Thursday, July 30, 2015

Community Services Committee: Thanks to All Who So Generously Helped with Our Incredible Events This Year!

By Lara M. LaVoie

The Community Services Committee (CSC) had another amazing year due to the support and generosity of our wonderful volunteers. After the success of the Adopt-a-Veteran event in October (where volunteers gave their time so generously to fulfill the wish lists of veterans in need), countless volunteers stepped up once again to support the CSC’s Elves for Elders event in December. The CSC was able to get 250 elders “adopted” this year! Without volunteer elves, these inspiring seniors would have had no presents for the holidays. In March, the CSC participated in Dining with Dignity Week, in association with Trinity Café. The CSC’s friends and family (including members of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit) spent quality time at Trinity Café serving sit-down, three-course meals to Hillsborough County’s homeless, hungry, and working poor. It was a rewarding experience for all!

Our most recent event took place in May at A Kid’s Place in Brandon, which is an incredible nonprofit center for abused, neglected, and abandoned children. To help these amazing children feel like kids for a day, the CSC threw them another Pirate Party this year.

Once again, it was a resounding success thanks to all who donated or came out to help! We had some fun activities, and everyone had a blast ― the kids and the CSC’s volunteers included. We played pirate games and allowed every little scallywag to pick prizes out of our treasure chest. We dressed the little buccaneers as pirates and let them make their very own pirate treasure chests. The kids also enjoyed face painting and tattoos (courtesy of Glitterbug). Smokey Bones of Brandon donated the yummy grub, and Tasty Trendy Cakes donated a remarkable pirate cake. Due to the generous discounts provided by both Happy Kids Inflatables and Taylor Rental of Brandon, the kids were also able to enjoy bounce houses, as well as snow cone and popcorn machines.

The CSC is humbled and overwhelmed by the amount of donations and volunteer support that we received for this event. The CSC would like to thank all of our volunteers and the Hillsborough County Bar Association, as well as the following donors: Law Offices of Lisa Esposito, P.A.; Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill of Brandon (especially GM Tishara Griffis); Hill Ward Henderson (especially attorney Mary Snyder); Ron Christaldi and Shumaker Loop & Kendrick LLP; attorney Tom Curran; Anton Castro Law; Tasty Trendy Cakes; Maria Maranda and State Farm; Arturo and Vienna Fuentes; Tampa Sweetheart Cigars; Yvette Hammett; Al Martinsky; AJ’s Bikes & Boards, LLC; Fernando Llop and PLSS Paving; Baker Cosmetic and Family Dentistry; The Barefoot Pirate; Rick and Liz Tomlin; Steve and Emily Kuundrat; Roselle Swain; Gigi Pelosi; Doc and Theresa Holiday; Al Martinsky; Glitterbug; Stingray Chevrolet (and manager John Whaley); Bobbie and Dan Aggers; Patricia Palma, P.A; Bolter & Carr Investigations; Osgood and Associates; and Ameriprise Financial. We sure hope we didn’t forget anyone!

For more information about joining the CSC, please contact Chairs Lisa Esposito ― (813) 223-6037 or ― or Lara LaVoie ― (813) 638-1357 or

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Diversity Committee: A Consequence of Conscience

By Larry D. Smith,
Vice-Chair of The Florida Bar Standing Committee on Diversity & Inclusion,
2013 American Bar Association’s Diversity Leadership Award winner,
2013 Florida Bar Henry Latimer Diversity Award winner

“You’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem.” So began my introduction and commitment to diversity and inclusion efforts at The Florida Bar.
In March 1999, Justice Harry Lee Anstead was featured in The Florida Bar News, addressing professionalism and diversity. Justice Anstead advocated for greater recognition of diversity as a part of our professional obligation to one another and the public we serve. He mentioned race, gender, and ethnicity as areas where the Bar could improve. It was, I would tell him in an 11-page footnoted letter, fine as far as it went. However, I challenged him to include sexual orientation in the efforts. That letter was the first time I ever remember writing to any “public” person about the issue. It was both education for the justice and a cathartic release for me. My letter concluded:
I realize that there are limitations to what we can do. While we may be able to “lead a horse to water but not make it drink,” we can do better than suggesting politely to the herd that even mavericks really ought not to starve then turn away to gaze into the sunset pretending all is well.
A few days later, my phone rang, and it was Justice Anstead on the line. I gulped and gave one long, last pensive look at my Bar Admission Certificate on the wall and picked up the telephone.

Justice Anstead was gracious. He told me about working as a mover whose African-American co-workers were not allowed to go inside the same restaurant when they took a lunch break. He acknowledged that he didn’t fully understand my perspective but said I had one that ought to be shared. “If,” he challenged, “you want to be a part of the solution, I’ll walk down the hall and ask the chief justice to appoint you to the Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism.”

“But,” he added, “if you aren’t willing to be part of that solution, then you wrote a very nice letter.”

I was worried about what my firm, colleagues, and clients would think about me, but something inside me couldn’t turn away from an opportunity to make a difference; a consequence of conscience. Nature abhors a vacuum, and I am convinced that so does human nature. Oppression comes in many forms, some wrapped in otherwise patriotic, religious, or popular guise. So, while most people agree with the adage that “evil thrives when good people do nothing,” they seldom view the status quo or their support of it as oppressive. Apathy and complacency feed oppression. When we fail to take a stand or get involved, oppression comes rushing back in to fill the void. We must constantly learn, grow, and educate so that does not happen.

I accepted Justice Anstead’s challenge and the appointment. It changed my life. We are not finished. So, let me ask you the same question: Are you part of the solution, or are you a part of the problem?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Are You Ready to Celebrate National Pro Bono Week?

Whether you’re interested in representing a child in dependency proceedings or helping a local first responder draft a living will, the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee has an opportunity for you. The committee is putting together a list of local events celebrating National Pro Bono Week, which is October 25-31.

If you have a pro bono event you’d like to share, email Amy Bandow at

If you’d like to volunteer at a pro bono event, check out the committee’s list of local events.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Message from the State Attorney's Office: Cellphone Search Warrants

By Mark A. Ober

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. 

U.S. Const. Amend. IV

     Courts have long had to balance the individual protections guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment with the needs of law enforcement to conduct searches during the investigation of a crime and maintain safety. As technology has progressed, the courts have addressed the application of the Fourth Amendment to new technology. See Katz v. United States, 88 S. Ct. 389 U.S. 347 (1967) (applying the Fourth Amendment to words spoken into a telephone receiver in a telephone booth); State v. Jackson, 650 So. 2d 24 (Fla. 1995) (ruling on the applicability of the wiretap statute to pagers). When Fourth Amendment protections apply, law enforcement must follow the proper procedures to obtain necessary evidence during a criminal investigation.
     According to the Pew Research Center, in 2014, 90 percent of adults in America owned a cellphone and 64 percent owned a smartphone. With the increased capabilities of the smartphone, as well as the increased reliance on those phones, the cellphone has become a potential source of important evidence in certain criminal cases. This evidence can include anything from photos or videos to emails or text message conversations about criminal acts. Law enforcement must lawfully obtain this evidence for it to be used in a criminal prosecution.

