By Dialogo July 08, 2009 Lima, 5 July (EFE).- The Peruvian police confiscated in the Tumbes region, on the border with Ecuador, more than 6,400 bullets camouflaged in a shipment of bananas, presumed to have been intended for the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), according to press reports published today in Lima. The Border Police took the action yesterday after noticing that a pedicab used for transporting cargo, operated by Marcos Infante Elizalde, was carrying bananas from Peru to Ecuador, when the reverse is normally the case, according to the daily La República. Several boxes with 1,600 9-mm bullets with the Fiocchi trademark, used in pistols and submachine guns, and 4,800 5.56-mm projectiles, used in M16 rifles, were found under the shipment of bananas, the newspaper added. The pedicab operator stated that he had only been hired to take the shipment to Ecuador. According to investigators, there are indications that an international gang trafficking in ammunition and military weapons is operating from Peru into the countries along its northern border, and it is presumed that the shipment confiscated yesterday had as its final destination the Colombian insurgent group the FARC, La República.
By Dialogo June 15, 2010 The foreign minister of Costa Rica, René Castro, and the secretary-general of the Central American Integration System (SICA), Juan Daniel Alemán, examined the option Saturday of “requesting cooperation” from Colombia and Mexico in the fight against drug trafficking and organized crime. Castro and Alemán met in San José to discuss various regional projects, the Costa Rican foreign ministry announced in a press release. The two “spoke about regional projects to confront the problems of drug trafficking and organized crime, in particular, about requesting cooperation from nations such as the United States, Mexico, Canada, and Colombia, among others,” according to the official statement about the brief meeting. Alemán briefed Castro on the progress of the Central American Integration System (SICA) process and the dominant items on the agenda, including security, the environment, and building regional institutions. Castro explained to Alemán his country’s initiative to promote its fledgling aerospace industry, using public and private efforts. This week Costa Rica officially joined the Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space, which will permit it to launch objects into space.
On July 2, the Colombian police announced the arrest of an alleged leader of ‘Los Rastrojos’ [‘The Stubble’] who was trying to take over the top spot in that drug-trafficking organization. Edison Antonio Peláez, alias ‘Mincho,’ was arrested on a rural property in Montenegro (Quindío), around 185 km west of Bogotá, the National Police explained in a statement. Peláez, 49 years old, was considered a right-hand man of Javier Antonio Calle Serna, who led ‘Los Rastrojos’ until he turned himself in to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in May, on the island of Aruba (Netherlands Antilles). Following that surrender and the arrest of Diego Pérez, alias ‘Diego Rastrojo,’ in Venezuela in June, ‘Mincho’ was trying to consolidate his position in the leadership of ‘Los Rastrojos,’ the police said. Peláez will be charged with criminal conspiracy and narcotics trafficking and is also under investigation for involvement in at least 30 homicides, the police added. ‘Los Rastrojos’ are one of Colombia’s leading criminal gangs, which the Government calls ‘Bacrim’ (an abbreviation of bandas criminales, ‘criminal gangs’), made up for the most part of former paramilitaries and drug traffickers and also dedicated to other crimes, such as extortion and kidnapping. By Dialogo July 05, 2012
The Colombian Army reported on May 9 that 5,000 antipersonnel mines from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were seized and destroyed by in a rural area of Caquetá department. These homemade explosive devices that belonged to the FARC’s 49th squad, were found in an area known as Filo Seco, in the village of Versalles, the Army said in a statement. “The Marte team from the sixth division was directed to the area, and through the use of 33 kilos of explosives, divided in three groups to work on 11 kilos each, they were able to achieve the controlled destruction of 5,000 mines,” said the statement. This seizure comes after the May 5Police report on the confiscation of 2,345 antipersonnel mines from another faction of this guerrilla group in a rural area near the village of San Pablo de Anaya, also in the Caquetá department. After Afghanistan, Colombia is the world’s highest ranking country in number of antipersonnel mines, and it has been going through an aggressive armed conflict involving guerrillas, armed groups, drug trafficking gangs and state armed organizations. Colombian authorities blame the FARC, the oldest Latin American insurgency founded in 1964, for most of the minefields in the national territory. However, Colombian Military forces were also planting antipersonnel mines for years, although after becoming signataries to the Ottawa Convention, they ceased this practice and started to demine their own territories. Currently, the Colombian government and the FARC are going through peace negotiations in Havana, in which the situation of victims from the conflict must also be analyzed. By Dialogo May 13, 2013
