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Litigator, author, and legal analyst, Florida attorney, Kendall Coffey has become an eminent legal practitioner and scholar over his 35-year career. From his unprecedented experience representing the Gore Campaign in the 2000 Election in Florida, to writing the quintessential book on Florida mortgage law, “Foreclosures in Florida,” LexisNexis (2008), the breadth of his knowledge, professional insights, and invaluable expertise are shared with readers within these blog entries. From Kendall Coffey’s words one can recognize the machinations of spin in legal proceedings and see past the dramatics and bluster to the precise issues at hand and their implications. 


 

Recent Blog Posts

Will Omar Mateen’s Wife Face Charges for Failing to Stop Her Husband’s Shooting Spree?

Posted by on 9:06 pm in Blog Entry: Criminal Cases | Comments Off on Will Omar Mateen’s Wife Face Charges for Failing to Stop Her Husband’s Shooting Spree?

Will Omar Mateen’s Wife Face Charges for Failing to Stop Her Husband’s Shooting Spree?

Omar Mateen’s wife, Noor Salman, may face criminal charges due to her possible involvement with her husband’s assault on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL. A federal grand jury is reviewing the incident and Salman’s suspected involvement in the attack. Mateen killed 49 people and took hostages during his attack on the gay nightclub. Kendall Coffey, former southern Florida U.S. Attorney, explained that the charges Salman might face would increase in their severity in relation to the grand jury’s decision about the level of her involvement in the crime. “If she drove him to get ammunition or to case the crime scene, I think that’s enough to warrant very serious charges if she had requisite knowledge of the crimes,” Coffey said. FBI officials have reported that Salman once drove her husband to the nightclub so that he could study its layout. She also joined her husband when he purchased a holster and ammunition for his shooting spree. The FBI investigation suggests that Salman is suspected to be her husband’s accomplice in what has been the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Salman was born in San Pablo, in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, and graduated from high school in 2004. Her parents and her husband’s family, living in the Palestinian territories, arranged her first marriage. She met her second husband, Omar Mateen, online, and they married in 2011 and have a 3-year-old son. If Salman knew that a crime was going to be committed, she could be guilty of intentionally hiding the knowledge of a felony and aiding and abetting a crime. Further investigations by the FBI and grand jury could determine that Salman is guilty of conspiracy to commit and act of terrorism. It was reported on CNN that Mateen and his wife exchanged text messages during the assault. A law enforcement officer reported to CNN that the text occurred at about 4 a.m. when Mateen was hiding in the bathroom at the gay nightclub. Salman responded in a text that she loved him. Mateen’s first wife alleges that she was the victim of abuse during her marriage to the shooter. If Mateen threatened Salman in any way, she could argue that she was operating under duress and was too afraid to call the police. Her marriage alone won’t protect her from criminal charges. “If the authorities have evidence beyond reasonable doubt that she did everything knowing what he was going to do, then I think she will face very serious criminal charges,” Coffey...

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Could Robots Replace Lawyers?

Posted by on 9:55 am in Blog Entry: Criminal Cases | Comments Off on Could Robots Replace Lawyers?

Could Robots Replace Lawyers?

Could robots replace lawyers as the most efficient and unbiased keepers of the law? Science fiction has posed this question for decades, but now the question is entering the real world. In fact, one British study predicts that robots will replace lawyers by 2030! Why would you want a robot lawyer? The perceived benefits of a robotic lawyers largely stem from the benefits that we project onto AI and robots in cinema: they can be pragmatic, incorruptible, and more efficient than any human lawyer could possibly dream of being. That warm human touch and compassion is missing, of course, but the comparative flawlessness that computers employ is certainly attractive in a legal case. And in fact, there are many potential benefits of a robo-lawyer: Document review can be automated through predictive coding. Human lawyers can work with programmers to make robo-lawyers sufficiently accurate at predicting whether or not a legal case is relevant for a law firm. Document and case management has been automated for years and already allows lawyers to fill out automated templates, perform billing tasks, and many other clerical tasks. The clerical realm might be where machines shine the brightest. Computers can also be trained to perform some levels of legal research. While the reasoning of a computer is limited in some respects, simple queries (like you might request of Siri or Cortana on your phone) can be easily and quickly answered. So, when can I expect to be represented by a robo-lawyer? If you’re expecting a robotic lawyer in the actual courtroom, then you’ll have to be patient. However, robo-lawyers that simply assist real humans are already among us! One example is ROSS. According to The Washington Post, one of the country’s largest law firms, BakerHostetler, has “hired” the first “robot lawyer” to assist with bankruptcy cases. ROSS has been called “the world’s first artificially intelligent attorney.” But don’t think of ROSS as a physical robot with a metal body: it is a complex program accessible through a computer and billed as a subscription service. Still, it’s a start! What’s more, a 19-year-old has also created a free robot lawyer that has already appealed $3 million in parking tickets. One simply has to sign up and have a conversation with the robot to see if there are any ways that a parking ticket can be appealed. It works off of conversations and pays attention to specific keywords, the order of words, pronouns, and more, which makes it incredibly user-friendly. So what is the likely future of robot lawyers? Ned Gannon, Co-Founder and CEO of eBrevia put it best in a Bloomberg law article: “In twenty years, a machine will help analyze data, but you will still be hiring a...

