Colombian Military’s Peacetime Campaign Aims to Conquer People’s Hearts

first_imgIt is definitely not just a phrase; it is a philosophy. The campaign finds support through the protection that the military brings to the civilian population. Whether in times of peace or in times of war, they are going to be there. “We see how the population is really beginning to recognize the efforts undertaken by their Military Forces, which, was the government representative in many places for many years,” explained Lt. Col. Moreno. ” The government brought the capabilities to improve the quality of life of our inhabitants through [the presence of] its Military Forces. And we are currently in that non-kinetic effort phase.” Cocoa, Coffee, Rice, and Dairy Products The non-kinetic effort Lt. Col. Moreno refers to is an effort that does not require the use of weapons. Soldiers are supporting the development of remote areas by building roads, schools, hospitals, and other facilities, through military engineers with state funds, through other ministries, and with the help of the private sector. Two examples of this inter-agency cooperation are the oil infrastructure projects developed in the departments of Arauca and Putumayo with the participation of the private sector and international cooperation. For their part, the Military Forces were able to achieve significant rapprochement with indigenous communities to teach them ways to grow legal crops such as cocoa, coffee, rice, and dairy products. For example, the department of Cauca is a large exporter of coffee produced by the indigenous Naasa community, while Caquetá department supplies almost 60 percent of all the cheese distributed in the country nationally. “So that is the result, that is how that inter-agency cooperation has led us to a process of stabilization and consolidation,” said Lt. Col. Moreno proudly. “This is the strategy reflected in the campaign: remaining in the hearts of Colombians, providing them a better quality of life, leading social development, and rebuilding the social fabric, and in response, there is support for the Military Forces from the community, from the population for this honest task.” Artists for the Cause The campaign has even reached the hearts of famous Colombian artists, such as popular singers Fonseca, Andrés Cepeda, and Jorgito Celedón, who have given free concerts in which they promote the ideals of the program to the people. “The truth is that we are proud to know that there is credibility in the execution of these projects. The population feels at peace when they see that the Military Forces are leading, supporting the government agencies or private agencies, and that peace that the population feels upon seeing the leadership of its Military Forces is our primary point of reference. That is how we define being and truly remaining in the heart [of the population] and providing that social development,” said Lt. Col. Moreno. For General Juan Pablo Rodríguez Barragán, Commander of the Colombian Military Forces, the institutional campaign We are in the Hearts of Colombians, and That’s Where We Will Stay, which the General Command is conducting under his leadership, carries a very important philosophical meaning. “It means that Colombians really value the effort, sacrifice, [and] heroism of all members of the Military Forces, of all our land, sea and air Troops, as well as of our police. They know that having made such a great sacrifice is precisely what brings us today so close to achieving that very important goal for all Colombians, which is peace”. center_img That peace, as General Rodríguez has mentioned on several occasions, “is due to the effort, [and] heroism of all Soldiers and police” who, even at the expense of their own lives, have given their all to reestablish security and protect Colombians throughout more than 50 years of a bloody war against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN). Faith in the Cause “In that sense, this campaign seeks to thank the Colombian people for the support they give us every day. This campaign seeks to highlight patriotic values and wants to remind Colombians that there were many heroes who offered up even their own lives, many heroes who are wounded, many heroes who are currently suffering from the deep wounds inflicted by war, but who, in spite of all those sacrifices, that price they paid, did it with much patriotism. Today we see how this Colombian homeland has changed, how it has grown stronger, how its rule of law has been strengthened, how its democracy has been strengthened, and we stand, as I told you initially, at the threshold of achieving a very important goal, which would be to bring an end to the conflict with the FARC and the ELN and to begin to build a stable and lasting peace,” General Rodríguez told Diálogo. Aside from remaining in the hearts of Colombians through their participation in these civil action projects, the country’s Military Forces are initiating the process of adapting to what will be their new post-conflict reality. “We are visualizing that our primary role will be one of integrated action. Surely, from the military side, safeguarding our borders, peacekeeping, and international exchange operations will be strengthened; but the primary role within the country will be to generate development. All this inter-agency capability, that is where we are headed,” concluded Lt. Col. Moreno. Marine Infantry Lieutenant Colonel Fernando Moreno, who currently works at the Joint Integrated Action Headquarters as advisor to General Rodríguez, explains that the current campaign is a continuation of its predecessor, Faith in the Cause. “More than a slogan, a real command policy has been developed by the Military’s leadership: Army, Navy, and Air Force, and when we were at a defining stage in the conflict, that faith of believing in what we are doing, of believing in where we are going, of materializing all that development and military capacity was cemented in the hearts of our soldiers. Now that we are at this stage of signing an accord with the FARC and the ELN, our primary internal threats, when we stand at the threshold of that stage of transition into post-conflict, we can say that we are in the hearts of Colombians and that is where we will stay.” By Dialogo May 24, 2016last_img read more

