News from Tallahassee for 1/27/15

Bill could make ‘revenge porn’ a felony posted on 1/22/15

by karl etters | tallahassee democrat

A Florida lawmaker wants to discourage spurned lovers from sharing those nude photos or sex tapes to spite their exes.

Republican state Rep. Tom Goodson is sponsoring HB 151, which seeks to make disseminating pornographic images as a form of harassment a third-degree felony. If the legislation is adopted, Florida would be the 15th state with laws criminalizing the posting of sexually explicit material as a means of embarrassment.

“You do not do that for love, kindness or even to tell people your girlfriend is great,” the Titusville lawmaker said Wednesday. “You do that for harassment, to harm and to embarrass.”

State Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, is a supporter of the bill, Goodson said, and has filed the Senate legislation in the past. He has not done so yet for the upcoming session.

In all, 14 states have similar laws – eight of them classifying it a felony and six a misdemeanor. Thirteen other state legislatures have pending proposals, while U.S. Rep. Amy Stephens, R-Colo., has proposed federal legislation. This is the fourth attempt at passage in the Florida Legislature.

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Florida DUI video gets 2M views, but cops question checkpoint tactic posted on 1/20/15

by Jeff Weiner | orlando sentinel

When a car pulls to a stop at a DUI checkpoint, police say they're looking for obvious signals that the driver may be impaired: glassy eyes, slurred speech, the smell of alcohol.

But a video that went viral recently, with more than 2.2 million YouTube views, suggests those stopped at a checkpoint don't have to say anything to police, or even roll down a window.

The video tests the theory of a Boca Raton defense attorney. He says that while drivers have to provide information when pulled over for a checkpoint or traffic stop, there's no legal reason they have to talk to or interact with the police, whose observations alone can justify a DUI arrest.

The lawyer, Warren Redlich, says his goal isn't to help drunk drivers evade arrest, but to inform citizens of their rights.

"People think it's about protecting drunk drivers; it's not," Redlich said. "Drunk drivers couldn't pull this off."

Other lawyers and law enforcers dispute Redlich's theory, and say anyone who takes his method as an excuse to disobey police would be breaking the law — and risking arrest.

"I think that anybody that follows this... is going to find himself arrested regardless of whether they've even been drinking," said Richard Hornsby, an Orlando defense lawyer and TV legal analyst.

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Panel says costs, complexity keeping Floridians from courts posted on 1/20/15

by john kennedy | Palm Beach Post

Most low- and middle-income Floridians are being shut out of the civil court system, their basic legal rights lost to dizzying terminology, complicated legal forms and unaffordable lawyers, a panel concluded Friday.

Florida’s Commission on Access to Civil Justice, a 27-member group launched by state Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga, held its first meeting Friday. Its longterm goal is to help Floridians get needed help in everyday court matters, including housing, business and family law...

The commission plans to release interim recommendations this fall with a full report to the 2016 Legislature.

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Rick Scott's top challenges for his second term posted on 1/5/15

by GARY FINEOUT | The Fine Print

FL Gov Rick Scott

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, considered one of the most vulnerable governors in the nation last year, will this week be sworn into a second term and take his place in state history as just the second GOP governor to earn re-election.

Scott's priorities—which are likely to be reflected in his inauguration day speech—won't be much of a surprise since he is expected to repeat what he's been saying for some time now.

Scott will stress jobs, the state's economic recovery, tax cuts, as well as other key parts of Scott's re-election platform such as keeping college tuition costs down.

But key questions remain, including whether or not Scott gets any kind of "honeymoon" after his narrow re-election. And additionally, how will Scott fare with the distractions, scandals and other problems that loom on the horizon?

Any of these could be a test for Scott and his campaign-hardened team led by Chief of Staff Melissa Sellers. After winning by roughly 64,000 votes how much political capital does Scott really have, and more importantly, how will he react if legislators, lobbyists and other in Tallahassee start worrying about the next set of campaigns instead of Scott?

it can be argued of course that as long as the state's economy continues to recover that Scott has met his primary challenge and the one that he ran on.

But there's plenty of challenges Scott will confront in the coming year that could cause him problems and harm his eventual legacy.

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Florida Bar seeks nonlawyer to fill opening on governing board posted on 1/5/15

by Jeff Weiner | orlando sentinel

The Florida Bar is searching for a new member of its Board of Governors, hoping to fill one of two spots reserved for nonlawyer members of the public on the agency's governing body.

The opening comes as Orlando's Winston "Bud" Gardner, a former state legislator, finishes his second two-year term.

Florida's is one of only 13 state bars to include members of the public on its governing board, a practice the Bar's President Greg Coleman says helps the organization "stay dialed in to... what is going on with our citizens in our state."

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