By Dialogo October 24, 2014 The grand opening of the modern regional center included a demonstration by the DNCD Canine Unit, detecting narcotics and other evidence hidden in vehicles, containers, homes or any other mechanism used by drug trafficking networks. The director of the National Drug Control Bureau (DNCD) Major General Julio César Souffront Velázquez and the U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic James Brewster led the grand opening of modern buildings donated by the United States Southern Command. The buildings will house the Regional Canine Training Center, which will train dogs to detect drugs, explosives, cash and other evidence of organized crime. Since 1998, the United States Embassy has supported the DNCD’s canine program, with an initial donation of 15 drug-sniffing dogs and building kennels at DNCD headquarters. Over the following years, the center acquired more trained dogs and offered training for their handlers. The training center, with space for about 40 persons, includes dormitory rooms, bathrooms, a kitchen, sterilization equipment, recreation areas, air-conditioned classrooms, four covered stations for training the canines, and independent alternative-energy power system, among other amenities. The drug enforcement agency reported that the buildings’ donation was done under the Narcotics and Law Enforcement Agreement, between the Dominican Republic and the United States, which allows for even more efficient efforts against international drug trafficking and money laundering. “The Embassy of the United States will continue to support the DNCD’s canine academy through the purchase of more canines, which will be an important tool in the war on drugs. The canines will help improve civilians’ security in the Dominican Republic and improve security systems in airports, sea ports and along the border. These trained dogs will also protect the efficient flow of commercial trade, promote tourism, and keep drug traffickers from exploiting the country’s critical infrastructure,” said Ambassador Brewster during the ceremony. The grand opening of the modern regional center included a demonstration by the DNCD Canine Unit, detecting narcotics and other evidence hidden in vehicles, containers, homes or any other mechanism used by drug trafficking networks. Since 1998, the United States Embassy has supported the DNCD’s canine program, with an initial donation of 15 drug-sniffing dogs and building kennels at DNCD headquarters. Over the following years, the center acquired more trained dogs and offered training for their handlers. In 2007, working with the DNCD and the Dominican Republic’s National Army, the United States Embassy constructed a canine academy at the historic fortress of La Cumbre. The DNCD assumed control of the training center. With the assistance of the United States Embassy, the first 11 trained dogs in the Dominican Republic graduated with their respective trainers in 2011 from the country’s first canine academy. “The Embassy of the United States will continue to support the DNCD’s canine academy through the purchase of more canines, which will be an important tool in the war on drugs. The canines will help improve civilians’ security in the Dominican Republic and improve security systems in airports, sea ports and along the border. These trained dogs will also protect the efficient flow of commercial trade, promote tourism, and keep drug traffickers from exploiting the country’s critical infrastructure,” said Ambassador Brewster during the ceremony. The US$1.5 million building was built by the Department of Defense and the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) through the United States Southern Command. Likewise, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) contributed US$300,000 to acquire 40 canines, equipment and furniture for the new buildings. The Center is planning on acquiring more canines to meet the DNCD’s requirements. The US$1.5 million building was built by the Department of Defense and the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) through the United States Southern Command. Likewise, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) contributed US$300,000 to acquire 40 canines, equipment and furniture for the new buildings. The Center is planning on acquiring more canines to meet the DNCD’s requirements. The director of the National Drug Control Bureau (DNCD) Major General Julio César Souffront Velázquez and the U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic James Brewster led the grand opening of modern buildings donated by the United States Southern Command. The buildings will house the Regional Canine Training Center, which will train dogs to detect drugs, explosives, cash and other evidence of organized crime. In 2007, working with the DNCD and the Dominican Republic’s National Army, the United States Embassy constructed a canine academy at the historic fortress of La Cumbre. The DNCD assumed control of the training center. With the assistance of the United States Embassy, the first 11 trained dogs in the Dominican Republic graduated with their respective trainers in 2011 from the country’s first canine academy. I did not like it The DNCD indicated that experienced instructors will train the Dominican agents, as well as all personnel and the model canines, which come from various Latin American countries, with all the necessary implements to conduct and effective drug enforcement operation. The drug enforcement agency reported that the buildings’ donation was done under the Narcotics and Law Enforcement Agreement, between the Dominican Republic and the United States, which allows for even more efficient efforts against international drug trafficking and money laundering. The training center, with space for about 40 persons, includes dormitory rooms, bathrooms, a kitchen, sterilization equipment, recreation areas, air-conditioned classrooms, four covered stations for training the canines, and independent alternative-energy power system, among other amenities. The DNCD indicated that experienced instructors will train the Dominican agents, as well as all personnel and the model canines, which come from various Latin American countries, with all the necessary implements to conduct and effective drug enforcement operation.
