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18 Fla. B. News 1 (1991)

handle is hein.barjournals/flabn0018 and id is 1 raw text is: 






Bias permeates justice system, commssion says


By Mark D. Killian
Assistant Editor

  The Florida judicial system, rife with
inequities which deny minorities equal treat-
ment, should be corrected by affirmative
action plans and legislative mandates de-
signed to boost the number of minorities on
the bench and in the judicial work force.
  That's the conclusion of the Florida Su-
preme Court Racial and Ethnic Bias Study
Commission, which presented the findings
of its year-long examination to the high
court during a ceremonial session December
11.
   Chairman Frank Scruggs told the court
 the 27-member commission's initial report
 looks at features of the justice system which
 impair the basic liberties of some minori-
 ties. Those include too few minority judges,
 bailiffs, managers in police organizations,
 and administrators in Florida's courthouses;
 poor treatment of minorities by police; and
 the processing of delinquency cases of mi-


nority juvenile offenders.
  The bias commission recommends a host
of reforms, including statewide affirma-
tive action plans, cultural sensitivity
training and the creation of Supreme Court
Office of Equal Employment Opportunity.

   WE AS A STATE cannot let the ser-
 pents of hatred, bigotry or bias lurk
.anywhere within or about the temples of
justice, Scruggs said. The practices that
adversely affect the liberty interests of mi-
norities affect all Floridians, so it is
everyone's concern to ensure the rights of
minorities are protected:'
   The Miami lawyer said the commission's
 efforts involved a search for evidence of
 bias in things not seen. He said that type
 of institutional bias can have the same
 destructive effect as intentional acts by bas-
 tardly individuals.
   Chief Justice Leander J. Shaw, Jr., vice-
 chair and commission liaison to the court,
                   (Please see Bias, page 6)


Bias commission member Arthenla Joyner addressed the Supreme Court and said the current
method of judicial selection does not provide a level playing field for minority applicants to
the bench:'


The Florida Bar News

January 1, 1991                                                                                                                                   Vol.-18, No. 1




Supreme Court rules on pro bono petition


By Gary Blankenship
Associate Editor
  Florida Bar members have a duty to
accept appointments from judges to repre-
sent indigents, even in civil cases, according
to the Florida Supreme Court. And, justices
said, the court can enforce the fulfillment
of that obligation.
   But the court, ruling in Amendments to
Rules Regulating Te Florida Bar-l-
3.7(a) and Rules of Judicial Administration
-2.065 (Legal Aid), case no. 74,538,
stopped short of ordering each circuit to
develop its own plan for meeting the legal
needs of indigents or imposing a mandatory
pro bono scheine.
   The justices also asked The Florida Bar-
 Bar Foundation Joint Commission on the
 Delivery of Legal Services to the Indigent
 to submit its.report by February 1 (see story
 inside).
   THE CASE involved a petition from 58
 Bar members asking the court to give judges
 the authority to appoint lawyers to represent
 indigents in civil cases, and to amend court
 rules to have chief circuit judges set up
 committees to study local needs and draw


who drafted the'request.
  William A. VanNortwick, chairman of
the joint commission, said the ruling ad-
dressed some of the legal questions that had
been raised by the commission. The court


D'Alemberte remedy, VanNortwick
added. They said we'll wait to see what
the joint commission comes up with.
  He also read the opinion as a clear indica-
tion from the court that it has the authority


'We hold that every lawyer of
this state who is a member of
   The Florida Bar has an
   obligation to represent the
   poor when called upon
         by the courts.
       -Justice Ben F. Overton


up plans to meet them. The request was    has held that every member of The Florida to impose mandatory pro bono, altt
known as the D'Alemberte petition, after  Bar has an obligation to represent the poor  didn't in this ruling.
ABA President-elect Talbot D'Alemberte,   in pro bono services and that responsibility  The court, in a unanimous opinic
                                          is part of the responsibility of being an ten by Justice Ben F. Overton , reje.
                                          officer of the court, he said. And the D'Alemberte petition's proposed cl
                                          osecondpart was the court had the power and  Bar rules, saying judges already h
                             E ri         authority to enforce that obligation.'   authority to appoint lawyers for in
Justice                hrlch                I think they dealt with the legal issues And it delayed ruling on the co,
                                          [on pro bono for indigents], they didn't changes, pending the report from t
                     The Florida Su-      fashion the remedy or agree with the     commission.
                   preme   Court will
                   meet in ceremonial1990                was           a
                   session January 7 to
                   pay tribute to Justice
                   p        eRaymond Ehrlich as lawyers            The Florida Bar
                   he retires from  the                  ee
                   court.                 By Gary Blankenship                         An end of the year opinion from t
                     The    formalities   Associate Editor                         (see story this page), reemphasized


