November 1, 2005 Letters

first_img Letters Minority Initiative The new Minority Initiative Program being instituted by the Palm Beach County Bar Association (October 1 News ), which provides internships for second- and third-year students at firms located in that county, deserves much credit for creating yet another avenue for the state’s minority law students to become exposed to the culture and realities of the practice of law. However, as the final report and recommendations on the 2004 Florida Bar’s Diversity in the Legal Profession Symposium make clear, such exposure is only one component of increasing diversity in the legal profession. One of the most significant barriers to greater attorney diversity is increasing bar exam success for graduating minority students, not an unwillingness on the part of firms to hire minority attorneys. Indeed, care should be taken by any third-year student, minority or not, in taking on internships or other activities where they will significantly detract from a methodical preparation for the bar exam. Hopefully, this and similar programs undertaken by voluntary bars, law firms, or others will include a strong bar exam preparation component to the internships, and will also include spots for disabled students as well, since their representation in the ranks of attorneys has also been identified as under-represented. The Florida Bar Student Education and Admission to the Bar Committee applauds the PBCBA’s effort, and will monitor its progress as we work on similar efforts on a statewide basis. Robert Michael Eschenfelder Chair, Florida Bar Student Education and Admission to the Bar Committee Katrina’s Lessons Scott M. Solkoff’s October 1 letter has it completely backwards if he thinks that Hurricane Katrina proved that we need a big government to protect us. What it showed us is why we need to cut down the size of our overextended and bloated government. The two main reasons Hurricane Katrina turned out to be such a catastrophe were that big government built a multi-million dollar levee which allowed thousands of people to build homes six feet below sea level, and government flood insurance allowed people to build homes close to the coast. Without these government boondoggles people would not have been living in such dangerous situations. But once you have one government program, you need more government programs to protect people from the problems of the first. No rugged individualist would make such foolish mistakes. Note that other factors adding to the catastrophe were government agents who stopped aid workers from entering the New Orleans area, stopped evacuees from leaving New Orleans across the bridge, and took guns away from citizens trying to protect themselves from looters. If government would just stay out of the way, most individuals would usually be much better off. Most of those “18 most highly developed nations” that are praised in the letter for their higher taxes and greater government services are suffering with slow economies and high unemployment and are struggling to find ways to cut their taxes and lower their government benefits. But once people get used to government largesse, it gets hard to stop. Meanwhile the countries of Eastern Europe experimenting with a low flat tax are booming. Freedom and individualism are the best factors to promote a vibrant and prosperous society for everyone. The less government intervention, the better life will be for all but those who refuse to participate. Mark Warda Lake WalesAs for Hurricane Katrina, I take a quite different lesson from it than those expressed by a letter writer in the October 1 News. Hurricane Katrina has proven unmistakably that our government has, for years, unwittingly and unwisely, created a culture of dependency among a vast segment of our society, a culture that nourishes the idea that people are not responsible for their own well-being. The experience also reveals, in all of its ugliness, the inevitable big government corruption, political graft, and manipulation that is responsible for the pitiful state of the infrastructures upon which so many had come to rely. We should have learned that we have come to expect too much from our federal government, more than it is able to efficiently deliver and pay for. To use the experience of Hurricane Katrina to now justify an estate and gift tax system that is nothing short of inhumane ( e.g. taxes that take 55 percent to as much as 75 percent of what a grieving family may own, depending upon the applicability of the generation skipping tax) is to retreat into the class envy trap laid by the demagogues of the left wing. Above anything else, government has to be fair (that’s right. . . even to “rich” people). The “culture of collective responsibility” obscures the fact that the inhumanity of the estate and gift tax system is reserved for only the few. The best way to achieve good government is to define its burdens more realistically, to create more realistic expectations of government, and to pay for it with fair taxation. Larry Updike Lake Wales Federal JNC What we know so far about the 56-member team U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez claims to have created with bipartisan congressional support to make recommendations for future judges, attorneys, even marshals in Florida, to assure all our citizens that the laws will be interpreted and applied to maintain our way of life, in accordance with Darwinism, intelligent design or both, in the federal judicial system: • Forty-seven appear to be male, 35 of whom are active Florida Bar members; another may be the spouse of an active Florida Bar member; • Nine seem to be female, including two active Florida Bar members, Rebecca Martinez of Orlando, and Linda Shelley of Tallahassee; another may be the spouse of an active Florida Bar member; • A Spanish-surnamed male and a Jewish-surnamed male are “Drs.”; • A half-dozen seem to be Spanish-surnamed, a few others in law firms with Spanish-surnamed partners. All but Ms. Martinez are from South Florida; • Two selectors are Sen. Martinez’ former Akerman, Senterfitt partners, its CEO Tom Cardwell and Luis Perez, now of Miami, previously Orlando; Akerman, Senterfitt already is well-represented on the bench, with at least three former partners, a former firm law clerk, and a U.S. magistrate who has listed the firm among her investments. Off the bench is former 11th Circuit Court Chief Judge Joseph Hatchett, in charge of the firm’s state/federal appeals practice. • Other law firms with two representatives are Holland & Knight, Greenberg Traurig, and Panza Maurer. I do not detect the presence of lawyers from public offices, from defender or legal aid organizations, among The Florida Bar members. “Macho” certainly is the order of the day among the 20 South Florida selectors. The Jewish doctor and the 16 male Florida Bar members are joined by three women who are not listed in the last Bar directory. In the Middle District from Jacksonville to Ft. Myers, the 21 “delegates” including the committee’s chair primarily are from Orlando/Winter Park (8), Jacksonville (5), Tampa (4), and Naples (2). DeLand and The Villages also are represented. Eight of the 15 in the Northern District are from Tallahassee, four from Pensacola. DeFuniak Springs, Ft. Walton Beach, and Panama City also are represented. I would be pleasantly surprised if more than three of the 56 are African-Americans, male or female. As for blue collar workers, clerical personnel, journalists, academics, clergy, unemployed, retired — perhaps they are among the seven women and 12 men who are not doctors or attorneys at law. Granted there is a margin of error in my calculations. But I do believe a reasonable observer knowing all the facts certainly would conclude that we have entrusted those recommending our future bench to elite insiders. So my question as a lifelong Democrat is: Was the Democratic congressional delegation really consulted? Gabe Kaimowitz Gainesville The Death Penalty As a Christian who has participated in prison ministry, I would like to address the claims Dale Recinella raises in a October 1 News story. While I applaud Mr. Recinella’s ministry, the conclusions he draws are illogical. Mr. Recinella states “[t]he question that seemed to me to be the most pertinent was can we use the Bible. . . to support the American death penalty. . . to meet the requirements of scriptures, and that includes the Talmud, I compiled about 44 critical issues and we do not comply with a single one of them.” Nearly all Christians, however, reject the Talmud as having any authority. Moreover, the question for Christians should never be “Can we use the Bible?” to further social or other goals; rather, the scriptures should engender our beliefs and actions. There is also no denying the Hebrew scriptures required the death penalty for conduct ranging from murder (Gen. 9:5-6) to disobedience to parents (Deut. 21:18-21). If Hebrew scripture is the Christian’s authority on the issue of capital punishment, we have indeed missed the mark, but in the other direction. Recinella invokes scriptural character requirements for judges to support his case against capital punishment, though such requirements are not limited to judges presiding over capital cases. His dispute is therefore with the entire American judicial system, and he should admit as much. To assert that all Christians must oppose capital punishment in America, because it isn’t subject to the constraints imposed by Hebrew scriptures on ancient Hebrews, is wrong. The interpretation of Romans 13:3-4 also misses the point. Even assuming the accuracy of Mr. Recinella’s “discoveries,” the import is unchanged. Paul clearly admonished the Roman Christians to submit to secular authorities, knowing those authorities employed capital punishment. It was Paul who proclaimed to another secular authority, “If I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die.” (Acts 25:11). Recinella admits that, in his ministry, “You are letting yourself care about someone…while knowing there is the very real possibility you will lose that person and grieve them,” and states, “The [condemned persons’] families, who have done nothing wrong, are going through that with them.” That is true, but irrelevant to the justness of capital punishment. His conclusion of “[i]t is a Biblical authority for Christians to impose punishment for crimes, but that’s what our prisons are for. It does not mandate killing people” is a false statement with respect to Hebrew scripture, and is conjectural under Christian scripture. Nowhere does Christian scripture require opposition to capital punishment. Moreover, Christians are instructed not to view death as the “ultimate punishment.” (Matthew 10:28). However he attempts to justify his personal convictions, Mr. Recinella’s beliefs are simply an article of his own — not the universal Christian — faith. Robert E. Gregg Ft. Lauderdale Floods, Hurricanes, and Insurance Many types of property insurance policies extend coverage to losses caused by wind or windstorms. Most such policies contain a flood exclusion. The typical “flood” exclusion purports to exclude “loss caused by or resulting from flood, whether or not driven by wind.” This flood exclusion is under challenge in Mississippi state court in a lawsuit filed on September 15, 2005, by the Mississippi attorney general, and it is also under attack by the first of many anticipated lawsuits filed at about the same time in Louisiana state court. Soon other hurricanes will come. Some will come to Florida. So will the resulting losses — and the resulting lawsuits over the flood exclusion in policies which provide coverage for losses from winds. Cause of the loss: Covered as an “Insured Peril” or Excluded? Proof of the meaning of the policy’s insurance provisions may well determine the outcome of whether the loss was caused by excluded flood waters or was caused instead by wind, a covered peril. The issue is not in doubt, at least in Florida, where only one of the parties presents expert testimony on the major insurance coverage issue in such cases, namely, the meaning of the flood exclusion in a windstorm policy. Exactly that situation has already taken place in Florida. In that case, a verdict was returned in favor of the policyholder, which was the only party to that lawsuit to present expert opinion testimony on “the meaning of the language contained” in the flood exclusion and other exclusions at issue. For that reason, the trial court’s judgment entered upon the verdict was held to be supported by substantial, competent evidence. Thus, the trial court’s judgment in favor of the policyholder in that case was irreversible. The Florida appellate court held that “no dispute existed as to the interpretation of the policy language since the plaintiff presented the only competent evidence on this point.” West Am. Ins. Co. v. Rauch, 412 So. 2d 956, 958 (Fla. 4th DCA 1982), rev. den. 424 So. 2d 764 (Fla. 1983). Dennis J. Wall Orlando November 1, 2005 Letters November 1, 2005 Letterslast_img

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