president of Trenam Kemker, has been elected by the University of South Florida Board of Trustees as its chairman. The USF Board of Trustees is responsible for cost-effective policy decisions appropriate to the system mission and the implementation and maintenance of high-quality education programs within the laws and rules of the state. Mullis is a founding member of Trenam Kemker and is based in the firm’s Tampa office.

John Neukamm, a shareholder with the Mechanik Nuccio law firm, was recognized at The Florida Bar’s Real Property, Probate & Trust Law Section 2014 Annual Convention for his contributions to Florida attorneys and the public in promoting the highest standards of ethics and professionalism with the William S. Belcher Lifetime Professionalism Award.

Kristin A. Norse has been named a shareholder of Kynes, Markman & Felman, P.A., and has been elected president-elect of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers. The mission of FAWL is to actively promote gender equality and the leadership roles of FAWL’s members in the legal profession, judiciary, and community at large. Norse has also been appointed the chair of the Criminal Practice Subcommittee for the Appellate Court Rules Committee of The Florida Bar. Norse concentrates her practice in the area of civil appeals and litigation support in state and federal courts.

W. Jan Pietruszka, partner in the Tampa office of Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP, participated in a panel discussion at the Tampa Bay Executive Symposium on June 12 regarding “The Wacky World of Being an Employer – Who Knew? Labor Relations and How They Affect Your Company.” Pietruszka’s practice includes defending corporations and management from claims of discrimination, sexual harassment, Fair Labor Standards Act violations, workplace torts, breaches of employment contract, and unpaid wages.

Ronnell Robinzine was the first recipient of the George Edgecomb Bar Association Outstanding Young Lawyer’s Award. Robinzine was recognized for his outstanding work on behalf of GEBA, including his role in the formation of the Young Lawyers Committee and the acquisition of two key grants.

Hala Sandridge, co-managing shareholder of the Tampa office of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney | Fowler White Boggs, has been reappointed to a three-year term on the board of The Florida Bar Foundation, a statewide charitable organization whose mission is to provide greater access to justice. Sandridge practices in the area of appellate law.

Tom Scarritt of the Scarritt Law Group has joined the board of directors of Southern Legal Counsel Inc., a statewide not-for-profit public-interest law firm based in Gainesville that focuses on complex, multiyear litigation involving education, housing, homelessness, and discrimination. SLC represents individuals and groups without access to the justice system whose cases may bring about systematic reform.
Murray B. Silverstein has been appointed chair of the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration Committee for a one-year term that commenced July 1.

Jacqueline Simms-Petredis has joined Burr & Forman LLP as a Tampa-based associate in the firm’s financial services litigation practice group. She was previously with Akerman LLP. Simms-Petredis’ practice includes advising financial institutions, mortgage loan originators, loan servicers, and investors in contested foreclosures, bankruptcy adversary proceedings, compliance issues, and direct filed lawsuits.

Kenneth A. Tinkler, a shareholder in Carlton Fields Jorden Burt’s Tampa office, received the Paul S. Buchman Award from the City, County and Local Government Law Section of The Florida Bar. This annual award recognizes Tinkler’s “outstanding contribution in the area of Legal Public Service.” Tinkler also was recognized for his service to the section and its executive council, including his service as chair of the section, and other contributions to The Florida Bar and the legal profession. Tinkler’s practice involves a wide variety of government law issues with a focus on land use, environmental and energy permitting, ethics regulation, and election law.

Thomas E. Toner has joined Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP, as a partner. Toner focuses his practice on patent prosecution, copyright, trademark, trade secret, and related technology litigation.

Sylvia H. Walbolt, shareholder at Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, will serve as president of the Florida Supreme Court Historical Society. She was sworn in during The Florida Bar’s Annual Convention in June in Orlando. The historical society helps preserve the history of Florida’s judicial system and educates the public about the work of the courts in protecting personal rights and freedoms, as well as resolving the myriad disputes that arise within the state.

Brian C. Willis, an associate in the Tampa office of Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP, has been appointed by the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority to serve as its representative on the Citizen Advisory Committee for the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization. The MPO is responsible for establishing a continuing, cooperative, and comprehensive transportation planning process for Hillsborough County. Willis represents individuals and corporations involved in business, contract, and real estate disputes.

Gwynne A. Young, shareholder at Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, received the Rosemary Barkett Outstanding Achievement Award from the Florida Association for Women Lawyers  during the Henry Latimer Diversity Luncheon at The Florida Bar Annual Meeting and Convention in June in Orlando. This award is given annually to a FAWL member who has demonstrated a commitment to the purpose and goals of FAWL; excelled to outstanding career achievement that charters new territory in our profession; helped to overcome traditional stereotypes associated with women by breaking barriers, molding a new reality and a new way of thinking about themselves, others and their place in the universe or has promoted the status of women within the profession; advanced the status of women in the state; and is an active member of FAWL.

