‘Stop killing Black people,’ Coney Island beach protest, Brooklyn, N.Y., May 25.March in Philadelphia after cops riot and beat protesters, May 21.WW photo: Joseph PietteMalissa Williams, a 30-year-old woman, tragically lost her life on Nov. 29, 2012, in a hail of bullets, along with her 43-year-old companion, Timothy Russell, at the hands of nine white Cleveland police officers.One of those officers, Mark Brelo, was acquitted on May 23 for his part in the shooting by a judge in a nonjury trial. Protests against this travesty of justice occurred right after the verdict, resulting in the arrest of more than 70 activists.Natasha McKenna, a 37-year-old African American diagnosed at age 12 with schizophrenia, died on Feb. 8 in a hospital after being Tasered four times by police on Feb. 3 in a Fairfax, Va., county jail. At five feet, three inches tall, she had reportedly been handcuffed and shackled head to foot before being Tasered. Instead of receiving any kind of humane medical treatment, she had been in jail since Jan. 26 due to events reflecting her declining health.Rekia Boyd was fatally shot in the back of the head by a Chicago police detective, Dante Servin, in March 2012. Servin was acquitted of all charges. Boyd was just 22 years old.Shantell Davis, 23, was shot to death by police in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, in June 2012 during rush-hour traffic. Yuvette Henderson was fatally shot outside an Oakland, Calif., Home Depot by police on Feb. 3. Aiyana Stanley Jones, age 7, was shot in the head in May 2010 by a Detroit cop while sleeping on her grandmother’s couch. The cop walked free.A motorist used his cell phone to record Marlene Pinnock, 51, being straddled by a white police officer and savagely beaten on the side of a highway in Los Angeles on July 1, 2014.These names and many more, such as Kyam Livingston, Renisha McBride and Eleanor Bumpurs, may not yet be embedded in mass consciousness like Michael Brown, Freddie Grey, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin or Eric Garner. But they should be.These African-American women and girls, along with Black transwomen and girls, represent an alarmingly growing number of victims of police murders and legal or extralegal violence. They are all casualties of the racist war against people of color, regardless of nationality, gender or gender preference, sexual orientation, abilities, health and age.BLM Movement founded and led by womenA National Day of Solidarity with Black Women and Girls was called by groups associated with the Black Lives Matter Movement on May 21 to demand justice for all Black women and girls and raise consciousness that Black women’s lives matter, too. Some of these actions took place in New York, the Bay Area (Calif.), Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Miami, Columbus, Ohio, and Lexington, Ky. The day also recognized that the Black Lives Matter Movement was founded and led by Black women and Black transwomen.Racist, trans-hating violence against Black transgender women is also gaining greater awareness, thanks to the BLM Movement. At least 12 Black transwomen have reportedly been killed by vigilantes since last August. These murders have not been taken seriously by the mainstream media and the police.Some of these victim’s names include Islan Nettles, Tiffany Edwards, Cemia Dove, Betty Skinner, Brittney Nicole Kidd-Stergis, Ty Underwood, Lamia Beard and Michelle Vash Payne. Black transwomen are often labeled as men by the police, and when incarcerated with men, they are subject to brutal sexual assaults.CeCe McDonald, a Black transwoman, was attacked by neo-Nazis in Minneapolis in June 2011. When she killed one of her attackers in self-defense, she was incarcerated for several years before being released in January 2014. Most of her imprisonment was spent in solitary confinement in a men’s prison.This racist and sexist war against Black women is also reflected in the mass incarceration epidemic. The Sentencing Project Research and Advocacy for Reform website reports that more than 1 million women are under the “supervision” of the criminal justice system — that is, in prison or on parole or probation.While African Americans make up less than 15 percent of the general population in the United States, African-American women constitute 30 percent of the overall women’s population in state and federal prisons. The sentencingproject.org states that Black women are more than three times likelier than white women to be incarcerated in prison or jail.The Black Lives Matter upsurge is unifying the movement by demanding justice for Black women, girls and transwomen who have been killed or brutalized by police or racist vigilantes.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare this
