High Profile Cases in the Supreme Court of Florida

Posted by on Jul 24, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments


Below you will find the most-used feature of the Public Information collection, our high-profile cases and other high-profile matters. The navigation bar on the left gives you access to other pages in the Public Information collection. Archived High-Profile Cases also are on-line.

Death Warrant Cases
JQC Cases

High-Profile Case Description Links
07-22-2013 Florida Board of Bar Examiners Re: Undocumented Immigrants SC11-2568
This case involves the issue of whether undocumented immigrants can become Florida attorneys. Docket
07-19-2013 Dane P. Abdool, et. al. v. Pam Bondi, etc., et. al. SC13-1123
This case challenges the Timely Justice Act, which deals with the death penalty. Docket
07-18-2013 The League of Women Voters of Florida, et al v. The Florida House of Representatives, et al & Rene Romo, et al v. The Florida House of Representatives, et al. SC13-949
These cases involve a dispute over whether legislators and legislative staff can be forced to answer questions about the Congressional redistricting process.
07-16-2013 Citizens of the State of Florida v. PSC SC13-144
This case involves a rate increase for Florida Power & Light Company. Docket
07-11-2013 Florida House of Representatives v. League of Women Voters SC13-252
This petition involves a lower court case about redistricting. Docket
07-09-2013 License Acquisitions v. Debary Real Estate & Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation v. Debary Real Estate SC13-968
This case involves a challenge to a state law that lets the holder of a par-mutuel permit to change the class of the permit from jai-alai to greyhound racing.
06-27-2013 Advisory Opinion to the Attorney General:
Land Acquisition Trust Fund
The attorney general requests an advisory opinion regarding a proposed constitutional amendment that would dedicate funds for the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to acquire and restore conservation and recreation lands. Docket
06-18-2013 Alachua County, Et Al. v. Expedia, Inc. SC13-838
This case involves a dispute over taxes paid by online travel companies to counties. Docket
06-18-2013 Debra LaFave v. State of Florida SC12-2232
This case involves issues about a plea agreement with a teacher accused of lewd conduct with an underage student. Docket
06-06-2013 Richard Masone v. City of Aventura SC12-644
This cases poses a question about the legality of using red-light cameras to detect traffic violations. Docket
07-02-2013 The Florida Bar Re: Advisory Opinion – Activities of Community Association Managers SC13-889
This case is about a proposed advisory opinion from the Standing Committee on the Unlicensed Practice of Law regarding activities of community association managers. Docket
05-29-2013 The Florida Bar v. David J. Stern 13-643
The Florida Bar has filed this complaint related to alleged misconduct in foreclosure cases. Docket
05-23-2012 11th Circuit Public Defender v. State of Florida SC10-1349
These cases involve an issue arising from the 11th Circuit (Miami-Dade) Public Defender’s decision to decline representation in some felony cases.
05-08-2013 The Florida Bar v. Timothy Patrick McCabe 13-549
In these two cases, The Florida Bar has filed a complaint against and seeks the emergency suspension of Palm Beach attorney Timothy McCabe.
04-23-2013 City of Orlando v. Michael Udowychenko SC12-1471
This case involves the validity of certain redlight cameras used to detect traffic violations. Docket
Ana Maria Cardona v. State of Florida 11-1446
This case is Cardona’s automatic appeal to the Florida Supreme Court for her conviction and death sentence. Docket
02-22-2013 Roman Pino v. The Bank of New York Mellon SC11-697
This cases presents issues related to alleged foreclosure fraud. Docket
02-14-2013 State of Florida v. Pierre Domville SC13-121
This case asks whether judges are required in certain circumstances to recuse themselves if they are Facebook friends with an attorney appearing before them. Docket
02-06-2013 Carlos Ulloa v. CMI, Inc. SC11-2291
This case involves an issue arising from equipment used to administer breath tests to DUI defendants. Docket
Certification of the Need for New Judges Website
The 2013 Certification of the need for new judges was issued. Certification then will be considered by the Legislature. Historical Information on Certification also is available.
11-28-2012 In re: Implementation of Electronic Filing SC11-399
This case involves standards, procedures, and time tables for the implementation of electronic filing in the Florida State Courts. Docket
11-15-2012 Citizens of the State of Florida v. Ronald A. Brise SC12-2149
The case involves a challenge to a Florida Public Service Commission’s settlement giving Florida Power & Light Co. authority to increase base rates. Docket
11-08-2012 Denny Jones v. Kenneth Detzner SC12-2297
This case asks that the Court declare Justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis, and Peggy A. Quince not qualified for the November ballot. Docket
11-02-2012 Amanda Jean Hall v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. SC11-1611
This case involves the constitutionality of a statute capping the bond that must be posted to appeal an award in a smoking lawsuit. Docket
10-11-2012 Rick Scott v. George Williams SC12-520
This case involves a challenge to a law requiring state workers to contribute 3 percent toward their retirement plan. Docket
09-11-2012 Haridopolos v. Citizens for Strong Schools SC12-216
This case involves a lawsuit challenging the adequacy of school funding. Docket
09-06-2012 Southern Alliance for Energy v. Art Graham SC11-2465
This cases involves the constitutionality of a law letting energy companies recover some costs for the future construction of nuclear plants. Docket
08-28-2012 Bob Graham v. Mike Haridopolos SC11-2453
This case asks the Court to determine the extent of the Board of Governors’ constitutional authority to regulate the state university system. Docket
08-03-2012 D.M.T. v. T.M.H. SC12-261
This case involves the constitutionality of a state law that terminates the parental rights of people who donate eggs, sperm or preembroyos. Docket
07-31-2012 State of Florida v. Richard Catalano SC11-1166
This case involves the constitutionality of a statute restricting the volume of car stereo systems played on public streets. Docket
07-12-2012 State of Florida v. Luke Jarrod Adkins SC11-1878
This case involves a lower court order declaring unconstitutional a state statute dealing with criminal drug offenses. Docket
06-18-2012 The Florida Bar v. N. James Turner SC12-282
This case involves Bar ethics proceedings against a former judge. Docket
05-10-2012 William Telli v. Broward County, et. al. SC11-1737
This case involves the constitutionality of term limits approved by voters in Broward County for their county commissioners. Docket
05-07-2012 In re: Judicial Branch Governance SC11-1374
This case involves various requests for reconsideration of judicial branch governance standards established by the Supreme Court in a February 9, 2012, opinion. Docket
04-27-2012 Calder Race Course v. DBPR SC11-2152
Calder challenges a statute allowing an expansion of gaming at pari-mutuel facilities. Docket
04-27-2012 West Flagler Associates v. South Florida Racing SC11-2148
This case involves the constitutionality of a statute authorizing slot machine gaming at pari-mutuel facilities. Docket
04-27-2012 Florida Gaming Centers v. DBPR SC11-2182
This case involves the constitutionality of a statute authorizing slot machine gaming at pari-mutuel facilities. Docket
04-19-2012 2012 Legislative Apportionment (Senate Maps) SC12-460
In this case, the Court will review new legislative Senate districting maps drawn by the legislature to reflect population shifts in Florida. Docket
03-09-2012 2012 Legislative Apportionment (Original Case) SC12-1
In this case, the Court will review new legislative districting maps drawn by the legislature to reflect population shifts in Florida. The Court issued itsOpinion on March 9, 2012. Docket
12-27-2011 The Florida Bar v. David J. Stern SC11-1192
The Florida Bar has filed this complaint related to alleged misconduct in foreclosure cases. Docket
Foreclosure Mediation Program Website
The Report on Florida’s managed foreclosure mediation program is now on-line. The progrram was terminated December 19, 2011.
Jeffrey Lewis v. Leon County 09-1698
This case poses the question of who must pay for Regional Conflict Counsel, the counties or the State. Docket
09-20-2011 Christopher Johnson v. State of Florida 09-1045
This case involves questions about when a public defender may withdraw from a case, thereby triggering a requirement that the Office of Criminal Conflict & Civil Regional Counsel take the case. Docket
08-16-2011 Rosalie Whiley v. Richard Scott SC11-592
Whiley sued the Governor challenging his decision to suspend certain executive-branch rulemaking. Docket
07-19-2011 R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Mathilde Martin, etc. SC11-483
R.J. Reynolds asks this Court to review the award of damages to the widow of a smoker who died of lung cancer Docket
Privacy & Court Records
2011 Opinion. The Court released an Opinion on this issue on June 30, 2011.2009 Hearing. On September 2, 2009, the Court heard arguments in another Related Case. AnOpinion was released on March 18, 2010.2008 Report. A Report filed in 2008 is available.

