Thursday, December 14, 2017
News Roundup

Tampa man still waiting to learn if he can practice law

TALLAHASSEE — A Tampa man who wants to practice law in Florida despite a lack of American citizenship received another setback Thursday when the Florida Supreme Court denied his Bar petition on narrow technical grounds.

In a brief two-sentence order, the court denied Jose Godinez-Samperio's motion for admission to the Florida Bar, and noted that the Board of Bar Examiners has asked the court to issue an advisory opinion on the matter.

"The separate issue of the individual movant's admission is not before the court," the order said.

Godinez-Samperio's attorney, Talbot "Sandy" D'Alemberte, said he was disappointed by the court's decision.

"Jose would like to get on with his life," D'Alemberte said. "He's a kid who's so deserving and he's done everything he's supposed to do, and we're still sitting around waiting for a decision."

Godinez-Samperio said he hoped the ruling was a "sign that they're looking at the file very closely."

Godinez-Samperio came to America from Mexico at age 9 with his parents on a visitors' visa and they remained in the country when the visa expired.

Godinez-Samperio, 26, petitioned the court Oct. 2. Since then, he has obtained a Florida driver's license, a federal work permit and a Social Security card. He also accompanied U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, to watch President Barack Obama deliver his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in January.

At issue is whether a law license is considered a "public benefit." Under a 1996 federal immigration law, noncitizens are not entitled to public benefits.

Godinez-Samperio received some positive news last month when the state Board of Bar Examiners decided that he passed the character and fitness tests needed for Bar eligibility. "Nothing presently contained in the investigation file will, in and of itself, be considered disqualifying," the board said in a notice to the court. Applicants must submit proof of good moral character.

Godinez-Samperio, who works at Gulf Coast Legal Services in Clearwater, is a graduate of the Florida State University law school, where D'Alemberte, a former dean of the FSU law school and former American Bar Association president, was an instructor. Godinez-Samperio is an Eagle Scout and was valedictorian of his senior class at Armwood High School in Tampa.

"It's frustrating," D'Alemberte said. "There's no rule that says undocumented immigrants can't get admitted into the Bar — and by the way, he's not undocumented. He's got documents."

Comments

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, please go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Wed., Dec. 13, midday:53 738 7036e_SRit10321Wed., Dec. 13, evening:57 775 2681e_SRit55890LottoWed., Dec....
Updated: 4 hours ago

Winter meetings journal: Rays trade for money to sign top international free agent

LAKE BUENA VISTA — While most of the business conducted at the meetings impacts the big-league team one way or another, the Rays are working to finalize a move they hope pays off big sometime in the 2020s.In trading Wednesday to acquire $1 million in...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Market starting to set itself as Rays’ trade talks intensify

Market starting to set itself as Rays’ trade talks intensify

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Alex Colome claimed he was just showing good social media manners Tuesday night in following four Cardinals-related Instagram accounts since they were saying nice things about him.In doing so, whether for that reason or another mor...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Senate race motivated Alabama’s white, black evangelical voters in different ways

Senate race motivated Alabama’s white, black evangelical voters in different ways

Nationally, the word "evangelical" has become in recent years nearly synonymous with "conservative Republican" and Alabama is one of the most evangelical states in the country. But in Alabama, there is a difference: black Christians.While in many par...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Gators crash volleyball power party, play national semifinal Thursday

Gators crash volleyball power party, play national semifinal Thursday

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s difficult to call a volleyball program that has been to the Final Four eight times an underdog, especially the way Florida rallied to beat Southern California and punch its latest ticket. Yet of the four schools descending on ...
Updated: 5 hours ago

High school scoreboard for Dec. 13

Wednesday’s scoreboardGirls soccerCountryside 3, St. Petersburg 1Girls basketballPalm Harbor U. 42, Largo 25
Updated: 5 hours ago
Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith named to fill Franken seat

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith named to fill Franken seat

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Lt. Gov. Tina Smith on Wednesday to fill fellow Democrat Al Franken’s Senate seat until a special election in November, setting up his longtime and trusted adviser for a potentially bruising 2018...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Florida Toys for Tots charity raffles off AR-15 rifle. Gun debate ensues.

Florida Toys for Tots charity raffles off AR-15 rifle. Gun debate ensues.

SPRING HILL — Hernando County Commission Vice Chairman Steve Champion wanted to do something to help raise money for the annual Toys for Tots drive. So he donated the grand prize for the Nov. 18 raffle:It was an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle.That led to ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Thefts from cell towers interrupted service, deputies say

Thefts from cell towers interrupted service, deputies say

Lost cell signal recently? The culprit could be a 40-year-old Ruskin man who deputies said stole thousands of dollars worth of the equipment that powers cell towers. The theft interrupted cell tower signals on at least two occasions, deputies said, i...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Foot washes ashore in Canada, again; Abbas wants U.S. out as Mideast mediator; 12 sentenced to life for gang-raping kids; more in world news

Foot washes ashore in Canada, again; Abbas wants U.S. out as Mideast mediator; 12 sentenced to life for gang-raping kids; more in world news

CanadaJust another foot washing ashoreAnother human foot has been found on British Columbia’s coastline, the 13th such grim discovery since 2007. Police said a man was walking on the beach in Jordan River on Vancouver Island when his dog found the fo...
Updated: 6 hours ago