Letters Dignity in LawI am writing to support Tod Aronovitz and the Dignity in Law program. As a former prosecutor, public defender, judge of industrial claims, a partner with former Florida Bar President Bill Blews, and now as a tenured full professor of law, I have seen in my 30 years of being in the practice of law a lot of unwarranted attacks on a profession I still find to be noble and inspirational.I am proud to be a lawyer, and I want everybody to know the whole story about our great profession, and I want someone to respond to the unjustified attacks on our profession. Tod is doing that, but he needs our help. We lawyers need to stand together in this campaign and put aside provincial interests. It’s not about civil trial lawyers versus criminal trial lawyers and trial lawyers versus transactional lawyers. It’s about defending who and what we are. And if you are anything like me, I sometimes forget who we are and what we do. So I pull out any Bar Journal and reread the “Oath of Admission to The Florida Bar” (found this year on page 831of the Journal’s directory issue).I first “took” the “Oath” in the well of the Florida Supreme Court in the spring of 1972. It gave me goose-bumps then and it still does. I read it again before writing this letter. And when I read about “justice” and “honesty,” and “truth and honor,” “maintaining confidences,” and “preserving inviolate the secrets of my client,” and about honor and reputation, and about “never rejecting from any consideration personal to myself, the cause of the defenseless and the oppressed,” I realize why I became a lawyer and how my brothers and sisters at the Bar are “living” that “Oath.” Why shouldn’t we defend ourselves when we are attacked unjustifiably? Why shouldn’t we point out to our critics the greatness of our profession?Sure we have shortcomings, and things to do to make the justice system fairer, and we need to work harder in those areas, but what other profession polices itself as much and as openly as we do? Sure, I am ashamed of the things some of us do, but I am also extremely proud of what others do. We publish the shameful stuff and our shortcomings in our own publications.Why can’t we publish the good stuff, the rest of our story? I say, ‘Keep it up, Tod.’ I am a lawyer, and I am proud of what we do.Steve Everhart Criminal Law Section chairFoster KidsI was thrilled to read the article in the November 1 News about the Summer Fun For Kids Program in Miami, which was organized by several local lawyers to provide summer camp and other fun experiences for foster children. As a foster parent of two teenagers, and the treasurer of our local (Pinellas) foster parent association, I have seen firsthand what a huge difference such opportunities can make in the life of a foster child.In Florida, about 46,500 children are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Children and Families. Of these, almost 20,000 are in foster care. Many others live with their parents or relatives, under DCF supervision. The average length of stay in foster care is 33 months; and 18 percent of foster children have been in care for five years or longer.All of these children are at risk, and all of them have had to face very difficult circumstances in their young lives. Some have been shuffled from family to family for years. Some have suffered physical abuse, some emotional abuse, and neglect. The amazing thing is that each of these children has tremendous potential to grow and develop into a caring, productive adult. But each needs good role models to teach them how. Summer camps and other such activities, where responsible, caring adults show an interest, are a huge influence and give these kids the hope and skills they need.I would like to thank the attorneys who organized the program in Dade. Also, if any others would be interested in participating by starting start a similar program in the Pinellas County area, please contact me.Uta Grove ClearwaterLawyers and AlcoholI read with interest the November 15 full page “In Practice” article by Timothy J. Sweeney titled “A Clinical Look at the Chemically Dependant Lawyer.”Isn’t it a little inconsistent that lawyers would spend so much time and money and even have a staff attorney for and director of a “Recovering Attorneys’ Program,” when in fact we base every meeting we have on a cocktail reception? Can you think of a time when lawyers got together other than in a courtroom or at a closing without prefacing or completing their meeting with alcohol? Just scan the agenda for the Midyear Meeting.Maybe we should re-examine how we do things and then we can spend a little less time and money on recovery.William C. Davell Ft. Lauderdale December 15, 2002 Letters December 15, 2002 Letters
June 15, 2005 Senior Editor Regular News Tort and lobbying issues make noise but little changes Tort and lobbying issues make noise but little changes Expect bills on both topics to be introduced next year Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Two issues with potentially wide-ranging effects on many Florida Bar members were high profile battles in the legislature this year, but when the dust had settled, not much had changed.But those involved in the disputes over lobbying disclosure legislation and attempts to change tort laws say both are likely to be back before lawmakers in their 2006 Regular Session.The Florida Bar, which is restricted on the legislative actions it can take, did not take lobbying positions on either issue. But many lawyers closely watched the tort and lobbying conflicts as they could affect many practices around the state.Many observers also saw the issues as linked, with Senate President Tom Lee, R-Brandon, championing more disclosure for lobbyists and House Speaker Allan Bense, R-Panama City, favoring more protections for businesses in defending tort actions. And because of the failure of the upper and lower chambers to agree, the lobbying bill and the bills making the most serious tort changes died on the last day of the session.Rep. Dudley Goodlette, R-Naples, isn’t so sure there was such a solid connection.“The fact of the matter is the House in any event did pass a bill that dealt with the subject matter of lobbying reform, but did not go as far as the Senate president wanted to go [in the bill originally passed by the upper chamber and sent to the House],” he said. “Therefore, the Senate did not take it up and pass it.”Tort reform, on the other hand, was a hodge-podge of priorities of the House leadership and individual bills by House members.