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Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil Share Information about Unauthorized Flights

first_imgBy Carlos Maggi/Diálogo August 22, 2017 Air travel is fast and dynamic, meaning that response times are very important – even more so for unauthorized flights. That is why the Uruguayan, Argentine, and Brazilian air forces are working together under the framework of agreements signed by each nation, to allow them to exchange information about detected unauthorized flights, in order to activate the established procedures for their identification and interception. The three nations have conducted various exercises enabling them to optimize their mechanisms of locating illicit flights detected by radar, relay the information, and ultimately intercept them. It is important to note that, according to statistics, there are a number of unauthorized flights entering Brazil from Uruguay, Argentina, Venezuela, and Peru, meaning that a state of alert must be maintained practically every day. “This is a very important issue for us. We know that Brazil has a shoot-down law that Argentina and Uruguay lack, so relaying information about unauthorized or possibly illegal flights is vital for our nation,” Uruguayan Minister of Defense Jorge Menéndez told Diálogo. “We’re doing that by conducting exercises: URUBRA with Brazil, and RIO with Argentina. Their implementation allows us to be with partner nations that are up to speed on what can happen.” The authorities are worried about the development of transnational unauthorized flights, since they originate in one country and use another country as the epicenter for their illegal activities, such as drugs, arms, and human trafficking. Detecting such flights in sufficient time and relaying the information allows for a greater response capability, which is why the agreements are still in full force and the near-term possibility of once again developing training exercises is being studied. Uruguay has fixed and mobile 3D radars that it uses for nationwide coverage of its airspace, but in order to optimize the system, it needs an interceptor that can accommodate to the required response time since its fleet is made up of A-37B and PC-7U aircraft. “In a military system, the human element is key. It’s something that we can be proud of in Uruguay because there is very good training for our officers and airmen to fulfill all of the Air Force’s missions,” Menéndez said. “Radars have been added, and they’re working quite well. Our command and control center is a source of national pride. We still have some very old interceptors and we’re working towards getting to the point where we can make some acquisitions, which is an objective of the Ministry of Defense,” he explained. The importance of cooperation with American air forces In addition to the agreements for transferring information about unauthorized flights between the three nations, the System of Cooperation Among the American Air Forces (SICOFAA, per its Spanish acronym) promotes exchanges of experience, knowledge, and training, which allows the armed forces to bolster their capacities, transforming them into an efficient organization for cooperation and mutual support. “Achieving favorable results for our people, as the American air forces do, has allowed us to meet the call of duty, for example, when the natural disasters in Ecuador and Peru happened, or the forest fires in Chile, and in any other place where our high command orders us to respond rapidly, flexibly, and efficiently,” said General Alberto Zanelli, the commander in chief of the Uruguayan Air Force. Through the cooperation that exists within the framework of SICOFAA, the intent is to coordinate operations to relieve the suffering of thousands of people in partner nations impacted by natural disasters. “These kinds of exercises allow us to check our level of training and doctrine to see what we need to do to successfully carry out our assigned mission, and what our capacity for interoperability is – where our planes will be able to use the Air Force’s ground-based support equipment, and where we can refuel,” Gen. Zanelli said. “All of the crews are going to be speaking the same operational language, and each of us will do our part to deliver solutions for these urgent needs.”last_img read more

