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Archived News Stories From July-December 2005

December 9, 2005 Judges Attend Long-Awaited United Judicial Conference
November 28 Chief Justice Promotes Court Tour Program
November 2 Recent Court Events Pictorial
October 21 Chief Justice Embraces Conflict Resolution
October 10 Memorial Service Held for Former Chief Justice Ehrlich
September 22 Recent Court Events Pictorial
September 13 Florida Supreme Court Will Honor Constitution Day on September 13
September 2 Chief Justice Implements Branch-Wide Energy Conservation Measures
August 26 Budget Commission Meetings Take Center Stage
August 10 1850 "Horse in Ditch" Opinion Highlights Exhibit
July 29 Case Managers Consider Dependency Issues
July 14 Court Mentors Make a Difference!
July 8 Committee on Privacy and Court Records Extended
July 7 Hurricane Dennis Has Court on Alert

Posted December 9, 2005

Douglas Kmiec speaks while Erwin Chemerinsky prepares rebuttalJudges Attend Long-Awaited United
Judicial Conference

Chief Justice Barbara Pariente welcomed both appellate and circuit court judges to a long-awaited United Judicial Conference in Marco Island on December 4-7. Over 500 attendees heard the Chief Justice during the opening plenary session. The Chief Justice said, “I am so pleased to see so many district and circuit court judges sitting together collegially here this morning. With the uniform funding provided by Revision 7, we have seen equalized funding across county lines, allowing us all to work toward common goals.”

Judges Stan Blake (Florida Conference of Circuit Judges, Chair) and Thomas Sawaya (Florida Conference of District Court of Appeal Judges, President), gave additional opening remarks. Judge Gill Freeman, 11th Circuit Court, served as the Florida Conference of Circuit Judges Educational Section Chair.

Chief Justice Barbara J. Pariente
Terry Terrell receives award Martha Warner receives award
After the Chief Justice presented her remarks, the audience was treated to an outstanding legal debate, titled “A Colloquium on Separation of Powers and Judicial Independence.” Law Professors Erwin Chemerinsky, Duke Law School, and Douglas Kmiec, Pepperdine University School of Law were the nationally-recognized and distinguished debaters. Their morning-long presentation and question-and-answer session provided attendees with a mental adrenaline that lasted throughout the duration of the conference.

A variety of in-depth topics highlighted the remainder of the conference. In a series of unified family court tracks, domestic relations presentations, jurisdictional, dependency and guardian ad litem concerns were discussed. Also, an appellate clerks’ and marshals’ series of presentations dealt with financial, security and technology issues.

The importance of the conference was summarized in the Chief Justice’s “State of the Florida Judiciary Address,” when she Judge Stan Blakechallenged judicial officials to strive for excellence. “We’ve made a choice to be public servants, and we have come together here in a spirit of unity to be the best we can be. I think this distinguished group of judges and court officials leads the country in judicial excellence.”

During the Chief Justice’s address, she gave out two Judicial Awards of Excellence. This award goes to judges who have given exemplary service in their circuits and districts. Judge Terry Terrell, 1st Circuit Court in Pensacola and Judge Martha Warner, 4th DCA in West Palm Beach, received the two awards.

Posted November 28, 2005

Chief Justice Promotes Court
Tour Program
The Chief Justice talks with Linda Wells, Gail Grimes and Barbara Jorgenson

Chief Justice Barbara Pariente recognized current and prospective volunteers at a Supreme Court breakfast, November 8. The kickoff breakfast was used to promote the upcoming Supreme Court Tour Program, which helps to acquaint students and visitors with the Court. In basic form, the tours help explain the importance of the Supreme Court in the balance of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of government stipulated by the Florida Constitution.

The Chief Justice said, “The role of our volunteers is so important in providing visitors with a correct understanding of the Court. Our function here isn’t at all about the Judge Judy situations that many see on television. I am so grateful to our volunteer tour leaders for correctly interpreting the role the Supreme Court plays in Florida government.”

Barbara Jorgenson discusses tour processCourt Operations Consultant and volunteer tour leader, Christopher Hill said, “The tours connect visitors to the mission and vision of the Court—visitors have a personal opportunity to learn how the Supreme Court works to protect rights, uphold law and resolve disputes.”