FLA offers online screening program FLA offers online screening program Florida lawyers who think they or one of their peers may have a problem with alcohol, eating disorders, or depression will soon have help. Starting January 1, Florida Lawyers Assistance will offer legal professionals an opportunity to take a free, confidential, and anonymous online screening to test for these problems.FLA is sponsoring the program to help attorneys better understand and identify the impairments, and learn how and where they can get additional help.Between 17 and 20 million Americans suffer from depression each year — nearly one in eight people, according to Michael Cohen, executive director of FLA. More than 80 percent of those who seek treatment will improve, but only a small fraction actually reaches out for help, Cohen said.Though the rates are high in the general population, he said, they’re even higher in the legal profession. A study done nearly 10 years ago by Johns Hopkins University found that lawyers had the highest rate of depression in any of the professions they surveyed.And things aren’t getting better.“At this time, because of September 11, we’re seeing a higher level than normal of stress, depression, and substance abuse,” Cohen said.Attorneys, quite often, are hesitant to acknowledge these problems in themselves and their peers, he said.“Because of the anonymity of this method, we thought lawyers might feel more comfortable about taking this screening,” Cohen said.“This is a free service, and it takes a very short amount of time. The earlier [these illnesses] are diagnosed, the less damage to the clients,” he added.An added benefit of the screening is the potential for collecting data about the prevalence of these illnesses in the legal profession. Cohen, however, notes that the only information collected is “demographics and numbers.” Users’ names, e-mail addresses, or IP addresses (similar to a temporary ID number for your computer) are not collected. The survey only uses identifiers such as firm size, region of Florida, and type of practice.Each screening is estimated to take between four and five minutes to complete. At the end of the screening, users receive an immediate result that can be printed and taken to a clinician or healthcare provider for further evaluation. Cohen cautions that a screening is not a replacement for a complete evaluation, but it can provide some guidance.Users can access the screening online via a link from FLA’s website, www.fla-lap.org, or via phone at (888) 214-1540. Brochures will also be made available at the Bar branch offices in Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Tallahassee, Orlando, and Tampa. December 15, 2001 Regular News
PILS creates Parents’ Attorneys Committee PILS creates Parents’ Attorneys Committee Amy K. Brown Assistant Editor Attorneys for parents entrenched in the dependency courts have a collective new voice, thanks to the Public Interest Law Section.More than 300 attorneys — some court appointed, some private — who work on behalf of parents caught in the dependency system have joined PILS as its sixth section committee, as approved by the section’s executive council in September.“PILS is excited to give this group of attorneys who don’t have a voice within the Bar or the legislature a voice within our section,” said Gerry Glynn, the section’s chair. “PILS has always been the section that has addressed the views within the dependency system that these lawyers practice everyday.”Committee members like Debra Salisbury agree.“PILS is such a good fit because we’re concerned about public interest law,” she said.And many of the other issues PILS covers — Social Security disability, children’s rights — are issues parents’ attorneys deal with on a regular basis, she added.“I think it’s a chance for the attorneys to be more unified in their approach to the practice and to have more support,” Salisbury said. “I think we’ve all functioned as isolated entities throughout the state, other than within our local peer groups.”Presenting a unified front is terribly important now, said Salisbury. Parents’ attorneys historically have not been involved with legislative or statutory changes — those have been made almost solely by the Department of Children and Families.“There’s really never been a unified effort by parents’ attorneys to protect parental rights,” she said. “There have been a lot of significant changes in the statute in the last several years. Parents really need a voice both through representation in court and through the legislative process.”Revision 7 changes, which require the state to pick up the lion’s share of court system funding by 2004, will also affect parents’ attorneys.“Due to the many changes that will occur in the court system because of Article V revisions, the funding for the attorneys in this work of representing parents who are threatened with losing their children is in question — in doubt,” said Glynn. “We don’t know how this type of representation will be funded or how these attorneys will be organized.”Like many other functions of the court outside of the “essential elements,” parents’ attorneys are at risk of being underfunded and passed to different entities within the system. Salisbury and Glynn hope that regular meetings and an organized, statewide advocacy effort will help protect their interests and the rights of parents in the dependency system.PILS is also working to provide its newest members with training, CLE programs, mentoring for younger attorneys, and amicus brief support for important cases, Glynn said.“We will support them in whatever they do,” he added.To join the Parents’ Attorneys Committee of the Public Interest Law Section, contact PILS Administrator Debby Beck at (850)561-5650 or firstname.lastname@example.org. PILS also provides a listserv for its members, which can be joined by contacting Glynn at (407) 275-4451 or email@example.com. October 15, 2002 Assistant Editor Regular News