     In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court addressed the issue of whether law enforcement could conduct a warrantless search of the contents of a cellphone. Riley v. California, 134 S. Ct. 2473 (2014). In Riley, the cellphones involved were located on the suspects after arrest. Id. at 2481. The state sought to justify the warrantless search of a cellphone as a search incident to arrest. Id. at 2484. When discussing the amount of private information found on a cellphone, the court likened the search to the search of a home and emphasized the fact that the search would be far more extensive than a traditional search incident to arrest. Id. at 2491. The court found that a search of the digital information on a cellphone should be conducted pursuant to a search warrant, Id. at 2493; this process allows a judge to determine probable cause for issuance of the search warrant. The court did concede that there could be fact-specific circumstances where an exigent circumstances exception to the warrant requirement could apply. Id. at 2494.

     My office plays an integral role in the review of search warrants prior to their submission to a judge. As your state attorney, I assist law enforcement in legally obtaining evidence that will lead to just convictions, which will keep our community safe.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Around The Association

Erin Smith Aebel, a partner at Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP, spoke at the invitation of Nextech at a national seminar for health care providers on February 27 at the Disney Swann Resort.  Erin discussed “Patient Privacy Check Up: How to Keep Your Practice Out of HIPAA Hot Water.” Aebel also spoke to the Tampa Chamber of the Professional Association of Physician Office Managers on March 18 about physician contract negotiations and health law compliance. Aebel focuses her practice on health care and data breach.

Mustafa Ameen, of the Law Office of Ameen & Shafii, joined the teaching ranks at Western Michigan University (WMU) Thomas M. Cooley Law School’s Tampa Bay campus in May. Ameen serves as an adjunct faculty member and teaches Florida Drunk Driving Practice.

Eric N. Appleton, a shareholder at Bush Ross, was recently certified by the Florida Supreme Court as an Appellate Mediator. Appleton has been certified by the Supreme Court of Florida as a Circuit Court Mediator since 2011. Appleton's law practice focuses on assisting commercial and residential community association officers, directors, and property managers, as well as developers and real estate owners, with litigation, arbitration, mediation, and corporate matters.

Steven M. Berman and J. Todd Timmerman, partners at Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP, were guest lecturers at the University of Florida College of Law Advanced Bankruptcy Seminar on March 20.  Berman and Timmerman spoke about intellectual property claims in bankruptcy. Berman focuses his practice as a business bankruptcy litigator, and Timmerman focuses his practice on intellectual property, litigation, and appellate law.

Claire Bailey Carraway has rejoined Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson, P.A., as a shareholder in the Tampa office. Carraway’s practice areas include commercial real estate, environmental law, and land development and zoning.

Joseph P. Covelli, a shareholder at GrayRobinson, has been awarded an "AV Preeminent" rating by Martindale-Hubbell, signifying the highest accolade an attorney can receive for legal ability and adherence to professional standards of conduct, ethics, reliability, and diligence. Covelli is a real estate attorney at the firm.

Maria del Carmen Ramos, a partner in the Tampa office of the law firm of Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP, has been appointed to a three-year term on The Florida Bar’s Judicial Administration and Evaluations Committee, which is concerned with obtaining and retaining qualified judicial officers, as well as making judicial offices more attractive to qualified attorneys. Ramos, who devotes a substantial portion of her practice to counseling clients on immigration and employment issues, was also invited by Rep. Kathy Castor to attend the Family Defender Orientation, which was a discussion to better educate state partners on the new guidelines of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration accountability and the resources available in the Tampa Bay area. Ramos was also invited by the International Visitor Leadership Program to speak to a delegation of distinguished visitors from Russia as part of the Labor Migration and Migrant Adaptation Program. In addition, Ramos was selected to be part of Class III of The Florida Bar Wm. Reece Smith, Jr. Leadership Academy as an Academy Fellow. The academy’s mission is to identify, nurture, and inspire effective leadership within The Florida Bar and the legal community.

Christian Givens, a partner at Givens Givens Sparks, PLLC, has been named to the 2015 list of the Nation’s Top One Percent by the National Association of Distinguished Counsel.  NADC is an organization dedicated to promoting the highest standards of legal excellence. Givens focuses his practice on family law.

Jeffrey P. Greenberg has become of counsel to the firm Barnett Bolt Kirkwood Long & Koche Attorneys at Law. Greenberg has more than 25 years’ experience in health care and corporate transactional and regulatory matters, including acquisitions and divestitures, federal and state licensure, and compliance.

Lawrence Ingram, a partner at Phelps Dunbar LLP, provided a seminar to the staff and management of Northeast Underwriters, a St. Petersburg independent insurance agency.  The subject of the seminar was Florida law regarding insurance agents and was based on Ingram’s almost 25 years of representing Florida’s independent insurance agents.  

Andrew Jenkins, a shareholder at Bush Ross, P.A., was recently elected to serve a three-year term on the firm’s board of directors. His practice focuses primarily on commercial finance, secured lending, mergers and acquisitions, and general corporate law.

Leonard H. Johnson has joined the firm Barnett Bolt Kirkwood Long & Koche Attorneys at Law as a partner. Johnson has more than three decades of experience serving clients with complex issues related to buying and selling real estate and businesses, banking law, construction matters, land use and development, and estate planning. 

Rhea L. Law of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney received the 2015 “Most Powerful and Influential Women of Florida” award, a recognition that highlights high-ranking female executives in various industries who exhibit the tenacity it takes to excel in their field. Law was honored April 30 at the Sixth Annual Florida Diversity and Leadership Conference in North Miami. Law serves as chair of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney’s Florida offices and is a member of the board of directors. She focuses her practices in the areas of government, environmental law, and land use.

Sheada Madani has joined the firm Barnett Bolt Kirkwood Long & Koche Attorneys at Law as an associate attorney. Madani practices transactional real estate, banking, and corporate law. 

Jamie Moore Marcario has joined Greenburg Traurig P.A. as an associate with the firm. Marcario focuses her practice on labor and employment law, with an emphasis on defending employment discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, retaliation, and civil rights cases in state and federal courts.

Suzette M. Marteny, a partner in the Tampa office of Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP, hosted and was a panelist at World IP Day Detroit on April 23. The seminar focused on music and other areas, such as inventions, processes, and trade names. Marteny is a registered patent attorney and assists companies and individuals in obtaining, leveraging, and litigating patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. 

Victoria McCloskey, a shareholder at Bush Ross, was recently elected president of the Hillsborough Association of Women Lawyers. McCloskey’s practice focuses on health care defense litigation and general civil trial matters.

Kristin A. Norse, a shareholder at Kynes, Markman & Felman, P.A., was sworn in as president of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers at FAWL’s annual gala on June 24, in conjunction with the annual meeting of The Florida Bar.  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 vice chair of 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.

Andrew E. Peluso, an associate at Hill Ward Henderson, was selected for the 2015 Emerge Tampa Bay Leadership Team, chairing the Public Policy Committee. The committee is in charge of cultivating awareness for Emerge Tampa Bay members and encouraging them to have a voice on issues and policies affecting Greater Tampa Bay. Peluso’s practice primarily focuses on general commercial litigation.