Volunteers are responsible for conducting two types of tours: The Mock Oral Argument Experience and the Historical Tour Expericence.  Mock oral arguments provide groups an opportunity to role play an oral argument using a hypothetical case.  The historical tour brings the history of the Court alive as visitors learn fascinating facts about the court system, the supreme court building and the personalities that have given life to the Court over the years.  The second is a more generalized historical tour experience. Volunteer tour leaders come from the Court staff and from the community at large.

For those interested in considering giving tours, please contact Tricia Knox by e-mail or call her at (850) 921-9446.

Posted November 2, 2005

Gerald Bettman speaks about his father, former Chief Justice Ehrlich
At the October 10 memorial service for former Chief Justice Raymond Ehrlich, the justice's son, Gerald Bettman, provided animated insight into the life of Justice Ehrlich

Recent Court Events Pictorial

A number of important events have taken place at the Supreme Court over the past weeks and months. Here are a few photos from some of the activities that have occured during October and November.

David Pepper, Chief of Personnel Services, was one of many Court employees who participated in the annual Benefits Fair, October, 17 (below)

Chief Pariente recognizes staff members from the office of Court Improvement
Chief Justice Barbara Pariente recognizes staff contributions during Office of Court Improve-ment event, October 24

Personnel Director David Pepper

Photo of the justices with interns
Florida Supreme Court Justices pose with student interns who are working for the justices over the fall semester. Interns also work with the justices in the spring and summer semesters.

Photo of Sharon Press
Sharon Press, Chief of Dispute Resolution Center at the Florida Supreme Court, was master of ceremonies for Mediation Day activities at FSU on October 20

Posted October 21, 2005

Chief Pariente speaks with Mary JerniganChief Justice Embraces Conflict Resolution

Mediation Day took place on the Florida State University campus on Thursday, October 20. It was held in conjunction with
Conflict Resolution Day
, which was being celebrated nationally. On a statewide scale, the event was part of Mediation Week that Governor Jeb Bush declared in Florida for October 16-23.

The day-long FSU event was co-chaired by Mary Jernigan, Associate Director, Employee Assistance Program at FSU, and Lennie Helfand, with FSU’s General Counsel Office. Sharon Press, Chief of Dispute Resolution Center at the Florida Supreme Court, was the master of ceremonies for the day’s activities. She greeted an audience that filled the Student Services Building conference hall. Approximately 125 Chief Justice Pariente welcomes students and guestsstudents were in attendance, representing eight Tallahassee-area schools.

Chief Justice Barbara Pariente was the guest speaker who welcomed students and guests. Chief Pariente told students that resolving disputes peacefully is very important in our society. Chief Pariente said, “Resolving disputes through mediation eases the burden of our court system. In most situations, when two parties are empowered to resolve a conflict on their own, the decision they arrive at is far more satisfactory and long-lasting than it would be if a court or judge ordered some action.” The Chief went on to say that by understanding mediation skills, students would be better able to serve as peer mediators to help peacefully resolve problems in their own schools.

Earlier in the week, the Chief Justice issued a Conflict Resolution Proclamation.

Posted October 10, 2005

Memorial Service Held for Former Chief Justice Ehrlich

Portrait painting of former Chief Justice EhrlichJustices, colleagues, family and friends gathered at the Florida Supreme Court on Monday, October 10, to honor former Florida Chief Justice Raymond Ehrlich in a memorial service for the justice. Justice Ehrlich died in July, 2005 at the age of 87. A video and transcript of the service are online at Justice Ehrlich Memorial Service.

Justice Ehrlich was born in Swainsboro, Georgia in 1918, and he practiced law in Jacksonville from 1946 until his appointment to the state’s high court in 1981 by Governor Bob Graham. He served as Chief Justice from 1988-90. Justice Ehrlich is remembered for his precise and insightful opinion writing and for releasing and promoting a groundbreaking report of gender bias in the Florida legal system that led to significant reforms in the law and legal culture affecting women.

Among others, three former Chief Justices of the Florida Supreme Court were present to speak at the service: Major B. Harding, Ben F. Overton, and Rosemary Barkett. Each spoke affectionately about Justice Ehrlich’s professional and personal life and how knowing him was a privilege. Judge Rosemary Barkett, U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Photo of those in attendace Circuit said, “There are all these things I could say about Justice Ehrlich—what an incredible jurist he was, how he studied cases thoroughly, understood both sides, and neutrally applied the applicable laws to a case—and yet when asked this very question by a reporter, I said ‘he made me laugh.’ He had a great sense of humor. He was a gentleman and a gentle man, and I loved him.”