The $1,500 first prize this year went to the T.J. Reddick Bar Association Young Lawyers Section’s Guardian Ad Litem Recruitment Drive and Orientation project.Hilary Creary, president-elect of the Broward County-based, primarily African American bar, said the association has identified a pressing need in the dependency system for guardians to act as advocates for the thousands of abused and neglected children who become the subject of judicial proceedings each year in Broward County.The association will issue invitations to members of the community to become guardians ad litem and then will train the volunteers to serve as guardians ad litem.Creary said there is a serious lack of guardians from the African American, Hispanic, Haitian, and Caribbean communities, although the majority of the children in need of services are from those communities.“It is the goal of this project to reach out to the untapped communities, recruit people with whom the children can identify, and offer those guardians who are recruited an orientation program,” Creary said, adding that the 17th Circuit guardian ad litem program will be present at the orientation to provide background screenings for eligibility, as well as to provide views from the bench, and existing guardians who will talk about the importance of the program.“The ultimate goal of the project is that with the additional guardians ad litem representing children, fewer of the children will remain without services in the justice system, and more families will be able to reunify, thus reducing the number of African American, Hispanic, Haitian, and Caribbean children who languish in foster homes and juvenile facilities.”Creary said the association also plans to recruit and train attorneys ad litem to represent teenaged children in the juvenile justice system. Young lawyers gather to share service ideas Two $1,250 second place prizes were awarded: one to the Dade County Young Lawyers Section Kids Club project and the other to the Orange County Bar Association Young Lawyers Section Put Seniors First project.Kids Club is a public service program designed to provide foster children with positive role models and an opportunity to put aside their problems for one afternoon a month and have the fun that every child deserves, according to Dade young lawyer Garrett Biondo.Once a month, Dade young lawyers plan a Saturday outing for 20-25 foster children in the community. In the past, Kids Club has taken these children to the Metro Zoo, the Museum of Science, Walt Disney World, the Parrot Jungle, the Miami/Kendall Ice Arena, a University of Miami basketball game, and the planetarium. Biondo said the group of mostly young lawyers interact with the children and over time develop relationships with the kids.“Kids Club attempts to help foster children learn and grow through positive leadership and guidance,” Biondo said. “The club provides a place for foster children to interact with young lawyers in wholesome recreational environments. Kids Club provides foster children and the volunteer attorneys an opportunity to reduce the stress in their daily lives and expand their horizons. The children involved with Kids Club look forward to our events and spending time with our volunteers.”This year, Biondo said, Kids Club has partnered with a local chapter of the Children’s Home Society.“Through the tireless efforts of our volunteers, Kids Club provides an exciting outlet for the foster children involved with the program,” he said.Orange County YLS The Orange County Bar Young Lawyers Section’s Seniors First project is geared toward helping indigent seniors in Orange County who are incapable of looking after themselves, said Yvette Rodriguez Brown, the YLS president.“Many seniors who are part of this program have no families to look after them or have been abandoned by those family members they do have,” Rodriguez Brown said. “Some have suffered abuse — many have been homeless and have ended up in the hospital due to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.”The organization, however, is in a constant struggle to provide needed items, she said.