Escambia/Santa Rosa Bar Association
Volume 5 / Issue 1
Costs & Fines in Criminal Court
Collections page 16
Communicating With the Court Finding Proof of Love â€˘ Importance of Senior Judges What Do I Do If I Get Into a Car Accident? Judge Maney: Valiant Heart Recipient
March 2016 www.esrba.com The Summation 1
8. Proof of Love 10. Legal Services of North Florida Announcements 14. Designations of Court Interpreters 16. Costs & Fines in Criminal Court Escambia-Santa Rosa Bar Association 216 South Tarragona Street, Suite B Pensacola, FL 32501 Phone: 850.434.8135 Fax: 850.436.8822 email: firstname.lastname@example.org Lawyer Referral Service: 850.434.6009 Executive Director Michael Doubek email@example.com Editor Patricia Buchanan Wright firstname.lastname@example.org Published quarterly by the Escambia-Santa Rosa Bar Association as a service to its membership. Any article herein may be reproduced provided credit is given both to The Summation and the author of the article. Articles appearing in The Summation are not to be construed as official expressions of the views of the Escambia-Santa Rosa Bar Association. Official positions are expressed only by formal resolutions adopted by a majority of the membership and will be so designated when published. Editorials are expressions of the opinion of the Editor. Due date for all advertisements, articles, and announcements is the first of the month for the issue you wish to advertise in. Address all editorial correspondence to the Escambia-Santa Rosa Bar Association office. For all inquiries concerning advertising rates contact Ballinger Publishing. “The Summation Committee is dedicated to providing a publication to the legal community which contains articles that are accurate, informative, entertaining, educational, relevant and timely.” Summation Committee If you have any comments or suggestions about The Summation, please feel free to express them to any of the committee members. If you would like to join the committee, please call the Bar office at 434.8135.
Jason Boatwright Brooke Jones Clara Smith Paula Walker Tami Stokes Debra Bass
Benjamin Stevenson Carrie Cromey Gerald McGill Caroline Peterson Lisa York Susan Woolf
Cover Design by: Anna Hitchcock 2 The Summation www.esrba.com March 2016
20. Judge Maney: Recipient of Valiant Heart Award 26. Photos
In every issue 3. From the President 4. Board of Governors 5. New ESRBA Members 6. Chief’s Corner 12. Judge’s Preferences 22. The Bottom Line 24. Ask a Lawyer 29. News from the Clerk 31. Classifieds / Calendar
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From the President Kicking Off the New Year By MATTHEW HOFFMAN Dear Fellow ESRBA Members:
Please plan to attend the March 24 Bar
With 2016 well under way, I hope you had the
Meeting, as Judge Linda
opportunity to attend the Association’s January
Nobles will provide her
and February meetings. In January, the Association
first Circuit Court update since her appointment as
heard from Seth Miller, the executive director of
Chief Judge for the First Judicial Circuit. Please also
the Innocence Project of Florida in Tallahassee.
plan to attend the Association’s law week activities
The Innocence Project was founded in 2003 with
during the last week of April. The Association
a mission of helping innocent prisoners in Florida
will host Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice
obtain their freedom. If you were unable to attend,
Jorge LaBarga as its guest speaker at the Law Day
you can find out more about the Innocence Project on its website at floridainnocence.org. Mr. Miller
Luncheon on Thursday, April 28. The Association will also host the Law Week Judicial Reception on
also suggested the Netflix crime documentary
Thursday, May 5, at Palafox Wharf Waterfront.
series, Making a Murderer, as a real life example of impact of a wrongful conviction.
As we kick off a new year, I would again ask that you consider utilizing the Association’s weekly
In February, the Association hosted the Florida
publication, The Summation Weekly, for all your
Bar President Ramon Abadin. His presentation
legal notices in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.
focused on the changing nature of the legal
By placing legal notices in The Summation Weekly,
profession and the Florida Bar’s efforts to address
you will be directly supporting the Association, as
those changes, including access to civil justice. Mr.
a portion of the revenues generated will go directly
Abadin took full advantage of his visit and spoke
to the Association. In addition, the publication
with several other groups, including the UWF
charge is less than competing publications, and
student body, the ESRBA Young Lawyers Division,
will save your clients money. For instructions and
local judges, state attorneys, and public defenders,
additional information for submitting publication
and concluded his visit as the guest speaker for the
requests to The Summation Weekly, please refer
February naturalization ceremony, recounting his
to the Association’s website at esrba.com or The
personal story as a naturalized citizen from Cuba.
Summation Weekly website at summationweekly. com. Thank you again for your continued support.
