• Morgan & Morgan is expanding its Jacksonville office in the SunTrust Building Downtown at Laura Street and Independent Drive. Upon completion of the expansion this month, the law firm will use more than 17,000 square feet of space. Gregory D. Prysock is managing partner of Morgan & Morgan in Jacksonville.
• Incoming Attorney General Pam Bondi tapped a former co-worker at the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office to be the next statewide prosecutor. Bondi named Nick Cox, the Department of Children and Families’ Regional Director for the SunCoast Region and former Hillsborough County assistant state attorney, to the position. Cox, 47, will serve a four-year term that runs concurrently with the term of the attorney general.
• Gov. Charlie Crist appointed Alan Abramowitz of Tallahassee as executive director of the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office, to succeed Theresa Flury, for a term that began Tuesday and ends Dec. 8, 2013. Abramowitz, 48, currently directs the statewide Family Safety Program Office within the Florida Department of Children and Families.
In another appointment, Crist named Donna Harper, CEO of Systems Logics Co. LLC, to the Jacksonville Transportation Authority to succeed A.J. Johns. Pending Senate confirmation, her term began Wednesday and ends May 31, 2014. Harper previously served on the JTA board 1999-2007 and was chair 2002-04. She was appointed then by Gov. Jeb Bush.
• Crist also appointed Jacksonville lawyer Dexter V. Davis, owner of Davis Law Group, to the Fourth Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission. Davis, who succeeds William Adams, was appointed for a term that began Thursday and ends July 1, 2014.
• As he prepares to leave office after one term, Crist remains popular, with half of voters telling pollsters just before Christmas that they approved of the job he has done as governor. Pollster Tom Jensen of North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling said Crist is finishing with the highest approval rating he’s received in the firm’s surveys all year. Crist’s approval was 50 percent, with 39 percent saying they disapproved, in a telephone poll of 1,034 voters Dec. 17-20. That’s up from a low of 35 percent in March.
• H. William “Bill” Perry, CEO and managing partner of the Gunster business law firm, said U.S. Sen. George LeMieux will return to the firm as a shareholder and chair of the board of directors effective Jan. 4. LeMieux will resume his legal practice and provide corporate counseling to the firm’s clients. LeMieux served as Florida’s 34th U.S. senator and is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Commerce Committee, and the Special Committee on Aging. From 2007-2009, he practiced law at Gunster and served as chair of the 150-lawyer firm.
• The renovation of the former Kress Building at Main and Adams streets is partially complete. Several truckloads of new office furniture were delivered Thursday for the Offices of Farah & Farah, the owner of the building.
• Great Expressions Dental Centers completed its acquisition of Jacksonville-based Smilecare Dental Associates. Smilecare operates 14 dental practices throughout Jacksonville providing general and specialty services including endodontics, oral surgery, and periodontics. Smilecare employs 23 general and specialist doctors and 110 team members.
• Pinova Holdings Inc. bought LyondellBasell Flavors & Fragrances LLC in a transaction that results in about $150 million in after-tax proceeds for LyondellBasell. The flavors and fragrances business has manufacturing plants in Jacksonville and Brunswick, Ga., and about 200 employees. It makes terpene-based fragrance and flavor ingredients for the oral-care, confectionery and beverage market. The newly acquired business will operate under the name Renessenz LLC.
• Don’t be alarmed if you’re Downtown and see fire trucks parked in front of the Modis Building on West Bay Street. Firefighters use the nine-level parking garage across the street for physical training. They strap on their 25-pound breathing apparatus and then run up and down the stairs.
• The first Downtown Art Walk of 2011 is 5-9 p.m. Wednesday. This month, art activity stations for children will be set up inside Snyder Memorial on Laura Street and several painted pianos, part of the City Keys Project, will be on display throughout the urban core.
• U.S. District Judges Timothy Corrigan and Marcia Morales Howard have set a tentative time line for moving forward with nearly 4,000 tobacco cases that are pending in the Middle District of Florida’s Jacksonville Division. The judges granted a motion by plaintiffs for voluntary dismissal of 499 cases to allow them to be tried in the Fourth Judicial Circuit’s Tobacco Division, which officially opens at the start of this year. The judges decided that “the defendant would not lose any substantial right” by the granting of the dismissal. The same Florida law would be applied in both courts, the judges explained. The federal court also lifted stays on 10 test cases, and two backup cases. A magistrate judge will be assigned to handle pretrial case management and discovery issues for the 12 test cases. Discovery is scheduled to start no later than Jan. 31. The next case management status hearing is slated for April 15.