Paul Pizzo, Of Counsel with the firm of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, was recently installed as the president of the University Club of Tampa. Founded in 1946, the University Club is Tampa’s oldest business lunch club.  Pizzo is a certified mediator by the Florida Supreme Court. He focuses his commercial litigation practice on contract claims, trusts and estates litigation, and health care, transportation, real estate, partnership, and shareholder disputes. Hala Sandridge, co-managing partner at the firm, will also be serving on the board of directors. Sandridge is board certified in Appellate Practice and chair of the firm's Appellate Practice Group. She focuses on all facets of civil appeals.

Patrick J. Poff, a shareholder at Trenam Kemker’s Tampa office, was one of four attorneys nationwide elected to the 12-person Governing Committee of the American Bar Association’s  Forum on Construction Law at its April 16 national program in Boca Raton. Poff is the immediate past chair of the forum’s Division on Insurance, Surety and Liens and will serve a three-year term on the Governing Committee. Patrick is a Florida board-certified construction lawyer and chairs his firm’s Construction Law Industry Team.

Steven C. Pratico has joined the firm Barnett Bolt Kirkwood Long & Koche Attorneys at Law as a partner. Pratico handles all manner of commercial litigation, including contract and other commercial disputes, employment issues, and real estate disputes. 

Laura Prather has joined Jackson Lewis P.C. as a managing shareholder at the Tampa office. Prather specializes in the representation of management in all facets of labor and employment law.

Matthew Ransdell has joined Jackson Lewis P.C. as an associate with the firm. Ransdell focuses his practice on labor and employment law.

Cynthia N. Sass of the Law Offices of Cynthia N. Sass, P.A., a Tampa labor and employment law firm, spoke at an event hosted by The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers on January 24 regarding settlement negotiation strategies and the recent legal challenges to confidentiality, cooperation, and non-disparagement provisions.  Sass also participated in the live webinar “Advanced E-Discovery: Database Issues in Employment Cases,” sponsored by the American Bar Association on March 11, and at the 2015 Midwinter Meeting of the Employment Rights and Responsibilities Committee of the American Bar Association’s  Labor and Employment Law Section's presentation, “To Catch a Thief: Prosecuting, Defending and Insuring Claims for Cyber Espionage,” on March 27.

Jason Stearns of Phelps Dunbar has been chosen by The Florida Bar to be a member of Class III of The Florida Bar Wm. Reece Smith, Jr. Leadership Academy for the 2015-2016 year. The leadership academy is a one-year training program designed to bolster the selected academy fellows’ professional development, leadership skills, knowledge, and experience. Stearns practices in the area of complex commercial litigation.

John V. Tucker, founding shareholder with Tucker & Ludin, P.A., presented a lecture at the National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates conference in San Francisco titled “Getting the VA to Accept Standard Vocational Principles.” Tucker focuses his practice on disability insurance, ERISA, and veterans’ service-connected disability benefits.

Katherine Earle Yanes, a shareholder with Kynes, Markman & Felman, P.A., received the Florida Association for Women Lawyers’ 2015 Leader in the Law Award at FAWL’s annual gala on June 24, in conjunction with the annual meeting of The Florida Bar. Yanes has also recently been appointed to The Florida Bar’s Federal Practice Committee. Yanes concentrates her practice in the area of criminal defense and appellate law in state and federal courts.

Hill Ward Henderson and Tampa Bay WaVE have announced their partnership through Hill Ward Henderson’s support of the FirstWaVE Accelerator Program. The firm will speak to startups during the “Legal Series” workshops that will help them move forward with their ideas, companies, and obtaining outside capital for continued growth.

GrayRobinson, P.A., has been named one of Tampa Bay’s 2015 “Top Workplaces” by the Tampa Bay Times. GrayRobinson employees nominated the firm and were surveyed about several topics, including practices and policies that make these companies the top places to work.

Greenberg Traurig has signed a 10-year lease for 20,000-plus square feet of “Class A” space, occupying the entire 19th floor of the Bank of America Plaza building. The deal is one of the largest in Tampa this year, based on square footage. Greenberg Traurig will occupy its newly designed and constructed offices this fall.

Kelley Kronenberg, a national, full-service law firm, is expanding its reach into the Florida market with the addition of a Bankruptcy Practice Group. The new group, which joined the firm’s Tampa office in April, is the result of Kelley Kronenberg acquiring Dennis LeVine & Associates, a bankruptcy law firm in Tampa, and its team of attorneys and administrative staff.  The new Bankruptcy Practice Group includes Dennis J. 
 LeVine, David E. Hicks, and Alison V. Walters.

Western Michigan University Cooley Law School’s Tampa Bay campus held its first Florida graduation ceremony on April 19. Some 115 students who earned their juris doctor degrees were presented with diplomas during ceremonies at the University of South Florida’s Marshall Student Center. The campus began holding classes in May 2012.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Criminal Law: Forget About Stingrays at the Beach; Worry About Those Used by Police

By George Bedell

     How do you feel about the NSA collecting your phone records? If it doesn’t bother you, don’t read any further. Another law enforcement practice that may be overstepping the Fourth Amendment is drawing attention. Many local law enforcement agencies have begun using International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) catchers to locate cellphones. When an IMSI is active, it collects the data from every cellphone in range.

     According to the ACLU, ISMI devices have been sold to at least 48 law enforcement agencies in 20 states and the District of Columbia. Harris Corporation manufacturers the IMSI devices, which it has sold as StingRay, Kingfisher, and Triggerfish. When activated, a StingRay mimics a cellphone tower, which prompts cellphones to transmit information to the StingRay that identifies the particular phone. Unlike a pen register or trap-and-trace device, which is dedicated to an individual phone line, the StingRay prompts every active cellphone in range to provide its identifying information. In addition to identifying information, the StingRay collects traffic data (i.e. texts, numbers called, emails). The StingRay’s range can be several miles, so it can collect information from scores of phones in heavily populated areas.

     In 2013, Investigator Christopher Corbitt of the Tallahassee Police Department testified that the department had used an IMSI device “200 or more times.” After Corbitt’s testimony in the prosecution of a charge of robbery with a deadly weapon, the State Attorney’s Office offered one defendant a plea to a second-degree misdemeanor rather than disclosing additional information about how StingRays operate. The Washington Post reported that during an appeal of a separate Tallahassee Police Department case, it came out that the department used StingRays 200 times without obtaining warrants. However, at 4,300 uses of StingRays since 2007, the Baltimore Police Department eclipses Tallahassee’s numbers.

     Special Agent Bradley S. Morrison, chief of the FBI’s Tracking Technology Unit, Operational Technology Division, has executed at least two affidavits in support of memoranda in opposition to motions to compel discovery concerning ISMIs. In a 2014 affidavit, he stated that disclosure of information about the ISMIs would provide “adversaries” the ability to “take countermeasures designed to thwart the use of this technology.” He refers to “foreign powers,” “national security investigations,” “terrorism,” “counterterrorism,” and “counterintelligence investigation” and asserts that the information about ISMIs is “considered homeland security information under the Homeland Security Act.”  In a 2011 affidavit, Morrison acknowledged that information from “innocent, non-target devices” may be “incidentally recorded,” but he asserted that the FBI purged all information from a device “at the conclusion of a location operation.” In other words, the FBI is engaging in electronic catch and release of private information of cellphone users every time it turns on an ISMI.