March 2016 www.esrba.com The Summation 3
Board of Governors Report from
The Florida Board of Governors By STEPHEN ECHSNER The Florida Bar Board of Governors met on Courts, no other state in the Jan. 29, 2016. The major actions of the Board and U.S. has term limits for state reports received included: court appellate judges. President Ramón Abadin made a presentation on the challenges facing the legal profession and the changes technology has brought to the delivery of legal services. The Board discussed the presentation and the proper Bar response to member input regarding these challenges, and what the Bar can do to increase access to justice and help its members impacted by these challenges, particularly those in small firms. Private non-lawyer providers in the legal marketplace and options regarding these providers were also discussed. President Abadin, as well as several board members, said the Bar must act quickly on behalf of its members or it risks being left behind and perhaps eclipsed in the provision of legal services. Additional coverage of the presentation can be found in the Feb. 15 issue of The Florida Bar News. Efforts to oppose a proposed constitutional amendment establishing term limits for appellate judges will continue until the 60-day legislative session ends. The Florida Bar adopted a position to oppose term limits for any state court judges in Florida, either on the trial or appellate bench, during its Dec. 4 meeting after joint resolutions were introduced in the Florida House and Senate. The resolutions would limit appellate judges to no more than two appearances on the merit retention ballot, which, depending on when they were appointed, would give a maximum term of between 12 and 15 years. The legislative position was published in the Jan. 1, 2016, of Florida Bar News. According to the National Center for State 4 The Summation www.esrba.com March 2016
The Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics and the Board Technology Committee’s joint efforts to study the future of the Bar’s Lawyer Referral Service and to respond to the Supreme Court mandate to suggest rules prohibiting lawyers from belonging to for-profit referral services unless owned or operated by Bar members will be discussed in a preliminary report at the Board’s March 11 meeting. The report will also address how the Bar should view private companies, such as Avvo and LegalZoom as matching services for lawyers and clients versus referral services. The Board Program Evaluation Committee is also reviewing the Bar’s Lawyer Referral Service and its report is also expected in March. A proposed change to the comment to Rule 4-4.2 addressing when lawyers can contact public officials who are represented by government attorneys was rejected by the Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics, ending attempts by organizations affiliated with government lawyers to amend the rule or its comment. A special committee has been announced to include law school deans, the Florida Board of Bar Examiners, Supreme Court justices, and The Florida Bar to look at proposed changes to the certified legal intern rule and issues related to the Florida Bar Examination.
New Members Mildred M. Abdullah Mildred M. Abdullah, Esq. 3020 Berwick Street Pensacola, FL 32503 (850) 469-0627 email@example.com
Ashley M. Gartman Lynchard & Greene, PL 1901 Andorra Street Navarre, FL 32566 (850) 936-9385 Ashley@lynchard-greene.com
Winston T. Bouk Office of the State Attorney, First Judicial Circuit 190 West Government Street Pensacola, FL 32502 (850) 595-4200 firstname.lastname@example.org
Sara E. Goldfarb Florida Office of the Guardian ad Litem 6665 Hartland Street Navarre, FL 32566 (850) 797-0160 email@example.com
Hannah C. Brothers Office of the State Attorney, First Judicial Circuit 190 West Government Street Pensacola, FL 32502 (850) 595-4247 firstname.lastname@example.org
Sean K. Gravel Lyons & Farrar, PA 1637 Metropolitan Boulevard, Suite A-2 Tallahassee, FL 32308 (850) 222- 8811 Skg12b@my.fsu.edu
Jonathan P. DuBose Office of the State Attorney, First Judicial Circuit 190 West Government Street Pensacola, FL 32502 (850) 595-4239 email@example.com
Dara R. Schroeter Wade, Palmer & Shoemaker, PA 14 North Palafox Street Pensacola, FL 32502 (850) 429-0755 firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard A. Fillmore Luther, Collier, Hodges & Cash, LLP 4300 Bayou Boulevard, #33 Pensacola, FL 32504 (850) 473-2260 email@example.com
Andrew M. Spencer Clark, Partington, Hart, Larry, Bond & Stackhouse 125 West Romana Street, Suite 800 Pensacola, FL 32502 (850) 434-9200 firstname.lastname@example.org
March 2016 www.esrba.com The Summation 5
Chief’s Corner The Important Role of Senior Judges By CHIEF JUDGE LINDA L. NOBLES In Florida, judges who retire from the bench may seek certification from the Supreme Court of
conclusion. Without hesitation and in selfless consideration,
Florida to remain in an active status for continued each can be relied upon to serve with the service on the bench. The First Judicial Circuit
same commitment, loyalty, and integrity we
employs 14 of these “senior judges” who make
experienced during their years of active, full-time
themselves available to the citizens of Escambia,
Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, and Walton counties to ensure speedier access to the courts, reduction
I would like to take this opportunity to
of backlogs, and to thwart interruptions to the
recognize the Senior Judges serving in the First
court processes which may come due to the
Judicial Circuit. With that recognition comes my
illness, family emergency, or other short term or
personal expression of immense gratitude to each
long term absence of an active judge. Temporary
for sharing their time and exceptional knowledge:
service by a Senior Judge to the First Judicial Circuit is crucial in times of fiscal challenges,
Judge Frank L. Bell
overburdened dockets, and vacancies created in
Judge A. Keith Brace
the face of change.
Judge Russell A. Cole, Jr. Judge Dedee S. Costello
The recent appointment of two active county
Judge Erwin R. Fleet
court judges to the circuit bench leaves two
Judge Nickolas P. Geeker
vacant judicial seats in Escambia County. No
Judge Jack R. Heflin
person has yet been appointed by the governor
Judge Thomas E. Johnson
to the judicial seats available. That process is
Judge T. Michael Jones
ongoing and underway. In the meanwhile, to
Judge W. Howard LaPorte
avoid interruption and a slowing of the court
Judge John T. Parnham
processes in these two divisions, Senior Judges
Judge Paul A. Rasmussen
have been assigned to maintain the consistency
Judge Terry D. Terrell
and stability of the divisions as we await any
Judge William P. White
decision by the Governor. This willingness to provide coverage often requires the Senior Judge
On behalf of the First Judicial Circuit, thank
to set aside his or her personal plans, adjust
you for your unceasing commitment to the
appointment schedules, and return to temporary
citizens, the Bar, and the judiciary.