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Peru Puts High Frequency Radio Equipment to the Test

first_imgBy Gonzalo Silva Infante/Diálogo January 10, 2018 At the end of 2017, Peru participated in an annual international high frequency radio communications exercise sponsored by the Canadian Armed Forces. The two-day Noble Skywave exercise, EX NS 17, comprised 85 teams from the armed forces of eight countries. In addition to the armed forces of Peru and Canada, the exercise included military personnel from Australia, Germany, Italy, Scotland, England, and the United States—all participated from their home countries. With the second highest number of participants, Peru joined the exercise with 121 members of its Army (EP, in Spanish), Navy (MGP, in Spanish), and Air Force (FAP, in Spanish). Canada participated with the highest number of troops. Peruvian service members formed eight teams located in different bases across the country. For instance, the MGP deployed teams in Piura, Mollendo, and Callao “to achieve better performance,” explained EP Colonel Fidel Mandujano Bonilla, head of joint communications at the Command and Control Division of the Armed Forces Joint Chiefs of Staff. Col. Mandujano coordinated the exercise on the Peruvian end and was responsible for training the eight teams. In its second consecutive participation, Peru greatly surpassed its previous result. Following the experience, the Joint Command of the Armed Forces of Peru not only aspires to collaborate in the 2018 edition of the exercise, but also conduct similar trainings at the local level. “I am pleased to have accomplished this. It was very important to live this with them [Peruvian service members] and let them know the need to attain the best possible spot, and burnish the reputation of our homeland,” Col. Mandujano said. “Our proposal for 2018 is to conduct a nationwide pilot program to support COEN [National Emergency Operations Center] during natural disasters.” Improving capacities EX NS 17 is a training exercise among partner nations based on a communications competition involving the use of high frequency radios. The Communications & Electronics Branch, the 8th Air Communications and Control Squadron (8 ACCS), and the School of Communications and Electronics of the Canadian Armed Forces conduct the exercise, which contributes to strengthening capacities related to radios, antennas, and high frequency transmission. “We seek to create a fun and interactive exercise that facilitates voice and data links between national and international teams through the transmission of high frequency sky-waves,” 8 ACCS Captain Natasha Dargan told Diálogo. “This type of exercise is carried out to maintain skills in a challenging communications environment, but [is] of great importance.” Today, the most widely used means of communication is via satellite. High frequency radio operations are difficult and essential skills. Additionally, armed forces around the world use the high frequency system as a backup in case of damage to satellite equipment, which could happen during a natural disaster. “Our country is located in a seismically active area, and we experience natural disasters,” Col. Mandujano said. “Therefore, our Armed Forces must be prepared to use high frequency radios in the event of a dropout of our main platforms of communication such as satellite, Internet, and telephone. This helps us keep up with training, and what better way than with first-rate institutions.” Competition The exercise’s main objective consisted of monitoring several frequencies while trying to make contact with the various teams using different forms of high frequency radiophonic transmission. The teams scored points for operating the equipment and establishing contact. The exercise was conducted in three phases. In the first phase, personnel was assigned, competition rules distributed, and the Network Control Station—the operating station responsible for controlling radio traffic—was established at CFB Kingston Base in Ontario, Canada. The second and third phases consisted of the competition, and the presentation of prizes and certificates of participation. “These are timed tests. The exercise lasts two days, 48 consecutive hours. Operators need to know English because the exercises are conducted in that language,” Col. Mandujano explained. “Under that premise, FAP had the best performance [of the Peruvian teams].” Of the 85 teams that participated, a U.S. team won first place. The most outstanding Peruvian teams were a FAP team (OA0FAP) and an MGP team (BRAVO 2), which won 24th and 27th place, respectively. The exercise was also a reminder of the importance of high frequency radio communication for service members. “Its use is necessary, because without so much sophistication, it will always connect two people from a distance,” Col. Mandujano concluded. “This is a means of communication that will always be used, and it will always be part of the training in the three branches of the armed forces.”last_img read more

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Colombian Armed Forces Capture Clan del Golfo Members