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The Future of 3D Printing, Intellectual Property, and Their Intersection With The Law

Posted by on 10:13 am in Blog Entry: Spinning the Law | Comments Off on The Future of 3D Printing, Intellectual Property, and Their Intersection With The Law

The Future of 3D Printing, Intellectual Property, and Their Intersection With The Law

3D printing technology is in a fledgling state, though it has already raised many ethical and moral dilemmas. What can you print with a 3D printer? Guns? Illicit drugs? Can you print anything? Also, who controls the designs for 3D printed content? Who should own those and distribute them? These are all things that the law can answer, given time. Unfortunately, this makes answering questions about the future of 3D printing, intellectual property, and their intersection with the law difficult to hypothesize. What will the future of 3D printing laws will be, based on the current landscape? A few brave souls have attempted to answer some of these questions. In a recent YouTube video on PBS Idea Channel, host Mike Rugnetta spoke with Michael Weinburg, General Counsel and head of litigation at Shapeways, a 3D printing company. During the interview, the two spoke about the various issues concerning 3D printing technology and implementation, especially as they intersect with intellectual property and laws. 3D Printing Community Weinburg notes that the 3D printing community is currently comprised of the following groups of people: The makers, who come up with ideas and like the challenge of design. They are engineering-oriented people. Designers, who have had an awesome idea for a thing and want to use 3D printing technology as a means to create their vision. Outside of these two large groups, there are also smaller cliques like educators (who aim to use 3D printing in the classroom as an engaging way to teach science, engineering, and math), and lawyers, who are concerned with the future of 3D printing legislation and regulation. Copyright Distinction: Functional vs. Non-Functional The current state of 3D printing laws revolves around copyright violations and patent infringements. When determining copyright violations for 3D printed objects, the first question one must ask is: is this object functional or non-functional? A functional object serves a purpose (like a door knob or a part of your car’s engine), while a non-functional object might be a piece of art. Functional objects are categorically not subject to copyright laws, while non-functional objects can be copyrighted. That said, any object (even a functional object) can be protected by a patent. Embrace 3D Printing! In defense of embracing 3D printing technology on a widespread scale, Weinburg explains the process that the music industry used to approach MP3s when they first hit the market. This faulty strategy, he explains, caused the music industry to alienate many of their customers and eventually resulted in giving in to their demands: first, they sued all of their customers for downloading MP3s, then they put on digital locks to their music (which were easily broken), and then they finally embraced MP3 technology and sought to serve the market that obviously exists for digital music. This is important for the future of 3D printing design and law: people will find a way around restrictions to their use of this new tech, so it should be designed from the start to be easily used by a wide variety of users. Serve the market! The Importance of Legislation When a case is brought before a judge that is related to 3D printing, the first question they will ask is: what is the norm in the community? Determining the norm in a community is the...

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Why Is Online Harassment Legislation Still Not A Thing?

Posted by on 10:06 am in Blog Entry: Spinning the Law | Comments Off on Why Is Online Harassment Legislation Still Not A Thing?

Why Is Online Harassment Legislation Still Not A Thing?