service sans a date certain of the assignment’s 6 The Summation www.esrba.com March 2016
Did You Know? Donna Waters Found Proof of Love By DAWN GRESKO How did you choose your pen name? I write under the pen name Arabella Stokes because it was the name of my grandmother on my mother’s side. She was a very wild woman who didn’t do what was expected, so I thought it was appropriate to write under her name. In your own words, how would you give a synopsis of your novel? It’s your standard romance story with lords and ladies. The hero (Duke of Danesleigh) is based on Henry Cavendish, who was known for his discovery of hydrogen. Basically, the Duke is a scientist who doesn’t believe in love but the novel’s heroine (Lady Susan) proves him wrong. Have you always been drawn to writing? I have always been a voracious reader and I’ve made up little stories in my head throughout my life, but I never thought of writing them down. To me, being an author was something famous people did. I never thought to do it myself until I kept telling my husband after every book I read, “I can write a better book than this.” One day he told me, “Why don’t you just do it?” So I did. Donna Waters has a secret: by day she works as an attorney in the Office of the General Counsel for the Escambia County School Board, but by night she turns full-fledge romance writer, penning under the name of Arabella Stokes. The Summation sat down with Donna to discuss her 2012 novel, Proof of Love, and the inspiration behind her work. Learn more about the author at arabellastokes.com, or check out her book, Proof of Love, on Amazon.com. 8 The Summation www.esrba.com March 2016
What inspired Proof of Love? I was reading Age of Wonder, which is a very scholarly book about the early Age of Discovery, or the period in the late 1700s and early 1800s, which was really a time of scientific exploration. I thought that book really meshed with books I read for fun, which were romance and love stories. So, I decided to merge the two together (scientific exploration and romance) in Proof of Love. \
When you were writing was there a specific audience you had in mind? I hoped readers like myself would pick up my novel. That is, readers who may have a full-time job that’s stressful but who would pick up my novel for a bit of escapism and a good time. At the time I wrote Proof of Love, I was working with divorces and everything seemed to have an unhappy ending. So, I started writing my novel to get back in touch with the fact that some people do have happy endings and the world turns out to be a nice place. How did your legal background influence your novel? It influenced my writing a little, but not so much. Proof as I used it in the title is used more in the sense of scientific evidence instead of proof presented in court. It was more like proving a scientific theorem. The duke doesn’t believe in love, so the duchess convinces him he’s wrong by showing him proof. What authors and/or books have inspired you? First and foremost: Jane Austen. I’m a passionate Janeite (a term embraced by devotees of the works of Jane Austen). After Jane, there are a number of really fine romance writers today including Julia Quinn and Eloisa James, both of whom have advanced degrees and they are brilliant women. In fact, James is a Shakespearean scholar who teaches on the university level. The people who inspire me are the ones who disprove the whole idea that it’s only a bunch of bored housewives who read romance novels.
What is your opinion of today’s romance novel? I say romance books are very subversively feminist. There are book clubs formed in countries overseas, where women are oppressed, and they pass around American romance novels because the concept there is the women in the novels are in charge of their own life, yet romance and a family are all part of that. That’s a subversive thought: the idea that women should be empowered to choose the life they want to be happy and fulfilled. Romance novels allow for that. Can we expect to see a sequel soon? Since my novel’s release in 2012, I had taken time off from writing in order to focus on getting my certification from The Florida Bar. But, I am working on a sequel to Proof of Love and I hope to have it out within the next year or so. What advice would you offer to aspiring authors? If you want to be a writer, then write. There’s no substitute for writing. I can do hours of research, but at end of the day you have to get words on paper. So, if you want to be a writer, then pick a topic you’re passionate about, pick something you really care about, and write your story. Everyone has a story, you just have to write it down.
Donna Waters is a Board Certified Education Law attorney with the office of General Counsel at the Escambia County School District.
March 2016 www.esrba.com The Summation 9
Leslie Powell has been announced as deputy director of Legal Services of North Florida (LSNF). Leslie previously served as the senior attorney of LSNF’s Pensacola office. In this role, Leslie’s primary areas of practice were housing and consumer law and representation of victims, including children, within the dependency system as well as victims of domestic and sexual violence. Leslie also serves as a statewide expert in the role of legal services in disaster response and recovery. Under her leadership, the United Way of Escambia County recognized LSNF as its 2015 Partner Agency of the Year. Leslie is also a member of the Escambia/Santa Rosa Bar Association and received the Association’s Community Service Award in 2015. She is also a graduate of the Leadership Pensacola Class of 2015. She continues to serve on the Boards of the Escambia Community Clinics and Consumer Credit Counseling of West Florida. Following the retirement of LSNF’s Executive Director Kris Knab later this year, Leslie will assume the role of Executive Director of LSNF. 10 The Summation www.esrba.com March 2016
Christine A. Kelly has been announced as Senior Attorney for LSNF’s Pensacola office. In this new role, Christine will lead the attorneys and other staff in representing low-income and vulnerable families in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties to improve access to justice. Christine’s legal work includes representing clients in the areas of individual income tax, probate, landlord-tenant, domestic violence, and disaster preparedness and recovery. A graduate of the Seattle University School of Law, with an LL.M. in Taxation from the University of Washington School of Law, Christine has vast experience serving those in our community. In addition to her time as a staff attorney with LSNF, Christine has served as a volunteer tax preparer for the United Way of Escambia County, a paralegal for Rice & Adams in Jacksonville, Arkansas, and a volunteer legal assistant for the Housing Justice Project in Seattle, Wa. Having spent much of her youth in the Pensacola area, Christine works to improve the lives of her clients and the community through her work with LSNF and other volunteer time, including working with faith-based, not-forprofit organizations to stop human trafficking.
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March 2016 www.esrba.com The Summation 11
Judge’s Preferences With all the recent changes involving the First Circuit’s Judiciary and JAs, we thought it would be helpful to provide a summary of each judge’s contact information. You can also find this information and each judge’s preferences at www.firstjudicialcircuit.org.