Tampa Law Advocates has relocated to 620 E. Twiggs St., Suite 110, in Tampa. Attorneys Samantha L. Dammer and Daniel W. Hamilton practice in the areas of business and personal bankruptcy, foreclosure, family law/custody, civil litigation, and general business law.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Clerk Of The Cicuit Court's Message: Betting On The Future

By Pat Frank
I spoke to my senior staff the other day about changes ― on so many fronts.  I had just read an article on the “Economic Challenge: Creating Jobs,” by Lawrence H. Summers, former U.S. Treasury secretary and current Harvard University professor. He traced the changes in the American economy in the past 100 years, from primarily agrarian to the present, driven by technology, which seems to be upgraded constantly.
Professor Summers said there are many reasons to think that the software revolution will be even more profound than the agricultural revolution. This time around, he said, change will come faster and affect a much larger share of the economy.
In terms of the clerk’s office, technology continues to shape the way we do business ― internally as well as externally. It is so radically different from the time I first took office in 2005. We are implementing new systems across the board as I write, and we will change even more when we complete the process.
You know from personal experience that this is a new clerk’s office. Our “revolution” actually began in 2009, when we set out to replace our multiple case maintenance systems with a single, unified system ― to serve you far better and more efficiently.
Since we implemented the Odyssey system, the clerk’s office has been working methodically through all of our areas. We have implemented Odyssey thus far in the following court divisions: probate/mental health; family law; circuit civil; county civil; circuit criminal; county criminal; and juvenile dependency and delinquency. We are also on target to implement Odyssey in our civil and criminal traffic departments, which should be up and running when you read this article.
This new system has been instrumental in allowing our office to move forward on multiple fronts. Internally, our processes are becoming more streamlined, with far less paper. Instead of so many clerical-based positions supporting our paper environment, our employees are learning more technical skills, which will be required to handle and manage electronic data and records.
For you, our system has facilitated the implementation of electronic filing through the Florida Courts e-Filing Portal. This opens the “virtual front doors” to our office 24/7/365, allowing attorneys and self-represented litigants to file documents at any time of the day or night. Real-time confirmations are delivered to the filers, keeping them apprised of the filing status. The next benefit to the attorneys and general public will be the capability to access court documents online for many of the case files we maintain. These access levels have been established under the Florida Supreme Court Standards for Access to Electronic Records and will become available starting in the first half of 2015.
There are so many positive outcomes of our different world ― for you and for our employees, who are learning new skills in the latest technology. Although it is a different world, my hope is that it is also a better world on all fronts.  

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Save the Date: Bench Bar Conference, Membership Luncheon & Judicial Reception - October 30

By Judges Samantha Ward and Caroline Tesche, Thirteenth Judicial Circuit

The Hillsborough County Bar Association and its Bench Bar Committee co-chairs, Judges Samantha Ward and Caroline Tesche, are proud to announce the 18th Annual Bench Bar Conference. The focus of this year’s conference is on the many practical, legal, and ethical considerations facing us all as we deal with the myriad of challenges brought about by the advancement of electronic communications technology. We will be considering the vast advancements in social media, electronic filing systems, and the expanded use of electronic evidence both pre-trial and at trial.

We believe that the curriculum for this year’s conference is particularly timely and relevant, given changes and potential challenges to the Florida evidence code and advancements in many areas of electronic technology. After our morning “ethics-themed” breakfast, the morning and afternoon break-out sessions promise to be both substantive and practical. We are adding a United States Supreme Court Update session this year, as well as a “Kids in the Court” practical session to discuss the myriad of issues facing children in the many divisions of our court system.

We are excited to continue our innovative “view to the bench” sessions, providing lawyers and judges the opportunity to candidly discuss practice-specific topics in round-table discussions. Breaking out by areas of practice, we seek to diverge from the typical “view from the bench” and get real-life practical input from the litigants to the judges.  This year’s segments will add probate and appellate sessions to the civil, family, criminal, and federal/bankruptcy sessions already planned.

This year, we are honored to be joined by Professor Charles W. Ehrhardt, certainly one of our country’s premier authorities on evidence, for the afternoon plenary session. He, along with several other distinguished guests, will provide valuable insight into contemporary issues regarding the complex legal landscape of the capabilities and limitations of electronic technology in the practice of law.

The Bench Bar Conference is the premiere HCBA learning event of the year, and as always, the committee seeks to keep the channels of communication open between the bench and bar, with its primary focus on improving the justice system. Working together, we can make positive changes in our court system. Please join us as we continue to strengthen the bond between the bench and bar, and to prepare the system to best meet the coming external and internal challenges to our profession. In the spirit of collaboration between the bench and bar, we invite you to join us at the Judicial Reception, which will immediately follow the conference.