     If ISMI information is vital to counterintelligence investigations and protecting the country from foreign powers and terrorists, why is it being used to investigate routine street crime? Why invite scrutiny to an essential tool used to protect national security? ISMIs were being sold and used at the local level at will, while cases challenging warrantless searches of cellphones were winding their way toward the Supreme Court of the United States. In Riley v. California, the court decided that police need a warrant to search even the most rudimentary cellphones. Also, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that the Patriot Act did not authorize the NSA to collect bulk telephone data. The FBI and local law enforcement agencies continue to use ISMIs, so challenges to their use are on the horizon.  

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Corporate Counsel: Skeptical About Collaborative Law in the Business World? Think Again!

By Guilene F. Theodore

     Collaborative law, which got its start in Minnesota in 1990, “involves a commitment to collaborative, good faith negotiation and a written commitment by the lawyers and their clients to work together to achieve a settlement, and to refer the case to other counsel if they fail.” Collaborative Law in the World of Business, David A. Hoffman, The Collaborative Review, vol. 6, no. 3 (Winter 2003). Although collaborative law has caught on quite well in divorce cases, the business world has been slower to embrace it. Corporate counsel generally have a special relationship with business clients and are well-positioned to recognize that one can make just as compelling a case for using collaborative law in business disputes as in family law disputes. While the dynamics of family matters are different from those in business disputes, factors that have contributed to client satisfaction in collaborative divorce also exist for business disputes.
  1. Common Interests. Collaborative law reduces costs by motivating parties to stay at the bargaining table, thereby reducing antagonism. In divorce cases, parents have a common interest in reducing both resentment and transaction costs in order to safeguard their children’s emotional and financial well-being. At the very least, business adversaries have an interest in reducing transaction costs associated with dispute resolution. Even parties with deep pockets may have a limited legal budget. 
  2. Need for Ongoing Relationships. Collaboration in the resolution of disputes provides a greater opportunity for success in ongoing relationships. For example, in divorce situations, even when the parties do not have children requiring co-parenting arrangements, they often have common property interests that require their continued attention. Many business relationships that lead to disputes are transient. However, a large number of disputes arise among business partners with long-standing relationships that are worth preserving long after the dispute is settled. Moreover, in some cases, the performance of obligations under a settlement agreement may occur over time.
  3. Self-Determination/ Privacy and Intangible Costs. Through the use of a participation agreement, parties set the schedule, make joint use of experts, and agree on the timing and scope of discovery, as well as the timeframe for resolution in a private collaborative setting. Litigation can be just as intrusive for businesses as it is for married couples. Companies that are required to produce voluminous documents and defend numerous depositions face a greater risk of adverse publicity because their cases are more likely to be of interest to the media. Disruption costs to the business are immeasurable.

     Incentives for using collaborative law are based on economics, privacy concerns, efficiency, preservation of relationships, and speedy resolution. Kathy A. Bryan, former in-house litigation manager for Motorola, cites similar reasons for stating that collaborative law techniques should be added to the business dispute resolution toolbox. Why Should Businesses Hire Settlement Counsel, 2008 J. Disp. Resol. Issue 1. (2008). By thinking outside the box, corporate counsel can offer collaborative law to clients as a powerful tool in the company’s dispute resolution arsenal.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Construction Law: Eleventh Circuit Is Quick on the Trigger

By Emily Morrell

     The Eleventh Circuit recently reaffirmed the appropriate trigger for determining coverage under a Commercial General Liability (CGL) insurance policy and clarified the scope of covered property damage in a construction case. In Carithers v. Mid-Continent Casualty Company, Case No. 14-11639 (11th Cir. April 7, 2015), the plaintiffs filed suit against their homebuilder after discovering a number of defects in their home. After the homebuilder’s CGL insurer refused to defend, the homeowners and homebuilder entered into a consent judgment, which assigned the homebuilder’s right to collect the judgment amount from Mid-Continent. The homeowners filed suit to collect from Mid-Continent. 

      The complaint in the underlying action alleged that the defects could not have been discovered until 2010. Mid-Continent argued that because its policies only provided insurance through 2008, it was not liable for the damages (the “manifestation trigger”). The homeowners argued that property damage under a CGL policy occurs when the property is damaged (the “injury-in-fact” trigger). 

      No Florida state court appellate decision has decided which trigger applies, and federal district courts in Florida have been split on the issue. In this case, the Eleventh Circuit applied the injury-in-fact theory and held: “Property damage occurs when the damage happens, not when the damage is discovered or discoverable.” 

      Another pertinent issue in the case was whether certain damages were resulting damages (covered) or damages to the defective property itself (uncovered). The lower court determined that “the incorrect application of exterior brick coating caused property damage to the brick[,] that the use of inadequate adhesive and an inadequate base in the installation of tile caused property damage to the tile[, and] that the incorrect construction of a balcony, which allowed water to seep into the ceilings and walls of the garage leading to wood rot, caused property damage to the garage.” The lower court included the cost of repairing the balcony itself, which had to be replaced in order to repair the property damage to the garage (“rip and tear” damages). 

The Eleventh Circuit held that for the damaged brick and tile, the:
issue turns on whether the brick [or tile] installation and the application of the brick coating [or tile adhesive] were done by a single sub-contractor.  If it was done by a single sub-contractor, then the damage to the bricks [or tile] was part of the sub-contractor’s work, and this defective work caused no damage apart from the defective work itself.  However, if the bricks [or tiles] were installed by one sub-contractor, and a different sub-contractor applied the brick coating [or tile adhesive], then the damage to the bricks [or tile] caused by the negligent application of the brick coating [or tile adhesive] was not part of the sub-contractor’s defective work, and constituted property damage. 

     The court also upheld the cost of repairing the balcony itself, reasoning that the homeowners had a right to “the costs of repairing damage caused by the defective work” and that repairing the balcony was part of the cost of repairing the defective garage. 

     Carithers is a significant opinion for Florida construction attorneys, as it clarifies these often-litigated CGL coverage issues.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Collaborative Section: A Simplified Protocol for a Collaborative Dissolution

By Jeremy Gluckman and Adam B. Cordover

     One objection that most professionals have heard regarding the collaborative process is that it is too expensive and complicated. Though there are many arguments against this objection, in some cases it is valid. If there are relatively few assets and debts and clients are in general agreement regarding their children, a simplified process may be in order.

     What follows is a step-by-step guide to simplify the use of a full team in a collaborative dissolution. This process has been successfully tested in Tampa. It requires more preparation from the professionals and clients than other versions of the full team model; however, it can promote two important goals: (i) speed up the process and (ii) reduce costs to the clients.

    Below are simplified protocols for our full team model:

    (1)    A party meets with a collaboratively trained lawyer where the pros and cons of all processes, including litigation, mediation, and collaborative divorce, are explained.