Last Name Allen
First Name Michael G.
Title Circuit Judge
Judicial Assistant Joni White
County Judge 850-595-4427
Santa Rosa County Judge 850-981-5544
Santa Rosa Circuit Judge
Santa Rosa Circuit Judge
County Judge 850-892-8131
County Judge 850-609-5411
Santa Rosa County Judge 850-981-5543
County Judge 850-595-4424
County Judge 850-651-7486
12 The Summation www.esrba.com March 2016
Santa Rosa Circuit Judge
Coleman Lee Escambia
Santa Rosa Circuit Judge
County Judge 850-595-4420
County Judge 850-595-4430
County Judge 850-689-4117
County Judge 850-595-4433
March 2016 www.esrba.com The Summation 13
Designations of Court Interpreters By MIKE DOUBEK
To ensure due process and equal access to the courts,
certification in a spoken
Interpreting Services for either non-English speaking, and
language for which there is no
deaf or hearing impaired individuals are commonly used.
state-certifying examination, and hold a valid certificate issued by the OSCA.
Qualified interpreters are provided by the court to litigants who are represented by the Public Defender or
Provisionally Approved is a designation reserved for
by private counsel. These services are provided at no cost
interpreters of spoken languages for which state-certifying
to the parties and it includes Circuit or County Criminal
examination is available, who, although not yet certified,
proceedings, Dependency and Delinquency hearings,
have passed the oral performance exam at a lesser
Baker Acts, Domestic Violence proceedings, Title IV-D
qualifying prescribed level and hold a valid certificate
hearings and limited other events where interpretation
issued by the OSCA.
is necessary. Court Administration often aids private attorneys identify court interpreters to assist in their proceedings.
Although testing and certificating court interpreters is done at the state level by the Office of State Court Administrator, finding interpreters for local court
In March 2014, the Florida Supreme Court adopted
proceeding is the responsibility of each judicial circuitâ€™s
amendments to the Court Interpreter Rules which took
Trial Court Administrator. Each circuit maintains a
effect April 1, 2015. With those amendments, the Florida
list of court interpreters and assigns them as needed.
Supreme Court established and set the qualification
Certified court interpreters are the first choice for
for three designations of court interpreters: Certified,
assignment. If there are no certified interpreters available
Language-skilled, and Provisionally Approved.
for a particular language, the Trial Court Administrator will assign a language skilled interpreter. Likewise, if a
Certified Court Interpreter is a designation reserved
certified or language skilled interpreter is not available,
for interpreters who have completed all requirements
a provisionally approved interpreter will be assigned. It
for certification in accordance with the Florida Rules for
is preferred to have a certified court interpreter for all
Certification and Regulation of Spoken Language Court
Interpreters (rules), and hold a valid certificate issued by the Office of the State Court Administrator (OSCA).
For additional information on court interpreting and the Florida Rules for Certification and Regulation of
Language Skilled is a designation reserved for
Spoken Language Court Interpreters, visit the Florida
interpreters who have completed all requirements
Courts website at www.flcourts.rog and select the
in accordance with these rules, but who are seeking
â€œResources & Servicesâ€? button.
14 The Summation www.esrba.com March 2016
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Photo © David Schrichte
Court Costs and Fines in Criminal Cases By CATHY REYNOLDS
Where do court costs come from? How does one determine how much should be assessed in either a misdemeanor case or felony case? What about the costs on a non-criminal infraction? How are fines and costs paid by defendants? Does the Clerk’s office keep all of the money collected? No one statute, or chapter, in the Florida Statutes will give you these answers. How does one determine how much is owed in fines and court costs? Court costs and fines have a basis in numerous statutes and ordinances. While Chapter 938, Florida Statutes, contains the majority of the mandatory and discretionary costs in criminal cases, Chapters 775 and 318 contain several mandatory and discretionary costs, as well. Additional costs can be found in other areas of the statutes. A review of these chapters shows the complexity of determining the amount of mandatory assessments in a given case. Several costs apply per case while other costs apply per charge. Some statutes apply a cost to all misdemeanor, or all felony cases, while other statutes apply a cost to violations of specific charges only. Fines and court costs are divided into two categories: mandatory and discretionary. Florida Statute §28.2457 requires mandatory assessments to be imposed regardless of whether or not the assessment is announced in open court. This
16 The Summation www.esrba.com March 2016
provision applies to any type of assessment deemed mandatory by statute—a fine, fee, service charge, or cost. First Judicial Circuit Administrative Order No. 2014-23 further directs the Clerk to assess all mandatory assessments in a case regardless of whether or not they were announced in open court. It further directs the Clerk to include the mandatory assessments on the written judgment and sentence sent to the judge for signature. Discretionary costs can only be assessed when announced by the judge and must be based on statutory authority. Why does the Clerk collect fines and court costs? The Clerk is the governmental body mandated to collect fines and court costs in criminal cases, including costs such as the Public Defender’s application fee and the State Attorney’s prosecution charges. Section 28.246 requires the Clerks to have accounts in place for receiving court costs and fines. The various statutes in Chapter 938 indicate that costs are either to be paid to the Clerk or collected by the Clerk. Sections 938.29 and 938.30 have language requiring the Clerk to enforce and dispose of debts and liens created when a defendant has received either the services of a public defender or owes on other financial obligations in a criminal case. Florida law authorizes, and in some situations mandates, the Clerk to take action to collect
mandatory costs and fines. Section 28.246(6) directs the Clerk to pursue collection of any fee, service charges, fines, court costs and liens which remain unpaid after 90 days by referring the case to collections. A collection agency can add up to an additional 40 percent charge on any amount referred to it for collections. The Clerk is tasked with attempting to collect the money prior to sending it to an outside agency. In Escambia County, the Clerk has set up a Collections Division, which is focused strictly on the collection of court costs and fines. The Collections Division works with defendants either to make payments on their cases or enter into payment plans so they can comply with the payment of the court ordered costs and fines. Another avenue available to the Clerk to pursue the collection of court costs is the suspension of the defendant’s driver’s license for failure to pay their financial obligations. Section 322.245 provides two alternative provisions under which a defendant’s license may be suspended for failure to pay financial obligations or for failure to comply with court directives. To clear this suspension, a defendant must pay their court costs and fines in full or enter into a payment plan with the Clerk. If other directives of the court are holding the license, such as a class, those items must be completed before a suspension may be lifted. Where does a defendant pay court costs? The clerk collects all financial obligations ordered as part of a criminal defendant’s sentence with two main exceptions. The clerk does not collect the cost of supervision, or any other fees incurred for testing, classes, or other services provided by third-party vendors or the probation office while on probation.
