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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Aug. 1, 201905:10 AM EST

The Marbut Report: Sweep for Jacksonville at FLABOTA awards

It’s the first time in the organization’s history that has happened.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

When the Florida Chapters American Board of Trial Advocates convened the awards ceremony at its annual meeting last weekend in Orlando, the three attorneys and a judge called to the podium were from Jacksonville.

It’s the first time in the state organization’s history that a single jurisdiction has received every award, said ABOTA Jacksonville Chapter President James D’Andrea.

“The awards indicate support of the candidates, not just from local lawyers, but from lawyers all over the state. It symbolizes the commitment of Jacksonville attorneys to ABOTA’s mission to preserve the right to jury trial, independence of the judiciary and promoting civility and professionalism,” he said.

Curry Pajcic, FLABOTA president; Mike Mullen; and Raymond Reid.

The recipients:

• Pajcic & Pajcic partner Curry Pajcic, Trial Lawyer of the Year.

• Retired 4th Circuit Judge Peter Dearing, Jurist of the Year.

• Gunster shareholder Michael Freed, Fran Peacock Coker Community Service Award.

• Upchurch Watson White & Max shareholder Robert Cole, Joseph P. Milton Professionalism and Civility Award

In addition, R. Scott Costantino of The Costantino Law Firm in Jacksonville was sworn in as incoming president of the state organization’s board of directors.

Wendy Berger

Berger appointed to federal court

Fifth District Court of Appeal Judge Wendy Berger was confirmed July 24 by the U.S. Senate to serve on the U.S. District Court Middle District of Florida.

Raised in Jacksonville and a St. Augustine resident, Berger was appointed by then-Gov. Rick Scott to the 5th District Court of Appeal in 2012.

From 2001-05 she was an assistant general counsel for former Gov. Jeb Bush, who appointed her to the 7th Judicial Circuit Court. She served there until her appointment to the appellate court.

She was nominated to the U.S. District Court by President Donald Trump in April 2018 and was confirmed by a 54-37 vote in the Senate.

Tickets on sale for JALA awards

Retired 4th Circuit Judge Hugh Carithers will be presented the Robert J. Beckham Equal Justice Award on Sept. 18 at Jacksonville Area Legal Aid’s 20th annual Equal Justice Awards.

A reception, followed by dinner and the awards ceremony, begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront.

Named for a former JALA board member, the award each year recognizes a person or organization who notably has promoted the cause of equal justice for low-income residents of Northeast Florida.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Matthew Desmond will deliver the keynote address. 

Desmond, a professor of sociology at Princeton University, received the prize for his book “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.”

Tickets and event sponsorships may be purchased at Donations will benefit Jacksonville Area Legal Aid.

Local attorney suspended

Jacksonville attorney Earl Mayberry Johnson Jr. was suspended for six months by the state Supreme Court.

The suspension is effective 30 days from a July 11 court order.

According to the court, in 2011, the family of a man who pleaded guilty to attempted murder hired Johnson for $5,000 to pursue a post-conviction motion on the basis that the victim recanted her testimony.

Over three years, Johnson filed motions for a new trial, to vacate the judgment and conviction and to expedite a ruling. In the meantime, his client filed his own motions.

Following inaction by the trial court, in 2016 the client’s family paid an additional $1,500 for a certiorari (request for review) to speed the process along, which Johnson never filed. The court denied pending motions, explained corrections needed and allowed 60 days to file an amended motion, which Johnson never filed.

He refunded the family’s $1,500 and also successfully filed pleadings to preserve his client’s right to appeal, according to the suspension.


Dana Jacobs, associate attorney at Coker Law, represents plaintiffs in car crash, wrongful death, premises liability, personal injury, general negligence, inadequate security, negligent security and dram shop law matters.

A column note last Thursday was incomplete.

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