A reception in the Supreme Court Library followed the memorial service.

Posted September 22, 2005
domestic violence session
Statewide Domestic Violence Coordinators met at the
Supreme Court, September 8-9

Recent Court Events Pictorial

With July and August behind us and summer vacations over, the Fall Court schedule is getting into full gear. Here are just a few photos from some of the activities over the past several weeks.

Fred Lee sings "America the Beautiful" at the September 13, Constitution Day Supreme Court event (below)

staff recognition with chiefChief Justice Barbara Pariente recognizes staff contributions during Administrative Services event. Fred Lee sings America the Beautiful
Emergency Preparedness teamGreg Cowan, Craig Waters and Alan Neubauer made an an Emergency Preparedness presentation as faculty participants at the Court Technology Conference in Seattle, Washington, September 14

Lisa Goodner gives awardLisa Goodner, State Courts Administrator, presents "Employee of the Quarter" award to OSCA employee Kimberly Kosch (left)

DCA Committee membersChief Judge Robert J. Pleus, Jr. of the 5th DCA (left), and Judge Martha Warner, of the 4th DCA (right), participated in the District Court Budget Commission meeting held at the Supreme Court
in late August.

Posted September 13, 2005

Florida Supreme Court Will Honor Constitution Day on September 13

Photo of Chief Justice ParienteIn a ceremonial session starting at 9:45 a.m. Tuesday, the Florida Supreme Court will meet in its courtroom with schoolchildren as part of Constitution Day celebrations planned nationwide for the two-week Constitution Day Exhibit Photoperiod starting September 12.

Tuesday's session will culminate in a group reading of the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution, which was signed by the Founding Fathers nearly 218 years ago on September 17, 1787.  Constitution Day is celebrated every September 17, but events around the nation will occur the week before or the week after because that date is a Saturday.

The session will be followed by a reception in the rotunda that will include an opportunity for students and others to sign the U.S. Constitution.  Other educational sessions will follow around the Supreme Court Building.

A new federal law signed last December by President Bush requires many organizations receiving federal funds to honor Constitution Day in some way, including the public schools.  Supreme Court Chief Justice Barbara J. Pariente organized Tuesday's events so they can be filmed and rebroadcast in schools around the state on Friday, allowing schools to meet their new federal obligation with help from the State Courts System.

Partners in this project include The Florida Channel, WFSU-TV, and the Florida Law-Related Education Association.

The September 13 events are open to the public. Exhibits relating to Constitution Day will continue to be on display in the Rotunda through mid-October.

Posted September 2, 2005

Chief Justice Implements Branch-Wide Energy Conservation Measures

Chief Justice Barbara ParienteAs neighboring states along the Gulf coast make desperate attempts to recover from the recent Hurricane Katrina tragedy, Florida’s Chief Justice stepped forward to embrace the problem. On September 1, Chief Justice Barbara Pariente put into effect measures to conserve electricity and fuel on a branch-wide basis through September 16. The Chief Justice said, “Hurricane Katrina has placed an enormous strain on electrical providers and on gasoline supplies, particularly in the Southeast region of our nation and specifically in Florida. The Florida Judicial Branch is joining with Governor Bush and the Executive Branch to undertake conservation measures with the goal of reducing our use of electricity and fuel.”

Branch-wide conservation measures include conducting court committee meetings and hearings by conference call or videoconferencing whenever possible, as well as delaying or curtailing judicial officer and court staff travel. The Chief Justice adopted a nine-point list of efficiency measures for the Supreme Court Building, and requested trial and appellate courts across the state to implement similar measures.

As well, she provided suggestions on ways judges and court employees can conserve energy at home. The Chief Justice indicated that efforts as simple as turning off room lights or using stairs instead of elevators can make a difference.

Posted August 26, 2005

Budget Commission Meetings Take Center Stage

As a new fiscal year gains momentum, budget commission meetings are either over or yet to come. The Trial Court Photo of Judge Stan MorrisBudget Commission (TCBC) met August 24 at the Tampa Branch of the 2nd District Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court Budget Oversight Committee met August 25 at the Florida Supreme Court. This committee considers funding needs from managers throughout the Supreme Court. Finally, the District Court of Appeal Budget Commission (DCABC) plans to meet Wednesday, August 31. Representatives from each of the three bodies take recommendations to the Florida Supreme Court to determine the 2006-07 Legislative Budget Request.