2008 Filings. On January 18, 2008, the Florida Supreme Court Committee on Access to Court Records filed its Invitation for Comments on its Preliminary Proposal. Comments are requested by March 3, 2008.

2007 Filings. On June 20, 2007, an Interim Report and Cover Letter were filed with this Court. As a result, the Chief Justice Issued a revised Moratorium order on September 7, 2007.

Other documents filed with this Court on April 2, 2007, are available.

2006 Court Order & Limited Moratorium. On July 3, 2006,the Court released an Order in response to the Report of the Committee on Privacy & Court Records along with a new Limited Moratorium on certain electronic releases of court records. The order was later implemented by anAdministrative Order issued August 21, 2006.

Group 3. A Request of the Court for comments on Group 3 of the Report is available. Comments will be accepted until May 1, 2006. View the currentComments on Group 3.

Group 2. By a prior separate Request of the Court, comments on Group 2 of the Report were accepted until March 1, 2006. Check Commentson Group 2, which were last updated March 2, 2006.

The members of the Florida Supreme Court in their administrative capacity have invited persons who commented on the Report on Privacy & Court Records, Group Two Recommendations, to speak to the Court on April 19 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. ET. The meeting will be in the courtroom in Tallahassee.

Group 1. Pursuant to a prior Request of the Court, comments on Group 1 of the final Report were accepted until February 1, 2006. CheckComments on Group 1. A hearing on Group 1 issues was held March 1, 2006, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. ET at the Supreme Court Building in Tallahassee.

Full Report. The seven segments of this Report were submitted to the Court in September 2005. They are the Cover, Cover Letter, Part 1, Part 2,Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5. On May 6, 2005, the Committee on Privacy & Court Records issued its earlier Draft Report.

