THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE LEE COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION
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Letter from the President
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Letter from the Editor
Training and care for our one and only voice
Not Guilty - 14 and Counting
Innocence Project of Florida exonerates the wrongly imprisoned
by Sara Fitzpatrick Comito
by John D. Agnew, Esq.
by Nanci DuBois
10 Calendar of Events 12 Family Law Matters
Just Say No by Luis E. Insignares, Esq.
14 Law Week Calendar of Events
18 Dean Milhizer’s Side Bar
Legal education for the public by Eugene R. Milhizer
20 Community Connection
Hope Clubhouse Featuring Kathleen A. Smith by Sara Fitzpatrick Comito
27 The Dish List
where to meet and eat
28 The Dish
30 Legal Lens
Social Scene Photos
33 On the Bench
Honorable R. Thomas Corbin
35 From the Bar
Colin Abbott, Esq.
35 New Members 37 Legal Briefs
News and Happenings
38 Real Estate where to buy, sell or lease 40 100 Club Be sure to check out
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THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE LEE COUNTY FLORIDA BAR ASSOCIATION
RES GESTAE | April 2014
Staff Box PUBLISHER Connie Ramos-Williams 239.690.9840 EXECUTIVE EDITOR Nanci DuBois 239.334.0047 ASSOCIATE EDITOR Sara Fitzpatrick Comito CREATIVE DIRECTOR April Bordeaux ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Linda Fiore 239.690.9840 CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Sara Fitzpatrick Comito Nanci DuBois John D. Agnew, Esq. Luis E. Insignares, Esq. Dean Eugene R. Milhizer Pamela Pyles Linkhart BILLING INQUIRIES 239.334.0047 Res Gestae is published monthly by CONRIC Publishing in partnership with Lee County Bar Association. All editorial, advertising and photos may be submitted for consideration through email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information published, but cannot be held responsible for any consequences arising from omissions or errors. Opinions expressed by our writers and advertisers are not necessarily opinions shared by the LCBA, Res Gestae, or CONRIC Publishing. On The Cover: (from top left) Orlando Boquete, James Bain, Wilton Dedge, Larry Bostic, Cheydrick Britt, Derrick Williams, Alan Crotzer, Frank Lee Smith, Chad Heins, Luis Diaz, Jerry Frank Townsendvv, Anthony Caravella, Bill Dillon Cover Photo: Courtesy of Innocence Project of Florida Copyright© 2014. Lee County Bar Association, Inc. All Rights Reserved. No portion of the publication may be reproduced in part or in whole without prior written permission of the Lee County Bar Association. To inquire about such permission, please contact Nanci DuBois, Executive Director of the Lee County Bar Association at email@example.com.
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Note from the President The pace and fortune of life as an attorney has its ebbs and flows. Generally, we are privileged. Eleven weeks into 2014, as I write this article, the year has been kind and my calendar booked. A few of my cases increased in their intensity, nine of them have been to mediation, and I have been adding new cases at a quicker clip than I am settling them or otherwise seeing them through to judgment. I would always rather be “too busy” than not busy enough. Business is good. For the past few years, in addition to my regular work, I have also tried to keep at least one pro bono case. This year I had some hesitation about taking on another, because I knew I would have increased time commitments related to serving as the President of the LCBA and as a new member of the Board of Directors for the PACE Center for Girls of Lee County, on top of other already-existing commitments. Ultimately, I did accept another, and, despite an extraordinarily busy schedule this year, I have not regretted it. This is true, even after having spent 20 hours this week preparing for and taking the other party’s deposition and preparing for and attending mediation. For those of you who do pro bono work, I am sure you can relate to the sentiment that helping others, without expectation of something in return, is incredibly gratifying. If you have never provided pro bono services, I honestly believe you are missing out. Whether it is assisting someone contesting a garnishment of wages, fighting an eviction or foreclosure, serving as an attorney ad litem in dependency court or something more complex, there are always people in need. As lawyers, we have a skill set that is not easily obtained, and our hourly rates reflect that fact. Those rates, however, often present a significant obstacle to accessing a justice system not easily deciphered by the untrained. I am a firm believer that to those whom much is given, much is expected. While I am conservative by nature and not keen on ideas involving governmental redistribution of wealth, I absolutely believe each of us who is able to do so has a personal responsibility to be ready and willing to give a hand up to those in need. Donating money certainly helps and is often a necessity, but I promise donating your time is more meaningful, if not more valuable. National Volunteer Week is upon us from April 6-12, and I encourage those of you without a pro bono case to accept one during that time. If you would like assistance doing do, feel free to drop by the LCBA office or give us a call at 334.0047.
John D. Agnew, Esq. firstname.lastname@example.org | (239) 344-1364 6
RES GESTAE | April 2014
LEE COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION ADMINISTRATIVE TEAM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Nanci G. DuBois EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT Lisa Poulin LAWYER REFERRAL & PRO BONO COORDINATOR Kathy Robinson
EXECUTIVE COUNCIL PRESIDENT John D. Agnew, Esq. VICE-PRESIDENT Anne Dalton, Esq. SECRETARY Scott Atwood, Esq. TREASURER Kelly Fayer, Esq. MEMBER-AT-LARGE Daniel Endrizal, Esq.
YOUNG LAWYERS DIVISION PRESIDENT Shannon Puopolo, Esq.
COMMITTEES HISTORY E. Bruce Strayhorn, Esq. & Jenna Persons, Esq. LAW RELATED EDUCATION Jaime Maurer, Esq. & Scott Atwood, Esq. LAW WEEK Hon. John S. Carlin MOCK TRIAL Mary C. Evans, Esq. PAST PRESIDENT Mary C. Evans, Esq. PRO BONO Audrey Singelton, Esq. & Katie Berkey, Esq. MEMBERSHIP Carlos Kelly, Esq. SOCIAL EVENTS Amanda Mitteer-Bartley, Esq. & Theresa Daniels, Esq.
PRACTICE SECTION CHAIRS ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION Anne Dalton, Esq. APPELLATE LAW Margaret White-Small, Esq. CRIMINAL LAW Keith Upson, Esq. REAL PROPERTY, PROBATE & TRUST LAW Kenneth Kemp, Esq. GENERAL CIVIL & BUSINESS LITIGATION Vacant TORT LITIGATION Preston John (PJ) Scheiner, Esq. FAMILY LAW Rana Holz, Esq. & Jo Ellen Kane, Esq. LAND USE & GOVERNMENTAL LAW Russell Schropp, Esq.
