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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Nov. 8, 201805:20 AM EST

The Marbut Report: 59 gain interviews for Florida Supreme Court

13 applicants are from the 4th Judicial Circuit or the 1st District Court of Appeal, which includes Jacksonville.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

The Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission will interview 59 applicants for the vacancies that will be created by the retirement in January of Justices Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince.

The commission may nominate up to six candidates for each vacancy.

Thirteen of the applicants are from the 4th Judicial Circuit or the 1st District Court of Appeal, which includes Jacksonville.

Fourth Circuit Chief Judge Mark Mahon, Circuit Judges James Daniel, Eric Roberson, Tatiana Salvador, Adrian Soud and Waddell Wallace and Jacksonville attorney Bryan Gowdy will be interviewed by the commission.

Applicants from the 1st District Court of Appeal are Judges Ross Bilbrey, Scott Makar, Timothy Osterhaus, Clayton Roberts, M. Kemmerly Thomas and Thomas Winokur.

The state Supreme Court on Oct. 15 issued an opinion that Gov. Rick Scott, who requested nominations by Nov. 10, cannot appoint justices to fill the vacancies unless one of the three justices leaves early or Scott’s successor fails to take the oath of office and file the necessary paperwork to begin his term Jan. 8.

There could be more applicants for the next governor to select from to fill the vacancies.

On Friday, the state Supreme Court permitted the Florida Association for Women Lawyers, the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. Bar Association, the Caribbean Bar Association, the Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association, the Haitian Lawyers Association, the Virgil Hawkins Florida Chapter National Bar Association, the Fred G. Minnis Sr. Bar Association, the George Edgecomb Bar Association and Jacksonville’s D.W. Perkins Bar Association to appear as amici curiae (friends of the court) in League of Women Voters of Florida et al v. Rick Scott, Governor, et al.

The group expressed to the court its support for the extension of the application deadline for the pending vacancies until at least the end of November.

The group said a diverse pool of applicants is of critical importance and the current applicant pool is not sufficiently representative of women and minorities.

Of the 59 current applicants, 11 are women, six identify as African-American and six as Hispanic.

Driving simulator donated by Coker Law is tested

On Oct. 22, attorneys from Coker Law, Duval County Public Schools representatives, teachers and students got to test the computerized driver education simulator donated to Wolfson High School by the law firm.

The Apex Virtual Vehicle was developed to provide interactive driver education in the safety of a classroom by utilizing virtual training technology.

Students who are working toward, or have received, their Florida learner’s permit will be able to learn safe driving techniques without the dangers of being on the road.

Coker Law’s “SaferStreets Through Smarter Drivers” initiative will focus on 125 ninth-grade students at Wolfson who will turn 14 or 15 years during the school year.

In addition to the driving simulator, an instructor will assist students and evaluate their progress.

“We want the driver education process to be as interactive as possible so that by the time they get behind the wheel of a real car, they have worked out how to handle critical decisions without having to face real-life consequences,” said Coker Law partner Matthew Posgay in a news release.

Supreme Court disciplines five local attorneys

Following investigations of, in some cases, court proceedings and in others, complaints filed by members of the public, the state Supreme Court has disciplined five attorneys who practice in Northeast Florida:

Paul H. Green Jr., 10175 Fortune Parkway, is suspended for 60 days effective 30 days from a Sept. 20 court order and ordered to contact Florida Lawyers Assistance for an evaluation.

Green was fired from a law firm that he started with another lawyer for engaging in unprofessional conduct, such as missing appointments, not coming to work and making unauthorized charges to the firm’s credit card.

He took over the firm’s email account without authorization, made derogatory Facebook posts and continued to harass the other attorney via text and email.

In a second matter, a client received inappropriate communications from Green after his separation from the law firm. The client was intimidated by the nature and frequency of the correspondence.

Thereafter, Green saw the complainant while she was tending bar at a sporting event and further intimidated her by slamming his hand on the bar and telling her “good luck with that Bar complaint.”

•  Megan Elizabeth Richards, 2969 Gilmore St., is publicly reprimanded by service of an Aug. 30 Supreme Court order and will contact Florida Lawyers Assistance Inc. for an evaluation.

On March 7, Richards was arrested in Duval County for driving under the influence and resisting an officer without violence. She later entered pleas of no contest and was adjudicated guilty of both first-degree misdemeanors.

Thomas Frank Rosenblum, 4446-1A Hendricks Ave., is publicly reprimanded following a Sept. 6 court order.

Rosenblum was paid $500 and retained in December 2014 to draw up paperwork for a client regarding child support, but he neither prepared nor filed the documents.

In mid-2016, the client filed a complaint with The Florida Bar. Rosenblum returned the money 23 months after being retained.

Andrew Douglas Scott Jr., 13553 Crashaw Road, is publicly reprimanded by service of an Aug. 30 Supreme Court order.

He will continue to participate in the program offered by Florida Lawyers Assistance Inc. by continuing to comply with his rehabilitation contract and his current outpatient treatment program.

On Aug. 15, 2016, Scott was adjudicated guilty of reckless driving as reduced from driving under the influence. On Jan. 24, Scott was rearrested and again charged with DUI.

In the new case, he was again adjudicated guilty of reckless driving as reduced from DUI.

• Justin Everett Spiller, 101 Marketside Ave. in Ponte Vedra, is suspended for six months, effective 30 days from a Sept. 20 court order.

Spiller was hired to close on a property. The complainant wired funds into what she thought was Spiller’s escrow trust account. In fact, the wiring instructions turned out to be his operating account.

When the complainant later tried to sell the property, the title search revealed that the property taxes, nuisance liens and owner’s policy had never been paid. As a result, the complainant had to pay the costs a second time.

Spiller admitted his mistake and that he’d failed to pay for and resolve the additional matters.

He also admitted that he inadvertently used the money in his operating account for other matters and refunded the money he should have used to pay the extra costs.


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