Full Court Press Fall 2018

In This Issue


Judicial Excellence Awards

Access to Justice Initiatives

Education & Outreach

Turning Points

On the Horizon

A Message from PK Jameson, State Courts Administrator

In 2004, Bonnie, Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne hit Florida; Dennis, Katrina, and Wilma struck in 2005. Following an 11-year calm, Florida took a pounding from Hermine and Matthew in 2016; from Irma last year; and most recently, from Michael. To anyone who has lived in Florida since the turn of the century, these names likely evoke memories of fear, helplessness, destruction, and loss. And for many in the 14th and 2nd Circuits, the memories are still raw.

PK Jameson, State Courts Administrator

PK Jameson, State Courts Administrator

When Hurricane Michael struck the Panhandle in October, it left a trail of devastation for 80 miles, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Georgia border: it blasted communities and their courts, taking lives, destroying property, and hamstringing communications and transportation. Although the court facilities, and the people who work there, are still recovering, those courts were able to reopen with limited capacity within two-and-a-half weeks, thanks to the tireless work of emergency responders, utility crews, the National Guard—and the local judges and court and county staff. However, the recovery efforts will continue for months ahead.

Also playing a significant role was the judiciary’s emergency preparedness infrastructure.

Florida is the most hurricane-prone state in the nation, sustaining 40 percent of all US hurricane strikes, so Florida’s courts have had a lot of experience with tropical systems—and with emergency management. The supreme court adopted branch-wide policies and procedures for anticipating and managing emergencies soon after the 9/11 attacks.

But because each crisis is unpredictably unique, a timely recovery also depends on the flexibility and resourcefulness of local branch leaders. After Michael, for instance, 14th Circuit Chief Judge Elijah Smiley delivered a handwritten news release about court closures to the only still-broadcasting radio station in Bay County. Although the circuit was without power, he managed to access the e-Portal and could see emergency motions filed with the courts. Once the circuit’s continuity of operations plan was initiated, essential hearings were able to be conducted, and judges were able to go to jails to conduct first appearances.

Movement toward recovery also depends on the support of judges and court personnel from other circuits. After Michael, judges and staff from across the state pitched in to help the 14th. Judges in less-impacted, adjoining circuits presided over detention hearings. The 14th Circuit was without any means of communication; even some local law enforcement did not have a means of communication. Therefore, the 2nd Circuit and OSCA gathered up satellite phones and, because roads were still impassable, the Florida National Guard delivered them to Panama City, where they were loaned to court personnel as well as law enforcement. OSCA’s Finance and Accounting made sure that everyone, even those without direct deposit, would be able to get paid. Recovery teams from courts across the state helped repair the technology infrastructure damaged in the storm. These are just a few of the things our branch did to make sure the 14th and the people who work there did not face this crisis alone.

Michael was a blunt reminder that having tested emergency measures in place—coupled with local resourcefulness, an energetic team effort, and generous resource-sharing—helps to minimize the effects of natural disasters on our courts and on the people who work there. When one or more of our courts experiences a disruptive event, the courts system quickly begins to fill voids and to provide support in order to ensure the public’s access to justice continues. Thank you to everyone who continues to provide support in our crisis areas.

Sincerely, PK Jameson

Awards and Honors

The Florida State Courts System was honored with a 2018 Top Court Technology Solutions Award for its Florida Courts Help App.  Developed by OSCA, under the direction of the Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice, the app provides easy access to a repository of resources for self-represented litigants seeking help with family law issues such as a divorce, an order of protection, a name change, or a stepparent adoption.  Conferred by the National Association for Court Management, the award was presented to Florida courts “in recognition of improved communication, operational efficiency, and access to justice using technology.”

Judge Robert Branning, Twentieth Judicial Circuit, was awarded the Trailblazer of the Year by the News-Press; given to someone who has built a pathway of success for others through innovation, determination, and commitment, this award was presented to Judge Branning for his work piloting the therapy dog program in Lee County dependency court.