“The Young Lawyers Section is attempting to rally support for these most needy members of our community, to provide some holiday gifts to each of the elderly persons in the program and also to raise funds to meet future needs,” Rodriguez Brown said. “An even greater struggle is to help provide comfort, companionship, and dignity to these seniors in their final years.”Rodriguez Brown said these are examples of what the funds raised by the young lawyers will accomplish: • $25 will buy nearly six days worth of nutritious Meals on Wheels; • $50 will pay for three and a half hours of financial counseling; • $100 will allow a lonely senior to enjoy one month of social activities and hot meals at a neighborhood lunch program site; • $250 will provide 11 hours of homemaker services, to help keep homes of frail seniors clean and safe; • $500 will provide 14 hours of home improvement services, which are important as these seniors try to live safely and comfortably in their own homes; • $1,000 allows Guardianship for Seniors to provide legal, medical, and social assistance for two months to seniors who are no longer able to care for themselves; • $2,250 enables seniors to remain independent and in their homes for one year with the assistance of Meals on Wheels and homemaker services.Other Projects December 1, 2002 Managing Editor Regular News Dade County YLS Mark D. Killian Managing Editor From recruiting bilingual guardians to represent abused and neglected children in Broward County, to buying school supplies for underprivileged children in rural North Florida, to providing indigent seniors with basic living necessities in Orange County, young lawyers from across the state recently gathered to share information about their service projects and programs.The occasion was the annual Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division Affiliate Outreach Conference, which promotes the exchange of ideas and programs given by and for local bars’ young lawyers sections. The young lawyers also competed for monetary awards which were given for the presentation of novel and creative projects or for the implementation of new or adapted programs that directly benefit the public or an affiliates’ members.“This is one of the primary means for us to meet our affiliates, share ideas, and have them really realize the amount of great programs all the young lawyer affiliates do throughout the state,” said YLD President Juliet Roulhac of Miami.“It also is our best opportunity to communicate to our affiliates what everyone around the state is doing,” said Jamie Billotte Moses of Orlando, who chaired the event. “We can send e-mails and newsletters, but if we get a person here to listen to what we are doing, then we think they are going to take it back home and try to replicate it.”T.J. Reddick Bar Three local young lawyers groups received $800 awards:• The Broward County Florida Association of Women Lawyers Little River Elementary Student of the Month Project, which rewards students who have made academic and behavioral gains at this school for troubled kids.• The Lee County Drug House Odyssey Project, designed to educate children and adults about the lure, effects, and consequences of alcohol and drug use.• The Third Circuit Young Lawyers Section’s Lawyers for Education Project, which provides impoverished primary school students with basic school supplies. The following young lawyer groups received $500 grants from the YLD:• The American Immigration Lawyers Association Young Lawyers Section’s Citizen Drive, where Central Florida lawyers assist immigrants in the process of becoming citizens.• The Brevard County Young Lawyers Division Bowling Brawl, which raises money for a scholarship for local high school students entering legal studies programs.• The Broward County Young Lawyers Section Bowl-a-Thon, a fundraising event to benefit the Starlight Children’s Foundation Fun-Center program, which purchases portable entertainment units which can be wheeled to children’s hospital beds to provide a respite from boredom and a distraction from the pain and anxiety often associated with treatment.• The Clearwater Young Lawyers Section Gifts for Needy Children in China.• The Hillsborough County Young Lawyers Division Afternoon in the Courthouse, geared to educate and prepare new lawyers for the practice of law.• The Jacksonville Young Lawyers Section Law Week Program, which focuses on exposing children to the legal system through mock trials.• The Martin County Young Lawyers Section School Clothing Fundraiser to purchase school clothing and sporting equipment for area foster children.• The Pinellas County Florida Association of Women Lawyers Young Lawyer Committee Single Parent Scholarship program, which assists single parent law students at Stetson University.• The Sarasota Young Lawyers Division Small Claims Court Workshop.• The St. Petersburg Young Lawyers Section Making a Difference at Northward School Project, where members of the section serve as tutors, mentors, and volunteers at the school for at-risk children.• The Tallahassee Young Lawyers Section Habitat for Humanity Project.• The Volusia County Young Lawyers Section Small Business Workshop. The Young Lawyers Division also awarded two $300 grants to the Martin County Young Lawyers Section and the Brevard County Young Lawyers Section in order to help these fledgling organizations recruit members and encourage attendance at their events.“The Board of Governors of the Young Lawyers Division desires for all counties to have a young lawyers affiliate,” Billotte Moses said. “We hope that this assistance will enable those affiliates to continue increasing their membership and continue doing great things for their community and their members.” Young lawyers gather to share service ideas