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Letter from the Editor The “Free Run ‘til June 1” Lawyer Referral Service offer is now active, so if you have not given this business-builder a try, now’s your chance! Connect today with LRS Coordinator Kathy Robinson at lrs@leebar. org for details and to get signed up to grow your business. If you practice in any of the following areas, we need you! Administrative Law, Civil Litigation, Computer Law, Corporate/ Business Law, Entertainment/Sports Law, Insurance Law, Tax Law, Securities Law. Our Lawyer Referral Service experiences the most calls for these areas: Bankruptcy, Education Law, Civil Rights, Immigration Law, Malpractice: Legal, Medical & Dental, Military Law, Social Security: Disability, and SSI, Worker’s Comp: Both sides Federal State & Local, Intellectual Law: Copyright, Trademark, and Patent. This is an exciting time of year for us at Lee County Bar Association. We have many events coming up, and you’ll want to consider participating in new and familiar ways…Check out our website for Calendar events today, and get involved with some very dignified and fun programs we have planned for our members and friends. There will be NO MEETING in April, June & July this year. Instead, we have several events at which you’ll likely want to join us. The remainder of the year will be just as busy, so I hope to see more faces than ever before at our upcoming events. Practice Building, our theme for this year, demands interaction and networking among those in the legal practice as well as within our community. We encourage you to stay involved and actively engaged with us as we provide more and more ways to expand and grow your client base and economic stability. The results of the recent Member Survey should be available soon, with our thanks to all who took the time to answer the online survey and the several personal phone calls from our Membership Committee. We are working for, and with, our members to bring more of what you are asking for. Our goal is to provide irresistible reasons for you to be ever more involved in YOUR Lee County Bar Association. Here’s a mighty attractive membership benefit you might not have considered: Frank Jean, one of the area’s best licensed massage therapists, is offering $10 off a one-hour massage or gift certificate in his downtown office – or a $25 travel fee waiver on mobile chair massage in your office. In Frank’s capable hands, your tension doesn’t stand a chance. Give him a call! (239) 247-0141
Nanci G. DuBois email@example.com | (239) 334-0047 ext. 102 8
RES GESTAE | April 2014
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Calendar of Events CELEBRATING 90 YEARS: 1924 – 2014
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For Law Week Calendar of Events, including May’s Membership Luncheon, please see page 14.
Apr 4 Apr 11 Apr 12
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Young Lawyers Division Lunch Meeting Noon at The Connection Bar & Grill
Membership Committee Meeting
Noon at Henderson Franklin Starnes & Holt, PA
Once Upon a New Moon IV Bench/Bar Gala
6-10 pm at Harborside Event Center. A chance to dress up, dine well, visit with our friends and dance to the music we love by “The Juice”. Title Sponsor: Henderson Franklin Starnes & Holt, PA Music Sponsor: Associates & Bruce L. Scheiner. Tickets: $100 RSVP to email@example.com
Family Law Practice Section Lunch Meeting
Noon, Courtroom 5C, 5th FL Justice Center “It’s the Law: 10 Top Cases of 2013-14”. Presenter: Elizabeth Wolt, Esq. Sponsors for sandwiches: Martin Law Firm; Dessert Sponsors: Wolt & Associates.
Executive Council Meeting
5:30 – 6:30 p.m. at Henderson Franklin Starnes & Holt, PA. President: John D. Agnew, Esq. firstname.lastname@example.org
Land Use & Governmental Law Practice Section Meeting Noon at Lee County Public Works
1500 Monroe St, 1st FL Conf Rm. Chair: Russell Schropp, Esq. email@example.com
YLD Meeting TBA: See website @ leebar.org for details!
Appellate Law Practice Section Meeting
1:30 – 2 p.m., Lee County Justice Center Courtroom 5-H, just before the 2DCA Panel Discussion. Contact Chair: Margaret White-Small, Esq. firstname.lastname@example.org
The Second District Court of Appeal Panel Discussion 2 – 4 p.m., Lee County Justice Center
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RES GESTAE | April 2014
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Family Law Practice Section Meeting
Noon. “It’s the Law: Legislative and Rules Update” Presenter: Reuben Doupe, Esq.
Criminal Law Practice Section
11:30-1pm, location, subject, food, & possible CLE credit, TBD. First Assistant State Attorney Amira Fox, presenter
Land Use & Governmental Law Practice Section Meeting Noon at Lee County Public Works, 1500
Monroe St, 1st FL Conf Rm. Chair: Russell Schropp, Esq. firstname.lastname@example.org Fox, presenter
Visit us online at leebar.org to see the entire LCBA Annual Calendar and conveniently RSVP for upcoming events. Would You Like to Submit an Event? Email your event submission to email@example.com
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Family Law Matters By Luis E. Insignares
In past columns, we’ve looked at fairly specific legal issues, often tied to legislative efforts, specific statutes, cases, or legal or equitable concepts. All of us, or at least those of us “of a certain age,” can remember First Lady Nancy Reagan’s admonition to “Just say no,” and although in historical context that statement of course referred to the abuse of drugs, certainly a noble sentiment in itself, that simple idea can also have a much broader application, which we as lawyers would do well to remember in the practice of law. Let’s look at one hypothetical lawyer who should’ve listened to Nancy Reagan. Hired by a gentleman to defend the foreclosure of his home, the case puts the lawyer’s client’s marriage under strain, and it eventually reaches the breaking point. The client now wishes to obtain a divorce, and the client asks the lawyer to file for dissolution of marriage. After all, the lawyer has never even met the wife. His engagement contract for the mortgage case was signed by the husband only, and the Notice of Appearance the lawyer filed only stated that he represented the husband in the foreclosure case. The problem is that in the above hypothetical, the mortgaged property is owned by the entireties. And the essential characteristic of an estate by the entirety is that each spouse is seized of the whole as opposed to a divisible part. Ashwood v. Patterson, 49 So.2d 848 (Fla.1951); Andrews v. Andrews, 155 Fla. 654, 21 So.2d 205 (1945). An estate by the entireties is but one estate and, in contemplation of law, held by but one person. Ashwood, supra; Hunt v. Covington, 145 Fla. 706, 200 So. 76 (1941); Bailey v. Smith, 89 Fla. 303, 103 So. 833 (1925). The unity of person as recognized in an estate by the entirety springs from the relationship of husband and wife. Junk v. Junk, 65 So.2d 728 (Fla.1953). A spouse’s interest in property held as an estate by the entireties is not severable from that of the other spouse. Markland v. Markland, 155 Fla. 629, 21 So.2d 145 (Fla.1945); Strauss v. Strauss, 148 Fla. 23, 3 So.2d 727 (1941). Given the above law applicable to the mortgaged property, query whether the helpful lawyer can now claim he was not in fact representing both parties in the foreclosure suit? Also, suppose the bank served papers meant for both defendant spouses on the helpful lawyer, and suppose further that the 12
RES GESTAE | April 2014
wife never hired any separate foreclosure defense counsel herself? Another concept applicable here is that, for purposes of disqualifying counsel (as would no doubt be sought in the hypothetical divorce), the test is whether the purported client’s subjective belief that she was being represented was reasonable. See, e.g., Bartholomew v. Bartholomew, 611 So.2d 85 (Fla. 2d DCA 1992). Unfortunately, for our helpful hypothetical counsel, disqualification in the divorce case may not be his only worry. Given that the foreclosure had yet to be granted, the property that is the subject of the first case is still owned by the couple, and is also marital property subject to equitable distribution. When an attorney who previously represented a couple subsequently chooses to represent only one of them, in the couple’s divorce, the ethical rules (which are also the basis for disqualification) are often violated. See, e.g., The Florida Bar v. Dunagan, 731 So.2d 1237 (Fla. 1999) (representation of husband in dissolution proceeding by attorney who previously had represented husband and wife jointly in matters relating to their business, was conflict of interest; evidence was sufficient to support finding that wife did not consent to attorney’s representation of husband, and wife’s failure to affirmatively object to representation could not be construed as “consent after consultation” as required by rules; held: evidence was sufficient to support finding that attorney had violated rules by using information relating to representation of wife to her disadvantage, and 91-day suspension from the practice of law was appropriate discipline); The Florida Bar v. Wilson, 714 So.2d 381 (1998) (attorney’s representation of a wife in dissolution proceeding was a conflict of interest and in violation of disciplinary
rules, where attorney had previously represented both the husband and wife in a declaratory judgment action against Department of Lottery). In family law contexts, for purposes of determining whether the two proceedings are related, when the attorney has represented both parties in litigation regarding property which is subsequently contended to be a marital asset in a divorce, the attorney has a conflict of interest. The Florida Bar v. Dunagan, supra (business that was subject of prior litigation for couple jointly was later a marital asset in divorce). In family law in particular “Just say no” can apply not only to our actions, but to those of our clients. In the next installment, we’ll look at some of the recurring situations in which our clients should “Just say no.” RG Luis E. Insignares is a board certified marital and family lawyer and a certified family law mediator practicing in Fort Myers, Florida with the firm of Luis E. Insignares, P.A. He serves on the Executive Council of the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar and is a current member of the Family Law Certification Review Committee and former member of the Family Law Rules Committee of the Florida Bar.
