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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Sep. 19, 201905:20 AM EST

The Marbut Report: Federal Bar celebrates Constitution Day

“Lawyers should not be censured for practicing law,” says 11th Circuit Judge Milton Hirsch.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

The U.S. Constitution was signed by the delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on Sept. 17, 1787, so the Jacksonville Chapter of the Federal Bar Association celebrated Constitution Day on Tuesday with a CLE lunch and a guest speaker from Miami.

The topic of 11th Circuit Judge Milton Hirsch’s presentation was the importance of an independent bench and Bar.

11th Circuit Judge Milton Hirsch

Hirsch said that while the Constitution contains no express guarantee of that independence, Article 3, Section 2 restricts the jurisdiction of the federal courts. It also calls for trial by jury.

“With each side represented by an advocate. That is the heart of the American Bar,” Hirsch said.

He cited as an example of when independence of the Bar can be subverted the case of Ronald Sullivan, the Harvard Law School professor who, for a short time, was part of film producer Harvey Weinstein’s legal defense team after Weinstein was accused of abusing women.

Sullivan’s representation of Weinstein caused student uproar that led to Sullivan being removed as faculty dean of Harvard College’s Winthrop House dormitory, a position he had held since 2009.

“The students were furious and demanded Sullivan’s removal. They said they didn’t feel safe living in a dorm with an adviser who represented a defendant charged with a sex crime,” Hirsch said.

Hirsch said while it is clear that the students misunderstand every defendant’s right to legal counsel, it’s more significant that so few of Sullivan’s fellow professors publicly supported his decision to defend a person accused of a crime.

“What concerns me even more is the lack of reaction from Harvard’s administration and faculty and from the bench and Bar.

“To represent a criminal is not to endorse his crime. Lawyers should not be censured for practicing law,” Hirsch said.

He also said it’s the profession’s responsibility to advocate for itself.

“It is the Bar that must stand up for the lawyer. That is the independence of the American Bar. We fail to defend it at our peril,” Hirsch said.

Also at the meeting, the 2019-20 officers were installed with Helen Peacock Roberson succeeding Collette Cunningham as president of the chapter.

Federalist Society hosts state attorney Sept. 26

The Jacksonville Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society invited 4th Circuit State Attorney Melissa Nelson to speak at its meeting at noon Sept. 26 in the Multipurpose Room at the Main Library Downtown.

Tickets can be purchased at for $10 per person, including lunch. Members and nonmembers are welcome.

Rogers Towers shareholder Gabriel Crafton

Crafton selected CLSA fellow

Rogers Towers shareholder Gabriel Crafton was selected as a fellow of the Construction Lawyers Society of America. 

Board certified in construction law by The Florida Bar, he represents developers, contractors, design professionals, governmental entities, homeowners, condominium associations and landlords in construction-related matters.

Crafton joins two other Rogers Towers shareholders, G. Kenneth Norrie and Cheryl Worman, who are charter fellows of the international honorary association.

Portnoy joins Down Syndrome Association board

Corey Portnoy, an associate in the Jacksonville office of Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, joined the board of directors of the Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville.

He will help oversee the association’s career training program, “Empower, Engage & Employ,” which helps people with Down syndrome become employed.

While an undergraduate at the University of Florida, Portnoy founded an annual competition between fraternities and sororities that has in the past decade raised more than $100,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network. It was through his involvement that he had the opportunity to interact with children with Down syndrome.

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