Charles Fried, a Harvard law professor who argued for the WLF, told the justices the IOLTA programs do take clients’ property — regardless of how minuscule that amount might be — without just compensation. Fried said the way to provide relief is to enjoin the IOLTA program in its entirety.However, Walter Dellinger, representing the Supreme Court of Washington — which supports the IOLTA program — maintained that small individual deposits would generate no interest without the IOLTA program and states should be allowed to pool them together for a good cause.Seattle lawyer David Burman, representing the Washington IOLTA program, also suggested the WLF’s real beef with IOLTA is a “subjective, ideological one,” and that “if there is no value lost, there is no taking.”Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who voted with the majority in the Phillips case — and who many consider the swing vote in this challenge—queried Fried regarding the questions of compensation when the property taken has no value.“How is it a taking if the compensation is zero?” she asked Fried, according to a report in the New York Times. “Private property is valued even though there is no realizable economic value,” said Fried, adding that, “It is a taking even if the just compensation is zero.” He said even if the amount of interest earned is reduced by bank charges, there is still economic value to what has been taken that doesn’t disappear even if there are expenses associated with collecting it.Justice Anthony Kennedy asked whether clients should be allowed to designate their interest for another charity or to claim it themselves. But Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said if the IOLTA program were revised to allow clients a say on what happens to the interest earned, they would have to pay taxes on any money generated, according to an Associated Press report.Ginsburg also noted that before the advent of IOLTA, banks got to keep the interest from legal transactions, and said if the WLF wins this case “it goes back to the banks.”“Doesn’t the state have some duty to recognize the Constitution protects property and you can’t take property that doesn’t belong to you?” Justice Kennedy asked at one point.At another juncture, Justice Antonin Scalia noted: “It’s not a whole lot of money. But it’s their money.”Texas IOLTA January 1, 2003 Managing Editor Regular News USSC hears IOLTA arguments Mark D. Killian Managing EditorThe U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to answer the $160 million question: Is the use of pooled interest from lawyers’ trust accounts a compensable taking, and, if so, is the only remedy to shut down the IOLTA programs in all 50 states?The Court December 9 heard arguments in the case of Washington Legal Foundation v. Legal Foundation of Washington, case no. 01-1325, the appeal of the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit challenging the constitutionality of the state of Washington’s IOLTA program.The San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit ruled more than a year ago that Washington’s IOLTA program does not violate the Fifth Amendment, reasoning that while the plaintiffs “have the right to control the accrued interest generated in theory, as a practical matter, that right will never come to fruition on its own because without IOLTA there is no interest.” The court applied the ad hoc or “regulatory” takings analysis to the case rather than a per se analysis, as was employed by the New Orleans-based U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in another IOLTA challenge that found in 2001 that the Texas IOLTA program amounts to an unconstitutional taking without just compensation.The WLF, a Washington, D.C., based organization that has battled IOLTA programs across the country in the courts for many years, argues that mandatory IOLTA programs do deprive clients of the interest their money earns while in the trust of a lawyer without just compensation. In 1998, the WLF won a 5-4 victory in the Supreme Court in Philips v. WLF (which arose from litigation against the Texas IOLTA program) when the court found that clients have a protected property interest in funds created by pooled IOLTA accounts. The Court, however, took no view as to whether the funds had been “taken” by the state or if any “just compensation” was due.IOLTA — a concept pioneered in Florida in 1980s that has since swept the nation — raises about $160 million each year and is used as a source of funding for legal aid organizations. Client deposits large enough to generate significant interest income for clients are supposed to be placed in an interest-bearing account benefitting the client, not in IOLTA programs.Jane Curran, executive director of The Florida Bar Foundation, said the nation’s IOLTA programs will continue to operate while they wait for the Supreme Court to rule, which is expected by June.