Full Court Press Fall 2019

In This Issue

Excellence Awards

Education & Outreach

Access to Justice

Turning Points

On the Horizon

A Message from Lisa Kiel, State Courts Administrator

Tornadoes, tropical storms, hurricanes, floods: living in Florida, we are intimately familiar with the dangers of natural disasters. Hermine, Matthew, Irma, Michael, and, most recently, Dorian gave us opportunities to test—and hopefully, hone—our emergency preparedness strategies these last few years. With the apprehension, stress, and devastation wrought by Dorian still fresh in our minds, this is a good time to reexamine these strategies, both for our workplaces and for our homes. As I write this, we are in the peak of hurricane season, so those who want to brush up on useful tips and tools can find a wealth of emergency preparedness resources and links on the Florida Courts website and the Florida Courts intranet site.

Elisabeth H. Kiel

Because we are moving into October, which is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, this is also an opportune time to remember the importance of protecting ourselves and our courts against human-made emergencies, like cyberattacks. Although natural disasters are what generally come to mind when we think about emergency preparedness, equally important are appreciating the dangers of, and equipping ourselves and our workplaces to respond to, the crises created by people.

In the last few months, digital attacks have crippled at least three US court systems. A cyberattack on Philadelphia’s online court system in May disabled its efiling and docketing services. A ransomware attack on Georgia’s Administrative Office of the Courts in July disabled court access to criminal cases and traffic citations. And a phishing attack on Oregon’s Judicial Department in July led to the exposure of more than 6,000 people’s personal information. Municipalities have also been targeted: in Florida, just this summer, Riviera Beach, Lake City, Key Biscayne, and Naples all suffered attacks.

Our IT personnel continue to work tirelessly behind the scenes, boosting information technology security and strengthening backup recovery and disaster recovery operations. But each of us also needs to take part in protecting our personal and work-related information. As a start, consider taking some simple, proactive steps to enhance cybersecurity at home and in the court:

Create strong passwords. Use a unique password for each device or account. Longer passwords are generally more secure; a good option is to create a passphrase (four or more random words grouped together);

Choose secure networks. Use internet connections you trust. Public networks are not very secure, making it easy for others to intercept your data. If you do use open networks, install antivirus and firewall software or a virtual private network on your device;

Be suspicious of unexpected emails. Phishing emails often appear to come from a trusted source, but they contain links or attachments that infect your device with malware or viruses that are used to gain information about you or steal your money;

Eliminate unnecessary software programs from your devices. In addition to consuming system resources, these programs may contain vulnerabilities that, if not patched regularly, allow an attacker to access your system.

As we all work to ensure the safety and security of our loved ones, friends, and neighbors this hurricane season, I ask that we also keep in mind that cybersecurity is a shared responsibility as well. 


Lisa Kiel

Turning Points

Awards and Honors

Judge Linda Allan, Sixth Circuit, was presented with the 2019 William Castagna Award for Judicial Excellence by the Barney Masterson American Inn of Court; this award is typically given for knowledge of the law, ethics, professionalism, and demeanor.  In addition, Judge Allan received the Clearwater Bar Association’s John U. Bird Judicial Excellence Award, which was created to recognize honor, high ideals, personal character, judicial competence and service.

Mediation Services Coordinator Amy Heather Blanton, Twelfth Circuit, received the DRC Award of Appreciation for her service to the Mediator Qualifications and Discipline Review Board and to the Committee on ADR Rules and Policy.

Judge Kimberly Sharpe Byrd, Sixth Circuit, was honored with the Judicial Professionalism Award by the Women Lawyers of Pasco County; typically, the award is given in recognition of a jurist’s continuing efforts to foster a relationship between the bench and the bar and is designed 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 Jeri Beth Cohen, Eleventh Circuit, received The Children's Trust 2019 David Lawrence Jr. Champion for Children Award for her lifetime achievement and her dedication to children.

Judge David Dugan, Eighteenth Circuit, is the first-time recipient of the Florida Court Public Information Officers’ Judicial Outreach Award, created to recognize judges who are fulfilling the Florida Supreme Court’s objectives in the communication plan through education and judicial outreach.

Judge Kevin Emas, Third DCA, received the 2019 Honorable Theodore "Ted" Klein Lifetime Achievement Award from the Greater Miami Jewish Federation; this award is presented to a judge whose career exemplifies long-term commitment to excellence in law and dedication to public service.

Retired Justice Gerald Kogan, who served on the Florida Supreme Court from 1987 – 1998, was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Florida Court Public Information Officers.  He was recognized for the many ways he sought to improve public access to Florida’s state courts, including the placement, for the first time, of court filings and other important documents on an official website and the commencement of live broadcasts of all Florida Supreme Court oral arguments by live stream, over cable TV, and via satellite.

Judge Robert Hilliard, Santa Rosa County, was honored with the Harvey Ford Award by the annual Conference of County Court Judges of Florida; the highest honor presented by the conference, this award recognizes a county court judge who has demonstrated the “highest level of profound service to the community, the legal profession, and to the Conference of County Court Judges of Florida.”

Retired Judge Claudia Isom, Thirteenth Circuit, was honored with the Florida Association for Women Lawyers’ 2019 Rosemary Barkett Outstanding Achievement Award; this award honors an association member who has helped to overcome traditional stereotypes associated with women by breaking barriers, molding a new reality and a new way of thinking about themselves, others, and their place in the universe.

Judge Lorraine Kelly, Pinellas County, was recognized by the St. Petersburg Bar Association with its Judicial Appreciation Award; among the factors for consideration are a nominee's courtroom demeanor, his or her judicial experiences, helpfulness to lawyers and litigants, and activities off the bench that promote the administration of justice and civil participation.