    (2)    The attorney provides the party with names of at least three other collaboratively trained lawyers (and perhaps access to membership lists of local collaborative practice groups), who then provides those names to his/her spouse along with materials about the collaborative process.

    (3)    Once both parties have retained counsel and the spouses have agreed in principle to use the collaborative process, the attorneys choose neutral professionals, and all discuss whether the simplified protocols may be appropriate.

    (4)    The parties then meet (separately or together) with the neutral mental health facilitator. The goal of that meeting is to flesh out interests (as opposed to positions), set out the parties’ goals in the dissolution, and if possible and applicable, sketch a preliminary outline of their preferred parenting plan.

    (5)    Next, the parties meet (separately or together) with the neutral financial professional. At that meeting, they discuss financial issues, determine which documents are needed, and create preliminary financial affidavits.

    (6)    The parties then meet separately with their respective attorneys to review the reports and documents distributed by the neutral professionals. Each attorney also reads the collaborative participation agreement out loud with his/her client and answers any questions, and the parties and attorneys sign the collaborative participation agreement.

    (7)    Before the first and only full team meeting, the attorneys work together to create shell agreements and other documents necessary for signing and filing. Supreme Court forms may be used to the extent possible.

    (8)    At the one full team meeting (which will be, at most, about 4 hours long), the remaining team members sign the participation agreement if they have not already done so, exchange necessary documents, complete and execute the financial affidavits, and finalize and sign the parenting plan and marital settlement agreement.

    (9)    The attorneys then file the necessary pleadings.

  (10)    All (including neutrals, if the clients wish) attend a final hearing for the entry of the final judgment.

     The description of the simplified model here is itself in a simplified form. We hope that this will give you a cost-effective plan for uncomplicated cases.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Appellate Section: Judge Samuel Salario Joins the Second District

By Raymond T. (Tom) Elligett Jr. and Amy S. Farrior

In February, Judge Samuel Salario took his place on the newly created 16th seat on the Second District Court of Appeal. Like Judge Matthew Lucas the month before, Judge Salario sat on his first oral argument panel the day after he officially arrived (again, Clerk Jim Birkhold had arranged to get him the files in advance).

Judge Salario was born in Tampa and has enjoyed returning to his hometown after college, law school, and a stint working in Washington, D.C. Judge Salario first migrated to Washington to attend American University, where he was a political science and philosophy major. From there, he graduated from the University of Florida School of Law with high honors and was on Law Review.

After clerking with Judge Wm. Terrell Hodges of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida (while sitting in Jacksonville), Judge Salario went into private practice in Washington, first with Holland & Knight and then with Wilmer Cutler & Pickering, now WilmerHale. Judge Salario and his family moved to Tampa in October 2002, when he joined Carlton Fields. Judge Salario concentrated his practice in securities litigation and enforcement and class-action litigation.

Judge Salario was a member of several Bar and securities associations and served on a Florida Bar Advertising Grievance Committee and the Florida Bar Rules of Judicial Administration Committee. He has also spoken and written on securities litigation and other topics.

One significant change Judge Salario experienced when moving from private practice to the appellate bench was how quiet it became. He notes his emails dropped from roughly 150 a day to maybe a couple dozen. He says he is also adjusting to reading everything ― from briefs to the record ― on computer screens, the standard practice in the Second District today.

When not engaged in the law, Judge Salario enjoys spending time with his family: his wife, an appellate lawyer with the United States Attorney’s Office, and their two sons. It was through his sons that he became involved in taekwondo, in which he holds a first dan black belt. His other interests include visiting “old landscapes” of Florida with his family: areas that have retained their old Florida ambiance. Recent outings have included stays in cabins in Cedar Key and Welaka (we didn’t know either ― it’s near Palatka).

The HCBA is pleased to welcome Judge Salario to the Second District Court of Appeal as he begins his service on the bench.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Supreme Court Divided in Judicial Campaign Ruling

By Adam Suess

     In late April, the Supreme Court announced its decision in Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar, 135 S. Ct. 1656 (2015) -- a case in which the court concluded that Florida’s ban on personal solicitation of campaign funds by judicial candidates, Canon 7C(1) of Florida’s Code of Judicial Conduct, does not violate the First Amendment. Writing for the five-justice majority (and at times a four-justice plurality), Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. explained that the content-based ban is a constitutional restriction on speech because it is “narrowly tailored to serve a compelling interest.” Williams-Yulee, 135 S. Ct. at 1665. The case sharply divided the court, which Floyd Abrams, a leading First Amendment lawyer, noted was entirely predictable. It also came as no surprise, he acknowledged, that the case seemingly leaves each of the justices irritated and frustrated with the views of those on the other side.

     Josh Wheeler, the director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, explains that the majority opinion is premised on one idea: Judicial campaign speech is different from all other campaign speech. This is so, the chief justice explains, because “a State’s interest in preserving public confidence in the integrity of its judiciary extends beyond its interest in preventing the appearance of corruption in legislative and executive elections.” Williams-Yulee, 135 S. Ct. at 1667. Accordingly, “States may regulate judicial elections differently than they regulate political elections, because the role of judges differs from the role of politicians.” Id. Politicians are expected to be responsive to their supporters, he notes. Judges are not.

     The principal dissent, authored by Justice Scalia and joined by Justice Thomas, chides the majority for its willingness to relax the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of speech. “The first axiom of the First Amendment is this: As a general rule, the state has no power to ban speech on the basis of its content. One need not equate judges with politicians to see that this principle does not grow weaker merely because the censored speech is a judicial candidate's request for a campaign contribution.” Id. at 1676 (Scalia, J., dissenting). Yet, in a strained effort to uphold Florida’s ban on judicial campaign speech, “the Court flattens one settled First Amendment principle after another,” the dissent concluded. Id.

     Even on the majority’s own terms, the dissent argues, Florida’s ban cannot stand because it has “nothing to do with the appearances created by judges' asking for money, and everything to do with hostility toward judicial campaigning.” Id. at 1681 (Scalia, J., dissenting). Were it not true, the dissent suggests, Florida’s Code of Judicial Conduct would ban all personal solicitations (which it does not do, See id. at 1681 (Scalia, J., dissenting)*), rather than personal solicitations related to campaigns. The dissent warns that while the majority appears to be indifferent between the appointment and the election of judges, “no one should be deceived.” Id. “A Court that sees impropriety in a candidate's request for any contributions to his election campaign does not much like judicial selection by the people.” Id.

     Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion also drew scorn from Justice Kennedy, a person in whom the chief justice often finds an ally. “By cutting off one candidate's personal freedom to speak, the broader campaign debate that might have followed — a debate that might have been informed by new ideas and insights from both candidates — now is silenced.” Id. at 1683 (Kennedy, J., dissenting).

    The majority countered by pointing out that Florida’s ban strikes a reasonable balance by prohibiting only personal solicitations for campaign contributions — eliminating “the conduct most likely to undermine public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary” — while leaving judicial candidates free to otherwise run effective campaigns in ways that do not detract from the state’s interest, such as raising money through campaign committees, attending campaign functions, and writing thank you notes to campaign donors. Id. at 1668-69. This reality belies the dissent’s conclusion, the majority notes, that Florida’s ban (and the court’s judgment) reflects nothing more than a disdain for elected judges.