“The programs are, of course, concerned because there is no funding to replace IOLTA’s support for legal assistance to the poor,” said Curran, who also serves as president of the National Association of IOLTA Programs. “Because we know that IOLTA programs do not deprive clients of income-producing opportunities, it’s hard to think why the Supreme Court would rule against us.”Jacksonville’s William L. Thompson, Jr., president of The Florida Bar Foundation, said while the legal aid community in Florida is “cautiously optimistic” the court will rule in IOLTA’s favor, little can be predicted about the outcome from trying to read the questioning from the justices.“I think the legal aid community feels very strongly that the program does not violate any constitutional prohibitions,” Thompson said. “Certainly, there is a level of concern that the good works of these programs may be impacted, but the case was well presented, and Florida certainly is grateful for the excellent work of the attorney representing the IOLTA program in Washington.”Thompson said the Foundation will continue no matter the outcome, but an adverse ruling could mean the end of the IOTA program as it currently exists.“Obviously we would attempt to do what we can to maintain some sort of funding for legal aid,” Thompson said. “This is a very, very, very important thing for the state of Florida.”The Argument When a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found Texas’ IOLTA program’s use of pooled interest from lawyers’ trust was an unconstitutional taking without just compensation, the majority said, “In reality, the linchpin for this case has already been inserted by the Supreme Court: Interest income generated by funds held in IOLTA accounts is the ‘private property’ of the owner of the principal. And, because the state has permanently appropriated [the appellant’s] interest income against his will, instead of merely regulating its use, there is a per se taking.”Ideology USSC hears IOLTA arguments Backing up Burman’s charge that the WLF problem with IOLTA was ideological, the AARP in a support brief cited a recent WLF fundraising letter which said, in part: “We are finally in a position we’ve fought more than a decade to reach — a position where we can deal a death blow to the single most important source of income for radical legal groups all across the country.” The letter also said, “It’s an abomination that IOLTA can take money that is rightly the property of Americans like you and me and use that money to support programs we oppose, that stand in direct opposition to everything we believe in.”The Florida Bar Foundation’s Thompson said it’s clear those who support the efforts to dismantle IOLTA do not understand the social benefit of these programs “and have a goal to see that the disadvantaged in our country don’t get legal services.”“Most lawyers I know feel the way I do about it — they understand the importance of these programs,” Thompson said. “This is not just a lawyer issue. This is a societal issue, and it is extremely important that the disadvantaged aren’t disenfranchised.”Even if the court rules in favor of the IOLTA programs, the battle is not likely to end there. The Washington Legal Foundation also has filed challenges under the First Amendment claims in both the Washington and Texas cases which have yet to be addressed. The WLF argues IOLTA amounts to compelled speech, because clients have no choice about the causes their money supports. News accounts from the New York Times , and the Associated Press were used in preparing the portion of this story that dealt with the questioning by the justices at the oral argument.
August 15, 2004 News & Notes News and Notes John D. VonLangen of Akerman Senterfitt in Orlando has been elected to the board of directors of the Alzheimer Resource Center, Inc., a Florida nonprofit corporation. Dennis J. Wall of Orlando spoke about Florida statutes and insurance claims to client administrators in Philadelphia. Jorge L. Hernandez-Toraño of Holland & Knight has been named chair of the Miami Business Forum, an organization of civic and corporate leaders dedicated to promoting social welfare and enhancing civic life in Miami Dade County. Daniel H. Coultoff of Gronek & Lathem in Orlando has been honored with the Community Relations Award from the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando. Paul Turk of Gunster Yoakley in West Palm Beach recently received the 2004 Outstanding Alumni Representative Award from the Stetson University College of Law Stetson Lawyers Association. Gary Dunkel of Greenberg Traurig in West Palm Beach has been elected to a three-year term on the board of directors of the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County. Aaron R. Resnick of Gunster Yoakley & Stewart in Miami has been elected to the board of directors of the Dade County Bar Association Young Lawyers Section. Michael R. Goldstein, of Akerman Senterfitt in Miami spoke at the annual meeting of the Association of Florida Local Environmental Resource Agencies in Miami. Stephen G. Manning of Akerman Senterfitt in Jacksonville has been elected president of the UK Alumni Club of the University of Kentucky Alumni Association. Seth R. Nelson of Wetherington, Hamilton & Harrison, P.A. in Tampa has been appointed by Mayor Pam Iorio, and confirmed by the Tampa City Council as an alternate