Ballistic Forensics for Lawyers

I often get calls from other lawyers asking me for the name of a “ballistics expert.” Invariably, before I can make any recommendation at all, I must ask them to describe the case.We are all conditioned to the world of forensic ballistics on television, where a medical examiner walks up to a body, quickly eyeballs it and says, “He was shot with a Webly-Fosberry Automatic Revolver, caliber .38." This is pure fantasy.There is, however, a lot of information that can be gleaned from any firearms discharge, providing the practitioner knows what questions to ask and who to ask them of.Let’s examine the different types of “forensic ballistics.” The first area is internal ballistics. Internal ballistics describes what happens from the instant the cartridge is discharged up until the time the projectile leaves the barrel. If the projectile (or fragments of it) is recovered, often … [Read more...]

Dade County LRS off to a Brisk Start

By DONNA BALANCIA, The Florida Law Journal MIAMI -- Amy Melia likes to put people together. So as the director of the two-month-old Dade Lawyer Referral Service, she is fortunate enough to have everything she wants. “I was always interested in legal aid and was always a cheerleader for the less fortunate,” Melia said.  “The best experience in law school for me was working at the clinic, so helping people through the referral center is something I am really excited about.” The Dade County Bar Association launched its LRS in October. And so far things are going well, Melia said. “Our phone rings 100 to 200 times a day with potential cases,” Melia said. “We screen those calls, so it’s busy here.” The Florida Bar transferred Dade County’s LRS to the Dade County Bar Association.  The main reason is the workload: Miami Dade County accounted for more than … [Read more...]

News-Journal Investigation takes Lifeguards to task

Courtesy of the Daytona Beach News-Journal Does Volusia County's Beach Patrol condone a "culture of sexual abuse and depravity" where underage lifeguards are expected to have sex with officers as a "rite of passage"? The News-Journal reviewed thousands of pages of documents and found scant evidence to support the strongest claims in a civil suit filed against Volusia County in federal court. But that doesn't necessarily mean the case is a loser, legal experts said. After reading the 40-page complaint, Stetson law professor Charles Rose said the case's fate hinges on whether attorneys can really prove a "culture" that county management knew about -- or should have known about -- and not just the misdeeds of a few officers. "Usually, it's one or two bad apples, and the fight comes down to whether or not the county knew about it," Rose said. "Then you have to prove actual … [Read more...]

OCBA’s Legal Aid Powered by the People

Jamie Bilotte Moses, Frank Bedell and Glenn Adams

By DONNA BALANCIA, The Florida Law Journal Photo (c) by DONNA BALANCIA, The Florida Law Journal ORLANDO -- It's fundraisers and events that enable most bar associations to help the Legal Aid Society, but in Orlando, the devotion of attorneys keeps the machine moving. "I volunteer at Legal Aid because I believe I need to give back to the community," said Glenn Adams, a partner at Holland & Knight who is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Legal Aid Society. "The goal of Legal Aid is for us to help provide self sufficiency for our clients." Before several hundred legal professionals at the OCBA Legal Aid Society Breakfast, Adams also delivered sobering news in that while the Guardian Ad Litem section of the Legal Aid Society was helping out kids in need, the economy is having an impact. "This year we are truly in need," he said. "The reality is, thanks to our … [Read more...]

Florida Sues Feds Over Water Rule

Calling it "unfair," Florida's Attorney General Bill McCollum said the state is suing the federal government for imposing a water quality rule that interferes with Florida's environmental plans. McCollum says the rule wasn't based on a "sound methodology," and was put in place to appease environmental groups. Those who join McCollum are Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson, AttorneyGeneral-elect Pam Bondi and the newly-elected Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. The federal government announced in November newwater pollution standards that set specific numeric caps on pollutant levels for Florida lakes and rivers. We all want clean water for Florida, and we all believe that scientifically sound and responsible numeric nutrient criteria will improve efforts to achieve this goal," McCollum said in a statement. "Florida was in the process of developing such criteria under … [Read more...]