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Charles McBurney
Jax Daily Record Monday, Jun. 29, 2015 2 years ago

How the legislative session impacted legal issues

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by: Charles McBurney Jr.

Every legislative session enacts bills relevant to the practice of law. This session was no exception.

Of the 1,767 bills filed, 244 passed both the House and Senate — not an abnormal percentage.

There are a few that are particularly relevant to the practice of law, including:

• SB 775, Appointment of Ad Litem: This authorizes the court to appoint ad litem for a party upon whom service of process is made by publication if the party fails to file or serve a paper in the action. Also defines “ad litem” and creates exceptions and procedures.

• SB 1320, Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation: Places restrictions on meritless suits if the primary basis of suit is exercise of rights protected by the Citizen Participation in Government Act, etc.

• SB 570, Subpoenas: Adds civic traffic cases to types of actions in which a witness subpoena may be served by regular mail.

• SB 526, Notaries Public: Revises method for verifying documents. Defines “reliable electronic means” and allows specified officers to administer oaths by reliable electronic means when engaged in performance of official duties.

Business and consumer law

• HB 157, Fraud: Provides businesses and individuals broader protection against fraud and identity theft.

• SB 604, Consumer Protection: Cited as the “True Origin of Digital Goods Act,” requiring owners and operators of specified websites and online service to disclose certain information. Provides injunctive relief.

• SB 222, Electronic Commerce: Creates the “Computer Abuse and Data Recovery Act” that prohibits a person from intentionally committing specified acts (such as “hacking”) without authorization with respect to protected computers. Provides remedies.

• HB 531, Limited Liability Companies: Deletes or replaces obsolete references to the Florida Limited Liability Act. Revises third-party notice of authority to transfer real estate. Repeals a provision concerning dissociation from limited liability companies. Establishes time limitations on LLCs to respond to member demand for information, etc.

Criminal law

• SB 465, Human Trafficking: Provides enhanced criminal penalties for soliciting another to commit prostitution and similar offenses; provides penalties. Allows impoundment of vehicles used in soliciting another to commit prostitution and provides defenses. Allows expungement of criminal history records of human trafficking victims.

• SB 538, Sexual Cyber Harassment: Prohibits person from willfully and maliciously sexually cyberharassing another person. Allows arrest without warrant in certain circumstances.

• SB 672, Service of Process: Allows criminal witness subpoenas for a deposition to be served by posting it to the witness’ residence after one attempt to serve by another method has failed.

• SB 378, Juvenile Justice: Allows a law enforcement officer to issue a warning, inform parent of child’s infraction, issue civil citation or require a diversion program to juvenile who admits committing a misdemeanor. Requirement of law enforcement officer to provide written documentation in certain circumstances.

Family law

• HB 5, Guardianship Proceedings: Requires filing of motion to terminate power of attorney in incapacity or guardianship proceedings. Allows court to appoint state conflict counsel as court monitor of guardianship proceedings. Authorizes court to appoint guardian ad litem to protect minor’s interests.

• HB 149, Rights of Grandparents: Authorizes grandparent of minor child to petition court for visitation. Provides condition under which court can terminate grandparent visitation.

Real estate

• HB 643, Termination of a Condominium Association: Provides and revises procedures and requirements for termination or partial termination of condominium property.

• HB 779, Rental Agreements: Provides that purchaser taking title to tenant-occupied residential property following foreclosure sale takes title subject to rights of tenant. Authorizes tenant to remain in possession of property for 30┬ádays upon receipt of written notice; prescribes form and procedure for service of notice.

• HB 791, Residential Properties: Authorizes use of copy, facsimile transmission or reliable reproduction for proxy vote for certain purposes. Allows condominium vote online in certain circumstances. Authorizes electronic transmission of notices of certain meetings of cooperative.

• HB 305, Unlawful Detention by a Transient Occupant: Provides removal of transient occupant by law enforcement officer. Defines “transient occupant” and provides factors establishing transient occupancy. Provides causes of action for wrongful removal and limits actions for wrongful removal. Provides civil action for removal of transient occupant.

Personal injury

• SB 158, Civil Liability of Farmers: Provides generally that an existing exemption for civil liability for farmers who gratuitously allow a person to enter upon their land for the purpose of removing farm produce or crops left in the field applies anytime, not just after harvesting.

More information concerning particular bills can be found by searching myfloridahouse.gov. Click on the “bill” icon, type in the bill number and the site will include the full text of the bill, staff analysis, bill history, voting records and other bill information.

It is an honor to serve in the Florida House while being a member of The Jacksonville Bar Association.

If I or my legislative staff can provide additional services, please contact us at [email protected] or (904) 3596090.

Charles McBurney Jr., is an attorney representing businesses and individuals in the area of business law, commercial litigation, creditors’ rights, lien law, business formation, contracts, commercial collections and bankruptcy.

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