Prior Matters. On February 13, 2004, an Amended Moratorium Order was issued in this matter. Other Documents include the Report of the legislative Study Committee on Public Records released Feb. 15, 2003.

06-21-2011 Innocence Commission Website
On July 2, 2010, Chief Justice Charles T. Canady issued an Administrative Order creating an Innocence Commission. On June 21, 2011, it issued an interim report.
06-17-2011 The Florida Bar v. John T. Stemberger SC11-32
The Florida Bar has filed a complaint against Stemberger for alleged ethical breaches associated with a dependency case in Orange County. Docket
05-18-2011 Lowell Kuvin v. City of Coral Gables SC10-2352
This cases involves a challenge to a Coral Gables zoning code restricting the parking of pickup trucks along city streets during evening hours. Docket
05-16-2011 David Bivens v. City of Lakeland SC11-664
Bivens is challenging decisions by two judges of the 1st District Court of Appeal who would not recuse themselves from his appeal over a workers compensation claim that had been denied. Docket
04-21-2011 Florida Bar v. Henry Adorno 09-1012
This disciplinary action arises from Adorno’s involvement in litigation over emergency medical assessment fees imposed by the City of Miami. Docket
03-04-2011 Governor Crist v. Robert M. Ervin SC10-1317
These cases involve legislative allocation of user fees collected by the trial court clerks.
03-04-2011 Thad Altman v. Richard Scott 11-396
A petition has been filed regarding high speed rail in Florida. The Court denied relief March 4, 2011. Docket
02-18-2011 In Re: Statewide Grand Jury 09-1910
On Oct. 14, 2009, the Governor asked the Court to impanel a statewide grand jury. An Interim Report was filed on December 29, 2010. See theAttorney General’s website for more information. Docket
02-01-2011 Judicial Branch Governance Study Website
The Judicial Branch Governance Study Group submitted its final report and recommendation to the Supreme Court on February 1, 2011. It proposes changes to the way the judicial branch is governed.
01-26-2011 Rawlis Leslie v. The St. Joe Company 10-2243
This case alleges a conflict of interest in the way the First District Court of Appeal resolved an appeal. Docket
10-29-2010 Bush v. Gore 10 Year Retrospective Photos Website
The Florida Supreme Court is releasing archival photographs on the 10th anniversary of the 2000 presidential election appeals.
10-07-2010 FEA v. Florida Dept. of State 10-1784
This case involves a challenge to proposed Amendment 8 scheduled to appear on the November ballot. Docket
10-04-2010 Sarasota Citizens for Responsible Government v. City of Sarasota 10-1647
The case involves the validity of a bond issue by the City and County of Sarasota to build a spring training stadium for the Baltimore Orioles. Docket
09-28-2010 Ken Jenne v. Florida Department of Management Services 10-1371
Jenne sought review of a decision of the 1st District Court holding that he has forfeited his state retirement benefits. The Court dismissed the case on September 28, 2010. Docket
09-22-2010 FEA v. Florida Dept. of State 10-1784
This case involves a challenge to proposed Amendment 8 scheduled to appear on the November ballot. Docket
Miccosukee Tribe v. South Florida Water Management District 09-1817
These cases involve a bond issue to restore part of the Everglades.
08-31-2010 Florida Department of State v. Mona Mangat SC10-1527
This case involves a challenge to proposed Amendment 9 currently scheduled to appear on the November ballot. The court issued its opinion on August 31, 2010. Docket
08-31-2010 Dawn Roberts v. Brian Doyle SC10-1508
This case involves a challenge to proposed Amendment 3 currently scheduled to appear on the November ballot. The court issued its opinion on August 31, 2010. Docket
08-31-2010 Dawn Roberts v. NAACP 10-1375
This case involves the placement of Amendment 7 on the November ballot, relating to redistricting. The court issued its opinion on August 31, 2010. Docket
08-31-2010 Dawn Roberts v. Corrine Brown 10-1362
The interim Secretary of State has petitioned the Court to prohibit or assume jurisdiction of a challenge filed in the Leon County Circuit Court to proposed constitutional amendments 5 and 6 currently scheduled to be on the 2010 general election ballot. The court issued its opinion on August 31, 2010. Docket
08-24-2010 Collier County Commissioners v. Brock 09-2190
This case concerns the scope of the powers exercised by the clerk of the circuit court in Collier County acting in his capacity as county auditor and custodian of county funds. Docket
FTC v. Olmstead 08-1009
This case presents the question of whether creditors can seize the assets of a single-member limited liability company under Florida law. Docket
07-12-2010 Governor’s Request for an Advisory Opinion: Judicial Vacancy in Escambia County 10-1186
Governor Crist has asked the Court for an advisory opinion regarding the judicial vacancy created by the resignation of Escambia County Judge David B. Ackerman. Docket
06-30-2010 Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association v. Dawn K. Roberts 10-1148
The Association has filed suit to remove proviso language from the state budget prohibiting the use of state funds to pay for attorneys’ Bar dues. Docket
06-24-2010 McNeil v. Council for Secular Humanism 10-957
This case involves a challenge to the state’s use of faith-based organizations to operate transitional programs for certain inmates. Docket
06-15-2010 Model Administrative Order on Court Closures
On June 15, 2010, the Court announced a new model Administrative Order that will be used in the future to extend and suspend certain legal deadlines in the event a Florida state court is closed due to an emergency.
06-11-2010 Jurors’ Use of the Social Media 10-51
This proposal asks the Court to consider new instructions to jurors restricting their use of the Social Media and other forms of electronic communications, such as Twitter. Docket
05-26-2010 Save Our Homes Cases 09-1796
These cases involve challenges to Florida’s Save Our Homes property tax laws.
05-24-2010 NCAA v. AP, et. al. 09-1909
The NCAA asks the Court to review a decision by the 1st District Court of Appeal in a case involving Florida€™s public records laws. Docket
02-18-2010 Citizens’ Initiative on Hometown Democracy Petition 08-884
This is a citizens’ initiative to amend the Constitution to provide that citizens have a right to decide local growth management changes. Docket
02-11-2010 Browning v. Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections 07-2074
