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2013 Annual Report

The section started its year by hosting a welcome reception at the Florida Conference of District Court of Appeal Judges Annual Education Program and held its first meeting immediately following the conference. This was the third time section members were offered the opportunity to attend the conference and interact with appellate judges from across the state while obtaining legal education credits. Participating in the conference was a terrific experience for practitioners, and the section has already committed to participating in the conference again next year.

The CLE committee, chaired by Jessie Harrell, organized and presented (or have upcoming) the following seminars: Practicing Before the Fifth District Court of Appeals, the Advanced Appellate Practice and Certification Review Course, which, for the first time was presented by webcast, the Eleventh Circuit Appellate Practice Institute Seminar, and Hot Topics in Appellate Practice. The section continued its monthly Telephonic Continuing Legal Education program, chaired by Duane Daiker. The telephonic seminars provided low cost and convenient legal education credit and encouraged informal dialogue regarding a broad range of topics.

The publications committee, chaired by Kristin Norse, with assistance from Florida Bar Journal Articles Editor Brandon Christian, "The Guide" Editor Rebecca Creed, and "The Record" Co-editors Anne Sullivan and Amy Miles, maintained a steady flow of appellate-related articles in The Florida Bar Journal and will publish at least two issues of "The Record" by the end of the year.

This year marked the 20th anniversary of the Appellate Practice Section, so the section decided to celebrate this milestone by planning a year-end dinner, organized by the section's anniversary committee and its principal committee chair, Dorothy Easley. The dinner, which will be held on June 27 at Ruth's Chris Steak House in Boca Raton, will immediately precede the section's annual dessert reception. The dessert reception is one of the section's signature events, and will be organized by the programs committee and its chair, June Hoffman.

The section also made efforts to reinvigorate the outreach committee. Committee Co-chairs Siobhan Helene Shea and Robin Bresky were tasked with revising the Outreach Program and preparing a mission statement. The outreach committee will advance the long-term goals of the section by improving the visibility of the Appellate Practice Section and its members and expanding the diversity of the leadership base within the section.

The section's pro bono committee, chaired by Sarah Lahlou-Amine, continued to handle appeals referred from legal aid organizations and the appellate courts, as well as direct requests from indigent pro se litigants. In late 2011, the committee developed a system for tracking appeals its members have handled. Since that time, the committee has tracked 18 appeals that the committee has handled on behalf of indigent litigants. Committee members have also increasingly been working with legal aid organizations to provide mentoring and guidance through the appellate process and explore a screening process to identify additional pro se litigants who need assistance.

The Public Advocacy and Legislation Committee, chaired by Nicholas Shannin, monitors issues that arise in Florida's legislature and executive branch, and within The Florida Bar, pertaining to the appellate judiciary and appellate practice. During the past year, the committee worked with The Florida Bar to assist in two major outreach efforts. First, the public information campaign known as "The Vote's In Your Court" promoted awareness regarding merit retention. Second, after The Florida Bar took an official position encouraging voters to reject proposed "Amendment 5" to the Florida Constitution, the Appellate Practice Section voted to take an identical position based upon the threat the amendment presented to an independent judiciary. Voters rejected the amendment during the general election of November 6, 2012.

Finally, Jonathan Streisfeld, the website committee chair, worked tirelessly to ensure that section blasts were disseminated rapidly and seamlessly.

A special thanks to the section's judicial liaisons: Florida Supreme Court Justice Peggy Quince, First District Court of Appeal Judge Stephanie Ray, Second District Court of Appeal Judge Morris Silberman, Third District Court of Appeal Judge Richard Suarez, Fourth District Court of Appeal Judge Spencer Levine, Fifth District Court of Appeal Judge Charles Lawson, and 11th Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Rosemary Barkett. Also, thank you to the section's Board of Governors representative, Juliet Roulhac, and the officers: Chair-elect Caryn Bellus, Vice chair Ceci Berman, Secretary-treasurer Chris Carlyle, and Immediate Past Chair Matthew Conigliaro. Additionally, the section would be unable to function without the daily assistance from its Florida Bar liaison and program administrator, Mary Ann Obos.

The section thanks each of the committee chairs and editors who devote time and energy to perpetuating the section's role and function: Anniversary Committee Co-chairs Dorothy Easley and Celene Humphries; CLE committee Chair Jessie Harrell; Outreach Committee Co-chairs Siobhan Shea and Robyn Bresky; Public Advocacy and Legislation Committee Chair Nicholas Shannin; Pro Bono Committee Chair Sarah Lahlou-Amine; Self-Represented Litigant (Pro Se Handbook Committee) Chair Kimberly Jones; Programs Committee Chair June Hoffman; Publications Committee Chair Kristin Norse; and Website Committee Chair Jonathan Streisfeld.

— Jack Reiter, Chair, 2012-2013