Retired Judge T. Patt Maney, Okaloosa County, who was inducted into Florida’s Veterans’ Hall of Fame in December 2018, was appointed to the Florida Veterans’ Hall of Fame Council, a seven-member advisory panel that is responsible for accepting nominations to be considered for induction into the Florida Veterans’ Hall of Fame.

Retired Judge Toby S. Monaco, Eighth Circuit, received the James L. Tomlinson Professionalism Award; presented by the Eighth Judicial Circuit Bar Association, this award honors a lawyer who has demonstrated consistent dedication to the pursuit and practice of the highest ideals and tenets of the legal profession.

Judge Frederick L. Pollack, Sixth Circuit, was given the Canakaris Award for Judicial Excellence in Family Law; presented by the Canakaris American Inn of Court, this award honors his exemplary contributions to the family law profession.

ADR Director Jeanne E. Potthoff, Seventeenth Circuit, received the Sharon Press Excellence in ADR Award for her visionary leadership, professional integrity and unwavering devotion to the field of alternative dispute resolution over the last 30 years.  Ms Potthoff is a past president of the Florida Academy of Professional Mediators, past president of the Association of South Florida Mediators and Arbitrators, former member of the Mediator Qualifications and Discipline Review Board, and current member of the Committee on ADR Rules and Policy.

Judge Meshon T. Rawls, Alachua County, was distinguished with the 2019 Violette N. Anderson Award, which honors women who are pioneers in their professional field and advocates for equity in the areas of social justice, civic and legal matters, or civil rights.

Judge Heather Rodriguez, Ninth Circuit, is a recipient of a 2019 Inspire Award for Florida State University Women of Distinction.

Judge Stacy Ross, Seventeenth Circuit, was chosen as the 2019 Jurist of the Year by the Florida Association of Women Lawyers.  Established in 2015 and presented annually, this award recognizes and acknowledges “jurists, either state or federal, who have consistently, fearlessly, and impartially promoted the rule of law respecting the equal rights of all who come before [them].”

Judge Nushin G. Sayfie, Eleventh Circuit, received the Honorable Gerald Kogan Judicial Distinction Award; presented by The Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Miami Chapter, this award is given to those who have made extraordinary contributions through dedicated service to the improvement of the criminal justice system and the preservation of constitutional rights.

Judge Gilbert A. Smith, Jr., Twelfth Circuit, was awarded the Robert E. Burt Boy Scout Volunteer Award by the National Society of the Sons of American Revolution (SAR) for his distinguished service to scouting.

Judge Rodney Smith, US Southern District Court of Florida, received the DRC Award of Appreciation for his service to the Mediator Qualifications and Discipline Review Board and for serving as chair and as a member of the Committee on ADR Rules and Policy.

Senior Judge Lynn Tepper, Sixth Circuit, was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, by Saint Leo University.

Chief Deputy Trial Court Administrator Todd Tuzzolio, Fifth Circuit, was presented with the 2019 Visionary Award; conferred by the Fifth Circuit, this award commends him for his “vision and implementation of the first statewide Florida Court Interpreter Conference.”

Trial Court Administrator Mark Weinberg, Seventh Judicial Circuit, is the 2019 recipient of the Award of Merit from the National Association for Court Management.  Presented each year at the NACM Annual Conference, this award “recognizes distinguished service and outstanding contributions to the profession of court administration.”  Recipients are chosen for demonstrated leadership, improvements in the administration of justice and the delivery of public service, and support for the independence of the judiciary. 

Judge Andrea R. Wolfson, Eleventh Circuit, was named the recipient of the William M. Hoeveler Judicial Professionalism Award, given annually by The Florida Bar’s Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism and the Standing Committee on Professionalism; this award recognizes an active judge who best exemplifies strength of character, service, and competence as a jurist, lawyer, and public servant.

In Memoriam

Retired Judge Charles Curry served on the bench in Polk County from 1983 – 1988 and on the bench of the Tenth Judicial Circuit from 1989 – 2014.

Retired Judge Clarence Johnson, Jr., served on the bench of the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit from 1971 – 1993; he also served as a senior judge from 1993 – 2001.

Judge Meenu Sasser served on the bench of the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit from 2009 – 2019.

Senior Judge Martin Shapiro served on the bench of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit from 2000 – 2006; he also served as a senior judge from 2007 – 2019.

On the Horizon


17 – 20            Court Interpreter Orientation Workshops

24                    Joint Investiture of Justice Robert Luck and Justice Carlos Muñiz


22 – 25            Dispute Resolution Center County Mediation Training

24                    Trial Court Administrators Meeting

24 – 25            Standing Committee on Fairness and Diversity Meeting

25                    Quarterly Chief Judges Meeting

25                    Annual Judicial Branch Leadership Meeting

28 – 29            Annual Reporters Workshop


5 – 8                Court Interpreter Oral Performance Examinations

6                      Dispute Resolution Center Advanced Family Mediation Training

13 – 15            Court Interpreter Oral Performance Examinations

14 – 15            Florida Courts Technology Commission Meeting

18 – 20            Adult Drug Court Conference


2 – 5                Handling Capital Cases Course

2 – 6                DUI Adjudication Lab

3 – 4                Florida Court Personnel Faculty Training

5                      Dispute Resolution Center Advanced Family Mediation Training

5 – 6                Judicial Faculty Training Course

6                      Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice Meeting

6                      Dispute Resolution Center Advanced Family Mediation Training

9 – 10              Steering Committee on Families and Children in the Court Meeting

9 – 10              Steering Committee on Problem-Solving Courts Meeting