April 12, 2001
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Changing The Very
Of The Judicial
Infuriated by court
decisions on their laws, legislators begin
stripping the Bar of its
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 18,
By LUCY MORGAN
TALLAHASSEE -- Florida Bar lobbyist Steve Metz compared his life Tuesday
to the Siege of Stalingrad, as he tried to stop a bill that would force the Bar
to get legislative approval of its annual budget.
"If you haven't seen
the movie, Enemy at the Gate, you've no idea what it's like to represent the
Bar," Metz told members of the House Fiscal Responsibility Council.
Upstairs, the Senate Judiciary Committee was stripping
away most of the Bar's influence in selecting judges.
It was that kind of
day in a Legislature bubbling with anger toward the courts and the Bar that has
helped select judges. Metz, a lobbyist for 26 years, says he's never faced so
much sniper fire. Bar president Herman Russomanno vehemently opposed the
Judicial Nominating Commission bill that won approval in the Senate committee,
Sen. Skip Campbell, D-Fort
Lauderdale, offered the compromise
amendment that has been worked out by
legislators caught between the fury of the state Bar and the anger of House
Speaker Tom Feeney and other legislators, angered by court decisions overturning
laws passed by the Legislature.
Senate President John McKay has indicated
he'll take the compromise version of the bill but says he is not interested in
taking up many of the other court-bashing bills moving in the House. Feeney
strongly supports efforts to change the very nature of the judicial system.
Feeney said he believes lawyers are treated
differently from other professions who are subject to legislative review and
licensing by a state agency. By being allowed to regulate themselves, the
"an almost incestuous relationship with the Bar," Feeney
"The germ of destruction of our nation is in the power
of the judiciary, an irresponsible body - working like gravity by night and by
day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless
step like a thief over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall render
powerless the checks of one branch over the other and will become as venal and
oppressive as the government from which we
separated." Thomas Jefferson,
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"..it does not require a majority to prevail,
but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's
minds.." - Samuel Adams
"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of
evil to one who is
striking at the
-- Henry David Thoreau