     Stetson Law Professor Ciara Torres Spelliscy says that the majority’s concern with judicial candidates “dialing for dollars” is justifiable. The problem is, she notes, Williams-Yulee does not solve the larger problems: the rising cost of running for judicial office and the frequency of judicial rulings falling in favor of campaign contributors. Id. (citing Alicia Bannon et al, The New Politics of Judicial Elections, 2011–12 (L. Kinney and P. Hardin eds. 2013); Joanna Shepard & Michael S. Kang, Skewed Justice 1 (2014), University of California Irvine School of Law professor and election law expert Rick Hasen looks more favorably upon the decision, concluding that it represents “a huge win for those who support reasonable limits on judicial elections.” Rick Hasen, Breaking News and Analysis: #SCOTUS Upholds Ban on Judicial Candidates Personally Soliciting Campaign Contributions, ELECTION LAW BLOG (Apr. 29, 2015,  10:12 EST). Professor Hasen also notes that Williams-Yulee is a win for retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who has been at the forefront of the push for new rules in judicial elections. Id.

     However you see it, Williams-Yulee undoubtedly represents a significant break for the Roberts court on First Amendment cases generally and campaign finance cases specifically. Since Chief Justice Roberts took the helm, the Supreme Court has jealously guarded the right to free speech (See, e.g., United States v. Alvarez, 132 S. Ct. 2537 (2012) (plurality opinion); Brown v. Entm’t Merchs. Assn., 131 S. Ct. 2729, 2734 (2011); United States v. Stevens, 559 U.S. 460, 130 S. Ct. 1577, 176 L. Ed. 2d 435 (2010)) and has not been shy to strike down limits on political contributions. See, e.g., Citizens United v. Fed. Election Comm’n, 558 U.S. 310, 130 S. Ct. 876, 175 L. Ed. 2d 753 (2010); McCutcheon v. Fed. Election Comm’n, 134 S. Ct. 1434, 1440, 188 L. Ed. 2d 468 (2014). Based on this, you might have thought that the court would have done away with Florida’s ban by simply adopting a line from Second Circuit Judge Jose A. Cabranes: “Whatever may be said about whether money is speech, speech is speech, even if it is speech about money." Green Party of Connecticut v. Garfield, 616 F.3d 189, 207 (2d Cir. 2010) (internal quotations omitted). But in the rare case where the chief justice joins the more liberal bloc of the court, the decision came down the other way. As it is, in the words of The New York Times’ Adam Liptak, “judicial candidates can say thank you, but they may not say please.”

* Note: While Florida’s ban precludes a judicial candidate from asking “a lawyer for a few dollars to help her buy campaign pamphlets, it does not prevent her asking the same lawyer for a personal loan, access to his law firm's luxury suite at the local football stadium, or even a donation to help her fight the Florida Bar's charges.”

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Lawyer Magazine: An Idea Whose Time Had Come

By Ed Comey

     Twenty-five years ago, the Hillsborough County Bar Association chose Claude Monet's Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lilies to grace the cover of the inaugural issue of the Lawyer because that issue bridged a gap between the old version of the publication and the new one. Interestingly, Monet devoted the last 25 years of his life to painting a series of landscape scenes of a garden, replete with lily ponds, he planted on his property. Apparently, the Japanese footbridge featured in Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lilies was featured in 17 paintings in 1899 alone. As Alastair Smart, arts editor and chief art critic for the Sunday Telegraph, once observed, Monet’s paintings of the water lilies and footbridge — different versions of the same view at different times of the day under different conditions — served as an alternative diary for him. In retrospect, it is fitting that Monet’s Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lilies graced the cover of the inaugural issue of the Lawyer.

     Before the Lawyer made its debut in November 1990, the HCBA principally communicated to its membership by circulating a monthly bulletin aptly named The Bulletin. It was a relatively short, black-and-white newsletter that conveyed the latest news around the community. It was workmanlike, both in substance and style. But all of that changed in November 1990 thanks to a seemingly unremarkable meeting between the HCBA and the Hillsborough County Medical Association a year earlier.

     In 1989, Ron Russo, the HCBA president at the time, and others met with the Hillsborough County Medical Association to discuss improving relations between the two professions. During that meeting, Russo saw the medical association’s monthly periodical (oddly enough, it was also called The Bulletin) and couldn’t help but notice how the substance and style of their Bulletin was more professional than our Bulletin. After that meeting, Russo had the idea to roll out a new, more professional publication.

     The primary concern, of course, was cost. Russo estimated the cost to convert from the old Bulletin to something closer to the Lawyer of today was $4,000 to $5,000. But Russo was confident that the more professional-style magazine would attract additional advertising revenue to absorb the increase. In the end, the HCBA’s Board of Directors determined the benefits of a more professional magazine far outweighed the costs.

     For one thing, a more comprehensive publication (with articles from a variety of substantive law sections) could help improve the administration of justice in our community, not to mention keep members up-to-date on the latest legal issues. In addition to increasing member participation in Bar events, a new and improved magazine could help fuel future volunteer efforts. Russo was convinced the HCBA’s monthly publication was an important — perhaps the most important — factor in shaping volunteer efforts. Besides all of that, a quality, professional organization like the HCBA deserved a quality, professional publication. In short, it was — as Russo said in quoting Victor Hugo when he rolled out the new magazine — “an idea whose time ha[d] come.”

     The only thing left to do was to roll out that new idea, a task that fell to Mark Buell. The first order of business was a new name. The HCBA’s Board of Directors decided on The Hillsborough County Bar Association Lawyer. As Buell recalled back then, “Because we are lawyers, our publication should have a name which distinguishes it.” Along with a new name, the Lawyer had a new look. The magazine was now in color, rather than black-and-white. And there was more substance, with publication privileges extended to all of the HCBA’s substantive law sections (including seven new ones); the State Attorney’s Office; the County Attorney’s Office; the Public Defender’s Office; the United States Attorney’s Office; the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Courts; the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida; and the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida. The magazine also doubled in size. It only takes one look at the late version of The Bulletin and early versions of the Lawyer to realize the Board of Directors accomplished its goal of putting out a more professional publication.

     What is remarkable, however, is how closely the Lawyer of today resembles the Lawyer of 1990. The original Bulletin was in existence for 25 years, and its evolution over that time is striking. The Lawyer, which has been in existence for the same amount of time, remains largely unchanged. To be sure, the size of the magazine has grown larger over the years, while the number of issues has grown smaller. But there is no question that Russo and Buell created a format that has withstood the test of time.

     After 25 years, though, it is important to reflect on whether the Lawyer has accomplished its original goals. Has it helped improve the administration of justice? Has it kept members up-to-date on the latest legal issues? Has it increased member participation in Bar events? Has it helped fuel future volunteer efforts? The answer is an emphatic yes.

