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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Apr. 9, 202005:00 AM EST

The Marbut Report: Nominations open for Lawyer of the Year

Deadline is April 24, award will be presented May 6.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

The Jacksonville Bar Association is seeking nominations for the annual Jacksonville Daily Record Lawyer of the Year award.

Nominees must be a member in good standing of the JBA, exemplify the standards and characteristics of the association’s values, and practice with professionalism and integrity.

Candidates also must display outstanding commitment and service to the community.

The 2019 recipient was Kathy Para, who retired from Jacksonville Area Legal Aid after a decade as pro bono coordinator and pro bono director, recruiting attorneys to represent low-income clients who otherwise would have faced often life-changing legal issues without benefit of counsel.

Mike Freed, a shareholder in Gunster’s Jacksonville office and founder of Freed to Run, was recognized as Lawyer of the Year in 2018.

For the past three years, Freed has run six marathons in six days from the state Supreme Court in Tallahassee to the Duval County Courthouse.

For the past two years, he was joined by relay teams from the business and legal communities that pledge donations and run a marathon leg alongside Freed.

The event raises money for the North Florida Medical Legal Partnership endowment at JALA that helps local pediatric patients and their families by providing free civil legal aid.

With a 125% match from Baptist Health Foundation, Freed to Run has raised more than $1 million toward the $2.25 million goal.

The 2020 award will be presented May 6 during the JBA’s annual Law Day meeting.

Nominations can be made by linking to the form at or by email to [email protected] before 5 p.m. April 24.

Law Day poster contest goes online

The JBA Law Day poster contest exhibit traditionally is installed near the staircase at the Duval County Courthouse, but with it closed to comply with the COVID-19 social distancing directive from the state Supreme Court, this year’s contest is on the internet.

Posters drawn by students at West Riverside Elementary School to represent the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution are displayed on the JBA website.

Visit to see the virtual entries.

Votes may be cast by JBA members and the public.

The young artist whose poster receives the most votes will be recognized May 6 at the JBA Law Day meeting.

Options for vehicle registration

Duval County Tax Collector Jim Overton says a common inquiry is how to renew a vehicle registration now that all the branch offices are closed.

Overton said there are four choices:

• Renew online at

• Mail your renewal form and payment to Duval County Tax Collector, 231 E. Forsyth St., Room 440, Jacksonville, 32202.

• Call (904) 255-5700 and renew by phone.

• Visit the website and request a call back.

Zero-tolerance policy for assault by COVID-19

After learning of an incident that occurred after a member of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office apprehended a suspect, State Attorney Melissa Nelson issued the following statement:

“Unfortunately, despite having to deal with all of these challenging circumstances, I have become aware of at least one incident in which a defendant, while being detained and ultimately arrested, informed the officer that she was infected with the COVID-19 virus, and then intentionally coughed into the officer’s face.

“In light of this inexcusable criminal conduct, the purpose of this memorandum is to make clear that the State Attorney’s Office for the Fourth Judicial Circuit shall have a ‘Zero-Tolerance Policy’ for any intentional COVID-19-related criminal conduct that either harms or threatens to harm any law enforcement officer or first responder,” Nelson said in the memorandum.

According to State Attorney’s Office spokesman David Chapman, the charge could be corruption against a public servant.

That’s a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison if actual harm occurs; or a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison if it’s merely a threat of unlawful harm.

“Because of the duties that law enforcement and first responders are required to perform, they are at considerable risk of being infected by the COVID-19 virus. Just like health care practitioners, law enforcement and first responders on a daily basis are faced with the reality that they are likely to come into contact with an infected individual. In addition to the potential health hazards related to contracting the COVID-19 virus, law enforcement officers and first responders are also experiencing considerable stress due to these increased pressures and obligations both inside and outside of work,” Nelson said in the memorandum.

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