FAF News

FAF November Roundup

FAF welcomes incoming President Marsh and more news from the First Amendment Foundation.

FAF Welcomes Incoming President Marsh

The First Amendment Foundation is pleased to announce that Pamela Marsh, the former United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, will become president of the organization on December 1. She will replace Barbara Petersen, who announced her retirement earlier this year.

As U.S. Attorney from 2010 to 2015, Marsh was the lead federal prosecutor in 23 counties, from Alachua to Escambia, and was the first woman appointed to the position. She earned a reputation for investigating and prosecuting cases related to banking, healthcare fraud, public corruption, cybersecurity, international and domestic terrorism, as well as human trafficking. She was selected as one of only 16 U.S. Attorneys to serve on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, while also serving on the Subcommittee on Counter-Terrorism and National Security, as well as the White Collar Criminal Subcommittee. She also established and led the Big Bend Coalition against Human Trafficking.

Marsh has more than 20 years of legal experience. She is currently a shareholder at Ausley McMullen and serves on the Board of the National Missing Children’s Day Foundation. A Tallahassee resident, she was named one of the Tallahassee Democrat’s “25 Women You Need to Know” in 2016. Marsh earned her J.D., cum laude, and B.S., magna cum laude, from Georgetown University. She is admitted to The Florida Bar, the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, and the U.S. District Courts for the Northern, Middle and Southern Districts of Florida.

On her new role, Marsh says, “I am honored and excited to join the First Amendment Foundation as its new President. Perhaps now more than ever, the mission of the Foundation is critical to Florida communities and to a thriving democracy. Barbara Petersen built her legacy fighting for open access to government meetings and public records, to ensure that the public stays well informed and able to participate in government and be heard. I am grateful to Barbara and the Board of FAF for offering me this opportunity to serve the people of Florida and the objectives of the First Amendment. I look forward to continuing the highly regarded work and reputation already established by the First Amendment Foundation.”

In announcing her successor, Petersen stated, “I am so pleased with the selection of Pamela Marsh as the new FAF president. She has a passion for open government and buckets of energy; she’s smart and curious and will take FAF into its next phase. Pamela Marsh is the perfect choice and I’m immeasurably pleased to know I’ll have the chance to work with her through the transition.”

Jim Baltzelle, FAF’s Chairman of the Board and the Director, Local Media, Southeast, for the Associated Press, said of the announcement, “Pamela Marsh has tremendous vision for the Foundation’s future. Her distinguished legal experience, and the relationships she’s built across the state, will enable her to get off to a fast start. She is stepping into a great situation, too, thanks to the tenacity and hard work of Barbara Petersen. As Floridians, we have been blessed to have Barbara at FAF’s helm for so long.”

Marsh and Petersen will work together during the transition in December, and Petersen will advise the Foundation into 2020.


The First Amendment Foundation proudly announces the beginning of the Honorable Sandy D’Alemberte First Amendment Foundation Student Membership

This year, the state of Florida, the FSU community, the Law School and the First Amendment Foundation lost a great friend and ally in the passing of Sandy D’Alemberte. He was a senator. He became dean of FSU Law School and president of the university.

He was not just a hero to Floridians but had a national reputation as one of the best First Amendment attorneys in the country and was single-handedly responsible for opening the way for cameras in the courtroom.We are honored to have the blessing of Patsy Palmer, Sandy’s wife and law partner, in honoring Sandy’s legacy with the announcement of this free student membership. Sandy & Patsy have been long time, major supporters of the Foundation.

The Foundation will donate memberships to all college students to encourage future stewardship and open government education.We look forward to welcoming many student members in the coming years.

Please email: katie@floridafaf.org with your full name, email address, mailing address, name of the school you presently attend, college major, and expected graduation date. You will receive an email confirmation with your membership details after verification of student status.

Congrats to our Inaugural Sandy D’Alemberte FAF Student Members!
Samantha Chery, University of Florida, Class of ‘22
Cheyce Batchelor, FSU Law, Class of ‘20
Sabrina Conza, University of Florida, Class of ‘20
Angela DiMichele, University of Florida, Class of ‘20
David Melito, FSU Law, Class of ‘22


ICYMI: The Florida Bar Presents First Amendment Foundation President Barbara Petersen with Susan Spencer-Wendel Award for Lifetime Achievement

First Amendment Foundation President Barbara Petersen received the Susan Spencer-Wendel Award for Lifetime Achievement Monday evening for her contributions in support of a free press and Floridians’ right of access to government information.

Spencer-Wendel was a longtime Palm Beach Post courts reporter who died in 2014 from ALS. She received a lifetime achievement award from The Florida Bar in 2012 and numerous media awards throughout her career.

Petersen accepted the award at the Reporters’ Workshop dinner in Tallahassee Monday, October 28.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be recognized by those I admire most – journalists and the attorneys who represent and protect them,” said Petersen. “The First Amendment is under assault unlike anything I’ve seen in my lifetime. It’s critical to our democracy, to our fundamental desire for a free and fair society, that we support and protect a free and independent press, that we demand access to information that allows us to oversee our government and hold it accountable for its actions. “

The Susan Spencer-Wendel Award for Lifetime Achievement recognizes a Florida journalist or a supporter of Florida journalism who helped to educate Floridians on the system of law and justice in the state.The inaugural award was presented in 2015 to longtime St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times) columnist Martin Dyckman. In 2016, the award was presented posthumously to veteran journalist Julie Kay, who covered the courts and law in Florida for nearly 30 years including at the Daily Business Review.

The award was presented to Petersen on Monday by Dwayne Robinson, chair of The Florida Bar’s Media & Communications Law Committee, which created the award and selects the winners. The committee also oversees the Reporters’ Workshop, a two-day event held annually in the fall for 24 print, TV, radio and online journalists new to the courts and legal beats or new to Florida. Workshop sessions are held at the Florida Supreme Court.


2019 Sunshine Seminars – Reserve a Seat TODAY!

This week kicks off President Barbara Petersen’s last Seminar Series as our President. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to learn from Florida’s Sunshine Law expert and receive your Continuing Education Credits.

View upcoming dates and locations

*Private seminars also available by contacting Erika Benton at: erika@floridafaf.org


FAF Top Posts – October

#1 Pasco School Board attorney tells members to share emails to avoid Sunshine violation accusations
Tampa Bay Times by Jeffrey S. Solochek
October 2, 2019

#2 Newspapers protect your First Amendment rights
The Daily Record by Valdosta Daily Times
October 10, 2019

#3 Supreme Court allows blind people to sue retailers if their websites are not accessible
Los Angeles Times by David G. Savage
October 7, 2019