Judge Melinda Brown, Broward County, was honored with a Community Service Award from the Jewish Community Center of Plantation, which recognized her for her work with the Jewish Community Center Board, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Broward Children’s Center, Florida United Methodist Children’s Home Advisory Board, and the Broward Crime Commission Advisory Board.

Judge Pamela Campbell, Sixth Judicial Circuit, was honored with the Jurist of the Year award by the Florida Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates.

Judge Dawn P. Fields, Volusia County, was awarded Woman of the Year by the Volusia Flagler Association for Women Lawyers.

Judge Jack Helinger, Sixth Judicial Circuit, was given the William Castagna Award for Judicial Excellence by the Barney Masterson Inn of Court, a legal organization whose mission is to promote civility and ethics in lawyer-to-lawyer and lawyer-to-judge relations.  In addition, Judge Helinger was recognized by the Clearwater Bar Association with a John U. Bird Judicial Excellence Award, created to recognize honor, high ideals, personal character, judicial competence, and service. He was also presented with a Judicial Professionalism Award by the Women Lawyers of Pasco County; this award recognizes a jurist's continuing efforts to foster a relationship between the bench and the bar and to encourage those who practice law to maintain high ethical standards and to present themselves as models of civility and patience for others to emulate.

Judge John E. Jordan, Ninth Judicial Circuit, was presented with The Honorable James B. Glazebrook Professionalism Award.  Bestowed by The George C. Young American Inn of Court, this accolade “honors a current or former Inn member whose combination of service to the Inn and professionalism and integrity in practice display a course of excellence.”

Judge Debra L. Krause, Seminole County, received the Seminole County Bar Association’s Judge of the Year Award.

Judge Cindy Lederman, Eleventh Judicial Circuit, was distinguished with the 2018 Janet Reno Women’s Leadership Award; coordinated by the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University, this award is given to a nominee who has demonstrated a commitment and ability to effect change in her community or organization to benefit youth, particularly those at-risk of entering the juvenile justice or child welfare systems.  Among other achievements, Judge Lederman was recognized for serving in the Miami-Dade Juvenile Court since 1994; leading the team that created the Domestic Violence Court; developing a special docket for drug-involved mothers of newborn babies; issuing a groundbreaking ruling that paved the way for adoption by gay and lesbian couples in Florida; and founding the Girls Advocacy Project, an award-winning intervention for girls in the Juvenile Detention Center in Miami-Dade.

Judge Janeice Martin, Collier County, the presiding jurist in Collier County’s veterans court, was distinguished with an American Legion Award; she was honored for her tireless service and devotion to American veterans and their families.

Judge Melanie G. May, Fourth District Court of Appeal, was honored with a National Center for State Courts Distinguished Service Award; in the press release announcing the award, Judge May is distinguished for her longstanding efforts, on the local, statewide, and national levels, “to improve the justice system and the lives of those involved in that system.”

Judge Edward H. Merrigan, Jr., Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, who serves in the Army Reserves, was recently promoted to Brigadier General; the promotion ceremony was held at the Judicial Complex in Broward County.

Judge Kelly J. McKibben. Eighteenth Judicial Circuit, was presented with the 2018 Outstanding Jurist of the Year Award by the Florida Association for Women Lawyers; this award recognizes jurists who have consistently, fearlessly, and impartially promoted the rule of law, respecting the equal rights of all who come before them.

Justice Barbara J. Pariente, Florida Supreme Court, was distinguished with the inaugural Justice for Children and Families Award.  Conferred by the supreme court’s Steering Committee on Families and Children in the Court, this award “honor[s] a person or entity advancing the spirit and ideals of a model family court, while accomplishing the judicial branch mission of protecting rights and liberties, upholding and interpreting the law, and providing for the peaceful resolution of disputes.”  The inspiration for the award was “Justice Pariente’s innovation and her dedication to justice for families and children in court through her work on the steering committee.”  She is described as “a fearless mentor, coach, and taskmaster (in the most inspiring of ways)” who “reminded all of us that there is no time to waste in the life of a child involved in the judicial system.”

Magistrate Gil Perez, Twentieth Judicial Circuit, was awarded the Gavin Letts Memorial Jurist of the Year Award for 2018 by the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers; this award is presented for the most outstanding contribution to the field of matrimonial law by a member of the judiciary.