     It didn't take long to see that the Lawyer helped influence the administration of justice. Not long after Buell wrote an editor's message about the shortage of federal judges in Tampa, he received a scathing letter from someone at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington who was none too happy with Buell’s commentary but nonetheless promised to help ease the backlog of cases here in the Middle District of Florida. As for keeping members up-to-date, this issue, for instance, features an insightful analysis of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision dealing with the right of judicial candidates to solicit donations. And there can be no serious question the Lawyer has helped promote participation in Bar events and fuel volunteer efforts. For proof, look no further than John Kynes’ article in the last issue about the Judicial Pig Roast/Food Festival and 5k Pro Bono River Run, where the HCBA had more than 500 attendees and received pledges of 2,500 hours of pro bono work.

     It has been said that “Claude Monet’s water-lily paintings are amongst the most recognized and celebrated works of the 20th century and were hugely influential to many generations of artists.” It’s obviously a stretch to say that the Lawyer is one of the most recognized or celebrated works of the 20th or 21st century. And, unfortunately, an old issue won’t fetch the $20 million to $30 million that a Monet water-lily painting will at an auction. But it’s not a stretch to say the Lawyer is the best local Bar publication in the state (and maybe the country) and that it has been influential for a generation of lawyers in this community. Twenty-five years ago, Russo predicted that “this new monthly publication will serve our Association in good stead in the years to come”; those words are as true today as they were 25 years ago.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Clerk of the Court's Office Changes to Help You

By Pat Frank

     It has not always been as easy as we would like for attorneys to navigate the Clerk of Court’s Office. As we transform the way we do business here, with the implementation of the Odyssey system and eFiling, we are also striving to make the clerk’s office more user-friendly in other ways. 

    Currently, customers must visit three locations to receive the services they need from family law, circuit civil, and county civil. Some of the functions of the departments are similar, but services are performed in multiple departments depending on the case type.

   Thus, we have reorganized our civil court customer service area to consolidate the place where you go to conduct business with one of these three departments. Where you previously had to visit three separate locations for your civil court business, you can now go to one central location. All front-counter civil court customer service will be provided at the George E. Edgecomb Building, Room 101, which is directly behind the main entry point of the courthouse.

     To put this in place, we now have a civil court customer service team with the knowledge to assist you with all of your circuit/county civil and family law requests, including access to court records. You may also pay for copies of family law, circuit civil, and county civil pleadings in Room 101.

     To prepare for this consolidation, the employees have been trained so they have the knowledge base of these three areas. They are available to perform services, as well as answer your questions about the civil divisions. This includes landlord tenant, dissolution of marriage, foreclosure, and more.

         We welcome your feedback on your experience with this reorganization. Our goal is to provide convenience, as well as increased levels of service, to our customers. So let us hear from you.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Executive Director's Message: Top Ten Amazing Things about the HCBA from the 2014-15 Bar Year

By John F. Kynes

     With the 2014-15 HCBA Bar year behind us, I thought it would be fitting to look back and highlight some of the amazing things about the HCBA from the past year. I also thought I would to pay tribute to David Letterman, who retired this past May after providing America more than 30 years of late-night entertainment, with a special HCBA Top Ten list.   

     I’ve been a Letterman fan from the beginning, and I must say I still think his shows from the 1980s, when he was at NBC, were among his best. I even attended a show taping once at 30 Rock.

     I enjoyed the recurring oddball characters, such as Calvin DeForest, aka, Larry “Bud” Melman, and Chris Elliot, who would come on the show and appear in sketches. I still laugh when I recall the bit with DeForest awkwardly handing out hot towels to new arrivals at the New York Port Authority bus terminal and welcoming them to the Big Apple. And no doubt Elliot’s over-the-top impression of Marlon Brando stands the test of time.

     I was much younger then and still can’t believe I was able to stay up on a regular basis to watch a show that began at 12:30 a.m. I guess sleep is overrated. Now, I have trouble staying up to watch Kelly Ring finish the 10 o’clock news. Thank goodness for DVRs.  

     In any case, all the way from the home office in Wauchula, Florida:

Top Ten Amazing Things about the HCBA from the 2014-15 Bar Year

10. HCBA’s New Website and Online Member Directory. In April, after months of development, the HCBA launched a new website and online member directory. We are excited about all the features this new and improved website has to offer HCBA members, as well as the updated membership management software that goes along with it.

9. Revamped Military & Veterans Affairs Committee (MVAC). One of the top priorities of HCBA President Ben Hill IV this past year was to lift up and re-energize this important HCBA committee. Under the leadership of chair Robert Nader and military liaison Lt. Col. Christopher Brown from MacDill Air Force Base, this committee made great strides in helping both local veterans and active-duty personnel in need of legal assistance. The committee even set up a special Legal Assistance Registry, which can be accessed through the HCBA’s new website.
8. HCBA Diversity Events. At the HCBA’s Diversity Membership Luncheon in January, American Bar Association President-Elect Paulette Brown shared some of the lessons she has learned about inclusion in the legal community. And, in February, law students from across the state joined together with law firms and other legal organizations at the successful Diversity Networking Social, which took place at the Ferguson Law Center.

7. Bar Foundation’s 10th Annual Law & Liberty Dinner.  In May, the Hillsborough County Bar Foundation hosted its annual Law & Liberty Dinner, which this year featured NFL legend Terry Bradshaw. President Bill Schifino Jr. and the Foundation’s Law & Liberty Committee should be congratulated on raising a record amount of money to assist local legal-related charities.

6. Silver Anniversary of the Lawyer. It’s hard to believe that HCBA member editors and contributors have been putting out this award-winning publication for 25 years. Congratulations to this past year’s editor, Ed Comey, and to Corrie Benfield, the HCBA’s PR/communications director, for making this year’s editions extra special. The cover photos from noted photographer Carlton Ward were spectacular.

5. 12th Annual Judicial Pig Roast/Food Festival & 5K Pro Bono River Run.  In March, more than 500 people participated in these unique and fun HCBA events. Special thanks to Judge John Conrad, who chaired the 5K event. Almost 300 runners participated in the run, and more than 2,500 pro bono hours were pledged to support indigent citizens in our community. 

4. HCBA’s Young Lawyers Division. Under the leadership of President Anthony Martino and the YLD board members, the YLD had another tremendous year. From the successful YLD Golf Tournament last October to all the other outstanding social, educational, and community events, the YLD continues to further its reputation as one of the most well-respected YLDs in Florida.

3. 18th Annual Bench Bar Conference & Judicial Reception. In October, more than 500 people participated in the HCBA’s signature fall event. Special thanks to Judges Caroline Tesche and Samantha Ward, who were the conference co-chairs. There were a record number of attendees at the various CLE breakout and plenary sessions throughout the day. 

2. HCBA Officers & Directors. President Ben Hill IV and the committed group of HCBA officers and directors helped guide the HCBA through another exciting and eventful Bar year. I appreciate their support throughout the past year and am confident incoming President Carter Andersen will do an outstanding job leading the HCBA in 2015-16.

1. Toast & Roast Reception for Retiring Chief Judge Manuel Menendez Jr. In December, more than 800 people attended a farewell reception for the retiring Chief Judge Menendez at the TPepin Hospitality Centre. It was a festive and humorous event for sure, and a great way to send out Judge Menendez, who honorably served our community as chief judge of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit since 2001.
Here’s hoping everyone has a great summer.