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2014 LAW WEEK ~ CALENDAR OF EVENTS by JUDGE JOHN S. CARLIN Chairperson, Law Week
Law Week will be celebrated in Lee County from Friday, April 25, 2014 through Friday, May 2, 2014. This year’s events include the following activities: FRIDAY, APRIL 25 - LAW WEEK BLOOD DRIVE: Attorney Luis Rivera (239) 344-1323 or luis.rivera@henlaw. com is coordinating a Law Week Blood Drive. The Blood Mobile will be parked at the SE corner of Martin Luther King Blvd. and Monroe from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Contact Krista Scott at (239) 344-1100, to make an appointment for your date with the Blood Mobile. SATURDAY, APRIL 26 - LAW IN THE MALL: Law in the Mall will be at the Edison Mall on Saturday, April 26, 2014 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. This event is being coordinated by Attorney Ryan O’Halloran. Contact Ryan at (239) 334-7212 or firstname.lastname@example.org to volunteer for Law in the Mall. THURSDAY, MAY 1 - THE BAR AND JUDICIARY APPRECIATION: The Lee County Association for Women Lawyers is coordinating The Bar and Judiciary Appreciation reception set for Thursday, May 1 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Location to be announced. This event will honor the Judiciary of the Twentieth Circuit and the Middle District of Florida. Hors d’oeuvres and cash bar (Members: $25 & Non-Members: $30) RSVP to Liridona Sinani at email@example.com or to Danielle Zemola at firstname.lastname@example.org. FRIDAY, MAY 2 – 2ND DCA – ORAL ARGUMENTS: The Second DCA will hear oral arguments at the Lee County Justice Center. The DCA Judges will meet with local high schools at 8:30 a.m. prior to the opening of court. FRIDAY, MAY 2 - LAW WEEK AWARDS LUNCHEON – SIDNEY AND BERNE DAVIS ART CENTER: The Sixteenth Annual Law Week Awards Luncheon will be held on May 2 at 11:30 a.m. at the Sidney and Berne Davis Art Center. The luncheon will honor Law Enforcement Officers of the Year for the City of Fort Myers, City of Cape Coral and the Lee County Sheriff ’s Department. Also, the Dr. James A. Adams Lee County Teacher of the Year for Law-Related Education will be awarded to an outstanding teacher, and the prestigious Liberty Bell Award will be presented to a very deserving member of our community. (Members: $15 & Non-Members: $30)
RSVP online & download CC Authorization by Tuesday, April 29 Or RSVP to Lee Co. Bar Association by phone (239) 334-0047 Ext. 101 or e-mail to email@example.com. I would like to personally thank all of the attorneys who are volunteering their time to ensure another successful Law Week in Lee County. If there are any activities that you would like to participate in, please contact any of the committee members for assistance. Thank you.
RES GESTAE | April 2014
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Professionally Speaking Training and care for your one and only voice By Pamela Pyles Linkhart
The human voice is a unique instrument that conveys expression, vitality and authority. It is capable of resonance and an array of sounds and tone colors. Each speaker’s sound is unique, like our fingerprints. Although that individuality is to be celebrated, everyone’s voice can benefit from coaching. My father was a successful attorney and later became a judge, but it was a tremendous struggle because of a speech impediment. I inherited his stutter. For years I thought I would never overcome my speech problems. The study of phonetics, speech communication, languages, theater and vocal arts was my saving grace. In addition to a lifetime of training my classical operatic voice and performing all over the world, I became a news reporter, on-camera talent and eventually a news anchor. Anyone whose profession requires speaking – lawyers, judges, politicians, voice-over talent and teachers – can enhance his or her career with training techniques that are firmly rooted in the study of anatomy and physiology. Below I will describe some of the mechanics involved in speech, what to expect during vocal training with a qualified coach and some helpful hints anyone can use to enhance confidence, career opportunities and perception by others starting now. Vocal fatigue, poor postural alignment, illness and lack of deep diaphragmatic breath support can have an adverse effect in producing a healthy sound. Relaxation of the vocal mechanism is key to healthy phonation. During training sessions the individual learns specific areas of focus for enhanced relaxation, including the muscles of the face, tongue, swallowing (suprahyoid) muscles, jaw, neck and head. Attention is focused on the posture to insure a good sense of alignment. Breath management, the power source of phonation, is developed by paying close attention to one’s abdominal muscles, diaphragm, lungs and intercostal muscles. It is also important to make sure the speaker has proper vocal placement and consistent breath support. 16
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Noticeable and sustainable progress can be made after just a few sessions. To start speaking better now: • Make sure your vocal folds are sufficiently hydrated by drinking plenty of water. • Avoid shouting and speaking above loud noises at sports functions, restaurants, etc. • Stop smoking and avoid second hand smoke. • Be aware of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and if experiencing symptoms, take proper precautions to correct it. • Rest the voice and body as much as possible and try not to speak when ill. Overcoming speech difficulties has allowed me to develop skills and compassion to help others maintain a healthy voice, enhance their professional lives and work to overcome any difficulties they may have. Professional voice users often place vigorous physical demands on their vocal apparatus to achieve volume, duration and flexibility. In order to meet the challenges of speaking professionally, one must train and develop proper vocal techniques, which will provide longterm voice benefits. After all, we each only have one voice, and with the knowledge and care of our instrument, it can function beautifully our entire lifetime. RG World renowned soprano Pamela Pyles Linkhart is the owner of She Sings for Chocolate, a vocal arts studio in Fort Myers offering private voice lessons, speech improvement training and master classes.