It is hard to imagine life without the Internet in 2016. While the Internet has become a huge staple of modern life, laws surrounding its use haven’t quite caught up with our rapid technological leaps forward. One question that many have in this day and age is: why is online harassment not prosecuted in the same way that harassment and assault are in the real world? Why hasn’t the law caught up with technology. In their 2014 report Online Harassment, Defamation, and Hateful Speech: A Primer of the Legal Landscape, Alice E. Marwick and Ross Miller of Fordham University do a good job of explaining just why online harassment, defamation, and hate speech are particularly troublesome to create legislation for. Some of their main points include: Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act provides Internet service providers (ISPs), such as social media websites, blog hosting companies, etc., with broad immunity from liability for user-generated content. Limited resources tend to cause law enforcement personnel to prioritize other cases instead of Internet-related ones. The medium of the Internet can make prosecution tricky. For example, if a crime is committed between two people who live in different states or countries, which laws should be applied? For online statements to qualify as defamatory, they must be empirically false instead of simply a matter of opinion. This makes specific language crucial and often makes filing for defamation tricky. Internet speech is protected under the First Amendment. As a result, state laws regarding online speech are written to comply with these protections, requiring fighting words, true threats, or obscene speech (which aren’t protected). Therefore, many offensive online comments are actually protected speech. Beyond those difficulties, there are issues where the rubber meets the road: enforcing the law. Law enforcement and legislation are notoriously sluggish when it comes to keeping up with rapid advancements in technology. It is incredibly easy to find anonymity on the Internet today, which can sometimes make proving that one party is the culprit in a case rather dubious. Those concerned with privacy would be huge opponents of bills like this because of the technology required to actually enforce them. If you’re a victim today, ultimately you can’t do a whole lot beyond actually reaching out to social media channels or online media where these types of message are posted. However, if the messages do not violate that website’s terms of service, the message will most likely stick around, and the user will not be banned or have their account removed. In fairness, the current legal system isn’t a complete failure for victims of cyber crimes. However, filing a case and seeing it through to completion in these situations is often very expensive, time-consuming, and emotionally draining, and as a result many choose not to prosecute if they find themselves in a troublesome situation. As we become more and more familiar with digital technology, history suggests that we will eventually see a watershed moment and a landmark decision that will lead to digital-focused legislation. But for now, we must simply wait and...

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San Francisco Hopes to Regulate Airbnb, HomeAway Rentals

Posted by on 9:06 am in Blog Entry: Spinning the Law | Comments Off on San Francisco Hopes to Regulate Airbnb, HomeAway Rentals

San Francisco Hopes to Regulate Airbnb, HomeAway Rentals

If you thought the housing situation in San Francisco was bad already, then you won’t be surprised to learn that the short-term-rental market in San Fran might get a little worse too. Or better, depending on your perspective. A proposed amendment to a current San Francisco law would impose regulations on Airbnb, HomeAway, and other types of private vacation rental services. The regulations would be based on the laws of the areas that the rental properties are located in. The law states that Airbnb, HomeAway, and others would be subject to the same building regulations as other similar companies in the same jurisdiction. So for the purposes of San Francisco, the companies would have to abide by San Francisco regulations. Platforms that don’t follow this mandate could faces fines of up to $1,000 a day per listing as well as misdemeanor charges against them. “Unless the hosting platforms have a role in enforcement, enforcement is not going to happen,” said Supervisor David Campos of San Francisco. “They have to have some skin in the game.” Airbnb, HomeAway, and others are quickly becoming a standard for some travelers who seek cheap lodging accommodations on their travels. It’s quite rational that the law of the land would catch up with the ways of the people. One might argue that Airbnb is feeling the heat and actively making attempts to save face, as they may fear potential blowback from some of their properties in San Francisco that don’t meet the city’s regulations. In an unlikely move to do just that, Airbnb recently began talks with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) for a potential alliance. Why does the move seem bizarre? The SEIU has been one of the champions behind $15/hour minimum wage laws, which could end up costing Airbnb a lot of money if the wage were implemented throughout the country. It will be interesting to see how this proposed law turns out, as it could easily set a precedent for other major metropolitan areas across the...

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Florida Bar Results Reveal Poor Performance on First Time Bar Exams

Posted by on 9:08 am in Blog Entry: Elections and Courts, Blog Entry: Spinning the Law | Comments Off on Florida Bar Results Reveal Poor Performance on First Time Bar Exams

