Friday, December 19, 2014

VICTORY: Stay Denied!

Same-sex marriages will commence in Florida January 6th!

The U.S. Supreme Court Friday evening denied Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s request to Justice Clarence Thomas that he extend a stay in the federal case of eight gay and lesbian couples. 
“The application for stay presented to Justice Thomas and by him referred to the Court is denied,” the Supreme Court announced Friday night. 
“The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of allowing the injunction to go into effect after Jan. 5,” said attorney Stephen F. Rosenthal of Miami law firm Podhurst Orseck, who is working with the ACLU of Florida in the case of eight same-sex couples and a Fort Myers widow seeking to have their out-of-state marriages recognized in Florida. 
Said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida: “I’m hoping this was Bondi’s last stand. Congratulations to all the people we represented and our great legal team in this historic victory.”
Correct me if I'm wrong, but Thomas had authority to grant the stay himself. Instead he referred it to the full court where he and Scalia were the two in dissent.
Over the dissents of two Justices, the Supreme Court late Friday afternoon refused to delay — beyond January 5 — a federal judge’s order that would permit same-sex couples in Florida to marry after that day. 
Neither the apparent majority of seven nor the two dissenters gave any explanation.  Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas simply noted that they would have granted the plea by state officials to extend the postponement beyond the early January date.

In refusing the request by Florida officials, the Court followed the pattern that it had maintained for the past two-and-a-half months of routinely turning aside requests to put on hold lower court rulings that had struck down state bans on same-sex marriage. 
This all bodes well for marriage equality nationwide in 2015! We finally ended Florida's part in the cold war and established equality for gays and lesbians all in one week! Who says we can't make progress?!


Does This Seem Like a Good Thing for Lawyers to Do?

Judge Ungaro will be deciding this incendiary motion alleging serious misconduct by defendant's counsel in a suit over self-storage insurance policies:
Public Storage’s counsel solicited putative class members, with interests adverse to Public Storage, to forfeit their rights and assist Public Storage’s defense.1 To do so, Public Storage and its counsel committed a number of ethical violations, including undertaking conflicted representations, providing a financial inducement to at least one witness who provided favorable testimony, and violations of the duty of candor.

Through that campaign, Public Storage obtained at least ten declarations from putative class members who, in declarations drafted by Public Storage’s lawyers, purport to desire to opt out of the class. Public Storage’s counsel undertook to represent these declarants, all of whom had interests patently adverse to Public Storage, and seemingly advised them, contrary to their own interests, to “opt-out” of the putative class and submit a declaration that Public Storage believed would be harmful to the class’ likelihood of recovery. Worse still, Arthur Biringer, received a financial incentive from Public Storage. Of course, “[j]ustice must not be bought or sold.” Golden Door Jewelry Creations, Inc. v. Lloyds Underwriters Non-Marine Ass’n, 865 F. Supp. 1516, 1525 (S.D. Fla. 1994).
Remember there are two (or more) sides to every story, but we will be following this one closely.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Who Loves You Lawyers?

Florida just got it's very first gay divorce!
On the same day Pam Bondi's emergency request filing to Justice Clarence Thomas was accepted, effectively putting same-sex marriage on hold, a Broward County judge has granted a same-sex couple a divorce. 
On Wednesday, Broward County Circuit Court Judge Dale Cohen granted Heather Brassner a divorce from her estranged domestic partner, Megan Lade. 
Cohen had recently ruled -- twice -- that Florida's same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional and that out-of-state gay marriages should be recognized. Brassner and Lade were joined in a civil union in Vermont in 2002. 
According to the Associated Press, this makes the first formal same-sex divorce in Florida.
In other marriage equality news, January 9th may be the day we find out if SCOTUS will be taking up the issue this term. I am still hopeful that we will settle this matter once and for all nationally next year so that same sex couples can finally have basic equality from sea to shining sea.

3d DCA Watch -- Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here Edition!

Can you guess my mood today?

Let's just do this:

Salazar v. Coello:

Big reversal of a med-mal sj based on a complicated reading of the pre-suit notice requirements.