Chief Judge KahnThe importance of the three budget groups can be exemplified by the TCBC. This committee played a key role in the July 1, 2004 implementation of Revision 7, Article V to the Florida Constitution. The Commission reviewed the needs of all Florida trial courts so that when the 2004 Florida Legislature appropriated funding for them under the Revision 7 mandate, the funding was equitable and fair. The TCBC helped make the shift from county-based funding (the old plan) to State funding (the new plan under Revision 7) about as seamless as possible. Judge Stan R. Morris (8th Judicial Circuit) is the Chair of TCBC.

At the upcoming District Court Budget Commission meeting, funding needs for the five appellate districts in the state will be considered. Chief Justice Pariente recently appointed Chief Judge Charles J. Kahn, Jr. (1st DCA) as its chair and Chief Judge W. Matthew Stevenson
(4th DCA) as vice chair.

Once the Legislative Budget Request is approved by the Supreme Court, it will be submitted to the Florida Legislature on October 15.

Posted August 10, 2005

Photo of the interior of the Supreme Court Rotunda1850 "Horse in Ditch" Opinion
Highlights Exhibit

"The Evolution of Justice in Florida” is the aptly chosen title for the exhibit in the Florida Supreme Court’s Rotunda Art Gallery. The gallery pulls together many of the most interesting archival paintings, drawings, photographs and documents that have been gathered throughout the history of the Court. Research for the gallery began during Justice Harry Lee Anstead’s term as Chief Justice, and current Chief Justice Barbara Pariente carried the idea forward. The gallery opened officially with the Passing of the Gavel ceremony held July 2, 2004.

The gallery consists of framed vignettes located in the upper level of the Court Rotunda, along with the Portrait Gallery (with biographies) of justices in the North Hallway, just off the Rotunda. The framed vignettes consist of text and reproductions of art, photographs and documents that reflect on significant happenings of the Florida Supreme Court. Presently there are 22 vignettes on exhibit, but another 18 pieces will be rotated into the exhibit over time. The Portrait Gallery consists of paintings of justices from 1845-1925.

Archival photo of the DitchJustice Raoul G. Cantero recently gave another dimension to the portrait gallery by suggesting that the careers of the earlier justices needed to be revived. Chief Justice Pariente said, “Justice Cantero suggested ‘giving life’ to the justices' portraits, and I was in complete agreement. His idea stimulated the wonderful vignette involving the City of Tallahassee v Fortune.” This case was presided over by Florida’s first Chief Justice, Thomas Douglas, in 1850. In an opinion written by Justice Joseph B. Lancaster, the Supreme Court upheld a lower circuit court decision ruling that the city of Tallahassee was negligent by not filling in a ditch, where a resident's horse fell and died. Gerri Allen and Andy Adel Photo

Gerrie Allen, Business Manager for the Supreme Court Library, oversees the production of the Court’s exhibits. Andrew Edel is the Court’s historian who researched the rich archival collection and wrote the exhibit script. The exhibit can be viewed by the public at the Florida Supreme Court in Tallahassee from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.

Posted July 29, 2005

Case Managers Consider Dependency Issues Lisa Goodner welcomes those at the meeting

Christopher Hill speaks to attendeesThe meeting room at the Dependency Case Manager Training on July 28 was filled with approximately 50 Court-related staff and case managers. Joanne Snair, Senior Court Analyst II, was leading the afternoon session titled Applying the Domestic Violence Case Management System to Dependency. She asked participants to indulge in a game of “Stand If.” She said, “Stand if you have ever managed a case that centered on domestic violence.” Over half in attendance stood. After her second question—“Stand if domestic violence was ever an issue in a case you’ve managed”—almost everyone in the room was standing. She followed by saying, “This is how pervasive this problem is in Florida.”

Snair’s presentation was one of many taking place in Tallahassee July 28-29 addressing issues relating to dependency. Office of Court Improvement staff, particularly Christopher Hill, Roderick Harris and Shalonda Johnson, were instrumental in organizing the program, along with assistance from other OSCA employees. Funding for the program was provided by the Federal Court Improvement Program whose primary focus is on improvingJoanne Snair makes presentation the courts’ handling of abuse cases throughout the country.

Lisa Goodner, State Courts Administrator, welcomed case managers during the first day of programming. She said, “I am very familiar with the difficult work you all perform, and I want to thank you for what you do and for attending today.” Goodner offered continued OSCA assistance to those in attendance.