             /wll begin at 3 pm.,
     EHRLICH       in the courtroom  at
the Supreme Court building. It will be fol-
lowed by a reception and the public is
invited to attend.
  Justice Ehrlich was appointed to the Su-
preme Court by then-Gov. Bob Graham in
1981. He was elected the court's chief jus-
tice in 1988.
  Ehrlich, 72, doesn't plan to let retirement
slow him down. He has announced plans to
spend six months in Washington, D.C., as
an aide to now-Sen. Graham after leaving
the bench. After that, he may practice in
Tallahassee or Jacksonville and fill in as a
trial judge when called upon.
   Justice Ehrlich's term expires at midnight
January 7.


  Call it the year of the judge, and the year
of access.
  The past 12 months have seen a wide
range of interest in judges, from the way
they are elected and appointed, to how they
raise campaign contributions, to what they
can say in campaigns. Most of those debates
gained the Bar's interest if not its active
involvement.
  Legal system access was an issue that
appeared in several guises: simplified legal
forms, legal aid, and a petition to the Su-
preme Court asking that trial judges be
given the power to appoint lawyers to repre-
sent indigents in civil cases. By the end of
the year, Bar leaders were warning that
access-in all of its forms-may be the
Bar's dominant concern for the 1990s.


Iougn it
on writ-
cted the
ange to
have the
digents.
urt rule
he joint


the court
the jus-


tices' interest in the topic.
  But 1990 saw many other Bar activities.
There was the first dues increase-from
$140 to $190 annually-in eight years. Con-
fidentiality was eased in Bar grievance
procedures and on those who file com-
plaints with the Judicial Qualifications
Commission. The Bar pushed hard for bet-
ter programs for children, and generally had
success with its legislative proposals.
  The U.S. Supreme Court and 11th U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals each issued major
decisions affecting Bar lobbying and ideo-
logical activities. Bar leaders said they were
satisfied with the rulings and present levels
of Bar activity, but by year's end there was
a fresh challenge to Bar lobbying.
  And 1990 saw lawyers wrongfully denied
                (Please see 1990, page 10)


  , THE OPINION, though, specifically re-
jected constitutional challenges raised by
opponents, who called the plan another form
of mandatory pro bono.
   We hold that every lawyer of this state
who is a member of The Florida Bar has an
obligation to retresent the poor when called
upon by the courts and that each lawyer has
agreed to that commitment when admitted
to practice law in this state, Overton
wrote. Pro bono is part of a lawyer's
public responsibility as an officer of the
court. At this time we find no need to
further express an attorney's obligation as
an officer of the court in the rules regulating
the Bar.
   The objectors had said any mandatory
 plan would violate fifth, 13th and 14th
 amendment rights .of lawyers-arguments
 rejected by the court.
   Overton noted that in In Interest of D.B.,
 385 So.2d at 92, the court had ruled that
 one who is allowed the privilege to practice
 law accepts a professional obligation to
 defend the poor. That ruling also held
 when a judge can't find a legal aid service
 to help an indigent, he should request
 private counsel to provide the necessary
 services. Under these circumstances, no com-
 pensation is available, and the services are
 part of the lawyer's historical professional
 responsibility to represent the poor.
   The 13th amendment would apply, Over-
 ton wrote, only if lawyers were jailed for
 failing to provide pro bono. We find the
 amendment does not apply if the individual
 may choose freedom even though the conse-
 quences of that choice result in some dimi-
 nution of economic earning power, the
 opinion said. And short of jailing, other
 appropriate sanctions, such as a fine, sus-
 pension, or disbarment, could be imposed
              (Please see Pro bono, page 7)


      IL)










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