Resignation, demotions at trial lawyers' lobby
After 22 years, Scott Carruthers has resigned as executive director of the Florida Justice Association, the lobbying arm of the trial bar in Florida. "Scott has decided to leave the organization and pursue other opportunities," FJA spokeswoman Jacqui Sisto said in a statement.
Debra Henley, who has been the trial bar's deputy executive director and legislative director for 18 years, will replace Carruthers. Two others who played a role in the creation of a controversial flier were demoted: Paul Jess will remain general counsel but is no longer deputy executive director, and Albert Balido is no longer the group's political director but remains as a staff lobbyist for FJA.
The action comes in the wake of a highly controversial political flier that was financed with trial-bar money in a Jacksonville-area state Senate race that linked President Obama to the Black Panthers and intimidation of African-American voters. Carruthers strongly denounced the flier, but the damage was done and the backlash was fierce, from some leading trial lawyers and African-American legislators.