“I think that the speaker of the House is a businessman and the members of the House are free to file six bills,” Goodlette said. “Many of the members of the House had an interest in tort reform or litigation reform measures.”Bills requiring more medical proof of injury before filing, such as asbestos claims and giving electric utilities greater protection when streetlights fail, which were Bense’s priorities, did pass, he said, while another bill giving business owners greater protections from suits by victims of crimes committed on their property, also the speaker’s priority, failed, as did many other member-sponsored bills. Lobbying The lobbying bill proved to be a contest of the public’s right to know versus traditional privacy privileges. And it was particularly ticklish for lawyer/lobbyists.“I think it would have been important for the press and public to see what the real impact of money in that political process is,” said Ben Wilcox, head of the Florida Chapter of Common Cause, and a supporter of Lee’s lobbying proposals. “We’re not really getting an accurate picture with what is required now for lobbyist disclosure.”Wlicox noted there were some criticisms that the Senate bill could cause problems, including some claims that if one lawyer in a firm did lobbying, then every attorney in that firm could be forced to reveal what clients paid, even for lawyers who did no lobbying and for clients who hired the firm for nonlobbying work.“I realize that in the first draft of the bill, that scenario was raised as a potential problem,” Wilcox said. “I believe that problem could be dealt with; I saw it more as a red herring.“I’m hoping that Sen. Lee will come back and take another shot at it. Maybe we can have a dialogue with lobbyists who were open to the changes. Maybe we can come forward with some compromise legislation that will move the state forward and be comparable to what other states require.”Tallahassee attorney and lobbyist Wade Hopping said it wasn’t so much that he objected to having to report more information to the state on his lobbying activities, but that he thought much of the information that would have been required by the Senate was either confusing, impractical, or useless.“I wish there were more give-and-take on the mechanics,” he said. “I respect the right of the legislature to fix the policies, but many, many times, on many pieces of legislation, it’s not what the legislature wants to do, but how they do it. I would hope there would be more dialogue on how to do it.”Hopping said problems he saw included that reporting periods were changed, and the annual regular sessions would be split into two separate reporting periods. That would make it difficult to compile the information lawmakers said they were trying to make more available to the public, he said.There was also a lack of clarity about determining what was important information. Hopping said sometimes his and other firms are hired to do both legal and lobbying work for a client, and determining where the line falls can be done, but it might waste time and resources.Likewise there may not be a direct relationship between what a client pays and what a lawyer-lobbyist earns, Hopping said. At his firm, his compensation comes from a pool into which all of the firm’s fees go and from which are paid its expenses and overhead. Thus, a lobbying client paying a hefty fee to the firm for Hopping’s services might have little if any direct impact on Hopping’s final compensation. He noted that only five of the 37 attorneys at his firm do significant lobbying, although a few others are registered but primarily provide expert testimony at legislative hearings.“How much does the public have a right to know and what form should that be so it’s useful in making decision?,” Hopping asked. “The other part is what do they have a right to know about my compensation?”Among the differences between the House and Senate final versions of the lobbying bill were:• The Senate would require lobbyists to report individual expenditures for food and beverages and for whom the expenditure was made; the House deleted that provision.• The Senate would require reporting all contributions to a political party, which in turn could be forwarded to a legislator as an indirect gift. The House deleted that provision.• The House required reporting only categories of income by lobbyists unless the dollar compensation exceeded $150,000 per semiannual reporting period. The Senate required exact dollar reporting of a lobbyist’s compensation from an employer if the total compensation exceeded $45,000 in a quarterly reporting period.• The Senate would have the auditor general audit 3 percent of all lobbying firms annually, while the House version did away with the auditing requirement.• The House would require semiannual reporting, while the Senate would mandate quarterly reporting.• The Senate would require a lobbyist submitting a report to certify it is complete and accurate, while the House would require certification that it is complete and accurate to the best of the filer’s knowledge. Tort Bills Alexander Clem, president of the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers, said the deluge of tort bills — most of which did not pass — came from both legislative leaders and a variety of business interests. He speculated those interest groups are rushing to push business-friendly tort bills before the 2006 elections, and while the House, Senate, and governor’s mansion are all controlled by Republicans. Clem argued that more laws aren’t needed.