This case involves a proposed amendment to the Sarasota County charter requiring the use of voting systems that provide a verified paper ballot. Docket
11-25-2009 Florida Bar v. Scott W. Rothstein 09-2146
The Florida Bar and attorney Scott W. Rothstein have reached an agreement for disbarment by consent. The Court permanently disbarred him. Docket
John Couey v. State of Florida 07-1636
This case is Couey’s automatic appeal to the Florida Supreme Court for his conviction and death sentence in the murder of Jessica Lunsford. Docket
Robert Pleus, Jr. v. Charles Crist 09-565
Retired Judge Robert Pleus filed suit in the Supreme Court over a vacancy on the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Daytona. Docket
05-07-2009 Advisory Opinion to the Attorney General: Legislative Redistricting 08-986
The Attorney General has filed a citizens’ initiative on legislative redistricting standards for the Court to determine whether it meets legal standards for placement on the ballot. Docket
The fiscal impact statement also has been presented to the Court for review. 08-1163
05-07-2009 Citizens’ Initiative on Congressional Reapportionment 08-1149
The Attorney General has filed a citizens’ initiative on congressional redistricting standards for the Court to determine whether it meets legal standards for placement on the ballot. Docket
The fiscal impact statement also has been presented to the Court for review. 08-1165
Liberty Counsel v. Florida Bar 09-363
Liberty Counsel filed for injunctive relief regarding The Florida Bar Board of Governors’ vote to allow the Bar’s Family Law Section to file an amicus brief. That brief would be in an appeal from a court ruling striking as unconstitutional a state statute that bars homosexuals from adopting. Docket
04-23-2009 The Florida Bar v. William Abramson 07-713
In these two cases, The Florida Bar is asking the Court to impose discipline on attorney William Abramson for alleged ethical violations.
Robert M. Ervin v. Florida Legislature 09-467
Several Florida attorneys have sued the Legislature and other state officials over the allocation of user fees collected by the clerks of the trial courts. Docket
02-04-2009 Governor’s Request for an Advisory Opinion: Re: William Abramson 09-3
The Governor has requested an advisory opinion regarding the election of William Abramson as a judge. Docket
01-05-2009 Florida House of Representatives v. Crist 07-2154
On November 19, 2007, the Florida House of Representatives and Speaker Marco Rubio filed suit in the Supreme Court challenging a Seminole Indian Gaming Compact negotiated by Governor Crist. Docket
Citizens’ Initiative on Land-Use Planning 06-161
On February 1, 2006, the Attorney General petitioned the Court to review a proposed constitutional amendment requiring that changes to local land-use plans be submitted to the voters. The Court issued its Opinion on June 22, 2006. Docket
In addition, on March 27, 2006, the Attorney General has filed a separate petition that asks the Court to review a financial impact estimate that will be provided to voters if the land-use initiative is placed on the ballot. The Court rejected the initial estimate, and the Attorney General submitted a new one. 06-521
12-17-2008 Jews for Jesus v. Rapp 06-2491
This case asks whether and to what extent Florida will permit lawsuits for publications that allegedly place people in a “false light.” Docket
Florida Bar v. Laura L. Hess 08-1389
The Florida Bar has filed a disciplinary action against attorney Laura Hess. Docket
11-19-2008 Strand v. Escambia County 06-1894
In this case, the Court found that certain government bond issues do not need to be approved in advance by voters. Docket
11-07-2008 State v. 11th Circuit Public Defender 08-1827
This case involves a question of whether a Florida public defender’s office can curtail its caseload due to budget cuts. Docket
10-30-2008 Anthrax Case 07-1074
The U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals on June 11 filed a Certified Question with the Florida Supreme Court regarding a death caused by anthrax contamination at the American Media buildng in Boca Raton in 2001. The Court issued its Opinion on Oct. 30, 2008. Docket
10-08-2008 Pedro Dijols v. Mardi Anne Levey 08-1883
Dijols seeks review of a district court decision ordering that Levey’s name appear on the ballot in a Broward county judicial election. Docket
09-17-2008 Pedro Dijols v. Kurt S. Browning 08-1717
Dijols filed an emergency petition for a writ of quo warranto over the disputed results of a judicial election in Palm Beach County. Docket
09-03-2008 Dept. of State v. Slough 08-1569
This is an appeal from a trial court order striking constitutional Amendment 5, proposed by the Tax & Budget Reform Commission, from the November ballot Docket
09-03-2008 Ford v. Browning 08-1529
This is an appeal from a trial court order authorizing constitutional Amendments 7 & 9, proposed by the Tax & Budget Reform Commission, to be placed on the November ballot Docket
08-11-2008 Citizens’ Initiative on 1.35% Tax Cap 08-1153
The Attorney General has filed a citizens’ initiative regarding a 1.35% tax cap. Docket
The fiscal impact statement also has been presented to the Court for review. 08-1239
Florida Lobbyist Regulation Case 08-791
This case involves a legal challenge to a new Florida statute regulating executive and legislative lobbying. Docket
01-29-2008 Citizens’ Initiative on Growth Management 08-318
This is a citizens’ initiative to amend the Constitution to provide that citizens have a right to decide local growth management changes.
The Florida Bar v. Ken Jenne 07-2182
At the request of The Florida Bar, the Court has suspended attorney Ken Jenne because of his conviction of a felony and ordered that a referee be appointed to investigate the matter. Docket
Statewide Grand Jury 07-1128
On June 19, 2007, the Governor asked the Court to impanel a statewide grand jury. The Court entered an order impaneling the statewide grand jury on June 20, 2007. An Interim Report was filed January 15, 2008. Docket
06-18-2008 Allstate v. Office of Insurance Regulation 08-782
This case involves the State’s suspension of Allstate’s authority to write new policies in Florida. Docket
05-19-2008 Advisory Opinion to the Governor re: Judicial Appointment Powers 08-844
On May 5, 2008, Gov. Charlie Crist filed this petition asking whether he can appoint a replacement for retired Leon County Judge Tim Harley. Docket
Crist v. Fla. Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers 08-2
This case arises from a trial court order declaring unconstitutional Florida’s five recently created offices of conflict counsel Docket