These costs are paid directly to County Probation or State Probation. Second, restitution amounts are typically paid through the probation office when probation is part of the sentence. If a defendant is ordered to pay restitution and they are not on probation, then the Clerk’s office may collect and distribute the restitution. The court costs and fines ordered as part of a sentence, whether mandatory or discretionary, are due on the day of sentencing unless the court announces another time period during which they are to be paid. This alternative time period is generally seen when a defendant is placed on probation and he or she is given the term of probation to pay his or her court costs and fines. Another common scenario is for a judge to order that costs and fines have to be paid by a certain date, which is typically a few months from the date of sentencing. At the time of sentencing, the judge has the option to provide the defendant with a folder to take to the Clerk’s office. This folder communicates the necessary sentence and disposition information from the court room deputy clerk to the clerk in the records division, or collections division, in order for those personnel to add the costs and fines to the case and explain the payment options to the defendant. What are a defendant’s payment options? A defendant has three options available for paying court costs and fines. First, a defendant can pay the amount in full. Second, a defendant may make partial payments towards the court costs and fines. In accordance with §28.24(26)(b), the Clerk’s office assesses a $5 partial payment fee per
March 2016 www.esrba.com The Summation 17
month for each month when a partial payment is made. The third option is for a defendant to enter into a payment plan with the Clerk’s office. A onetime administrative fee of $25 is charged to set up the plan in accordance with §28.24(26)(c). Under this option, a defendant makes regular monthly payments until the court costs and fines are paid in full. A defendant that is unable to pay their court costs and fines may request that the judge find them indigent for costs and authorize community service work to be completed in lieu of payment. Community service work hours are credited and applied to court costs and fines at the then-current state minimum hourly wage, which is $8.05 per hour for 2016. Additionally, a judge may order that the costs be reduced to a lien at the time of sentencing or at a violation of probation hearing. This action can cause up to three judgments to be entered against the defendant for court costs and fines, probation costs, and restitution amounts. When these judgments are entered they are recorded in official records and become liens on any real property of the defendant. The reduction of the amounts due to a lien does not replace a defendant’s requirement to pay the amounts due; instead they serve as an additional method for securing payment. When a judgment is entered, it accrues interest at the statutory rate until the amount is paid in full or is placed into a payment plan. Who receives the money collected by the clerk? The monies collected by the Clerk’s office are distributed in accordance with §28.246(5) to the Department of Revenue, state trust funds, counties, local municipalities and to the clerk’s operating 18 The Summation www.esrba.com March 2016
budget. To determine which of these numerous state and local funds should receive the money, the Clerk’s office has to review all of the statutory references that form the basis of the court costs and fines to determine the distribution. For some costs, a single statute may set out one amount that is to be assessed and then direct the distribution of the amount to multiple locations. The base mandatory court costs in a misdemeanor or felony case ($273 or $518) is dispersed to 14 different accounts by the Clerk’s office. A speeding ticket will have the statutory fine disbursed to 13 different accounts while the statutory costs are disbursed to 11 different accounts. The Clerk’s case management system tracks the receipt of the money and distribution of the funds to the various agencies and funds. The collected money is distributed monthly and reported to the state. We hope this article has been helpful and informative. For additional information, or to have a conversation regarding court costs and fines, please contact the Court Services Manager at the Clerk’s office, 850-595-4137.
Cathy Reynolds is the Court Services Manager for the Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller in Escambia County.
Judge Maney: Recipient of Valiant Heart Award
Maney receives the Valiant Heart Award Okaloosa County Judge T. Patterson Maney has
changed by brain injury,” Breen said.
no shortage of honors and accolades. Recently, however, the retired brigadier general received an award that he holds very close to his heart.
Ten years ago, while serving with the Army Reserve in Afghanistan, Maney suffered a traumatic brain injury when a terrorist blew up the SUV in
The Brain Injury Association of Florida recently
which he was riding. After 20 months at Walter
named Maney the annual recipient of its Valiant
Reed Army Medical Center in Washington,
D.C., where he received extensive treatment and rehabilitation, he struggled to complete simple
The Valiant Heart, a one-of-a-kind heart crafted
tasks. It wasn’t until he received hyperbaric oxygen
by a Florida artist, was awarded to Maney in
treatment that both he and his wife Caroline felt
recognition of his strength, courage and leadership,
like there was hope for recovery.
and his compassion for veterans and their families, said Valerie Breen, CEO of Brain Injury Association of Florida.