Florida Bar Results Reveal Poor Performance on First Time Bar Exams

The dreaded Bar Exam. Even for those unacquainted with the legal profession, pop culture has taught us that the Bar Exam is to be feared and painstakingly prepared for. But for those studying to become lawyers, this reality is all too real. A recent study from the Florida Board of Bar Examiners shows that Florida’s law school students do quite poorly on their Bar Exam the first time through. Even though these aren’t first-time test takers, the results are staggering and show just how hard taking the Bar Exam can be. Here are a few percentages for several Florida universities’ law students on their first attempt at the Bar Exam: Florida Coastal–32.7% Barry University–35.9% University of Florida–56.3% University of Miami–53.1% Florida International University–84.6% Nova Southeastern University–75.0% While not all schools performed poorly (another shout-out for Florida International University and Nova Southeastern University!), the data seems to show one common trend: the larger the testing group, the poorer the results. Does this correlate to the size of a cohort or with class sizes? Only time or another exhaustive study can provide us with the answer. Why is the Bar Exam so difficult? The results of this study, and many others, beg the question: why exactly is the Bar Exam so difficult? These are some of the reasons why students wind up doing very poorly, or even failing, their Bar Exams and and how you can avoid some common pitfalls. A simple rule of thumb to follow: you’ll pass the exam with your strengths, and you’ll fail with your weaknesses. Instead of spending a lot of time trying to turn your weaknesses into strengths (often, this is impossible or at least very unlikely), devote time to refining your strengths so that you know you’ll do your best on these sections! Stress is killer: the stress (and intimidating aura) surrounding the Bar Exam can cause students to get flustered and anxious. This can create a number of problems, including causing students to attempt to cram too much information (effectively learning nothing) and literally pushing their bodies to their limits. This naturally puts students off their A-game. While you might know the law in and out, you may not have the proper skills of showing your work and making a convincing argument. These are both skills that any successful lawyer will need to have. You don’t manage your time wisely. The Bar Exam has timed sections, and if you can’t work with those strict guidelines, you will surely fail. Studying time management skills is a great way to increase your chances of...

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Florida Governor Rick Scott Signs Bill, Defunds Planned Parenthood

Posted by on 10:47 am in Blog Entry: Elections and Courts | Comments Off on Florida Governor Rick Scott Signs Bill, Defunds Planned Parenthood

Florida Governor Rick Scott Signs Bill, Defunds Planned Parenthood

On March 28th, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a bill into law that would defund Planned Parenthood abortion business and any other clinics that also do abortions. This will eliminate about $200,000 that the abortion business of Planned Parenthood receives from the government. HB 1411, also known as The Termination of Pregnancy bill, was sponsored by state Rep. Colleen Burton and passed the Florida House 76–40 and the Florida Senate 25–15. Both the Florida House and Senate are Republican-led. Florida is now the 12th state to block taxpayer dollars from going to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider. The bill will go into effect on July 1st. It prohibits any taxpayer dollars from going to groups that own, operate, or are affiliated with licensed abortion facilities. As you can imagine, reactions to this legislation are mixed and largely divided based on party lines. Progressives and abortion advocates are shocked, while anti-abortionists are praising the decision. “This cruel bill is designed to rip health care away from those most at risk,” says Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Abortionists will finally be held to the same standard as all other physicians who perform invasive procedures in a non-hospital setting by the requirement to have admitting privileges and transfer agreement with a nearby hospital,” says Ingrid Delgado of the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops. One of the motivations for the move is the fact that Planned Parenthood’s non-abortion services have been rapidly declining, according to their own annual reports. For example, between 2009 and 2014 their cancer screenings and breast exams/breast care fell by 50%. Pap smear tests dropped by nearly 66%. In Florida there are 29 health care alternatives for each Planned Parenthood location—22 in all that will no longer receive funding from the government. Supporters site this as rationale for defunding Planned Parenthood in the state: there are many alternatives available to women, and Planned Parenthood had been declining in certain key areas as well. One way or another, it likely won’t be long before Planned Parenthood is coming across our dashboards...

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Do Antitrust Laws Hinder Businesses?

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Do Antitrust Laws Hinder Businesses?

Antitrust laws are an important part of America’s law history. They ensure that fair competition exists in an open-market economy and, when used correctly, they help everyone and stimulate a healthy economy. However, antitrust laws were created for an economic system that is pure and perfect all the time, an unrealistic expectation of our current structure. So while antitrust laws do some good things for companies and consumers alike, they can also hurt the very businesses such laws were created to protect. Antitrust laws were established to promote and protect the competition that is the root of the United States’ economic standing. When the laws were made, their creators assumed that a free and unregulated market would give rise to coercive monopolies, businesses operating in a field where other competitors aren’t allowed to join. In some cases, antitrust laws do protect businesses, like when the laws lead to price fixes that guarantee better income for independent workers. However, coercive monopolies can’t be created in a free economy like ours because they can only be realized by acts of government like special regulations, subsidies, or franchises, making it quite difficult for businesses to collaborate and work together. For example, a recent study indicates that antitrust laws are hurting the efforts of businesses who want to work together on sustainable, socially-responsible business practices but are afraid of overstepping antitrust laws and being penalized for it. Because our economic environment has changed so much since the conception of antitrust laws, they risk becoming outdated in the face of current global concerns like climate change. “We are so deeply rooted in our assumptions about markets and competitions,” says Inara Scott, attorney and assistant professor at Oregon State University’s College of Business. “It is very hard to challenge [those assumptions]. But these laws were written at a time when resources seemed inexhaustible, whereas today we live in an era of limited resources.” With limited resources, it matters who’s doing business and how. But if new companies can’t break into a monopolized field, business, competition, and the national economy will suffer. Legal barriers often prevent the expansion of ideas and markets, and they reduce spread of information people need to make informed decisions about how what businesses they want to work with. Without competition, our economy won’t grow. But antitrust laws do offer some necessary protections to certain fields and companies. Perhaps the best thing to do is to revise when and how antitrust laws work and refresh their regulations in light of our nation’s changes, challenges, and...

