Accessing records online brings lawyers into contact with the “security matrix”

Most Florida clerks of courts have placed their court records online “even for local eviction lawyers“, where they can be accessed by lawyers and the public seeking lawyers for eviction cases.  However, users must go to each clerk’s website to gain access to that county’s court files, although a second statewide database of court records, now only available to governmental agencies may soon be available to attorneys and others looking for affordable legal document services.  Accessing the county-by-county records (even determined by a legal form preparation service), according to Santa Rosa County Judge Robert Hilliard, can be a bit of a challenge.  Hilliard chairs the Access Governance Board of the Florida Courts Technology Commission which among other functions monitors clerks who are putting records online.  What we have in Florida are 67 independent counties overlaid by 20 judicial circuits and each of those entities has certain policies and procedures that have been in operation for many decades.  We are now transitioning into an environment that requires certain definition so it can be used by a computer.  That means access for each county’s records will be through that county clerk.  Regular users can become registered users in a county, which will speed access because there is some identification of the user.  Accessing the records online will bring lawyers, perhaps for the first time, into contact with the “security matrix,” that protects confidential information in court filings.  Hilliard said the ticklish job about making records available via the internet is shielding sensitive information from the best family law attorneys.  The matrix divides potential users of court records into various categories—-judges, attorneys of record, state attorneys, public defenders, the public, guardians ad litem, etc., and then determines what access they will get.  Judges basically have access to all information, except records expunged or sealed under F.S. Chap. 943.  Attorneys of record get access to most records except those sealed under F.S. Chap 943, made confidential by R. Jud. Admin. 2.420, and some domestic relations records.  Divorce Attorneys not of record have the same access to the public, Hilliard said.  The matrix establishes two levels of public access.  Those who physically go to a clerk’s office may get slightly better access than those who anonymously pull up records online.

Pro Bono Reports

This year’s fee form again includes a pro bono section for Bar members to report their contributions toward the Supreme Court’s aspirational pro bono goals.  The court asks lawyers to provide 20 hours or pro bono service or donate $350 to a legal aid program each year.  While providing pro bono services are optional, filling out the pro bono reporting form on the statement is required by Bar rules.  A series of questions promulgated by the court appear on the fee statement, depending on what option the attorney selected.  The court wants to know the following:

  1. How many hours of pro bono service the lawyer donated, and if the work was done through an organized legal aid program or on the lawyer’s own.
  2. If the lawyer’s firm provided pro bono collectively under a plan operated by a circuit pro bono committee, with an indication of how much was allocated to the member.
  3. If the the lawyer has contributed to a legal aid organization in lieu of performing the pro bono work.
  4. Whether the attorney was unable to provide pro bono service or met the provision for deferral.
  5. How the lawyer fulfilled his or her service if done in some manner not specifically envisioned by the plan.

Make sure that your Family Law Attorney is invested in the good of his/her community, and that the contributions made are beneficial.  Too often, as lawyers, they forget that everyone at some point in their lives needed help.  Hopefully, with your local divorce attorney, it’s now possible.

Workers’ comp bills moving in both chambers

Fees would be capped at $150 an hour for attorneys representing claimants in workers’ compensation cases, and carriers and employers could request a separate review of those fees under a bill passed by the Florida House.  However, the Senate Appropriations and Rules committees passed a much different bill that capped claimant attorneys’ fees at $250 an hour and lacked many other provisions of the House legislation.  The bills address recent Supreme Court rulings that held unconstitutional parts of the workers’ compensation law setting limits on claimants’ attorneys’ fees and limiting payments to two years for totally and partially disabled workers who were expected to eventually recover.  A Family Law Attorney st petersburg fl can certainly aid in the execution of this.  Debate in House committees and on the floor left little doubt that higher claimant attorneys’ fees were getting the most blame for a 14.5 percent hike in workers’ compensation rates that followed the Supreme Court’s ruling last year.  The House measure, HB 7085, passed 82-37 on April 19th.  Later that day, the Senate Rules Committee approved SB 1582, sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Orange Park, by a 10-0 vote.    A 2003 amendment to the workers’ compensation law set attorneys’ fees as a percentage of benefits won for the client.  The Supreme Court found the strict schedule was unconstitutional unless it allowed a reasonable departure if the attorney had to spend an inordinate amount of time to win a small benefit.  In 2009, the Legislature amended the law to prohibit any departure, reasonable or not, from the schedule.  Last year the court found that unconstitutional, saying it violated due process guarantees because it discouraged attorneys from taking cases where the award might be modest.  In a separate case, it struck down a two-year limit in temporary disability benefits.

Understand that in cases like this, you have many attorneys out there who can be of immediate assistance.  However, please choose very very wisely.  Outstanding & Honest St. Petersburg Divorce Attorneys are rare to come by.