“It is through this experience that both he and his family learned what traumatic brain injury would mean to their lives and the lives of countless
“Judge Maney’s continued advocacy for the treatment and support of Florida’s brain injury
soldiers and their families whom they met along the way,” Breen said.
community makes this humble soldier an extraordinary and integral part of creating a better
Since returning to the bench in 2007, Maney
future for all Florida families whose lives have been
has been a tireless advocate for veterans and other
20 The Summation www.esrba.com March 2016
people with brain injuries. Breen, who first met Maney about five years ago, said she was impressed
For Maney, the award means more than just another trophy.
with the retired general’s willingness to talk about his injuries.
“When a person suffers a brain injury, one of the most significant results is that a person can
“The judge was so open about his story,” Breen
remember what they were like before the injury, and
said. “That’s not all that common with people of his
they become very self-conscious of their current
caliber–they often try to keep their injuries secret.
diminished capacity,” he said. “I certainly felt that
Judge Maney, however, has done everything he
way, which is why I got involved in helping people
can to support the patients and their families. His
with brain injuries.
impact has been tremendous.” “The Valiant Heart Award is important, not Using his personal and professional
coming to me but in light of all of the other people
understanding of traumatic brain injury combined
who have brain injuries or who are caregivers of
with years of experience as a trial judge, Maney has
people with brain injuries. It shows that you can
paved the way to help Veterans receive treatment,
live with the new normal and still prosper.”
rather than punishment for non-violent criminal offenses.
March 2016 www.esrba.com The Summation 21
The Bottom Line Communicating With the Court By APRIL KING One of the main tasks of paralegals and legal assistants is communication with opposing parties and communication with the court. Florida Rules of Judicial Administration prohibit judges from communicating directly with parties outside of a court event, joint conference or hearing, but each judge employs a judicial assistant who acts as his or her eyes and ears with the public. All of our communication with the court is done through contact with a judicial assistant. To make communicating with the court smoother and efficient it is good to know the division’s policies and procedures, if they are published, use good communication skills and be prepared. Basic professional communication skills should be utilized when dealing with any party in a matter and certainly when dealing with the judicial assistant. Speak clearly and loud enough to be heard on all telephone calls. Be considerate and polite. You may feel irritated by a previous telephone conversation with opposing counsel or a client; do not express this irritation to a judicial assistant. Address a judicial assistant professionally. Getting on a call with a judicial assistant and addressing her1 by “hey girl,” “what’s up,” “hon,” “sweetie,” is not appropriate. Think about how you would like to be addressed and extend common courtesy to all whom you deal with. A judicial assistant is not the judge, but as a representative of that judge’s office, she communicates extensively with the judge. Do not say or email any information that is inappropriate or irrelevant to the court. Do not forward any attorney/client privileged information to a judicial assistant, as a judicial assistant is not bound by attorney/client privileges. Electronic mail sent to 22 The Summation www.esrba.com March 2016
the court may be subject to public record review (except in certain types of cases such as juvenile, probate and guardianships). Bear this in mind when sending correspondence or speaking with a judicial assistant. Judicial assistants not only handle correspondence and telephone calls from law offices, they also deal directly with pro se litigants. As you know, those who are not trained in the legal field can be intimidated by the legal process and not fully understand the complexity of law. When a judicial assistant receives a request from a pro se litigant it may take her some time to answer all questions and resolve their issue. When you call you can expedite the resolution of your issue by having all information at hand ready to give to the judicial assistant. The quicker she can complete your request, the sooner she can get to the next request. If you are calling to schedule a hearing, be sure to have the case style and case number, the motion you are setting for hearing, and the amount of time required for that motion to be heard. Also, know which party you represent. If there is opposing counsel, you must have a representative from that office on the telephone. Refrain from calling the judicial assistant and putting her on hold so that you can conference call opposing counsel. Conference opposing counsel first, and then call the judicial assistant. If you are emailing a judicial assistant for hearing times and dates, always copy all counsel in your email, not having all counsel copied on emails to the court is ex parte communication. Again, provide the case style, number and time needed for the
matter to be heard and which party you represent. Be sure that all counsel is copied on all replies. If you have a question regarding a judgeâ€™s policy or procedure, do not hesitate to call a judicial assistant. They are there to assist you, and for the most part, enjoy their interactions with you. However, do not ask for legal advice. Paralegals and legal assistants are not licensed to practice law; neither are judicial assistants and they cannot give legal advice or direction. You can call a judicial assistant to ask how a judge wishes to receive proposed orders, whether courtesy copies of motions are required, what dates particular matters are heard, i.e. criminal docket days for a particular division. Do not ask a judicial assistant how much time she thinks you need for a hearing, whether a particular motion should be filed, what you should do to get opposing counsel to respond. These are questions to ask your supervising attorney. Do not put a judicial assistant in the position of mediating disputes between offices. If there is a disagreement about how much time is needed for a hearing or which issues to set for hearing, resolve this prior to contacting the judicial assistant.
knowledgeable and eager to assist us, please be cognizant of their time and thank them for their efforts and thatâ€™s the bottom line. 1
I used female pronouns as all judicial assistants in the
First Judicial Circuit are women. Men do serve in this capacity in other circuits, but this publication targets those within the Escambia-Santa Rosa Bar Association.
April King is a paralegal generalist who works with the Commercial Group at the law firm of Emmanuel, Sheppard & Condon. Her areas include civil litigation, guardianship, and probate.
