After what some government officials called a 25-year effort, theU.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida and the U.S. GeneralServices Administration formally dedicated the new federal courthousein Fort Pierce on Friday.
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson called the $56.3 million, 123,400-square-footbuilding "a jewel for downtown Fort Pierce and the Treasure Coast."Nelson, who spearheaded efforts to construct the courthouse, praisedthe nation's criminal justice system and addressed the highlypublicized shooting death of Trayvon Martin by a community watchvolunteer in Sanford.
"We are not just dedicating a building, we are dedicating a conceptthat this is a country that abides by the rule of law," said Nelson,who delivered the ceremony's keynote speech.
According to U.S. District Judge Donald Graham, the judges in theSouthern District voted to install a permanent district judge at theFort Pierce courthouse pending White House and Senate approval. Grahamsaid the process could be lengthy, especially during an election year.
Graham was pleased with the courthouse's stunning aesthetics and security.
"The key issue is security," said Graham of the building, whichboasts blast-resistant materials, concrete walkways, undergroundparking and a sun-filled atrium.
"Its been a labor of love for many of us," said Graham, who addedtwo floors can be expanded to include additional courtrooms if needed."It's a beautiful, beautiful building, and it's functional, too."
2. The health care oral arguments start today, and the lawyers have been training... literally (via NY Times):
Last week, there were so many of the mock arguments that lawyers callmoot courts that they threatened to exhaust something that had neverbeen thought in short supply: Washington lawyers willing to pretend tobe Supreme Court justices.The problem, said Paul D. Clement, who represents the 26 stateschallenging the law, was not just the length of the arguments that thecourt will hear, but the variety of topics to be addressed.The law itself is a sprawling revision of the health care system meantto provide coverage to tens of millions of previously uninsuredAmericans by imposing new requirements on states, employers andinsurance companies and, through what has been called the individualmandate, requiring most Americans to obtain insurance or pay a penalty.The decision in the case will have enormous practical consequences forhow health care is delivered in the United States. It is likely to landin June, with large repercussions for both President Obama and hisRepublican challenger just before the two parties hold their nominatingconventions.The justices have broken the case into four discrete issues, schedulinga separate session for each, for a total of six hours, the most in morethan 40 years. Mr. Clement, like his principal adversary, SolicitorGeneral Donald B. Verrilli Jr., will be arguing three times.
3. Congrats to my boys from Rakontur, celebrating their 10th anniversary. Nice coverage in the Herald, and cool events all week at the O Cinema. Since I'm a Miami native, I just love that they are home boys -- making movies starring this city:
The bond between Corben, Spellman and Cypkin — who are all 33,became friends at Highland Oaks Middle School, made their first shortfilm in high school and co-founded rakontur in 2001 — has grownstronger with each of their successes.
So, too, have their roots to Miami.
“Wemade a decision to stay in Miami to further our careers, which seemsanti-instinctual in our business,” says Corben, who has directed all ofrakontur’s films. “But it was a deliberate, calculated decision. It wasa brand-basing decision. We didn’t want to be another group of schmuckstap-dancing Los Angeles or New York. There have been a lot of talentedfilmmakers who have come from Miami, but none whose work is associatedwith the city the way Woody Allen is associated with New York or BarryLevinson and John Waters are associated with Baltimore. We wanted to beknown as the Miami guys.”
4. Combining items 2 (the Supreme Court) and 3 (Miami), there's this story about a case from South Florida going to the Supremes (via Curt Anderson):
5. St. Thomas is having a wonderful event this Friday:
Court documents refer to it as "that certain unnamed gray, two-storyvessel approximately 57 feet in length." To Fane Lozman, it was afloating Florida home never intended to sail the seas. Now, along-running dispute over exactly what the structure was has landedbefore the U.S. Supreme Court.
Lozman, a 50-year-old former Chicago financial trader, seeminglylost his nearly six-year battle with the seaside city of Riviera Beachwhen his home was hauled away in 2009 and later destroyed by courtorder. But Lozman refused to give up, claiming officials vindictivelyand illegally targeted him for eviction from the city's marina becauseof his vocal opposition to a major redevelopment plan.
"Whatever they had to do to get me out of there, they were going todo it," Lozman said. "All I want to do is live a quiet life. I didn'tlook for this drama, it came to me because I wanted to stay at themarina."
The only-in-Florida backstory matters less to the Supreme Court thana more fundamental question: When is something a vessel, and when is itnot? The court agreed to take the case earlier this year and isexpected to hear arguments in October.
On March 30, 2012, the St. Thomas Law Review and the Daily Business Review will host a symposium titled, Media and the Law: Adjusting Trial Strategy in Light of Media Portrayal and Public Perception. From 9 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., the symposium will focus on how judges, litigants, and members of the media face an increasing number of challenges regarding public influence and potential jury misconduct as technology advances. Tickets are $25 and include breakfast, lunch, and an evening reception. Credits for Continuing Legal Education are pending approval with the Florida bar.The luncheon will feature keynote speaker Professor Charles Nesson, Weld Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and Founder and Faculty Director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Professor Nesson has litigated high profile cases such as White v. Crook, Anderson v. Cryovac, and Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, a United States Supreme Court case. He defended Daniel Ellsberg in the 1971 Pentagon Papers case, and represents Joel Tenenbaum in a well-publicized music file sharing case, Sony BMG v. Tenenbaum.The symposium will also consist of three panels and will be moderated by Benedict P. Kuehne of the Law Offices of Benedict P. Kuehne, P.A. Each panel will be comprised of three to four members of the legal profession who have faced challenges in their handling of high-profile cases as a result of media coverage and exposure, and members of the media who inform the public of such cases.The media panel will include three members of the media: David Lyons, Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Business Review; Manny Garcia, Executive Editor, El Nuevo Herald; Willard Shepard, an Anchor and Journalist with NBC 6. These panelists will provide keen insight into their experiences reporting high profile cases. Their discussion will cover the ethical dilemmas the media faces to appeal to public interest while protecting the sanctity of our judicial system, and the responsibility of the media in balancing these interests.The litigants panel will consist of three attorneys: Carey Haughwout, Palm Beach Public Defender; Ervin Gonzalez, attorney at Colson Hicks Edison; and Abraham Laeser, a retired prosecutor from the Miami-Dade State attorney’s office. These panelists will discuss their experiences in handling high-profile cases, and the effect of media coverage on how they approach the case. The panelists will also provide their perspectives on attorneys’ ethical obligations when communicating with the press.Finally, the ethics panel will feature Florida Supreme Court Justice R. Fred Lewis, Chief Magistrate for the Southern District of Florida, Judge Stephen Brown, and Anthony Alfieri, Professor at the University of Miami School of Law. These panelists will explore ethical issues and dilemmas litigants and judges face in an era when the public has a seemingly insatiable appetite for information about high profile legal cases and cutting edge legal issues.Additionally, the symposium will host Judge George Greer, who received national attention when he presided over the Terri Schiavo case. Judge Greer’s session, “A Conversation with Judge Greer,” will be moderated by Professor Tamara Lawson, Professor of Law at St. Thomas University School of Law.