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Dean Milhizer’s Side Bar
for the Public By Eugene R. Milhizer
It seems you can’t glance at a newspaper or watch the TV news without being inundated with reporting about a criminal trial. Casey Anthony, Jodi Arias and George Zimmerman have become familiar faces. They join a growing rogues’ gallery that features O.J. Simpson, Martha Stewart, Rodney King, the Menendez brothers, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemons, and many others. I suppose this is not surprising. Criminal trials make for entertaining reality television. The circumstances of the case and cast of characters can be compelling, and the stakes are far weightier than being voted off an island. Quantity of coverage, however, does not equate to quality of coverage. Talking heads, not to mention legal commentators and public figures who should know better, are often misinformed about the law and facts of a case. Sometimes they even have an axe to grind. As attorneys, we are especially aware of the legal system’s warts and shortcomings. It is imperfect, as is any human endeavor. Sometimes injustice occurs and the guilty go free or, even worse, the innocent are convicted. On occasion, lawyers and judges do things that reflect poorly on the profession. But we also know that the system usually produces just and defensible results, and that lawyers and judges involved in criminal trials generally behave ethically and professionally. What the public misinterprets as an injustice or a failure of the system is often the consequence of its lack of understanding or being misinformed, sometimes through poor or slanted media reporting. It is our responsibility, as members of the bar, to explain the criminal justice system and the events of a trial to our friends and neighbors. We have a system worth defending, and we should look for opportunities to offer a reasoned and informed defense of it. To this end, here are eight modest suggestions for my fellow 18
RES GESTAE | April 2014
attorneys to help educate the public about the legal system: 1. Become familiar with current, high-profile cases. There are many reputable sources to draw upon that provide an accurate, up-to-date summary of such litigation. You need to know about the case in order to discuss it authoritatively and professionally. 2. Take the time to respond to questions and correct misconceptions about particular cases and the system more broadly. You might be surprised how mistaken bright and engaged people can be. Keep in mind that while they may be experts about their profession and business, you likely know much more about the law and the legal system than they do. 3. Look for opportunities to educate the public about the legal system. Civic organizations and community groups provide good venues. So do informal occasions. Even consider letters to the editor or responsible blogging. 4. Don’t shrink from defending the system against irrational or biased attacks. The other person might be honestly misinformed. You can’t assume he has heard and rejected what you would say to dispel his misunderstandings. As strange as it may seem, he may have never been exposed to your point of view or perspective. 5. Explain the purposes and limitations of criminal trials. They are designed to reach a just verdict based on the relevant law and the evidence that is presented. They are not intended to address broad social ills or advance public policy. This is the role of the political branches, scientific research, religious institutions and charitable entities, among others. 6. Explain the reasonable doubt standard and why the prosecution has this weighty burden. Explain how it protects everyone, including them. Also, explain the role of the prosecutor, the defense counsel and the judge, and why these functions are ethical and proper in our adversarial system. 7. If, in your judgment, the system or someone has erred in a particular case, explain the mistake and put it in
Dean Milhizer’s Side Bar its proper context. If you believe, for example, that a verdict is incorrect, you can identify the likely reasons and clarify why this result does not undermine the integrity of the entire system. You should also describe the rules and processes in place that guard against this happening in other cases. 8. When you champion some kind of legal reform, be sure to describe how this would make a good system even better. Be proud of your profession. This is not a call for uncritical cheerleading. Rather, it is an appeal to teach and explain. Our legal system and those who work in it deserve the public’s respect and confidence. We would all be better served if this becomes more widely understood and appreciated. RG Ave Maria School of Law President and Dean, Eugene R. Milhizer, has presented lectures, speeches, and seminars at law schools and other venues across the country, and his legal scholarship has been published in many prestigious law journals. He can be reached at ermilhizer@ avemarialaw.edu, or at 239-687-5305. www.avemarialaw.edu.
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Featuring Kathleen A. Smith By Sara Fitzpatrick Comito
“In my position as Public Defender, I’ve seen far too many people who’ve come into contact with the criminal system because of their mental illness,” said Kathleen A. Smith. It makes her much happier to report that two individuals living with mental illness have found meaningful employment as part of the support staff at her office. More important to her office’s operations, though: Kathleen Foran Smith they have proved to be solid workers who have earned a spot on her team based on merit. Smith met them through her work on the Board of Directors at Hope Clubhouse of Southwest Florida. As stated in its mission, the organization “offers opportunities for meaningful work, education, friendships, and access to housing in a supportive, caring, dignified and respectful community setting.” Smith said in addition to those opportunities, Hope Clubhouse serves to help populations with mental illness interface with and succeed in the community at large, thus removing some of the stigma associated with mental illness that still exists. “Once you spend time with the Hope Clubhouse members, you see they’re not very much different from the rest of us.” Those who come to the Clubhouse are referred to as 20
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members, and members learn to insist that society not define them by their mental illness. One in four families is affected by mental illness, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, post traumatic stress disorder and others. Fully 85 percent of persons living with mental illness are unemployed, representing the highest rate of any disability group. The numbers tell a story about how great a need there is for the Clubhouses services. As Smith affirmed, the greater Fort Myers area is exceptionally fortunate to have its own clubhouse. There are clubhouses nationwide, but few in Florida. Attorney Denis Rehak is also on the board. He said, “The
Members go for a walk during one of 2 monthly socials.
Members prepare lunch in the Clubhouse culinary unit.
Hope Clubhouse fills a gap in the community that I think no other organization fills for people in need of support so they can function in the community and lead a happier life.” Smith suggested funding issues make the gap even larger.
When the legislature doesn’t have a budget surplus, funding for services related to mental illness and substance abuse are often the first to go. Shirley Ferrell, another board member, is also a founding member of Hope Clubhouse. As is the case with many who suffer from a mental illness, arriving at the correct diagnosis can be a journey in itself. As a teenager, she was diagnosed with depression. It wasn’t until her 20s, however, that she was correctly diagnosed with bipolar disorder. In an informational video available on the organization’s Web site, she describes how her mental illness affected her relationship with friends. “Because I was depressed, I didn’t want to get up and do things with them.” She credits the Clubhouse with giving her the structure and confidence she needed to gain steady employment, “which makes me feel like somebody – whereas before I was doing temp jobs, and I couldn’t even handle temporary jobs.” “One of the beauties of the Clubhouse is that everyone is equal,” Smith said, “They really focus on the strengths that the people with the mental illness have, and they don’t focus on the illness everyday.” That focus has the power to keep people out of the criminal justice system or a hospital. It also can help them realize their full potential as parents, students, employees and members of the community. To learn more, visit www. hopeclubhouse.org. RG
April 2014 | RES GESTAE
14 AND COUNTING Innocence Project of Florida exonerates the wrongly imprisoned By Sara Fitzpatrick Comito
“If all the world hated you and believed you wicked, while your own conscience approved of you and absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends.” ~ Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
Derrick Williams with legal team, which included IPF’s Mike Minvera, Melissa Montle, and Seth Miller.
RES GESTAE | April 2014
Cheydrick Britt with legal team, Seth Miller, Mike Minvera and Melissa Montle.
Derrick Williams got life. Two consecutive life sentences for charges including kidnapping and sexual battery. It would seem a fitting consequence, given the ghastly details of what happened to one woman on an August afternoon in 1992. But if the punishment fit the crime, it did not fit the man. Eighteen years into his sentence, Derrick Williams got his life back, but he – and his family – will never be the same. In 2006 Williams’ sister-in-law wrote a letter to the Innocence Project of Florida (IPF) with an entreaty to look into his case. To date, Florida has exonerated 14 men after DNA testing proved their innocence. These men served a combined 268 years for someone else’s crime. Williams was number 13. He recently spoke to a room full of attorneys, community-minded business people and students at a fundraising breakfast held in Naples. Attorney Gerald “Jerry” Berry coordinated and hosted the event, which was also attended by IPF attorneys and staff. The Tallahassee-based practice covers 67 counties, providing the services of two lawyers, one paralegal and several interns. Berry thanked everyone in the crowded room for springing for the $100-a-plate bacon and eggs. While the Inn on Fifth did an excellent job with those morning staples, the food was an afterthought for supporters of this busy organization that provides evidence of actual innocence, as Berry emphasized. He then introduced Executive Director Seth Miller, adding that through the efforts of a small team of dedicated attorneys, the freedom of these men has been restored. It is an underdog of an operation. DNA testing is not a lowcost proposition, for one thing. Before any action gets that far, the 501(C)3 organization thoroughly vets each one of its possible candidates. Even after its comprehensive review process, testing confirms guilt in some cases. On rare occasions,
prosecutors cooperate with the post-conviction operation. More often than not, IPF comes up against a disintegrating bread crumb trail of shoddy police and judicial procedures that lead to misidentification, failure to apply the appropriate science, perjured testimony and other confounding factors. In the case of Derrick Williams, the Manatee County Sheriff ’s Office was found to have illegally destroyed most of the evidence, including the rape kit and a hair sample that was expected to prove exculpatory. After a year’s worth of work and the help of a newspaper reporter, the organization found that in all, about 4,000 cases of evidence had been destroyed by mass incineration. An April 29, 2009 piece titled Destroyed Evidence Surprises Manatee Lawyers suggested the Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s inquiries were met with some degree of indignation. Reporter Todd Ruger quoted a spokesperson for the Manatee Sheriff ’s Office as saying, “If they were pending cases, hey, there would have been a major problem. It just happened. It’s not like someone was going in there and taking the stuff.” The revelation caused a ripple among defense attorneys in that area, who had not been notified the evidence would be summarily destroyed after reportedly molding on account of a water leak at a rented bank vault. Fortunately, the t-shirt worn by the perpetrator was stored at the Clerk of the Court’s Office. DNA testing revealed a mixture of individuals who had worn the shirt, but Williams was not in the mix. One wonders: how many others’ second chance went up in flames? Had a private firm done all the legwork, attorney fees alone would have been more than $210,000. Following is a breakdown of the 1,823 hours involved in the Williams case: April 2014 | RES GESTAE
Won’t somebody please hear my plea? Won’t somebody please set me free? Lyrics from “Chasing a Dream”, Written & Performed By Bill Dillon, Florida DNA Exoneree
Derrick Williams smiling with family after being exonerated.