We in Escambia and Santa Rosa County are fortunate to have a reliable and professional judiciary. This includes the judicial assistants who assist us. I recall fondly my time as a judicial assistant and respect each of them as I know what they do on a daily basis. Again, do not hesitate to call a judicial assistant if you have a question regarding the courtâ€™s policies and procedures. To help them be as efficient as possible, we need to be organized and efficient on our end. Judicial assistants are March 2016 www.esrba.com The Summation 23
Ask a Lawyer What Do I Do If I Get In a Car Accident? By RACHAEL GILMER
What do I do first if I get in a car accident? Your safety and the safety of those around you is the top priority. If anyone at the scene needs emergency medical attention, call 911 and ask that an ambulance be sent to the scene in additional to Florida Highway Patrol (FHP). If there are no emergency medical needs, call the FHP directly and report the collision. If you are able to move your vehicle off the road and out of the way of other motorists, do so. This is for your safety as well as those driving around you. Do I need to do anything at the scene? Again, your safety is a top priority so don’t do anything to jeopardize that while you wait for assistance to arrive. If you are able though take pictures of any damage to your vehicle and the other vehicles involved. Get the names and contact information for anyone who witnessed the accident. Do not rely on the police to get all of this information. Witnesses often don’t stay at the scene long, and the police rarely take photos of the vehicles unless a fatality is involved. When should I go to the doctor? If you are experiencing pain following the collision, go to the doctor immediately. It is always better to be on the safe side and get checked out by a medical professional than to leave injuries untreated. Use your discretion to determine whether you should take an ambulance to the nearest emergency room, go by private vehicle to an urgent care facility
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or wait and see a provider of your choice at your earliest convenience. Is it true that my own insurance company has to pay for my medical bills? Florida is a no fault state. Therefore no matter who caused the collision, if you have Florida insurance and you are in an accident, then your auto insurance pays first. They will pay 80 percent of accident related medical expenses and 60 percent of your lost wages due to the accident up to a maximum combined total of $10,000. In order to ensure you get these benefits, you must see a medical professional within 14 days of the accident. You also must report the accident to your auto insurance carrier. They will give you a claim number which is what you give all your medical providers for billing purposes. Your auto insurance carrier may also send you paperwork to fill out. Under Florida law you have a duty to cooperate with your own insurance company so don’t throw that paperwork to the side. You need to fill it out. If you have an attorney check with him or her before you return any paperwork to an insurance company, but again don’t ignore it or your no fault benefits could be in jeopardy. What about the damage to my car? When dealing with property damage each auto insurance company is a little different. You can deal directly with your auto insurance company or you can deal with the at fault insurance company. Almost all policies will cover either the repair
costs of the vehicle, or if your car is totaled the fair market value of the vehicle. This is different from the replacement cost. Instead of relying solely on what the insurance company tells you your car is worth, do your own research. There are numerous online sites you can use to aid in your research including Kelley Blue Book (www.kbb.com), NADA Guides (www. nadaguides.com) or Auto Trader (www.autotrader. com). Remember to tell the insurance adjuster if you recently paid for extensive repairs, put on new tires, upgraded the car with a new sound system, or any other add-ons your car has that would enhance it’s market value. What if the person who hit me doesn’t have insurance? You may not have control over who hits you or your family members, but you can do something to make sure you are covered if you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of a car accident. Uninsured motorist (“UM”) coverage is the most important insurance you can buy. This insurance covers you when the person who caused the accident either does not have insurance or does not have sufficient insurance to pay all your damages. Florida requires that everyone who owns a vehicle have auto insurance, but it surprises many people to learn that currently there is no mandatory bodily injury (“BI”) coverage in Florida. BI insurance is the coverage the at fault driver must have if the insurance company is going to pay damages for any individuals hurt in the accident. If the at fault driver does not have BI coverage or does not have enough BI coverage then the injured parties are often out of luck unless they have UM coverage. Talk to your insurance agent and make sure you have this very important coverage.
Do I have to hire an attorney to do all this for me? You never have to hire an attorney. Each case is different and not all cases need an attorney’s expertise. For example if you have minimal to no personal injuries and the insurance company has repaired your car to your satisfaction, then often an attorney is unnecessary. On the other hand, if your injuries require regular on going medical treatment, then an attorney can be a huge help not only in maximizing the benefits owed to you, but also in dealing with all the phone calls and paperwork that come your way following a car accident. Most personal injury attorneys do not charge for an initial consultation. Meet with an attorney you trust and then make a decision as to whether you need to hire an expert to help with your claim.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney. No person should act or rely upon any information in this article without seeking the advice of a qualified attorney.
Rachael Gilmer is a shareholder at Levin Papantonio. She currently manages the motor vehicle department at the firm and focuses her practice on car accidents, wrongful death, trucking accidents, brain injury, and severe injuries related to premises liability.
March 2016 www.esrba.com The Summation 25
Catholic High School Team Members
Travis Johnson and Brian Kirkland enjoying the proceedings
2016 Mock Trial...
Tate High School Team Members
YLD President Bo Harper presents the award for â€œBest Attorneyâ€? to Catholic High School Junior, Chandler Rayborn
Escambia-Santa Rosa Bar Foundation Board member, Adrianna Spain, presents $500 check to Tate High to help with travel expenses for the state competition in Orlando
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Photos No this is not a judicial selfieâ€Ś
...During his recent visit to Pensacola, The Florida Bar President RamĂłn Abadin shares a mobile app with our local judges
2016 Martin Luther King Jr. Parade...
...Levin Papantonio and Michles & Booth floating through the Martin Luther King Jr. Parade in Downtown Pensacola March 2016 www.esrba.com The Summation 27
This Community Newspaper is a publication of Escambia/Santa Rosa Bar Association
New Community Newspaper Available Every Wednesday The Summation Weekly is a new community newspaper specializing in regional events, arts and culture, and recent government news. This publication is especially useful to the legal community, as it fulfills statutory requirements for placement of legal ads. With The Summation Weekly, the Escambia and Santa Rosa Bar Association and Ballinger Publishing have forged a partnership to deliver the best news our counties have to offer with an inexpensive, accurate and highly efficient outlet for legal notices.