Archived High Profile Cases Archives
Earlier high profile cases can be found in theArchives. These include highly publicized cases such as the 2000 presidential election appeals, the Schiavo cases, and the Aileen Wuornos murder conviction appeals.

Privacy Statement: Documents linked on this page are exempt appellate cases or have been inspected and designated as cases of significant public interest under AOSC03-49 (Nov. 25, 2003).

Editorial on the Penalty Phase of Jodi Arias

Posted by on May 23, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

There is a cacophony of voices sounding off on the news network today spouting judgment on Jodi Arias. In my view, it is a spout that needs to be turned off. Jodi Arias was found guilty by a jury of her peers and the additional phases have little to do with salacious tone of the trial and all to do with how we feel as a society about penalty.

Upon the jury’s determination of judgment, the evidence of trial has been weighted and our society is to accept the evidence and the judgment thereon. This court, in particular, continued to determine whether the actual crimes committed by Jodi Arias were an aggravated offense. They determined yes, it was. Now the only question to be

determined is punishment. This is not a question of her actions, but of our decision of our notion of punishment for the crime.

I believe that what most of us our seeing on TV is our own struggle for the step we take outside the lines. It is clearly time to put them in perspective. No matter what we may wish to review or rehash from our past transgressions, they cannot compare with the ultimate crime committed by Jodi Arias.

Our thoughts, judgments and final perceptions should be predicated upon how we feel the ultimate transgressor should be treated having done the deed. Not whether, her past, her present, or her future determines whether she should be given forms of compassion by our system.

Compassion is based upon the thoughts and actions occurring at the time of the circumstances, not upon a made up set of actions proffered as an effort to escape punishment for actions previous committed intentionally.

PALM BEACH “ May 22, 2013



Florida to begin using non-judges to hear foreclosure cases

Posted by on May 22, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The Florida Supreme Court issued an order today requiring the states circuit courts to hire magistrates to hear foreclosure cases in an effort to clear a docket-clogging backlog numbering in the hundreds of thousands.

The order was in response to recommendations made by the Foreclosure Initiative Workgroup, a committee of judges and court administrators that was formed in January.

Magistrates are common in family court but are rarely used in foreclosure actions. Typically they make recommendations on how judges should rule on a case, and a judge has the final say as to whether to accept the recommendation.

According to today’s ruling, foreclosure court magistrates will be appointed by chief judges, must be members of the Florida Bar, and cannot practice law of the same case type in the county or court where the magistrate serves.

Some foreclosure defense attorneys criticized the move, questioning whether the magistrates will have enough substantive knowledge of the law to handle foreclosure cases and how they will be held accountable since they are not subject to election as traditional judges are.

But others said it could be good for homeowners, who may get a more thorough hearing before a magistrate than by a judge overwhelmed with cases.

Folks in foreclosure may get a more meaningful review since there are more people available, but thats providing they hire qualified magistrates, said Sen. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, who has asked Gov. Rick Scott to veto a fast-track foreclosure bill approved this legislative session.

As of February, there were an estimated 358,000 foreclosure cases pending in Floridas 20 circuit courts, according to the 55-page report from the foreclosure workgroup. It is predicted an additional 680,000 cases will be filed by 2016.