first_imgBy Myriam Ortega/Diálogo September 11, 2018 The Colombian Navy and Air Force, with support from the Army and the National Police, captured 19 Clan del Golfo’s members in several operations. Authorities made the arrests between July 1st and the first week of August as part of the Sparta military and police campaign along Colombia’s Caribbean coast. Detainees included ringleaders alias Bruno, alias Buda or Escalante, alias Chucha Redonda, and alias Richo. “We proceeded with the Army and the National Police,” Colombian Marine Corps Colonel Rafael Olaya Quintero, commander of the First Marine Corps Brigade, told Diálogo. “We count on the valuable support of the Office of the Attorney General [of Colombia] to determine the legal status of detainees based on their records.” Clan del Golfo consists of groups and subgroups that perpetrate crimes such as narcotrafficking, extortion, illegal mining, forced displacement, and murder. The arrests affect the subgroups Diomedes Dionisio Ortega Ramos, responsible for contract killings in the department of Magdalena, and Luis Fernando Gutiérrez, which carries out extortion in the Bolívar department. Both subgroups belong to the Erlin Pino Duarte group. Two fewer ringleaders On August 1st, alias Richo was captured. “We did it with [an arrest] warrant for conspiracy to commit extortion and kidnapping,” said Colombian Marine Corps Captain John Alexander Martínez, head of Bolívar’s military Intelligence Unit of Unified Action Group for Personal Liberty (GAULA, in Spanish). “Alias Richo was the head of finances for the Luis Fernando Gutiérrez subgroup,” he told Diálogo. On the same day, authorities captured alias Chucha Redonda, who was part of the Fernando Gutiérrez subgroup and performed contract killings in the municipality of Arjona, César department. “At this time, [the clan] has no way to organize itself,” Col. Olaya said. “In the coming days, we’ll achieve more results to dismantle that part of Clan del Golfo once and for all.” Alias Bruno Alias Bruno, or Estiven, was captured on July 5th, in Tisquisio municipality, Bolívar department. Bolívar’s military GAULA troops, with the support of the Colombian Navy’s Caribbean Naval Command and the National Police, carried out the operation. Authorities infiltrated alias Bruno’s security and learned his routine, moves, and mode of communication with Clan del Golfo’s top leader, alias Otoniel, to catch him by surprise. “He came out with his security detail, and when they saw the troops, gunshots were exchanged [with service members],” Capt. Martínez said. The suspects were injured. Alias Bruno escaped by horse and hid in a house. Troops intercepted him with a helicopter and an assault team and took him to a hospital. The three injured men were stabilized at Caucasia Hospital in Antioquia, where they were brought to the 151st Prosecutor’s Office against Organized Crime of Barranquilla. Alias Bruno’s criminal record goes back more than 15 years. He was also the head of the Erlin Pino Duarte group. Alias Bruno oversaw narcotrafficking, extortion, illegal mining, selective murder, and armed operations against public forces. In 2017, he led a violent uprising in which two National Police patrols and a speedboat were set on fire in the municipality of San Martín de Loba, Bolívar. According to the Navy, several members of the police were hurt. Alias Buda The Colombian Army’s Fourth Mechanized Infantry Battalion, in coordination with the Navy and the National Police GAULA, conducted several simultaneous operations, resulting in the capture of alias Buda and 13 other members of Clan del Golfo. Service members captured the suspects in the departments of Antioquia, Bolívar, Magdalena, and Sucre. “Alias Buda, or Escalante, was a leader who extorted shopkeepers,” Col. Olaya said. “With this arrest, Clan del Golfo, which operated in the area, lost $1.6 million a month.” Detainees are charged with criminal conspiracy and aggravated extortion. They concentrated operations in the municipalities of Magangué, El Carmen de Bolívar, San Jacinto del Cauca, Santa Rosa del Sur, and Montecristo, in the Bolívar department, the Navy said. “In the month [of August 2018], the goal is to dismantle Clan del Golfo completely in the south of Bolívar,” Capt. Martínez said. “There’s only 20 percent of the group left.” “Clan del Golfo and its structures are on their way out; we’re closing in on them,” Col. Olaya said. “In short, all there’s left for them to do is surrender to justice.”last_img read more

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China Targets Christian Weddings and Funerals

first_imgBy Share America October 29, 2019 In early 2019, Chinese authorities have broken up Christian funerals and weddings in Henan province, says Bitter Winter, an online magazine that documents human rights abuses in China. Worshipers are threatened with jail and investigation. Some are arrested.The U.S. Department of State has designated China as a “Country of Particular Concern” since 1999 for severe violations of religious freedom.According to the 2018 International Religious Freedom Report from the U.S. Department of State, the Chinese government requires Christian churches to install surveillance cameras, so that the police can monitor activities daily, and compels Christians to sign documents renouncing their Christian faith. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described China’s actions as “heinous.”Restrictions on religion growing worseChina also wants informers. The South China Morning Post reported in March 2019 that Guangzhou city officials have began offering $1,500 cash rewards for information on religious gatherings.China is among the top 10 countries with the most restrictive laws and policies toward religious freedom, a 2019 Pew Research Center report finds. In the Communist Party of China’s ongoing campaign to Sinicize religion (make it more Han Chinese), Christians, Uighur and Hui Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, and Falun Gong are particular targets of harassment.“Religious persecution is a defining challenge of the 21st century, and the United States will proudly lead the charge to protect religious freedom wherever it is under attack,” U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback said in written testimony in June.last_img read more