member of the Variance Review Board. Melanie Ann Hines of Berger Singerman spoke about corporate governance guidelines in the post-Enron era at a Florida Society of Association Executives conference at the Marco Island Marriott Resort. Joseph G. Jarret, Polk County attorney, recently presented, “The Law of Pretrial Release,” on behalf of the Florida Association of Pretrial Professionals, “Limiting Employment Liability,” on behalf of the Florida Association of County Attorneys, and “Controlling the Costs of Litigation,” on behalf the Public Risk Management Association. Merrick L. Gross of Akerman Senterfitt in Miami has been elected vice president of the Dade County Bar Association for the 2004-2005 term. Gross was also recently reappointed as chair of the DCBA’s Federal Courts Committee. Bill Simonitsch of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart in Miami has been appointed director of legal affairs for the Asian-American Federation of Florida, Inc. Michael D. Joblove of Miami’s Genovese Joblove & Battista, P.A., spoke at the International Franchisee Association Legal Forum in Washington, D.C. He gave a speech titled “Defining and Protecting Territorial Rights in Franchise Systems.” Betsy Ellwangger Gallagher and Christopher Hopkins of Cole Scott & Kissane, P.A., have recently been appointed to the editorial board of the Trial Advocate Quarterly. Michael J. McGirney of Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Goggin in Tampa recently spoke at an American Arbitration Association seminar in Orlando on “ Ethical Dilemmas for Mediators. ” McGirney also spoke at two seminars in Miami; “The Perils of Practicing Law on the Internet” and “Liability Insurance for Lawyers.” Heidi A. Schulz of Astigarraga Davis in Miami has been named a member-at-large on the board of directors of the Duke Club of South Florida. Richard Garland of Sarasota recently received the Judge John M. Scheb American Inn of Court’s First Annual Professionalism Award. John D. Eaton of Steel Hector & Davis in Miami has been elected to the board of directors of the Bankruptcy Bar Association for the Southern District of Florida. John Elliott Leighton of Miami’s Leesfield, Leighton, Rubio, Mahfood & Boyers spoke on “Apportionment of Fault” at the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, Premises Liability: Inadequate Security Cases Teleseminar. He was also appointed as vice chair of ATLA Press Advisory Board Committee. Frederick W. Leonhardt of GrayRobinson in Orlando was appointed to a two-year term as board chair of the Central Florida Chapter of the Boy Scouts of America. David J. Lillesand of Miami was the keynote speaker at the 10th Annual Douglas Gardens’ Seminar on Ministering to the Elderly titled “Navigating the Maze and Finding Solutions: Medicare, Medicaid, and More.” Michael J. Snure of Winter Park was elected president-elect of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers at its 17th annual meeting in St. Augustine. Jonathan T. Levy of Port St. Lucie chaired the Third Annual Silver Cup Golf Tournament for Seagull Industries for the Disabled, Inc. William G. Schlotthauer of Williams, Parker, Harrison, Dietz & Getzen in Sarasota has been named chair of the Sarasota County Junior Achievement board of directors. Michael T. Moore of Coral Gables has been appointed general counsel and corporate secretary to the International SeaKeeper’s Society. Marc John Randazza of Weston, Garrou & Dewitt in Altamonte Springs has authored an article entitled “The Other Election Controversy of Y2K: Core First Amendment Values and High Tech Political Coalitions,” published in the Washington University Law Quarterly. Christopher M. Shulman of Tampa has recently been appointed co-chair of the Hillsborough County Bar’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee. John W. Salmon and Robert A. Dulberg of Miami participated in “A Symposium on Issues Affecting the Professional Mediator” in New Orleans. Kathy Tignor of Adams, Coogler, Watson, Merkel, Barry & Kellner, P.A. in West Palm Beach has been selected chair of the 2005 Komen South Florida Race for the Cure. The community-wide event raises funds dedicated to local organizations to aid in the prevention of breast cancer. Roy L. Glass of St. Petersburg was the introductory speaker at the 20th National Forum on Client Protection in association with the ABA’s National Conference on Professional Responsibility in Naples. Michael A. Haggard of Haggard, Parks, Haggard & Bologna, P.A. in Coral Gables was re-elected to serve on the Executive Committee of the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers and received the “Silver Eagle” award for his continued service to the academy at a conference in West Palm Beach. Summer L. McDonald of Hackley & Serrone in Weston has been named to the Unlicensed Practice of Law Committee for the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Ramon A. Abadin of Miami accepted the GRACIAS award on behalf of the Cuban American Bar Association. The award, presented by the Hispanic Bar Association of Broward County, is given to acknowledge individuals who have made significant contributions to the advancement of Hispanics in the legal system. August 15, 2004 News and Notes