Task Gathering and reviewing thousands of pages of case documents Conducting prison visits, meetings and calls with client Preparing the motion to obtain DNA testing, which the State Attorney’s Office initially opposed Preparing for the hearing to get DNA testing and the eventual settlement with the State Attorney’s Office Facilitating the DNA testing with the laboratory Preparing the motion to vacate the conviction in which the court set a two-day evidentiary hearing Investigations and taking depositions of witnesses prior to the evidentiary hearing Preparing for the evidentiary hearing and court appearance Facilitating exoneration Total
Approximate Attorney Hours 385 52 140
301 560 35 1,823
In addition to staff salaries, IPF also spent more than $20,000 on DNA testing, investigations, expert witnesses and travel. IPF receives no money from the State of Florida. Rather, it is funded solely through grants and donations. The Florida Bar Foundation is the largest funding source. All services are provided free of charge to IPF’s clients. The above chart does not include the hundreds of hours spent by IPF volunteers, interns, the intake coordinator and director of social services in providing services and support 24
RES GESTAE | April 2014
to Williams. IPF was the first innocence project worldwide to have instituted a social work component to help exonerees reintegrate back into the community. Seth Miller explained to the audience that it was the least we can do for someone we’ve wrongly locked away from society. “Walking someone out of prison has been the highlight of my career,” Miller attested, adding it has even been one of the highlights of his life. He and the IPF legal team have been treated to a hero’s welcome on the courthouse steps, but Miller insists, “I can tell you that the real hero is the person who has the persistence to endure the trauma of wrongful incarceration.” Without further ado, he introduced Derrick Williams, who said plainly, “They gave me my life back.” This man, who had every reason to become hardened and bitter, expressed gratitude. Through tears, he explained the difficulties of becoming a contributing member of society, which by any measure, he has. Williams earned his GED in prison and now has steady employment with Honeywell of America, a Department of Defense contractor. Five years after Miller opened the sister-in-law’s letter, Williams was a free man. He was 29 when he went in; when he came out, his son was 29. He has never been compensated by the state of Florida, and probably never will be. Along with providing evidence of actual innocence, IPF endeavors to reform interrogation, suspect identification and other
Florida Governor Rick Scott shakes William “Bill” Dillon’s hand after signing his compensation bill, which was sponsored by Florida Senate President Mike Haridpolos (R-Brevard) and Florida Representative Steve Crisafulli (R-District 32).
is of time the essence
10% Discount on Transcripts Ordered at Time of Deposition or Hearings / Trials Melissa Montle, James Bain and Seth Miller walking out of courthouse.
investigative procedures. It also provides support after release and works to procure some amount of restitution to the wrongfully convicted. It’s an uphill battle on all fronts. To learn more or to donate, visit floridainnocence.org. The audience was obviously touched by Williams’ story, but the packed room rose to its feet and offered an extended ovation to Evone Williams, the woman who stood by her husband through it all. Derrick Williams offers this advice to the wrongfully convicted: “You have to keep hope alive.” He says he lives a simple life. Today, the couple enjoys their 10 grandchildren. RG
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www.meritcourtreporting.net 239.481.1300 14 innocent men, imprisoned for more than 268 years, exonerated by DNA All photos courtesy of Innocence Project of Florida
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The Dish List
where to meet & eat
Reserve your space now for
THE DISH LIST a monthly feature showcasing where to meet and eat in Southwest Florida, running next to RG’s regular feature “The Dish”. To take advantage of this great opportunity to have your establishment featured in this special section, contact Linda Fiore: 239.690.9840 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Veranda 239-332-2065 2122 Second Street, Fort Myers www.verandarestaurant.com The Veranda’s romantic setting in two turn-of-the-century homes, combined with our Southern Regional Cuisine, an extensive wine list, and first class service staff will provide you with the most unique dining experience in Southwest Florida.
Royal Palm Trattoria 239-204-9059 1400 Colonial blvd., #35, Fort Myers www.RoyalPalmTrattoria.com Conveniently located in Royal Palm Square off Colonial and Summerlin, Royal Palm Trattoria offers a casually elegant dining experience for lunch and dinner. Our all-day happy hour is also the perfect chance to gather with clients or friends.
Hotel Indigo 239-337-3446 1520 Broadway Ave., Fort Myers www.hotelindigo.com The Hotel Indigo Fort Myers provides an escape from the ordinary, offering premium services, a casually-sophisticated ambiance. Breakfast, lunch and dinner served daily in the Broadway Bistro. Happy Hour Monday through Friday 2pm - 8pm.