Broward County has the highest backlog of cases with 42,992. Miami-Dade is second-highest with 41,681.

Most courts already use retired judges (also known as senior judges) to hear

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foreclosure cases, but the workgroup said senior judges are in limited supply

and are required by law to wait one year after retirement before returning to work.

Another fundamental problem identified by the workgroup was the lack of urgency on the part of banks to move forward with foreclosures.

The group concluded that foreclosure clearance rates need to be improved, and the due process rights of the litigants must be protected, while maintaining the integrity of the process.

Today’s order allows for homeowners to object to the use of a magistrate in their case, but they must file that objection within 10 days of being served.

IRA money can be used to fund an investment home

Posted by on May 13, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

ORLANDO, Fla. “ May 13, 2013 “ It’s possible to use tax-sheltered money in an individual retirement account (IRA) to buy an investment home now with an eye toward retiring to it later. However, the rules aren’t easy to comprehend.

Donna Ryan, Florida Realtors manager of member legal communications, says advice can be conflicting on how the real estate investment program works.

Anyone considering this type of investment should consult with a tax attorney or accounting professional first, says Ryan. There are pros and cons to embarking on this path.

The method of investing in a single property requires the use of a self-directed checkbook IRA. Investors can buy an investment home now but later retire to it. They are self-directed IRAs because you can move your funds around.

Under Section 408 of the Internal Revenue Code, someone can invest in real estate funds set aside in a tax-sheltered IRA or other simplified employee pension, providing they don’t benefit directly. To do that, a limited liability company is created.

Once the money is held in an LLC, a person may invest at their discretion.

The LLC can buy, sell and manage domestic, foreign, commercial, residential and rental properties, with the profits growing tax-deferred in the retirement account. Funds are held in a normal business bank account and managed similar to any other business account.

There are restrictions. The property can’t be the investor’s residence or used as a vacation home by anyone related to the owner. And like other IRAs, profits from

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the home cannot be taken out of the IRA without penalty prior to retirement. However, the house can be sold. It costs some money to set up the LLC, and accounts must have a custodian even if the IRA owner directs the funds.

A Vero Beach, Fla. resident who operates Private has been actively pushing the IRA-style investment.

Very few people know about this, says Lil Miller-Fox. But it is a great way for someone like me to manage my retirement funds. I feel much more comfortable investing in tangible real estate than stocks and that sort of thing.

© 2013 Florida Realtors

HUD to sell 20,000 distressed loans to investors

Posted by on May 7, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

HUD to sell 20,000 distressed loans to investors

WASHINGTON “ May 6, 2013 “ For the second time this year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will sell thousands of severely delinquent mortgage loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).

This summer, HUD will sell approximately 20,000 distressed loans through its expanded Distressed Asset Stabilization Program (DASP).

HUD™s offerings will be conducted through two auctions “ on June 26, it will sell approximately 15,000

notes through national pools, and on July 10 it will offer approximately 5,000 notes through Neighborhood Stabilization Outcome (NSO) pools.

In the past, the smaller Neighborhood Stabilization pool sales included Florida properties, but this time HUD is focusing on Southern California, Chicago, southern Ohio (including Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton) and the entire state of North Carolina.

HUD is expanding the use of single-family loan sales through a competitive bidding process in which loan pools are sold to

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the highest bidder, including non-profit and community-based organizations.

These auctions allow us to continue stabilizing hard-hit housing markets and to improve FHA™s overall financial position at the same time, says FHA Commissioner Carol Galante.

Program mechanics
Under the loan sale program, severely delinquent FHA-insured loans are sold competitively at a market-determined price that™s generally below the outstanding principal balance. Once an investor purchases the loan, foreclosure is delayed for a minimum of six additional months.

During those six months, the investor (or servicer) can work with the borrower to find an affordable solution to avoid foreclosure. Since the investor buys the loans at market rate “ which is generally below the outstanding principal balance “ they™re in a position to offer the homeowner a loan modification. If the loan eventually goes to foreclosure anyway, the investor must do so, relieving HUD from the task.

HUD expects to sell more than 40,000 distressed loans this year through quarterly sales that reduce FHA™s total claims costs and increase recovery on losses.

Distressed Asset Stabilization Program
FHA™s note sales program was resumed in 2010 as a direct sale pilot program that allows qualified bidders to buy pools of risky mortgages “ in many cases, HUD says, as a less expensive alternative to foreclosing and listing the homes as a real estate-owned (REO) property.

An FHA servicer can place a loan into the loan pool if the following criteria are met:

¢ The borrower is at least six months delinquent on their mortgage
¢ The servicer has exhausted all steps in the FHA loss mitigation process
¢ The servicer has initiated foreclosure proceedings

For more information on the HUD loan sale program, visit the department™s website.

© 2013 Florida Realtors®

Why you should start planning your estate today

Posted by on Apr 30, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

PRLog (Press Release)Apr. 25, 2013MIAMIWhat is Estate Planning?
by: Genilde E. Guerra and Robert A. Kravitz
Believe it or not, you have an estate. In fact, nearly everyone does. Your estate is comprised of everything you own” your car, home, other real estate, checking and savings accounts, investments, life insurance, furniture, personal possessions. No matter how large or how modest, everyone has an estate and something in common”you can’t take it with you when you die.