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Similar Court Ruling May Help Apple in Legal Battle With FBI

Posted by on 10:48 am in Blog Entry: Elections and Courts | Comments Off on Similar Court Ruling May Help Apple in Legal Battle With FBI

Similar Court Ruling May Help Apple in Legal Battle With FBI

You’re no doubt aware of the case: Apple and the FBI have been sparing over access to the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, with the FBI requesting the creation of software to dodge around the iPhone’s passcode to access the shooter’s private information. In related news, a federal judge in Brooklyn ruled in late February that the FBI could not force Apple to unlock the iPhone of a suspected drug dealer. If nothing else, that boosts public opinion in Apple’s favor. A California judge will consider the case of the iPhone used by San Bernardino attackers, and Apple absolutely intends to cite the Brooklyn ruling in their favor. The Brooklyn judge ruled in Apple’s favor because Congress specifically considered and rejected a bill that would require companies like Apple to make the data on a locked iPhone available to law enforcement in such cases. As the U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein puts it, “the relief the government seeks is unavailable because Congress has considered legislation that would achieve the same result but has not adopted it.” The related Brooklyn case ruling could prove incredibly important in Apple’s case against the FBI. Apple is also receiving good press, thanks to their current legal representation. In an interview with NPR, Ted Olson (former solicitor general during George W. Bush’s first term who is currently representing Apple in this case) argued that the iPhone was expressly designed to prevent the sort of thing the government is asking Apple to do. “What in the law requires us to redesign the iPhone, to rewrite code, to provide an Achilles’s heel in the iPhone?” Olson said. “It was designed to protect the secrecy and privacy of individuals who use the iPhone.” “What the government is asking Apple to do here is to redesign this particular iPhone, to take weeks of its engineers to put together a system to disable the systems that Apple put into place in the first place…They want various features to be changed so you can get around the passcode.” Click here for more information on the case from The Verge, who wrote a very informative article about the five questions that will decide the...

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This Self-Taught Flint Prisoner Might Free Himself After Teaching

Posted by on 10:27 am in Blog Entry: Criminal Cases | Comments Off on This Self-Taught Flint Prisoner Might Free Himself After Teaching

This Self-Taught Flint Prisoner Might Free Himself After Teaching

We’ve all seen law shows and thought to ourselves, “if I had to, I could probably be my own lawyer.” But what if you actually had to act as your own lawyer? One Flint prisoner did just that, and may soon be freed! Omar’s Story Omar Pouncy was charged with five counts of carjacking and armed robbery, plus a host of weapons charges in 2006 and has never relented in proclaiming his innocence. In fact, he’s taught himself the law while in prison and is on the verge of getting himself out. In 2006, Pouncy felt that his appointed public defender was failing him, and court records show that he was refused a different appointment. Feeling that he was left with no other choice, he decided to take matters into his own hands. Still contending his innocence, he went to the prison’s law library and got to work. He began by memorizing obscure laws and filing appeals through different lawyers. He has filed more than 15 to date. What’s more, he even began offering his services to other prisoners, regardless of their affiliation. He has helped members from several different gangs and even fought to defend a white supremacist. And now it looks like his hard work has paid off. In January, a federal judge in Detroit ordered him released unless he faces a new trial—an impressive victory for a man who has seemingly earned freedom all by himself. Pouncy has left such an impression on his new attorney David Moffitt, who has been representing Pouncy since 2012, that Moffitt has said he will hire Pouncy as a paralegal the moment that he’s released. “He stands head and shoulders with any attorney in the system,” Moffitt, said. “He is every bit my equal.” Acting As Your Own Lawyer Teaching oneself the law and acting as one’s own lawyer (called acting pro se), is no easy feat. There are many obstacles that get in the way of being a successful defense lawyer for oneself, which makes Pouncy’s feat even more impressive. Click here to learn more about the difficulties of a pro se...

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