Mr. Steve Simon, Ninth Judicial Circuit, head of the circuit’s Project Management Team, received the Arnie Wilkerson Memorial Court Service Award from The George C. Young American Inn of Court; this award honors individuals working in the judicial system who display the highest standards of character, integrity, and ongoing dedication to the judicial system.

Judge Maria Sampedro-Iglesia, Eleventh Judicial Circuit, received the 2018 William E. Gladstone Award.  Presented by the Florida Department of Children and Families, this award is named after the late Eleventh Circuit Judge William E. Gladstone for his pioneering work in the placement, motivation, treatment, and education of the delinquent and abused, abandoned, or neglected children who came before him.  It is presented each year to the greatest contributor to the protection and well-being of Florida's most vulnerable children.

Chief Judge Bertila Soto, Eleventh Judicial Circuit, received the Johnnie M. Ridgely President's Award, created by the Dade County Bar Association in 2005 to honor Johnnie Ridgely's life and commitment to service during her more than 42 years as executive director of the organization.

Mr. Joseph Stelma, Jr., Trial Court Administrator with the Fourth Judicial Circuit, was selected for the Jacksonville Bar Association’s 2018 Liberty Bell Award, presented annually to a non-attorney who has made a significant contribution to the legal system in Northeast Florida.

Judge Lisa Walsh, Eleventh Judicial Circuit, received an Outstanding Jurist Award from the Young Lawyers Division of The Florida Bar; this award recognizes a jurist of outstanding reputation who demonstrates a “concern for and willingness to assist young lawyers and respects their abilities.” 

Judge Joseph M. Williams, Baker County, received the Harvey Ford Award, the highest honor of the Conference of County Court Judges of Florida, in recognition of his service to the community, the legal profession, and the conference.

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In Memoriam

Retired Judge John Adkins served on the bench in Brevard County from 1989 – 2000.

Retired Judge Eli Breger served on the bench in Miami-Dade County from 1987 – 1996; he also served as a senior judge from 1996 – 2017.

Mr. Dwight Brock served as the clerk of the circuit court in Collier County from 1992 – 2018.

Retired Judge Lynn Gerald, Jr., served on the bench of the Twentieth Judicial Circuit from 1989 – 2011.

Retired Judge D. Bruce Levy served on the bench of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit from 1981 – 2005.

Retired Judge Edward Rodgers served on the bench of the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit from 1973 – 1995.

Senior Judge David L. Tobin served on the bench of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit from 1987 – 2000; he also served as a senior judge from 2005 – 2014 and from 2015 – 2018.

Retired Judge W. Rogers Turner served on the bench of the Ninth Judicial Circuit from 1973 – 2002.

Retired Judge Winifred L. Wentworth served on the bench of the First District Court of Appeal from 1970 – 1991. 

Retired Judge William A. Wilkes served on the bench in Clay County from 1980 – 1985 and on the bench of the Fourth Judicial Circuit from 1985 – 2010; he also served as a senior judge from 2011 – 2015.

Senior Judge Robert E. Williams served on the bench in Nassau County from 1984 – 2007; he also served as a senior judge from 2007 – 2018.

Judge Clyde E. Wolfe served on the bench of the Seventh Judicial Circuit from 2006 – 2018.

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On the Horizon


26 – 30            2018 DUI Adjudication Lab

26 – 29            Handling Capital Cases Course

27 – 28            Florida Court Personnel Faculty Training

29 – 30            Judicial Faculty Training Specialty Course


6                      Advanced Mediator Ethics Training, Daytona

7                      Advanced Mediator Ethics Training, Orlando

14                    Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice Meeting


13 – 18            Florida Judicial College, Phase I

15 – 18            County Mediation Training, Panama City

29 – 31            Court Interpreter Oral Performance Examinations, Ft. Lauderdale



6 – 8                Court Interpreter Oral Performance Examinations, Tallahassee

7                      Pro Bono Service Award Presentations

17 – 21            Justice Teaching Institute

25 – 28            Court Interpreter Orientation Workshop, Tampa

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