When that happens you probably want to control how those things are given to the people or organizations you care most about. To ensure your wishes are carried out, you need to provide instructions stating whom you want to receive something of yours, what you want them to receive, and when they are to receive it. You will, of course, want this to happen with the least amount paid in taxes, legal fees, and court costs.

That is estate planning”making a plan in advance and naming whom you want to receive the things you own after you die. However, good estate planning is much more than that. It should also:

· Include instructions for passing your values (religion, education, hard work, etc.) in addition to your valuables.

· Include instructions for your care if you become disabled before you die.

· Name a guardian and an inheritance manager for minor children.

· Provide for loved ones who might be irresponsible with money or who may need future protection from creditors or divorce.

· Include life insurance to provide for your family at your death

· Provide for the transfer of your business at your retirement, disability, or death.

· Minimize taxes, court costs, and unnecessary legal fees.

· Be an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Your plan should be reviewed and updated as your family and financial situations (and laws) change over your lifetime.

Estate planning is for everyone.
It is not just for retired people, although people do tend to think about it more as they get older. Unfortunately, we can’t successfully predict how long we will live, and illness and accidents happen to people of all ages. Estate planning is not just for the wealthy, either, although people who have built some wealth do often think more about how to preserve it. Good estate planning often means more to families with modest assets, because they can afford to lose the least.

Too many people don’t plan.
Individuals put off estate planning because they think they don’t own enough, they’re not old enough, they’re busy, think they have plenty of time, they’re confused and don’t know who can help them, or they just don’t want to think about it. Then, when something happens to them, their families have to pick up the pieces.

If you don’t have a plan, your state has one for you, but you probably won’t like it.

At disability: If your name is on the title of your assets and you can’t conduct business due to mental or physical incapacity, only a court appointee can sign for you. The court, not your family, will control how your assets are used to care for you through a conservatorship or guardianship. It can become expensive and time consuming, it is open to the public, and it can be difficult to end even if you recover.

At your death: If you die without an intentional estate plan, your assets will be distributed according to the probate laws in your state. In many states, if you are married and have children, your spouse and children will each receive a share. That means your spouse could receive only a fraction of your estate, which may not be enough to live on. If you have minor children, the court will control their inheritance. If both parents die (e.g., in a car accident), the court will appoint a guardian without knowing whom you would have chosen.

Wouldn’t you prefer these matters be handled privately by your family,

not by the courts? Wouldn’t you prefer to keep control of who receives what and when? And, if you have young children, wouldn’t you prefer to have a say in who will raise them if you can’t?

— End —

Problems cashing foreclosure checks resolved

Posted by on Apr 18, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

WASHINGTON “ April 18, 2013 “ Some of the mortgage borrowers who received checks this week as part of a $3.6 billion foreclosure-abuse settlement were initially unable to cash the checks, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday. The Fed said, however, that the problem has been resolved.

The paying agent for 13 mortgage servicers, Rust Consulting Inc., corrected problems that led to some checks being rejected, the Fed said in a statement, without offering any details. According to a source with knowledge of the problem, recipients were able to deposit

the checks in their bank accounts, but some ran into trouble when they tried to cash them.

Margaret Jurow, a lawyer with Legal Services of New Jersey who works with homeowners facing foreclosure, said many of her clients don’t even have bank accounts, so cashing the check was their only option.

She called the error incredibly disrespectful to homeowners and former homeowners who were eligible for the checks because they faced foreclosure in 2009 and


You try sending a bad check to your mortgage company, and see what happens, Jurow said.

Checks began going out on Friday to 4.2 million borrowers after federal regulators reached an agreement with the 13 mortgage servicers.

Borrowers will get checks ranging from $300 to $125,000, for a total of $3.6 billion. The deal involves 13 mortgage servicers: Aurora, Bank of America, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, MetLife Bank, Morgan Stanley, PNC, Sovereign, SunTrust, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo.

The agreement was one in a series of settlements related to foreclosure abuses that included robo-signing, in which mortgage industry representatives signed legal documents without checking them in their rush to evict homeowners.

The largest settlement amount “ $125,000 “ will go to members of the military who lost their homes in violation of the Service Members Civil Relief Act, which gives deployed service members extra protection in foreclosures. Also eligible for $125,000 are homeowners who lost their homes even though they weren’t in default on their loans. But all homeowners who were in some stage of the foreclosure process in 2009 and 2010 with one of the 13 mortgage companies will receive a payment, without having to prove any wrongdoing. More than 64 percent of the borrowers “ about 2.7 million people “ will get $300 or $400, according to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Copyright © 2013 The Record (Hackensack, N.J.) Distributed by MCT Information Services.

Florida foreclosure settlement checks have bounced, borrowers say

Posted by on Apr 18, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

South Florida borrowers recently began receiving payouts from a $3.6 billion fund created by the federal government and 13 private mortgage servicers as part of a settlement ending litigation over widespread foreclosure malpractices. But some recipients are now saying the checks have bounced, the Palm Beach Post reported.

The Independent Foreclosure Review mailed more than 1 million checks April 12 as part of the January agreement; some borrowers said they couldn’t cash the checks because of insufficient funds.

