Annual reports of committees of The Florida Bar.



Admiralty and Maritime Law

The Admiralty and Maritime Law Committee held its midyear meeting in Orlando in September and provided its members with three CLE hours. The committee is pleased to report that the September meeting was very well attended with the vast majority of committee members participating in person or via telephone. The committee was also honored by the attendance and active participation of a number of legal scholars and distinguished guests representing the maritime industry nationwide.

Philip D. Parrish opened the September meeting by presenting Chaparro v. Carnival Corp., 2012 WL 3832314 (Fla. 11th Cir. Sept. 05, 2012), which addressed the elements and proper pleading of causes of action for negligent failure to warn and negligent infliction of emotional distress in passenger cases. Parrish's presentation was followed by a very active roundtable discussion of Fane Lozman, Petitioner v. The City of Riviera Beach, Florida, Respondent, U.S. Supreme Court Case No. 10-10695, 11th Circuit: City of Riviera Beach v. That Certain Unnamed Grey Vessel, 649 F.3d 1259, 2011 AMC 2891 (11th Cir. 2011), cert. granted sub nom., Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach, Fla., 132 S. Ct. 1543 (2012), which addressed the definition of a "vessel," a definition that is central to the maritime law.

The committee offers special appreciation to Courtney Collins, J.D. candidate 2013, Tulane University School of Law, and author of "If It Can Be Towed, Then It's a Vessel: The 11th Circuit Reveals Flaws in the Over Inclusive Definition of 'Vessel' for Maritime Liens in City of Riviera Beach v. That Certain Unnamed Grey Vessel," 36 Tul. Mar. L. J. 779 (2012). Collins traveled from New Orleans to present her paper and participate in the roundtable discussion.

The committee further offers special recognition to the distinguished participants in the roundtable discussion, including Lindsey C. Brock III, Rumrell & Brock, P.A.; Ford J. Fegert, Garris & Fegert, LLP; Captain Alan S. Richard, adjunct professor, Florida State University College of Law; Charlie De Leo, De Leo & Kuylenstierna P.A.; Martin Davies, Admiralty Law Institute professor of maritime law and director of University Maritime Law Center, Tulane University Law School; Gerard J. "Rod" Sullivan, assistant professor of law, Florida Coastal School of Law; Anthony John Cuva, adjunct professor, University of Florida Levin College of Law; Taylor Simpson-Wood, professor of law, Barry University School of Law; Richard "Rick" T. Robol, Robal Law Office, LLC; Karen Trostle, president, National Marine Bankers Association; Dennis K. Egan, Kotz Sangster Wysocki, P.C.; John R. Hillsman, McGuin, Hillsman & Palefsky; Alan Swimmer, president, National Maritime Services; John Howard Thomas, assistant professor, Florida International University College of Law; Michael R. Karcher, adjunct professor of law, University of Miami; Andrew Waks, Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute, secretary and Executive Council for American Association for Justice, Admiralty Section; and Allan R. Kelly, Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute, Long Range Planning Committee. Each individual was critical to the success of the discussion and the September meeting. A number of the participants were interviewed by the press relative to the Lozman case and will be participating in a presentation of the Lozman decision at the Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute in June 2013.

The committee is excited to move into 2013 and will be establishing a subcommittee responsible for coordinating and planning a biannual admiralty law seminar to offer continuing education to its committee members and The Florida Bar. The committee continues to allow members to appear via teleconference for CLE and meetings, and further invites interested members of the Bar to attend its meetings and otherwise apply for committee membership.


Admiralty and Maritime Law Certification

This has been a watershed year for the Admiralty and Maritime Law Certification Committee. The primary goal of the committee was to create the best board certification examination possible by implementing the helpful guidance and comments received during the Board Certification Leadership Conferences in 2011 and 2012 and the comments and changes recommended by The Florida Bar's expert review of the exam. The committee met and had various exchanges throughout the year to decide how to better present the exam for this year.