Take a break from the Ordinary New Age ItAlIAN RestAuRANt Invites LCBA Members to Experience Fine Italian Cuisine at Affordable Prices for Lunch or Dinner 3-Course Dinner, 4-6pm Daily Includes Soup or Salad, Choice of Entree (including Prime Rib), Plus Dessert for Only $9.95 Join us for live music in the Piano Room every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 6pm - 9pm
We Can Accommodate Parties of 6-60 Perfect Setting for Client Lunch or Corporate Party Michael Filzenger, Owner and Chef (former Owner of Bogerts Chop House)
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Try the Extraordinary 239-332-2065 Lunch Mon - Fri Dinner Mon - Sat Closed Sunday Valet Service Reservations Recommended
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April 2014 | RES GESTAE
By Sara Fitzpatrick Comito
For its own sake, consistency is foolish. Emerson called it “the hobgoblin of little minds.” Consistency is quite foolish indeed, he pointed out, as a default position for those who would fear being misunderstood. Emerson was not a restaurateur, and consistency is a precarious balancing act among those who are. Establishments that “change it up” in knee-jerk fashion play a dangerous game, as do those whose menus languish for want of innovation. Bistro 41 has mastered the art of delivering a reliable dining experience that’s always fresh. Thirteen years ago (this month, in fact), I relocated to Fort Myers. My recent stint in Sun Valley, Idaho had nonetheless been lengthy enough to thoroughly spoil me on the culinary front. La La Land exists, everyone, and it’s in a little town at 5,853 feet. It probably didn’t help that I began my journey in Boston. Everyone thinks theirs is the best food city and, well, I won’t attempt to disavow you of your hometown bias. Am I not magnanimous? Upon regaining flatlander status – and HOW flat, indeed! – I braced for a major culture shock. Bistro 41 was a soft place to land for a misplaced epicure. Of course I know by now there is certainly world-class dining in every quarter of Southwest Florida, but Bistro 41 continues to delight for its brand of consistency that is anything but foolish. General Manager David Long confirmed consistency has 28
RES GESTAE | April 2014
indeed been key to the restaurant’s longevity, which opened in the Bell Tower Shops in 1997. He said it’s the perfect-sized restaurant with a die-hard commitment to fresh, creative cuisine in a great location. For those who enjoy the dining options in the Mercato and points south to Fifth Avenue but don’t enjoy the travel, Bistro 41 offers a similar experience in central south Fort Myers. Without such convenience, Long said, customers might not be so inclined to lunch at the establishment twice a week. This time of year, the outdoor seating is a popular choice for people watching, cocktails and appetizers, and lunch. Patrons also enjoy spending quality time with their well behaved canine companions (if only my raucous hounds could acquire the necessary social graces). Lunch service is quick, prices are reasonable and portions are generous. The bistro salad is a personal favorite, featuring fresh spring greens, red onions, gorgonzola, a well balanced balsamic vinaigrette, portobello mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes and a drizzle of pesto. A soup-and-salad or soup-and-sandwich combo is an affordable, satisfying meal. The classic French onion soup will keep you full for the rest of the day and has a fresh, homemade onion flavor to the broth. The tomato parmesan bisque is a bit lighter, and absolutely delicious. A
daily quiche is always available at lunch, featuring a range of vegetables, cheeses and meats. Whatever the accouterment, it’s an expertly prepared delicacy, with a fluffy texture and flaky crust. If you’ve sworn off bread, make an exception on a visit to Bistro 41. At lunch and dinner both you’ll be presented with a plate of rustic, stretchy sourdough with a chewy-crunchy crust. In former lives, I’ve worked alongside bakers and I know a good “crumb” when I see one. The “famous 41 flat” represents one of my favorite ways to
dine with friends. It’s a platter of olives, strawberries, crostini, salami, red onion marmalade, a choice of three quality cheeses and a fruit preserve. It’s like a picnic without the ants. With a glass of wine, and maybe another appetizer or two (Prince Edward Island mussels, Asian calamari, crab cakes…) it’s the perfect way to wind down after a day at the office. Dinner specials are available nightly, but the regular features are standouts, too. Duck breast Wellington, pan seared grouper with wild mushroom risotto and gigantic diver scallops on the shell with an apple beurre blanc are just a few of the consistently fresh choices. Small plate versions of some of the entrees are available, too, making it easy to customize your night out. The extensive wine list offers choices from casual everyday delights from every corner of the globe to high end bottles for very special occasions. Bring your partner, bring your client, bring your spouse, bring yourself, bring your dog. Whomever you want to entertain, Bistro 41 is the choice for consistency that’s anything but foolish. RG 13499 S Cleveland Ave # 143 · Fort Myers (239) 466-4141 www.bistro41.com Mon-Thu 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m. Fri-Sat 11:30 a.m. - 10:30 p.m. Sun 11:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. Sara Fitzpatrick Comito is the marketing writer and publications editor for CONRIC PR & Marketing | Publishing, and associate editor of Res Gestae magazine. For suggestions and comments on this regular feature, contact Sara at Sara@ConricHoldings.com.
Another satsified customer. Bistro 41 is dog-friendly, so bring your best 4-legged friend along! April 2014 | RES GESTAE
Legal Lens 1
5 Photos Courtesy of Connie Ramos-Williams
LCBA Luncheon at The Edison 6
Jim Myers and Jessica Teitelbaum
Laird Lile and James Collier
Paula Black speaks to the LCBA membership about business development strategies
Suzanne Boy and John Agnew
5 Keith Grossman, Theresa Daniels and Mary Briedé 6 8 30
RES GESTAE | April 2014
Lori Burke of Voices for Kids, Joel Young of Royal Palm Trattoria and Sara Fitzpatrick Comito of CONRIC PR & Marketing|Publishing
7 Judge Josephine Gagliardi and Judge Amy Hawthorne 8
Kim Bocelli and Shannon Puopolo
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PRESUMPTIVE 50/50 TIME SHARE1 AND POTEMKIN EQUALITY by Joseph Hoffman
1The myth has it that Grigory Potemkin, a minister for the Empress Catherine II, would build fake village fronts in order to shield her view from the abject poverty whenever she would tour the realm. The Governor’s letter vetoing the Alimony Reform legislation made explicit reference to the alimony provisions, yet said nothing about the proposed presumptive 50/50 parenting time share provision which fell without discussion. It will return. This was feel-good legislation, without regard to children, school, history of care, and the more than adequate statutory scheme set out in Chapter 61 which is without any presumptions. These concepts further a general trend in law and elsewhere to replace reality with euphemistic rubbish and liberating us all from reality. Consider: Part of the progressive agenda is to sandpaper over words which have, to some, negative connotations. Thus we eliminated the terms “custody” and “visitation” from our legal lexicon. Notice any change? In the wider world, “prisons” are “departments of corrections;” the “War Department” is now the “Defense Department.” [Tell that to the people of Vietnam, Cambodia, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Mali, Yemen, Nicaragua, Libya, and Syria!] The Associated Press has recently banned the use of the phrase “illegal immigrant.” The slaughter by Major Hason at Ft. Hood is regarded by the Department of Defense as “workplace violence,” thereby avoiding that unseemly term, “terrorist attack” and giving offense to the Yemen lobby. On a lighter note, there is the story of the Peace Corp volunteer, who, after being sent to some god-forsaken third world country wrote home and reported, “It’s all very strange here these people go to the bathroom in the street!” Back to the legislature: is it within the realm of the possible, feelgoodism-wise, is in not possible that the legislature will next attempt to reduce all the negative mists surrounding the term “attorney’s fees”? Why not call it...well, “tithing”? Aside from those feeling good about the legislation – mostly men? – the proponents of which claim that historically the alimony and parenting time are simply unfair, unequal, and medieval. The support for the legislation was considerable, medieval bad; modern good, - suggesting a sign of what could become a new officially recognized coalition of the oppressed, that is, men. And the basis, implied but unstated so far as I have read, is a concept called, “disparate impact.” It has been used honorably in voting rights cases, prisoner rights cases, but mostly in employment law. Simply, a facially neutral employment practice is one that does not appear to be discriminatory on its face; rather it is one that is discriminatory in its application or effect. How does this apply here? Let us concede the following: if one were to review every family law case in the Southern Reporters, one would discover that in, let us estimate, 81% of the time the mother was awarded “custody,” or a majority of the parenting time. Ergo? Ergo what? Unfair! says the legislature. We don’t know why, but we want to fix it, therefore presumptive 50/50 time share: we are government, we are, or have become enlightened, enlightened by the above mentioned coalitions of the oppressed. This legislation presupposes the requirement of affirmative action in its most irrational form. Consider disparate impact: in the 1935, Yale [and Cornell, Columbia, Pennsylvania, Harvard, can ya get more enlightened?], discovered something unfair, unequal, like parenting time. These ministers of the Enlightenment – think Voltaire - didn’t know why, it was all a mystery, but they came to understand the worrisome fact that a disparate, that is to say, a disproportion of their students were, dare one say the word?...why not!...Jews. Thus feel-good quotas. A young medical student then found it necessary to enroll in NYU. His name: Jonas Salk. This led, much later, to a famous drollery from an old Yalie of some renown: “I am obliged to confess that I should rather be governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston phone directory than by the two thousand members of the faculty of Harvard University.” Or the Florida Legislature? Further, it is difficult to respond to the anecdotes in support of the legislation. Life is unfair as President Kennedy said. Umbrella legislation based upon anecdotal “evidence” is also unfair. It is wise to look behind agenda-driven anecdotal legislation, however innocent in appearance. Whose agenda? Recall that lovely steed outside the walls of Troy. Surprise! Who knew? All of which reminds me of a personal anecdote. One evening, while I was attending a large dinner party in my honor at the Veranda - now you’re thinking that this event never happened. Do we care? - Let us pretend. I was seated on the dais adjacent to a gentleman and we talked of many things, of “cabbages and kings” as they say. As the evening wore on, during the speeches, the contents of which modesty prevents me to recount, he began to become disconsolate, sad and intense and began to talk suddenly of the horrific toll drunk drivers inflict on us all – 11,000 dead yearly, families destroyed, altered, orphaned children. He spoke knowingly of methods to lower the blood alcohol test. From .08 to .01 was his goal. Clearly, I was in the presence of someone hurting from some personal tragedy. “A child ...perhaps...a friend...a relative?” I mumbled in consolation. “No, no, no I just believe we have to stop all this slaughter.” And he poured forth more statistics and I nodded empathically and finally inquired, what do you do? “For a living, yes,” he said, “well, I am the chief lobbyist and Director of the Southwest Florida Taxicab Federation.” Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Joseph Hoffman, a family law attorney in Ft, Myers is, notwithstanding all evidence to the contrary, not board certified.