See you around the Chet.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Solo Practioners & Small Firms: A New Chapter for the Public Law Library

By James A. Schmidt

     It has been a banner year for all attorneys in the Hillsborough County Bar Association. However, our section is privileged to report on what must be one of the most outstanding accomplishments. As more than a few of the readers are likely aware, last year the Board of County Commissioners discovered that the law library had become a largely unsupervised entity over the years. A supervisory board ― The Law Library Advisors ― spawned from that discovery and has labored in cooperation with the county administrator, Library Services, and the impressively dedicated and professional staff of our James J. Lunsford Law Library (just to name a few of the contributors) to take bold and exciting action to carry our law library into a new chapter of its existence. If we have one of the best local Bar Association in the country, why can’t we have one of the best public law libraries.

The law library, which has forever existed on its own, now has all of the resources and leverage of the county. Here are just a few of the developments: 

  • There is now Internet and better Wi-Fi access, and the phone system has been transferred to VOIP (to conform with most other county entities).
  • The accounting got a scrubbing. The library now procures through the county. We even discovered a long-defunct foundation created to help buy new furniture, which should once again prove useful to its original purpose.
  •  The library’s staff and security needs have been reviewed and improved to ensure that our hardworking public servants are as safe as possible (and us, too) while they are on the job.
  • The library has negotiated the most robust possible Westlaw (no Lexis) package, and it is monitoring the electronic subscriptions each month to determine what is used and what isn’t so that we purchase the products with the most appeal to its core users.
  • The library is studying patron visitation to evaluate its hours.
  • And if you did not know – the law library now offers five-day checkouts of complete sets of continuing education CDs from The Florida Bar. The late-fee structure was just changed so that after the five days, if the set has eight CDs, it will be $8 per day. It still works out to be $1 per day per CD, but now you can have more than one CD at a time. Please be mindful of your neighbors!
     Library Services, which oversees the county’s entire library system, could not be more excited to add this jewel to the library system.  It is hoped that the law library will, through careful and measured steps, eventually provide greater access to its resources through all of the local public libraries. There could even be law library substations in those public libraries serving the county’s other large populations centers. 

     All of these developments position the passionate servants of our law library and Library Services to fulfill their mission with more enthusiasm and more energy. This is a great moment for our law library. You should stop by and see for yourself.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

YLD President's Message: A Special Thanks

By Anthony “Nino” Martino

     As I complete my term as president of the and reflect on my last eight years on the board of directors, I recognize ― now more than ever ― that it truly takes a collective effort to make an association like ours viable. I think it is only appropriate that special thanks go out to all the volunteer members whom I relied so heavily upon this year, including our board: Jason Whittemore, Jacqueline Simms-Petredis, Web Melton, Ashley Johnson, Maja Lacevic, Stephanie Caldwell, Traci Koster, Dara Cooley, Laura Tanner, Jeffrey Wilcox, Melissa Mora, Alexandra Haddad, Amy Nath, Tammy Briant, and our Judicial Liaison: The Honorable Samantha Ward. I also wanted to thank all of our committee chairs and committee members for their hard work. The success of the YLD was/is because of these members of our association, and I have been honored and privileged to hold the title of president of this incredible group of young lawyers. It was certainly a busy year, which is probably why it passed in the blink of an eye.

     As I move on, I am confident that our membership is in good hands with the group returning to serve on the board. We have one of the largest and strongest young lawyers divisions in the state. Our success is rooted in our membership and the support each of our dedicated young lawyers provides to all facets of the YLD. In order to keep that tradition going, I encourage more young lawyers to get involved ― early and often ― in our association. The Young Lawyers Division is the largest section of the HCBA and promotes fellowship and professional growth of young lawyers. This community of 1,000 professionals serves the needs of young lawyers and the public by offering a wide selection of social, educational, and philanthropic programs. These programs thrive and exist only due to the efforts of our members. It is never “too early” to get involved. 

     The YLD plays a vital role in our profession and our association. I hope that in the coming Bar year, each member will find a way to serve the organization that serves us and the people of Hillsborough County. Preference forms will be emailed this summer, which will provide all young lawyers the opportunity to get involved in varying capacities with many noteworthy projects such as: the Professionalism and Ethics Committee (State Court Trial Seminar and Bar examination proctors), Law-Related Education and Law Week Committee, Mock Trial Committee, Member Services Committee (Judicial Shadowing, Mentoring, Coffee at the Courthouse), Events Committee (Golf Tournament, happy hours, luncheons, Cornhole for a Cause Tournament), Youth Projects Committee (Steak & Sports Day, Holidays in January, luncheon for Rampello School), Pro Bono Committee (Wills for Heroes, Family Forms Clinics, Attorney Ad Litem), or the Long-Range Planning Committee, to name a few. Do not miss this opportunity.

     I also owe a special thanks to our HCBA office staff for making this a very successful year. John Kynes has proven to be an outstanding executive director for our organization, and with the continued support of Laurie Rideout, Michele Revels, Corrie Benfield, and the rest of the HCBA staff, we will only get better.

     Lastly, thank you all ― the members of the YLD ― for allowing me to serve you as president over the past year. It has been an honor, a joy, and an experience that I will always remember. I look forward to seeing you at upcoming HCBA events in the fall.

           Recent & Upcoming YLD Events:

Mark your calendars for the 2015 YLD Golf Tournament to be held October 16. For more information on the YLD’s activities, check out our Facebook page at

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Elder Law: Summer’s Here at Last!

By Debra L. Dandar and Elizabeth P. Allen

Summer is in full swing, but as we enjoy summer vacations and family trips, it’s a good time to plan ahead to the next year of Elder Law Section meetings and consider how you may be able to contribute to make our section even better. Perhaps you have some great ideas for CLE topics or suggestions for interesting speakers, or perhaps you could write an article to be published in the Lawyer magazine on behalf of the Elder Law Section. Your contributions help make our section fun and relevant, and your involvement is welcomed and encouraged.

We certainly had some great speakers and interesting topics this year. Most recently, Dale Krause of Krause Financial Services spoke at the May 29 CLE luncheon, providing an overview of Medicaid and VA compliant annuities, options available to deal with non-compliant annuities, and the use of annuities in personal service contracts. In April, we hosted a joint CLE with the Real Property, Probate & Trust Law Section, and Tae Kelley Bronner presented a review of the relevant law regarding the constitutional homestead exemption from claims of creditors and the impact of trusts on the availability of that exemption.

Summer is also a time of transition in the Elder Law Section. Having completed the 2014-2015 year and her second year of service to our section, co-chair Elizabeth Allen will pass the torch to Susan Haubenstock, who served as section chair for several years. Together, Susan and Debra Dandar will strive to continue to bring you interesting speakers and relevant topics, but your suggestions and involvement are greatly appreciated and so important to the growth of our section.

Please enjoy your summer, and if you have suggestions or ideas or would like to submit an article for publication in the Hillsborough County Bar Lawyer magazine, please contact Susan ― or (813) 259-9955 ― or Debra L. Dandar ― or (813) 282-3390.

We look forward to seeing you soon and hope that you have a safe and enjoyable summer.