So please save the date for the Bench Bar Conference, Membership Luncheon & Judicial Reception on October 30. Look out for more information about specific course offerings and registration instructions in email blasts from the HCBA and on the HCBA website. We look forward to seeing you!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Editor's Message: Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes

By Ed Comey

As a fan of traditional country music, I’ve always thought George Jones’ classic song “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes” is vastly underappreciated. If you’ve never heard it, the song is a poignant tribute to the pioneers of traditional country music:

You know this old world is full of singers
But just a few were chosen
To tear your heart out when they sing
Imagine life without them
All your radio heroes

After lamenting there will never be another Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Elvis Presley, or Conway Twitty (to name a few), Jones implores others to carry on the legacy of those radio heroes: “Lord I wonder, who’s gonna fill their shoes.” That song came to mind as I sat down to write the editor’s message for this year’s inaugural issue of the Lawyer.

This year is the 25th anniversary of the Lawyer. In celebration of that milestone, each issue will feature a tribute to a person or event that has impacted the HCBA over the past 25 years. At the risk of sounding trite, it is hard to overstate the importance of having an appreciation for history. As historian David McCullough once observed, “History is who we are and why we are the way we are.”

Unfortunately, it didn’t occur to me how little I knew about who we are as a legal community or why until I sat down to write this message. While I could tell you all about the “radio heroes” Jones refers to in his song, I couldn’t have told you much about our community’s “legal heroes.” Sure, I’m familiar with the names George Edgecomb and Chester Ferguson. But sadly, I didn’t actually know anything about either of them; I’ve just been to the buildings that bear their names. So over the past couple of weeks, I’ve spent time researching the history of our legal community.

In doing so, I’ve read and heard fascinating stories about some remarkable people: pioneers who broke down barriers for women and people of color, paving the way for generations that followed; local lawyers who distinguished themselves as public servants — at the local, state, and national level; lawyers who used their limited time and remarkable talents to serve the needy in our community; lawyers who will be remembered far more for their professionalism than their immense legal talents.

After reading and hearing those stories, it’s clear to me that there will never be another Josephine Howard Stafford, Sam Gibbons, Cody Fowler, Arthenia Joyner, George Edgecomb, E.J. Salcines, Susan Bucklew, Charles Wilson, Chester Ferguson, Don Castor, Wm. Reece Smith Jr., Don Stichter, Ben Hill, Gwynne Young, to name only a few. It’s hard to imagine what our community would be today without our legal heroes.

Lord I wonder, who’s gonna fill their shoes.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Opportunities Available Through The Young Lawyers Division

By Anthony “Nino” Martino

As president of the Young Lawyers Division, I would like to encourage all young lawyers to get more involved professionally and to help us make a difference in Hillsborough County. We have one of the largest and strongest young lawyers divisions in the state, which enables us to provide a wide array of opportunities to not only network with other lawyers and judges but to help the less fortunate in Hillsborough County.

If you are interested in the networking aspect of our Bar association, then I encourage you to attend the YLD’s Happy Hours, Quarterly Luncheons, Coffee at the Courthouse, Golf Tournament, Cornhole Tournament, and the YLD’s booth at the Judicial Pig Roast/Food Festival. Coffee at the Courthouse allows young lawyers an opportunity to interact with the judiciary from Hillsborough County in an informal setting, and the Cornhole Tournament is held annually in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters to raise funds and awareness for the group’s programs in the local community. 

If you prefer programs designed to help you grow professionally, then you may be interested in our Judicial Shadowing Program, State Court Trial Seminar, or the 13th Circuit Mentoring Program. Judicial Shadowing provides the opportunity for young lawyers to shadow judges through trials and proceedings while receiving mentoring directly from the bench. The State Court Trial Seminar focuses on trial practice/skills and is presented by many top trial attorneys in Hillsborough County. The mentoring program provides young lawyers with meaningful access to experienced lawyers for guidance.

If you would like to give back to our community, then I recommend Wills for Heroes, the Attorney Ad Litem Program, Family Forms Clinic, Holidays in January, Steak and Sports Day, Luncheon Program at Rampello Downtown Partnership School, Law Week and the High School Mock Trial Competition. Holidays in January brings together foster children, foster parents, and young lawyers in the Tampa Bay area for a fun-filled day of activities and holiday gift-giving. During Law Week, the YLD offers tours of the courthouse, mock trials, and classroom speaking engagements for the children of Hillsborough County. Steak and Sports Day is a day of grilling and outdoor fun with local abandoned, abused, neglected, and orphaned children.

YLD members not only attend but help plan these projects and events, so if you would like to assist, please join one of our committees. Our events can always use more volunteers and new faces as we continue to enhance our programming. For more information, go to the YLD link found at or visit our Facebook page. We look forward to your involvement in the YLD as we continue our tradition of making a difference in Hillsborough County!

Please note the upcoming annual Golf Tournament in October. We expect a full field as we have had in the past, so make sure to get your registration in and take advantage of the early-bird discount. The tournament is open to lawyers and non-lawyers, so encourage your shareholders, colleagues, clients, and friends to join us on the course.

As the incoming president, I am excited to continue the YLD events that have defined our organization over the years, as well as enhance their reach.  However, the extent of our reach is limited only by the participation of our members.