A fund official has assured them that it does have money

in the bank, the Post said.

Florida has the second-highest foreclosure rate in the U.S.,

at one out of every 317 homes, just behind Nevada, where the foreclosure process has initiated on one out of every 306 homes, according to RealtyTrac.

The contracted paying agent, Rust Consulting, explained Tuesday the fund is capable of making good on the checks, which range from several hundred dollars to $125,000, the Post reported.

We want to assure the public that checks we have mailed under the Independent Foreclosure Review Payment Agreement process are valid, Rust Senior Vice President James Parks said in a release. “ Emily Schmall

Tangled web ensnares foreclosure debacle

Posted by on Apr 17, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

WASHINGTON “ April 17, 2013 “ A belated attempt by bank regulators to get compensation for homeowners who were foreclosed on by mistake turned into a debacle by the time it was shut down in February and is now becoming a scandal as more details emerge.

The Independent Foreclosure Review (IFR) was set up in 2011 to engage outside consultants to look at foreclosures taking place in 2009 and 2010 and determine where errors were made.

But last February, regulators decided after two years with only 100,000-some cases reviewed that the process was too much trouble, and opted instead for a $9.3 billion settlement with the biggest mortgage companies that awards the victims pennies on the dollar for their losses.

In all, 80 percent of those subject to the foreclosures covered by the agreement will get $1,000 or less, while the outside consultants who handled the review reaped a windfall of $2 billion “ nearly $20,000 for each case actually reviewed.

At a hearing last week before a Senate Banking subcommittee, lawmakers grilled representatives of the two regulatory agencies involved, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Federal Reserve, about these consultants and the review process.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., asked repeatedly whether the agencies were going to notify victims who had been illegally foreclosed on that this had happened. But lawyers for both regulators demurred, saying a decision had not yet been made.

You have made a decision to protect the banks but not to help the families who were illegally foreclosed on, Warren retorted. You know of cases where the banks broke the laws, but you are not going to tell the homeowners. People want to know that their regulators are watching out for the American public, not the banks.

Earlier last week, Warren and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the top Democrat on the House Oversight committee, sent a letter to the regulators rejecting their excuses for not releasing details of possible illegal activity because of confidentiality concerns.

Federal Reserve staff argued that the documents

relating to widespread legal violations are the ˜trade secrets’ of mortgage servicing companies, Warren and Cummings wrote.

We strongly believe that documents should not be withheld from any member of Congress based on the flawed argument that illegal activity by banks is somehow their proprietary business information. Breaking the law is not a corporate trade secret.

In late March, the Government Accountability Office issued a report on the IFR that sharply criticized regulators for giving the consultants guidance that was too broad and for insufficiently monitoring the consistency of methods and results.

The GAO report also said regulators adversely impacted transparency and public confidence through insufficient communication with eligible borrowers and the public in general.

Last week’s Senate hearing was titled Outsourcing accountability? Examining the role of independent consultants and zeroed in on the role of the consultants themselves. These outside consultants have an inherent conflict of interest because they often work with the banks on compliance and legal issues.

The IFR debacle has thrown a spotlight on one consulting firm in particular, the Promontory Financial Group, which could serve as a poster child for the revolving door in financial regulation in Washington.

The group, which collected some $1 billion for its work in the failed IFR, was founded by Eugene Ludwig, who headed the OCC during the Clinton administration. Since it first opened its doors in 2001, it has grown to 400

employees, many of them former staffers at the regulatory agencies.

An article in this month’s American Banker Magazine describes how Ludwig built Promontory into a shadow network between banks and regulators.

As an example of just how quickly the door revolves at Promontory, the magazine noted that the firm in January hired Julie Williams, former chief counsel at the OCC, and the regulator replaced her days later with Amy Friend, who was a managing director at Promontory.

And earlier this month, Promontory announced it was hiring Mary Schapiro, who stepped down in December as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In the other direction, Sarah Bloom Raskin, who became one of the seven members of the Fed’s Board of Governors in 2010, had been a managing director at Promontory earlier in her career.

This is heady stuff, even for a Washington thoroughly inured to conflict of interest. Lawmakers are right to throw the spotlight on these consultants, who are taking the concept of Beltway Bandits to a new level.

It’s probably too late to help the foreclosure victims, who are now unlikely to see any meaningful compensation from errors made by the banks. But the probe of the IFR debacle is a step in the right direction to make bank regulators focus on protecting citizens instead of banks.

Copyright © USA TODAY 2013. Darrell Delamaide has reported on business and economics from New York, Paris, Berlin and Washington, D.C., for Dow Jones news service, Barron’s, Institutional Investor and Bloomberg News service, among others.

DrugRisks Adds Study Showing Pradaxa Viral Infection Risk

Posted by on Apr 5, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

San Diego, CA (PRWEB) April 05, 2013

The medication resource center is announcing new information on the site for patients taking the blood thinner Pradaxa. Researchers warned this month that use of the drug may make patients more prone to viral infections****.

DrugRisks was created to reduce the danger of

side effects from popular prescription drugs by providing patients with the latest warnings, recalls, studies and legal news. Visitors can discuss side effect concerns with their doctor and decide if they need legal advice. (more…)