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RES GESTAE | April 2014
On the Bench The Hon. R. Thomas Corbin Judge R. Thomas Corbin was the 149th lawyer to join the Lee County Bar Association in 1974. Things have changed since then. Attorneys specialize today, but in the ‘70s, “you just kind of did whatever came in the door,” said the judge. His first job was with the Fort Myers firm of Allen, Knudsen, Swartz, DeBoest, Rhoads, and Edwards. Judge Corbin was appointed in 1994 and he has been assigned to every division of circuit court. Presently he is assigned to the family division. Family cases require findings of fact. “I do nearly all of my own orders,” the judge said. “This also helps to jog my memory and I think it reduces the paperwork.” One thing that hasn’t changed is the validity of this advice: “Get to your office early and leave late. Stay in your office and answer your mail and return your phone calls the same day they come in. Take care of your clients’ problems promptly and they’ll send you more clients.” Such prudent guidance came via the judge’s Uncle Joe, a lawyer and judge in Panama City.
attorneys might benefit from it.
Judge Corbin said he and his Uncle Joe did not have to contend with email and cell phones, however. He bought his first computer in 1988, took a night course in WordPerfect and coached his staff on using the computers, but said, “Having to deal with clients by email would drive me nuts.” Nevertheless, he said that Uncle Joe’s advice comes in handy in his work as a judge and
Judge Corbin was president of the LCBA in 1986. In 1985 the LCBA hired its first full time executive director and published a newsletter. He noted that Res Gestae has evolved into a sophisticated publication. The judge’s father had a feed store and a garden store here in Fort Myers in the ‘60s. “We always fancied ourselves as knowing something about plants and gardening,” the judge said, and he still spends a lot of time in the yard. He has two children from his first marriage and four grandchildren and one on the way. He remarried last January. He enjoys yoga and met his wife in a yoga class.
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Thank you to our sponsors! The Lee County Bar Association Mock Trial Committee wishes to thank the following sponsors whose generosity made the Awards Banquet event possible.
Absolute Law ◆ Fort Myers Law ◆ Anonymous Donor – Lee County Attorney Law Office of Mary C. Evans, PA
Law Office of Michael Raheb ◆ Russell Kirshy, Esq. Anonymous Donor – Charlotte County Attorney
Robert Adamski, Esq. ◆ Marie Scalise, Esq. ◆ Nulman Mediation ◆ Elisa S. Worthington, Esq. John Cardillo, Esq. ◆ Collier County Bar Association ◆ Charlotte County Bar Association Parvey & Frankel ◆ Vera Bergermann, Esq. ◆ Melanson Law, P.A. Law Office of Miguel C. Fernandez, III P.A. Court reporters and transcripts were provided by: Fort Myers Court Reporting ◆ Donovan Court Reporting ◆ Merit Court Reporting Von Ahn Associates The Bailiffs in the Courtrooms were provided by: The Lee County Sherriff’s Department ~ Thank you Sheriff Mike Scott!
Participant “Goody” bags and items were provided by:
Spivey Law Firm ◆ Wayne Wiles Floor Coverings ◆ Thomson West ◆ Zoomers Naples Zoo ◆ Iberia Bank ◆ Publix ◆ Lee County Sheriff’s Department Markham Norton Mosteller Wright & Co. ◆ Henderson Franklin Starnes & Holt
And a special thanks to all of the Judges, Magistrates and Attorneys who donated their time to supporting all of you in the Mock Trial Program. Congratulations to the 20th Circuit Mock Trial Winner: Charlotte High School ~ 5th Place Winners at State Competition Congratulations also to our other two circuit teams ~ Seacrest School and Canterbury School
From the Bar Collin Abbott, Esq. As a kid, Colin Abbott hoped one day to become a sports journalist and write about NHL hockey. Although a worthy goal for anyone growing up in a small Irish Catholic town in rural Canada, he instead went to Dalhousie Law School in Nova Scotia, then volunteered with a legal aid organization helping nationalists who had claimed asylum when USSR Aeroflot planes were being refueled in Canadian airports. “From that summer to now, I have had a passion for assisting those within our society to receive justice,” said Abbott. As managing attorney for the Migrant Farmworker Unit at Florida Rural Legal Services, he said, “There is a constant interaction with a segment of our population that is often marginalized based on language, education, and cultural barriers.” An immigrant himself, many of Abbott’s childhood memories are related to life on his grandfather’s farm. Today he conducts outreach to assist homeless farmworkers in rural Florida by educating them on their legal rights, assisting to obtain replacement immigration documents and working with other agencies to secure public benefits. He identifies the difficulty of reaching the vast farmworker communities as they follow the growing season up the Eastern Seaboard as the biggest challenge. The rewards are also immense. “Last year, I was able to assist a homeless farmworker to replace his stolen permanent residency card. Within two months, he was no longer living in the woods in Immokalee and had an apartment with a job. He told me that for the first time in many years, he felt that things would be ok.” Abbott expressed the general public’s most prevalent misconception about the Migrant Farmworker Unit’s clients is that all farmworkers are illegal. “FRLS is funded by the Legal Services Corporation and we are respected in the legal services we can provide. Before we provide legal assistance, we conduct a screening to see that the individual qualifies for our services.” When he’s not tracking down farmworkers to help them get the services they need, Abbott tries to spend his downtime enjoying life with his wife and two children. This Canadian American has in no way abandoned his childhood love of hockey, either. “I also enjoy reading NHL themed books and following the Montreal Canadiens on their quest for another Stanley Cup.”
April 2014 | RES GESTAE
The inaugural Law Shadow Day, presented in cooperation with the LCBA and Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida, was a rousing success. The students were inspired by their bird’s eye view of the justice system, from the jury room to the Clerk of Court’s office, to a courtroom proceeding and even a jail tour. The LCBA extends its thanks to: Attorneys John Agnew, Renee Binns and Christina Harris Schwinn Cecilia St. Arnold of Junior Achievement • Clerk of Court Linda Doggett and staff Judge John S. Carlin • Colonel Thomas W. Ellegood of LCSO
April 2014 | RES GESTAE
Emily B. Marshal Cole, Scott & Kissane, P.A.
Amanda H. Rocuant Rocuant Law Firm
Lindsay L. Lee Cole, Scott & Kissane, P.A.