In addition to Snair’s topic of domestic violence, others included: “Chapter 39 and Case Law Updates,” “Use of Mediation in Dependency Cases,” “The Drug Court Model in Dependency Court,” and “Judicial Case Management Information System.” Representatives from the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office and the Department of Children and Families also gave presentations.

Posted July 14, 2005

Court Mentors Make a Difference! Chief Justice Pariente and Justice Quince present award to Susan O'Halloran

Staff members at the Florida Supreme Court, as well as several Justices of the Court, gathered in Tallahassee for an ice cream social on Monday, June 27, to honor participants in the Court’s mentoring program. Chief Justice Barbara Pariente provided opening remarks by thanking participants and then presented certificates of appreciation.

The Chief said, “We’re here today to thank our mentors for their dedication and for making a difference in the lives of children.” A Margaret Mead quote printed on each certificate gave further significance to the award: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Tricia Knox, Supreme Court Library Technologist and a mentoring committee member, said that the mentoring program at the Court has been active for about the past ten years. Knox said, “Our two main partner schools in Tallahassee are Bond Elementary and Nims Middle School. In the past five years, we have become affiliated with the national HOSTS (Help One Student to Succeed) Learning Program, and, as a result, our efforts in these schools have been greatly intensified.” The Court also has staff, including Justices Pariente and Quince, participating in the local Take Stock in Children Program.

Mentors congregate for receptionThis year, HOSTS Learning presented the Florida Supreme Court with their Betty Scharff (co-developer of Hosts Learning) Memorial Award for nonprofit partners for the Court’s work with Bond Elementary. The Scharff award indicated that “The Florida Supreme Court has epitomized the meaning of mentoring and tutoring in every sense. Justices, clerks, librarians, and others from the Court have come . . . to help students succeed. . . .”

During the presentation of the awards at the ice cream social, award recipients had an opportunity to reflect on successes with their respective mentees. Donna Brewer, Court Grants Administrator said she has been working with her 17 year-old student for three years. Brewer said, “When I started working with her, she had a grade point average of 1.63—now it is 3.33. We all know how difficult the teenage years can be even if you are blessed with a great family, but my mentee has seen more in her life than any child should ever have to deal with. I think mentoring has helped her self-confidence by just knowing there is someone that cares and who is available to her when she needs to talk.

Susan O’Halloran, Career Staff Attorney and mentoring committee member said, “I started mentoring with the intention to help a student, but I can honestly say that I have gotten as much, or more, out of the process as my student has.”

To see an entire listing of Court employees who participate in the mentoring program, go to Thank You Mentors.

Posted July 8, 2005

Committee on Privacy and Court Records Extended

Jon Mills, Chair of the Florida Supreme Court Committee on Privacy and Court Records, has asked the Chief Justice to extend the term of the committee so that it can meet once more before completing its report.  The Chief Justice has agreed.  The committee is attempting to secure a meeting date in early August.

“While the committee has worked diligently towards obtaining agreement on complex and controversial issues,” Mills told the Chief Justice, “it is no surprise that members the committee have different positions on the various proposals.  In my judgment the Supreme Court would be best served by allowing the committee an additional opportunity to discuss these issues in person at an open meeting.”

Go to Privacy and Court Records site for more background information.

Posted July 7, 2005

Hurricane Dennis Has Court on Alert

As the hurricane season heats up, Hurricane Dennis has the attention of Florida Courts Emergency Preparedness Photo of Craig Watersofficials. Overnight, the storm strengthened into a hurricane, and the five-day projected path includes the panhandle region of Florida.

After last year’s succession of hurricanes throughout Florida, planning and preparation for emergency situations have become fine-tuned. Craig Waters, Director of Public Information at the Supreme Court said, “As happened last year, I will prominently post any and all emergency information on our web site.” The URL for this website is The Supreme Court site also posts a link to Court Closures, as information becomes available.

Waters, along with the branch alternate emergency coordinating officer Greg Cowan, make every Photo of Greg Cowaneffort to inform Court employees about storm activity. Cowan said, “As Dennis continues to make its way toward Florida, we strive to keep Court officials and staff throughout the state as informed and prepared as possible.”

Court employees should be aware of a number of web sites they can go to
before and during an emergency situation.

National Hurricane Center
Florida Division of Emergency Management
American Red Cross
Salvation Army

Also, Waters provides updated voice messages regarding the status of courts throughout the state on the Court Emergency Hotline. The phone number for the hotline is (850) 921-8552.