Tom Appeals Blog

News and Observations About Law and Society

"As long as I have any choice, I will stay only in a country where political liberty, toleration, and equality of all citizens before the law are the rule." - Albert Einstein

Constitution Revision Commission Begins Public Hearings

Posted: March 22, 2017 Filed under: Commentary, Law-Related News, Uncategorized

I cannot overemphasize the significance and power of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission. It can initiate fundamental restructuring of state government and, in the process, deal far-reaching setbacks to the integrity of the judicial branch (court system) and to individual rights. Watch for public hearings in your area, attend, and speak up. You are the best guardian of your personal rights and interests.

The Commission will be meeting in Orange County on the UCF campus March 29th. The official notice of that public hearing and of other hearings scheduled around the state through April 12, 2017, is HERE.

I will post additional updates as I find them on my Facebook page and on Twitter, both @TomAppeals.

Floridians can also follow news of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission’s activities on its OFFICIAL WEBSITE and on THIS page maintained by The Florida Bar.

Tom Quoted as a “Pro Bono Pro”

Posted: February 25, 2017 Filed under: Commentary, Law-Related News, Uncategorized

The March 2017 of The Florida Bar Journal features several stories about the significant pro bono work lawyers do. Read about Tom’s pro bono contributions in The Pro Bono Pros: And How You Can Become One and Hamilton’s Final Act Leaves a Legacy in Florida Law.

I’m Back!

Posted: February 3, 2017 Filed under: Commentary, Law-Related News

My firm’s social media activities went dark during the second half of 2016 as I spent most of that time engaged in the political process. Suffice it to say the experiences and new friendships formed during that time were rewarding and invigorating.

I am now back in the saddle. Keep an eye out for the upcoming launch of my firm’s updated website. I make a point of staying abreast of developments in the law and developments affecting the practice of law and will be sharing items of interest here and on Facebook and Twitter.

From the earliest days of my career I have believed clients deserve value on top of the best representation we lawyers have to offer. Now, clients expect value. An article I read last week referenced a recent survey of more than 70,000 consumers. The survey yielded a big surprise: customer satisfaction is a weak predictor of long-term loyalty. The take away was that lawyers must provide quality representation in ways that make the client’s experience effortless. That’s no small order, especially in litigation matters. But–ready or not–that is the new reality.

Another recent study involving more than 800 law firms and corporations revealed that more than half of the firms and sixty percent of companies already use “alternative legal service providers” to lower fees and costs and to access special skills. The message again is that lawyers must provide value, even if that means bringing in an outsider.

Whether you are a potential client looking for experience and value or a lawyer looking to create value by bringing in specialized knowledge, let’s talk. I’m here to help.

Florida Supreme Court overturns mandatory attorney’s fee schedule for workers’ compensation cases

Posted: April 28, 2016 Filed under: Case Law, Law-Related News

By a vote of 5 to 2, the Supreme Court of Florida today declared the  mandatory fee schedule in section 440.34, Florida Statutes, unconstitutional in Castellanos v. Next Door Company

This case asks us to evaluate the constitutionality of the mandatory fee schedule in section 440.34, Florida Statutes (2009), which eliminates the requirement of a reasonable attorney’s fee to the successful claimant. Considering that the right of a claimant to obtain a reasonable attorney’s fee has been a critical feature of the workers’ compensation law, we conclude that the mandatory fee schedule in section 440.34, which creates an irrebuttable presumption that precludes any consideration of whether the fee award is reasonable to compensate the attorney, is unconstitutional under both the Florida and United States Constitutions as a violation of due process.

Justices Canady and Polston dissented. Justice Canady began by stating “the majority fail[ed] to directly address the actual policy of the statute,” which he described as a “determination by the Legislature that there should be a reasonable relationship between the value of the benefits obtained in litigating a workers’ compensation claim and the amount of attorney’s fees the employer or carrier is required to pay to the claimant.” Justice Polston believes the majority opinion “has rewritten the statute to avoid the standard governing facial challenges.”

The opinion is available HERE.