“The state of Florida and its citizens have been tort-reformed to death over the past 10 years,” he said. “There has not been any demonstrable need for any further restrictions or elimination of the people’s constitutional right to pursue redress when they’ve suffered catastrophic injuries.”But George Meros, who has lobbied on tort issues for years, said the legislature is slowly “making common sense reforms” and restoring fairness to the tort arena. He says more needs to be done.“There remains areas of inequity in Florida law that other states have reformed and it is high time we reformed,” Meros said. “Joint and several liability needs to be fully repealed, and the other areas that were at issue in this session I’m sure will be discussed and at issue next year.”Meros said “significant progress” was made this year in the areas of class actions, slip and fall, and product liability matters — all of which will be revisited next year.Of the bills that did pass, one gives power companies more protection from suits related to streetlight failures. Those companies will now have 60 days after they are notified to fix such a problem before they would be liable for damages, Clem said.Likewise, another bill gives asbestos companies greater protection, by requiring those exposed to asbestos show an injury before being allowed to file suit, Meros said.“What this bill will do is require a screening to show actual physical injury,” Meros said, adding those exposed to asbestos who do not show physical impairment now, but show physical impairment in the future, will still be able to sue and the statutes of limitations will be tolled until evidence of impairment is detected.Another bill that didn’t pass would have given business property owners greater protections from lawsuits from victims of crime committed on their properties. Clem said a major sticking point was business owners wanted the criminal listed as a defendant on the jury verdict form, but lawmakers failed to go along with that provision. Meros said the holdup was due to a misunderstanding that the bill would have immunized property owners or that it somehow would have a negative impact on crime prevention.Bills aimed at restricting lawsuits based on product liability and class actions claims also failed, in part, Clem said, because the agriculture industry and others realized they would have to pursue such claims in federal court, making those actions more expensive and time-consuming.Other failed bills would have given radiologists more protection from lawsuits, limited damages for teaching hospitals, and given nursing homes some protections if they guaranteed a certain minimum liability standard.Clem said the academy also saw as part of the tort battles legislation to implement amendments 7 and 8 approved by voters last November. The former gives patients and potential patients more access to adverse incident reports and other medical records, while the latter requires removing the license of any doctor found to have committed three acts of malpractice. The legislation to carry out those amendments “gutted” their intent, Clem said, adding, “Our expectation is we do go to court to reinstate amendments 7 and 8.”“Florida lawyers ought to look at the reality of it rather than the spin,” Meros said. “Look at it from the perspective of do the reforms make good common sense, are they fair. And, if so, we as lawyers should always advance the social interest of making our laws fairer and more predictable to the common person, regardless of whether we are financially impacted by it.”
MORE: The new Mercedes car appearance, explainedSeveral explanations were given by drivers who opted not to kneel, most involving discomfort in how the gesture would be received.I believe that what matters are facts and behaviours in our daily life rather than formal gestures that could be seen as controversial in some countries. I will not take the knee but this does not mean at all that I am less committed than others in the fight against racism.— Charles Leclerc (@Charles_Leclerc) July 5, 2020I am very committed to equality and the fight against racism. But I believe everyone has the right to express themself at a time and in a way that suits them. I will not take the knee today but respect and support the personal choices every driver makes #WeRaceAsOne #EndRacism— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) July 5, 2020″I think there was some difficulty with some drivers and their nationality and what something like taking a knee would represent,” said Daniel Ricciardo. “The reasons why we will do is purely to support Black Lives Matter, it’s got nothing political or anything else, but there is a little bit of a fine line with some drivers and their nationalities and how it is perceived.” Lewis Hamilton, the lone Black driver currently in the circuit, was one of the leaders in the push to kneel. Hamilton and fellow Mercedes driver Valtarri Bottas also raced in all-black vehicles.Hamilton had previously said “silence is generally complicit” when it comes to fighting racism in general and encouraged drivers to speak out on their own platforms. Not everyone was on board with Formula 1’s plan to kneel during the Austrian national anthem during the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday.Six of the competition’s 20 drivers declined the gesture, which was meant to support the Black Lives Matter movement and promote racial equality.