Lots of confessions of errors.

The 3d makes a (big) mistake.

(Turns out it's illegal to discriminate against pregnant women after all.)

Judge Shepherd delivers a massive, epic bench slap:
It has long been said in the courts of this state that “every litigant is entitled to nothing less than the cold neutrality of an impartial judge.” State ex rel. Davis v. Parks, 194 So. 613, 615 (Fla. 1939). Regrettably, the trial judge in this case has abandoned his post as a neutral overseer of the dispute between the parties, compelling us to grant Great American Insurance Company’s Petition for a Writ of Prohibition.
Happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hey Baby Will You Dust My Dreidle?

Happy Festival of Lights!

Yes it's tonight!

(Who did Spencer pick???)

In other news, this lawyer doesn't like confidential settlements:
Once upon a time, lawsuits were not the secret they are now. Court filings included settlements instead of anonymous pleadings dismissing the case with no fault recognized.
Fast forward. Today, many personal injury claims, particularly in the areas of medical malpractice and product liability, confidentially settle on the terms and conditions required by the manufacturer or insurance company. It is time for this to change.

Years ago my firm represented a person injured by a defective airbag, the same defect now widely in the news for a possible national recall. Had the manufacturer not insisted on confidentiality as a condition for settlement, the defect could have been identified and communicated to consumers years earlier.

This would have saved lives and prevented life-altering injuries damages. Instead, we now — years later — face a massive recall that could have prevented more needless tragedy if done earlier. The previous lawsuits should have triggered a root cause analysis, to apprise the multiple car manufacturers that their supplier had problems long ago. 
The problem of course is that defendants insist upon this and courts routinely approve.

Oh well something to think about for 2015.

Tough loss for Gene, who blamed Judge Scola's jury instruction:
U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola, who had the case before Gayles, ruled jurors should be instructed that those statements were fraudulent. The SEC just needed to prove they were material to investors and were uttered by Levan knowing they were false.

"It was our view with that instruction you could not win this case," Stearns said.
Who else is psyched for the Mac on Friday!

Read more here:

Pamela Jo* Bondi

If nothing happens, gay marriage is coming to Florida January 6th, 2015.

35 states have marriage equality and the final 15 holdouts are on shaky ground. The question is not if, but when it will happen here in Florida. Efforts are already underway to make Florida a gay marriage destination with the potential to bring millions of dollars into local economies.

But if Pamela Jo* Bondi has anything to say about it that day will never come and she will do everything in her power to stop it. Cue this blather of claptrap that your friendly neighborhood Godwhacker has condensed as follows:
Dear Uncle Clarence, 
As I sit here in my third marriage and you sit there in your interracial marriage, once also banned by petty laws and restrictions, let us not embrace the idiocy or the irony of our hypocrisy. We must take this bold stand against homo-fascism and protect the sanctity of Florida's laws, unless those laws protect the environment, require transparency, or in any way conflict with the dictates of our corporate overlords or the backwards prejudices of our ignorant base. 
Meanwhile the villagers are not buying it.

The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by an evil Jo.*

*Spanish pronunciation.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Does This Lawyer Know How the Intertubes Work?

BREAKING -- an urgent message from the overlords in Atlanta:
Recently, we received a report from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts that when an attorney in one of the district courts logged into CM/ECF, a message popped up inviting him to take a survey from the bankruptcy court. He thought it was legitimate and clicked "OK."  At that point his computer was infected with a virus. 
Please know that we do NOT currently have a survey being sent through CM/ECF or any other source.  If you receive an email or pop-up requesting your participation in a survey from our court, do not open it.  Please delete it. 
Also we are NOT soliciting legal representation on a collection matter from a random unknown business in China, our dear deceased relative from Burundi does NOT want to transfer 30 million to your law firm operating account, and if you click here you will NOT receive a free iPad.

That is all.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Broward Judge Dale Cohen Rules Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional!

I sure hope he didn't read it from the bench, otherwise you'd have to wait for a translation (unless you speak "Southern"), but here's the order.

(Can't believe I beat GW on this one!!)