Court Continues Trend of Enhancing Proposed Discipline

Posted: April 26, 2016 Filed under: Commentary, Law-Related News

With yesterday’s order in the case of Seminole County Judge Jerri Collins, The Supreme Court of Florida continues its trend of rejecting proposed discipline of lawyers and judges that the Court views as too light.
[T]he Court rejects the Stipulation and disapproves the proposed sanction. In addition to the public reprimand agreed to in the Stipulation, the Court would require successful completion of an anger management course and attendance at the domestic violence course offered during Phase II of the Florida Judicial College. Should the parties agree to these terms, a revised consent judgment shall be filed with the Court within thirty days of the date of this order.
If the parties do not agree to these terms, the parties must inform the Court within thirty days that they have not reached an agreement. In that event, this case (SC16-548) will be returned for a hearing before the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission.
Read the Florida Supreme Court’s order HERE.

Incivility Yields Two Year Suspension

Posted: March 6, 2014 Filed under: Commentary, Law-Related News

THIS article for the Ethics and Professionalism Committee of the ABA’s Section of Litigation uses recent decisions by the Supreme Court of Florida to illustrate how lapses in professionalism — which were once thought to be gauche but not punishable — are increasingly providing the basis for disciplinary action. Lawyers work too hard to earn the privilege of practicing law to lose it as a consequence of being a cad.

I have represented and assisted lawyers facing investigation and discipline. The process is neither enjoyable nor quick. It can also be expensive. So, if bar disciplinary counsel knock on your door in Florida or Kansas, let’s talk.

New Lawyer Advertising Rules Adopted

Posted: January 31, 2013 Filed under: Case Law, Law-Related News

Today, the Supreme Court of Florida released the long-anticipated decision on The Florida Bar’s proposed advertising rules. If you have not read the court’s opinion, you should. You’ll find it HERE. Justices Pariente and Canady dissented separately; they feel the new rules go to far. In a substantial departure from the prior rules, lawyer websites and information provided upon request are now subject to the advertising rules. They are, at least, exempt from the filing and review requirements.

Agree or not, the fact of the matter is that the rules have been adopted. Noncompliance carries the risk of a grievance and disciplinary proceedings.

Overhaul of FRS Deemed Consitutional

Posted: January 17, 2013 Filed under: Case Law, Employment Law, Law-Related News, Legislation

Today, the Supreme Court of Florida overturned a trial court order that had declared a 2011 law overhauling the Florida Retirement System (FRS) unconstitutional. By a margin of 4 to 3, the supreme court ruled that the Florida Legislature had the constitutional authority to pass Chapter 2011-68, Laws of Florida, which “converted the FRS from noncontributory by employees to contributory, required all current FRS members to contribute 3% of their salaries to the retirement system, and eliminated the retirement cost-of-living adjustment for creditable service after the effective date of the act.” According to a footnote, the changes affect “55 state agencies; 396 county agencies; 67 school boards; 28 community colleges; 185 cities, 6 independent hospitals, 243 special districts (these last three categories include the 26 cities, 5 independent hospitals, and 12 independent districts that are closed to new members as of January 1, 1996); and 12 other public employers not specifically designated.”

The changes, which one of the majority justices described as “a 3% pay-cut in addition to years without cost-of-living adjustments,” were described more dimly by a dissenting justice as “an insufferable and unconstitutional ‘bait and switch’ at the expense of public employees who were members of the [FRS] prior to July 1, 2011.”

Decide for yourself which side has the better descriptor by reading the opinion in Scott v. Williams HERE.

 

 

Potential for Lower Take Home Pay in 2013

Posted: January 11, 2013 Filed under: Commentary, Law-Related News, Legislation

If your take home pay is lower in 2013, it’s probably because the two percent payroll tax cut for employees provided by the the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011 and the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 expired at the end of 2012. On a positive note, at least we had a little more money for a couple of years.

Talking About “Obamacare”

Posted: September 12, 2012 Filed under: Commentary, Employment Law, Law-Related News, Legislation, Uncategorized

Thomas Wade Young was recently honored with the opportunity to speak to members of the Central Florida Compensation & Benefits Association regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) – the law pejoratively or affectionately, depending on one’s viewpoint, as “Obamacare.” The talk was entitled PPACA & SCOTUS: It’s Constitutional. Now What?  The PowerPoint presentation and a list of online resources for further information are available at the following links.

PPACA Presentation Disclaimer-The presentation slides provide only an outline and do not reflect all of Mr. Young’s remarks. The presentation slides are not intended to be a substantive resource and should not be relied on as such.

Online Resources

Admitted: Florida, Kansas, New Mexico (inactive)