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USAID to Allocate $1.17 Million to Support Venezuelans

first_imgBy Voice of America (VOA)/Edited by the Diálogo Staff October 13, 2020 On August 27, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced that it will grant $1.17 million to five institutions that will directly benefit Venezuelans in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela.The money is part of a partnership between USAID and the Inter-American Development Bank that seeks to identify, finance, and provide innovative solutions to Venezuelans and the communities that receive them throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.The association intends to improve access to food, education, and employment opportunities, in addition to “promoting entrepreneurship, social cohesion, and the economic empowerment of women.”According to a U.S. Department of State press release, the money will go to different institutions that work for the welfare of Venezuelans.In Colombia, the recipient institution will be the International Rescue Committee, which will help reach educational goals in 16 major schools located in the border city of Cúcuta, and it will address issues such as youth violence and xenophobia against migrants.Meanwhile, the designated institution in Brazil and Ecuador is Caritas Brazil, which will launch an online portal in Portuguese and Spanish to provide thousands of Venezuelans with access to a reliable network of legal, logistical, and humanitarian services.In Brazil, the Terroá Institute will also expand its nationally recognized program, and work with young Venezuelans and Brazilians to strengthen social cohesion, employability, and integration in Brasilia, Manaus, and Sao Paulo, through an entrepreneurship skills acquisition program.In Venezuela, two local organizations will work with these funds. One will work with communities to develop innovative sustainable agricultural techniques that will improve food security, as well as stimulate women’s leadership skills and strengthen communities’ self-sufficiency.The other will support entrepreneurship initiatives in the food sector by implementing an entrepreneurial skills program for women.last_img read more

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US Expands Support for Honduras and Guatemala Following Eta Devastation

first_imgBy Kay Valle/Diálogo November 12, 2020 U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Task Force Bravo (JTF-Bravo) continues to support rescue and humanitarian relief efforts of the governments of Honduras and Guatemala in the Wake of Hurricane Eta devastation.Among its latest missions in Honduras, on November 10, JTF-Bravo troops joined the Honduran Armed Forces, the Red Cross Honduras, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of Humanitarian Assistance in transporting more than 1,800 kilograms of humanitarian supplies aboard a CH-47 Chinook helicopter to the department of Gracias a Dios. Two days prior, JTF-Bravo units delivered more than 1,200 kg of supplies to communities in five áreas of Choloma, Cortés department, which were isolated for 96 hours following the hurricane.Members of JTF-Bravo partner with the Honduran Armed Forces, the Red Cross Honduras, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of Humanitarian Assistance to load more than 1,800 kg of humanitarian supplies aboard a U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook in the Toncontín International Airport, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on November 10, 2020, to take them to Puerto Lempira, Gracias a Dios. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Captain Rachel Salpietra)In addition, the U.S. Embassy in Honduras donated a cold storage room to the Regional Office of Forensic Medicine in San Pedro Sula, Cortés, to support the work of doctors and other specialists who identify the bodies of victims.The Permanent Contigency Commission of Honduras (COPECO) also announced that it would begin coordinating efforts with JTF-Bravo to continue saving lives in the Sula Valley, a region in the north of the country that was submerged in waters. In addition, COPECO units will join members of the U.S. force to assess the damages and provide humanitarian assistance in Gracias a Dios.According to November 10 data from COPECO, more than 16,000 people have been rescued throughout the country and more than 20 died to the effects of the hurricane.“When our family is in need, we have the obligation to help,” said U.S. Army Colonel John D. Litchfield, commander of JTF-Bravo, noting the long partnership between Honduras and JTF-Bravo, which headquarters are in Comaguaya. “We look forward to continuing the rescue and humanitarian aid efforts,” he added during his visit to the Regional Emergency Operation Center in San Pedro Sula, Cortés, from where rescue efforts for this area will be coordinated.Support to GuatemalaIn Guatemala, the work of the JTF-Bravo team has been concentrated in the departments of Alta Verapaz, Quiché, and Zacapa, providing strategic transportation, transfer of rescue teams, transportation of emergency supplies, and support in rescue missions. For example, on November 10, JTF-Bravo joined the Guatemalan Army to transport 4535 kg of supplies in a CH-47 Chinook helicopter to the town of Cobán, Alta Verapaz.“The invaluable support provided by JTF-Bravo’s aircraft in Guatemala […] has made it possible to transport 86,424 pounds [39,201 kg] of food to Alta Verapaz in three days, from where it will be distributed through civil and military aircraft […] to the affected communities that are cut off by the flooding of rivers and damage to the country’s road infrastructure,” Army Colonel Rubén Antonio Tellez, Press director of the Guatemalan Defense Ministry told Diálogo. “On the other hand, they have also provided evacuation for 30 people in Alta Verapaz and Huehuetenango.”Col. Tellez explained that the rescue work in Alta Verapaz is particularly difficult. “It is an area prone to landslides and rescue work is difficult for rescues and canine teams because they sink up to their waists in the terrain.”According to November 11 CONRED data, the hurricane affected more than 639,000 people in Guatemala and 46 died.last_img read more