CALL US ABOUT PLACING YOUR LEGAL NOTICES SEE HOW WE CAN SAVE YOU MONEY! Malcolm Ballinger: 850-433-1166 x 27 Malcolm@ballingerpublishing.com NaShanda Edwards: 850-433-1166 x 25 Legals@ballingerpublishing.com For display ads, call Malcolm Ballinger at 850-433-1166 x 27
News from the Clerk Escambia County Payment Plans Part I By PAM CHILDERS
Pursuant to §28.246(4), Fla. Stat., clerks of court shall accept payments as part of an established payment plan for payment of criminal defendants’ court ordered fines, costs, fees and service charges. The Escambia Clerk of Court drafts these agreements, working with defendants to complete their financial obligations to the courts. This article is the first in a twopart series answering questions you may have about the Escambia Clerk payment plans. How do the Clerk’s payment plans work? After being sentenced in a criminal case, a defendant may complete an application with the Clerk to enter into a payment plan. The defendant pays a $25 administrative fee to establish the payment plan and a payment plan agreement is executed. The agreement shows the balance due on the case, the monthly payment amount, the payment due date, and the methods available for making the payments (cash, check or credit card; in person, by mail, or telephonic). In accordance with the terms of the agreement, defendants have a five-day grace period in which to make their monthly payments, after which they will be in default of the agreement. The default provisions are contained in the payment plan and are explained to the defendant when he/she enters into the plan.
Why is a $25 administrative fee charged? Pursuant to §§28.24 and 28.246, the Clerk shall charge a $25 fee for establishing and administrating a payment plan. The $25 fee is a one-time fee that covers the life of the payment plan regardless of the number of payments made by the defendant. What are the benefits for a defendant entering into a payment plan? In addition to the benefit of paying the financial obligations owed on a criminal sentence, there are two primary benefits for a defendant to entering into a payment plan. First, a defendant may clear a driver’s license suspension by entering into a payment plan with the Clerk. Second, the interest on a judgment lien will stop accruing when a defendant enters into a payment plan. There are two types of driver’s license suspensions: (1) a suspension for failure to pay court ordered financial obligations; and (2) a D-6 suspension for failure to comply with the directives of the court. When a defendant has a financial obligation suspension, the Clerk will issue a clearance letter to the defendant upon
March 2016 www.esrba.com The Summation 29
entry into a payment plan for that particular case. If the court has imposed a D-6 suspension, then the Clerk’s personnel will review the terms of the defendant’s sentence to determine if there are any other conditions that must be met to clear the defendant’s license. If only financial obligations are owed, then a clearance letter for the D-6 suspension will be issued by the Clerk upon entry into a payment plan. If there are other obligations holding the defendant’s license, then he/she will be advised of those conditions. When a defendant has a judgment lien, interest accrues at the statutory rate from the date the lien was signed by the court until the lien is paid. If a defendant enters into a payment plan with the Clerk to pay the court costs and fines secured by the lien, no further interest will accrue on the lien starting the date the defendant enters into the payment plan. If the defendant defaults on the plan, then interest will begin accruing again. How much does a defendant have to pay each month while on a payment plan?
are asked to make a monthly payment of $100. These amounts are target amounts for the plans. If a defendant states he/she cannot afford the target monthly payment, personnel have the discretion to work with the defendant to find an amount that is affordable. What is a stacked payment plan? A stacked payment plan is for defendants with multiple cases. It allows a defendant to put all of his/her cases into one plan with one monthly payment. Instead of dividing a single payment among many cases, the monthly payment is applied to one case at a time until that case is paid in full, and then monthly payments are applied to the next case until it is paid in full. This procedure allows a defendant to pay off a case more quickly and see progress being made. Defendants with multiple cases holding their licenses and those with liens benefit as this plan allows them to get their licenses reinstated and stop interest from accruing. The next article will address payment plans for defendants on probation, restitution, and the folders in the courtrooms.
Monthly payments for a payment plan vary depending on the type of case and the type of payment plan (single case or stacked). For single case payment plans, defendants are asked to pay Submitted by Susan A. Woolf and Cathy $75/month for a felony case and $50/month for Reynolds on behalf of Pam Childers, Escambia a misdemeanor or criminal traffic case. Traffic County Clerk of the Circuit Court citations are to be paid in full within three months. For stacked payment plans, defendants
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Classifieds If you would like to place a classified ad in the next edition of The Summation, please call 850-433-1166 ext. 29, or send an email to dawn@ballingerpublishing. com.
March 25 Good Friday Bar Office Closed
March 24 March Bar Meeting First Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Linda Nobles New World Landing Noon – 1:00 p.m.
April 8 Employment Law Update Seminar Multi-media Room, M.C. Blanchard Judicial Building 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
April 15 Introduction to Intellectual Property Law Seminar Multi-media Room, M.C. Blanchard Judicial Building 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 p.m. April 28 Law Day Luncheon Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga Crowne Plaza Hotel, Grand Ballroom 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 P.M. May 1 Law Day Religious Service First United Methodist Church 11:00 a.m.
May 5 Law Week Judicial Reception Palafox Wharf Waterfront 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. May 12 Escambia/Santa Rosa Bar Foundation Banquet The Pensacola Yacht Club 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. May 13 Probate & Elder Law Update Seminar Multi-media Room, M.C. Blanchard Judicial Building 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. May 20 Criminal Law Update Seminar Multi-media Room, M.C. Blanchard Judicial Building 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
May 30 Memorial Day Bar Office Closed
March 2016 www.esrba.com The Summation 31
32 The Summation www.esrba.com March 2016