TALLAHASSEE — A Miami state representative was stripped of a powerful House leadership position Wednesday after he bucked House Speaker Larry Cretul over a bill to limit lawyer fees.
"The speaker felt we're not team players," said Republican Rep. Julio Robaina, who was removed from his post as chairman of the House Criminal and Civil Justice Policy Council. "I think a very bad message was sent today."
At issue: Attorney General Bill McCollum's effort to cap the fees of private attorneys hired to push state cases. The proposed fees vary depending on size of a settlement, ranging from 25 percent of the first $10 million to $50 million in cases where the award tops $930 million.
Robaina, however, said that it was "bad public policy to tie the hands of a future attorney general." So he had the bill amended to give an attorney general the ability to supersede the caps in certain cases. The Robaina-amended bill, backed by trial lawyers, passed his council overwhelmingly.
Cretul issued a brief statement on Robaina's dismissal that noted he needed someone better suited for the leadership position. Robaina had voted for an identical bill last year without incident, and Cretul expected Robaina to do the same this year as well.