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Bar’s MDP panel gets down to business

first_img May 1, 2001 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular News Bar’s MDP panel gets down to business Senior Editor Improving education about what constitutes the unlicensed practice of law, investigating CPA-approved “cognitors,” finding out whether attorneys and social workers are wrongfully sharing fees, and other issues are getting the attention of the Bar’s Special Commission on Multidisciplinary Practice and Ancillary Business. The commission met recently and discussed plans for a CLE course to help lawyers who want to set up ancillary businesses and ways to educate Bar members about both MDP and ancillary business issues. The committee will also continue to gather input from Bar members. Commission Co-chair John Hume told the Bar Board of Governors March 30 that the commission is working actively on several matters. The commission has contacted a wide variety of voluntary bars, Hume said, to get their views about ancillary businesses and multidisciplinary practices. The “overwhelming response,” he said, despite years of debate and study by the Bar is many lawyers are still unfamiliar with the issues surrounding those topics. The commission is working to get speakers who can go to those bars and explain the issues, he said. (An ancillary business is when a lawyer or law firm wants to branch out into a nonlegal business, which may be related to the law firm’s services, such as financial or investigative services. The Bar has proposed a rule, suggested by a prior MDP committee and which is pending at the Supreme Court, to address ancillary businesses since there was no single place in the Bar rules to guide lawyers on this issue. Lawyers, under the proposed rule, would be bound by their ethical duties as a lawyer to ancillary business customers unless they disclose to the customer, preferably in writing, that no legal services are being provided and there is no attorney-client relationship. A multidisciplinary practice is when the lawyer works for a business that is wholly or partially controlled by nonlawyers and provides legal services for clients of that business. The Board of Governors has opposed that as contrary to the core values of the profession of independent judgment and loyalty to the client.) As part of the education effort, one subcommittee has been studying what constitutes the practice of law and through UPL Director Lori Holcomb prepared a summary of UPL case law. Hume said that document is intended to help lawyers and nonlawyers understand what constitutes UPL and improve reporting of possible violations. A copy is reproduced here for Bar members’ information. The commission is looking into two topics related to MDPs, Hume said. One is the possible illegal combination of lawyers and social workers in adoption cases where legal fees perhaps are being split with nonlawyers. Tampa area attorney Jeanne Tate, who has talked to commission members, relayed a case she saw in which a social worker did all the adoption work, and then an attorney submitted the bill and split the fee with her. Work done by the social worker included interviewing the adoptive and birth parents, taking the legal papers to the birth parents to relinquish their rights, and other similar tasks. “It seemed like the attorney was using the social worker to do everything in connection with the adoption, charging a rather large legal fee and then giving a cut [of the fee] back to the social worker,” she said. The second issue is a new trend by CPAs and accounting firms to use “cognitors.” “He subcontracts out the legal work and other work [to a client]. He’s sort of a fixer,” Hume said. “This seems to get in the area of multidisciplinary practice. They say you don’t have to be a CPA to be one, but you have to be recommended by two of them to be considered a cognitor. This is part of their vision to control the practice.” He said the commission is gathering more information about cognitors. On ancillary businesses, Hume said the commission is working on two different ways to help Bar members. One is a model client disclosure form to use with the pending ancillary rule, he said. The second is a CLE program to be run by the Young Lawyers Division during the Bar’s January Midyear Meeting. The tentative plan is for that course to be low cost and also include ethics and professionalism credits, Hume said. The commission is continuing to seek input, questions, and areas in which it might investigate from Bar members. Interested lawyers should contact Bar Ethics Counsel Elizabeth Tarbert at (850) 561-5780, e-mail at eto@flabar.org, or by writing her at The Florida Bar, 651 E. Jefferson Street, Tallahassee 32399-2300. Bar’s MDP panel gets down to businesslast_img read more