This goal has been met. The committee spent many hours reviewing test questions to make sure that they were easily understandable and that the answers were fairly presented within the new exam guidelines created by the Board of Legal Specialization and Education (BLSE) and approved on June 22, 2012. Throughout the course of the year, the members of the committee exchanged various ideas on topics covered in the exam and went so far as to critique various questions on the exam to ensure that they met the goal of the BLSE and the committee --to test the special knowledge and proficiency of the applicant in admiralty and maritime law.

A secondary goal of the committee was to have at least five applicants take the exam this year. This goal has also been met. I am pleased to report that the committee had seven applicants sit for the exam and we wish these applicants much success and hope to be able to welcome them as new board-certified specialists in admiralty and maritime law. There are currently 57 board-certified specialists in admiralty and maritime law in the state of Florida. The committee is one of the smaller certification committees. However, the committee continues in its determination to reach its goal of 100 board-certified specialists in admiralty and maritime law within the next 10 years. All members of the committee have been working at various levels of their network in having their fellow admiralty and maritime law colleagues who are not board certified, but would otherwise be qualified to begin the process of obtaining the CLE credits required, review the study program and take the test to seek board certification. The committee continues its work on setting up informational booths at various admiralty and maritime law CLE events to increase marketing on the value of board certification and to generally "talk up" the benefits of board certification.

Current board members Tim Boyd, Mark Buhler, Barbara Cook, Mark Ercolin, Allan Kelley, and I welcomed aboard two new committee members this year, Richard McAlpin and Joanne Foster. As I leave as chair of this committee, I wish the new chair continued success in meeting the challenges of the committee and emulating the work we have accomplished this year. It has been my distinct privilege to chair the committee this year. I cannot think of a finer collection of attorneys with whom to serve, and I thank all of you for your selfless contributions to our goal of making the exam process smoother, simpler, and more just.

On behalf of the entire committee, I express our collective appreciation for the knowledge, skill, and experience of Lisa Morgan, our excellent Bar staff liaison. She was indispensable to the committee, providing wisdom, insight, expertise, and support for each of its meetings, while also providing key advice as to Bar policies and procedures. We appreciate her work ethic and thank her for all of her support.

In closing, I extend an invitation to all eligible admiralty and maritime law attorneys to apply for certification. There is no better way for a maritime practitioner to advance his or her skills, professionalism, and ability to network in the practice of this area of the law. It is time to become a board-certified specialist in admiralty and maritime law!


Adoption Law Certification

The Adoption Law Certification Committee certifies attorneys whose practice of law deals with the complexities and legalities of interstate and intrastate adoption placements, including civil controversies arising from the termination of the biological parents' parental rights and interstate placements. Certification in this field is the first of its kind in the country and was approved by the Florida Supreme Court in 2009. The Florida Bar, through the oversight of the Board of Legal Specialization and Education, has certified 19 attorneys as Florida Bar board-certified adoption lawyers. In 2013, five additional attorneys sat for the adoption certification exam.


During the 2012-13 year, the committee met four times in person and three times during a conference call to view applications for certification and to prepare and grade the examination. The committee reviewed and evaluated five applications for the initial certification period. The applicant review process includes a determination as to whether each applicant meets the highest standards of professionalism and ethics. This incorporates a comprehensive peer review process. The committee wishes to express its sincere appreciation to all of the attorneys and judges who responded to the committee's requests for the submission of peer reviews and evidence of substantial involvement. All submissions were carefully considered by the committee in the evaluation of each applicant.

The committee expended innumerable hours drafting, reviewing, revising, and finalizing the initial certification examination along with the model answers. The exam consisted of two parts: the first part contained two long mandatory essay questions and 20 short answer questions; the second part contained three mandatory long essay questions, one of which comprised the ethic's essay and 40 multiple choice or true/false questions.

The committee consists of Susan L. Stockman, vice chair, Sarasota; Danelle D. Barksdale, Tampa; Anthony B. Marchese, Tampa; Alan I. Mishael, Miami Beach; Mary Ann Scherer, Ft. Lauderdale; Michael A. Shorstein, Jacksonville; Cynthia S...

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