Nadine Hope Goodman Nadine Hope Goodman, P.A.
Ron M. Campbell Cole, Scott & Kissane, P.A.
Mark Martella Martella Law Firm, P.L.
Thomas E. Shea Cole, Scott & Kissane, P.A.
Thomas B. DeMinico Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A.
Brooke E. Beebe Cole, Scott & Kissane, P.A.
Samantha Stevins Office of the Public Defender
Timothy J. Altieri Cole, Scott & Kissane, P.A.
United States District Court
Douglas D. Kemp
Eric Bluestein Freidin Dobrinsky Brown & Rosenblum, P.A.
April 2014 | RES GESTAE
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RES GESTAE | April 2014
Legal Briefs Dunford joins Law Firm of Scott T. Moorey Lance W. Dunford has joined the Law Firm of Scott T. Moorey as an associate attorney. Prior to joining the criminal defense law firm, Dunford worked as an Assistant Public Defender for Kathleen Smith in the Lee County Public Defender’s Office. Over the past two years he handled more than 1,500 cases from inception to disposition, ranging from misdemeanors to serious felonies. Dunford is a fourth generation native to the Southwest Florida area where he attended Canterbury through high school. He then graduated from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida where he earned a degree in political science. After attaining his undergraduate degree, Dunford attended Barry University School of Law, where he earned his Juris Doctorate degree and Litigation Honors Certificate.
The Florida Bar Annual Convention registration to open Registration opens April 15 for The Florida Bar’s 2014 Annual Convention, held June 26 through 28 at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Kissimmee, Florida. The convention schedule is due to be released early this month. Highlights include the All Member Reception on Thursday, as well as the Young Lawyers Division President’s Dinner. The General Assembly is scheduled for Friday, with The President’s Reception on Friday. Also on Thursday, June 26, plan to attend the Judicial Luncheon honoring Florida’s Judiciary from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Keynote speaker Chief Justice Ricky Polston will deliver the state of the judiciary address with special guest, Fred D. Gray, a civil rights attorney and activist who practices law in Alabama. He served as the President of the National Bar Association in 1985 and the first African-American President of the Alabama State Bar. Visit www.floridabar.org for information.
April 2014 | RES GESTAE
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Congratulations to the Members of the Lee County Bar Associationâ€™s
Aloia Roland & Lubell, LLP
100 Club Geraghty, Dougherty, Edwards, P.A.
Parvey & Frankel Attorneys, PA
Arend & Sisk, P.A.
Goldberg, Racila, Dâ€™Alessandro & Noone, LLC
Prather and Swank, P.A.
Bonita Springs City Attorneyâ€™s Office
Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice & Purtz, P.A.
Patrone & Kemp, PA
Costello Royston & Wicker, P.A.
Green, Schoenfeld & Kyle, LLP
Pavese Law Firm
Boyle Gentile Leonard & Crockett P.A.
Grossman Law & Conflict Management
Bruno & Prado, PLLC
Hahn Loeser & Parks LLP
Rubinstein & Holz, P.A.
Burandt, Adamski & Feichthaler, P.L.
Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt, P.A.
Sheppard, Brett, Stewart, Hersch, Kinsey & Hill, P.A.
Calvo & Calvo
The Law Offices of Kevin F. Jursinski, P.A.
Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys PA
Coleman & Coleman
Knott Ebelini Hart
Steinberg & Linn, P.A.
Cole, Scott & Kissane, P.A.
Kuhn Law Firm, PA
Strayhorn and Persons, P.L.
Engvalson & Associates, P.A.
Kushner & Kushner
Fort Myers City Attorneyâ€™s Office
Lee County Legal Aid Society, Inc.
Viles & Beckman, LLC
Fowler White Boggs, P.A.
McQuagge Law Firm
Webb & Scarmozzino, P.A.
Freidin â€˘ Dobrinsky
North Law Firm, P.A.
Weldon & Rothman, P.L.
Fried & Fried, P.A.
Oâ€™Halloran & Oâ€™Halloran, Attorneys at Law
The Wilbur Smith Law Firm, PLLC
Garvin Law Firm
Osterhout & McKinney, P.A.
Yeslow & Koeppel, P.A.
Is your firm part of the 100 Club? Any firm with 2 or more attorneys and 100% membership in the LCBA qualifies. If you feel your firm is eligible fax a listing of your attorneys to (239) 334-0523 and we will let you know.
RES GESTAEâ€‚|â€‚April 2014
Legal Briefs Jursinski speaks on buying property with title issues Attorney Kevin F. Jursinski addressed a group of real estate brokers, agents and real estate investors at a recent meeting of the Southwest Florida Real Estate Investors. His talk covered the frequent issues, including extensive litigation, that often arise when buying real estate when title is not cleared. Jursinski outlined that, according to American Land Title, 36 percent of all real estate transactions have some type of title defects. This is especially troubling when so many transactions in Southwest Florida have been involved in foreclosures and/or short sales and the chance of title defects is much higher. Jursinski suggested a good way to protect investments is to hire a real estate attorney over a title agency to issue title, especially if the price is comparable. An attorney has a duty to the client before, during and after the closing to ensure they are protected.
Fayer Receives Five Star Professional Award Kelly L. Fayer has been selected as a Five Star Professional in the category of Estate Planning Attorneys. Her award was officially announced in the March issue of Gulfshore Life Magazine. Five Star Professional is the largest and most widely published award program in the financial services industry, recognizing service excellence in more than 40 markets across the United States. Fayer said she was honored to be recognized for her firm’s dedication to personal attention and service for her clients. “We take great pride in the quality of our legal services, and our focus on the quality of our relationships really sets us apart. All of our clients know how valued they are, and that’s extremely gratifying,” she said. Fayer’s practice areas include Medicaid services, special needs planning, trusts, wills, powers of attorney, living wills, probate, trust administration and guardianship. She is Treasurer of the LCBA.
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Legal Briefs Todd Allen speaks on business liabilities Todd B. Allen, an attorney at Goede, Adamczyk & DeBoest, PLLC, recently spoke at two Above Board Chamber luncheon presentations titled “What are your Business Liabilities?” The expert panel showed business owners how to protect their businesses from liabilities. Other panelists included: Donna Flammang, PA from Brennan Manna & Diamond Law firm; Kevin Kerton from BB&T Insurance Services -Oswald Trippe and Company; and June Hunter-Clarke from Premier Insurance Corporation. Todd B. Allen focuses his practice in the areas of litigation, real estate, condominium and homeowners’ association representation and bankruptcy. Before joining Goede, Adamczyk & DeBoest, PLLC, he represented a significant number of homeowners facing foreclosure and bankruptcy in Collier and Lee Counties. As a result of his work, Allen has been featured in the national media with articles in Fortune Magazine, USA Today, Housing Wire, Time Magazine, and the Huffington Post, to name a few.
Henderson Franklin named a 2014 top ranked law firm For the third year in a row, the law firm of Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt, P.A., has been selected as a “Top Ranked Law Firm” in a special report by LexisNexis and published in Corporate Counsel Magazine. To compile the list of top law firms, LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell researched its database of one million lawyers and firms in more than 160 countries. To be eligible, the firm must have a minimum of 10 attorneys where at least one out of three of its lawyers achieved the AV Preeminent Peer Review Rating. This rating indicates the rated lawyer has been deemed by his or her peers to have demonstrated the highest level of ethical standards and legal ability. Henderson Franklin has 41 AV Preeminent rated attorneys and more than one-third are Florida Bar Board Certified experts in many areas of law.
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RES GESTAE | April 2014
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