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Legislature eyeing court’s request for more judges

first_imgLegislature eyeing court’s request for more judges March 15, 2002 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular News Legislature eyeing court’s request for more judges Senior EditorFlorida’s budget crunch will be hitting the courts hard, as it appears likely only a small percentage of new judges sought by the Supreme Court will be approved by legislators. But plans to offer student loan repayment incentives to prosecutors and public defenders are moving ahead.The Senate Judiciary Committee on February 26 took up SB 1654, which originally contained the 49 new judges certified as needed by the Supreme Court earlier this year to keep up with rising caseloads and population growth.With little discussion, the bill was amended to include only 10 new judges — seven circuit and three county — for the 2002-03 fiscal year. A similar House measure, HB 1927, funds only two new district court of appeal judges, one each in the Second and Fourth DCAs.The court had asked for 34 new circuit judgeships, 13 new county judge posts, plus the two DCA judgeships in the House bill.Committee Chair Sen. Locke Burt, R-Ormond Beach, said the 10 positions are what were included in the preliminary Senate budget.“These are the 10 places where the court said there is the greatest need,” he added.The bill provides for one new county judge each in Duval, Palm Beach, and Broward counties, and one new circuit judge each in Fifth, Eighth, Ninth, 10th, 11th, 13th, and 20th circuits.The bill next goes to the Appropriations Committee. The action appears to continue the Supreme Court’s recent difficulty in getting new judgeships. In 2000, the court asked for 43 new positions, but due to a legislative oversight, none were approved. Last year, the court asked for 44 new judgeships, but only 26 were authorized.The committee also unanimously passed SB 1138, which sets up a state fund to repay the student loans for assistant state attorneys and assistant public defenders.Sponsor Sen. Skip Campbell, D-Tamarac, said the typical starting salary for those attorneys is $35,000 — far less that many private sector jobs — and they can have student loan debts of up to $120,000. That has, he added, contributed to a 25-percent turnover rate for public defender and state attorney offices.The bill authorizes the state to repay $3,000 a year of student loans after an assistant public defender or assistant state attorney has been employed in an office for three years. It hikes that to $5,000 after six years and terminates after 12 years, or a maximum repayment of $44,000.At Burt’s suggestion, Campbell agreed to an amendment that would add lawyers working for the three capital collateral regional counsels to the bills. The committee discussed but decided against making another change that would allow lawyers to count cumulative service between various public defender and state attorney offices toward getting the loan repayments. Sen. Jim Sebesta, R-St. Petersburg, said that could defeat the goal of getting stable employment within each office.Similar legislation, HB 307, has cleared two committees in the House and is pending before the Criminal Justice Appropriations Subcommittee.last_img read more

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RPPTL Section honors Diamond

first_imgRPPTL Section honors Diamond Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section members were told last session not to expect anything from the Florida Legislature, because the focus would be on redistricting and the budget.But largely thanks to the tireless efforts of RPPTL Legislative Chair Sandra Diamond, the section got all of its legislation passed and signed by the governor.In recognition of her efforts, and the efforts of her law firm, Williamson Diamond & Caton of Seminole, the RPPTL Section presented Diamond with the Annual Service Award at the Legislative Update and Executive Council Meeting in Boca Raton on July 26.“Selecting the recipient of the section’s Annual Service Award is usually a very difficult thing to do. We are fortunate to have a large number of people doing very important work for the section and the Bar, all of whom are deserving of the award,” said past RPPTL Chair J. Michael Swaine.“However, for the year 2001-02, one person rose head and shoulders above the rest.. . . There are a number of people who deserve special thanks for that effort, but foremost is the recipient of our Annual Service Award, our Legislative Chair Sandy Diamond. Sandy worked tirelessly for the section. Some people say that she actually spent more time in Tallahassee than some of the legislators. We all thank her, and it is my pleasure to present this well-deserved award to her.” RPPTL Section honors Diamondcenter_img September 15, 2002 Regular Newslast_img read more

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