Full Court Press Spring 2019

In This Issue

Access to Justice

Judiciary Education

Education & Outreach

Court History

Turning Points

On the Horizon

A Message from Lisa Kiel, State Courts Administrator

Those of you who have been working in the Florida courts system since 2014 or earlier may remember me by my former surname, as Lisa Goodner.  Back then, when I wrote what I thought was my last Full Court Press message, I never imagined I would be in this office again, writing another newsletter message!  But because of my love for the branch, my appreciation for the work of judges and court employees, and my respect for the rule of law, I could not say ‘no’ when Chief Justice Canady called to recruit me out of retirement. 

Elisabeth H. Kiel

In truth, I never stopped following the judicial branch’s many successes, even while I was away, enjoying the calm of my post-work pace.  The Do-It-Yourself Florida project, the Self-Help App, the great accomplishments of the Judicial Management Council workgroups—these are just a few of the important initiatives that got underway in the intervening years, and I was as enthusiastic about these advances as I would have been if I were still working here.  A more recent achievement that is truly exciting is this year’s legislative appropriation of $10.3 million in recurring salary dollars to address recruitment, retention, and equity salary issues affecting non-judge court employees: I can’t think of a more satisfying way of marking the beginning of my temporary return to the courts. 

This appropriation is especially meaningful because it signifies the achievement of a priority issue that judicial branch leaders began promoting many years ago (soon after I became the state courts administrator the first time, in 2003).  Back then, we launched efforts to obtain adequate funding for the judicial branch’s people, places, and tools—with our people being the top priority.  We contended that we could fulfil the judicial branch vision—that “Justice in Florida will be accessible, fair, effective, responsible, and accountable”—only if we had the ability to hire and retain a capable, well-qualified workforce. 

With this year’s appropriation, the legislature has strengthened our ability to attract, hire, and retain highly qualified and competent court employees.  It means so much to see those years of effort bear fruit.  For this attainment, thanks go to the vision and persistence, over the years, of various court teams that have included many DCA and trial court judges, several chief justices, and an abundance of OSCA staff.

Since I returned to OSCA, I have also had the pleasure of witnessing firsthand the important work you have been doing on behalf of the branch.  In early May, when we observed Public Service Recognition Week at OSCA, I shared an Arnold Schwarzenegger quotation about the bounty of benefits that public service confers, and I hope the quotation resonates with you as well.  He wrote, “Help others and give something back.  I guarantee you will discover that while public service improves the lives and the world around you, its greatest reward is the enrichment and new meaning it will bring to your own life.”  I want to end by thanking all of you for your invaluable contributions and commitment to Florida’s courts; your hard work does not go unnoticed.


Lisa Goodner Kiel

Awards and Honors

Judge Nina Ashenafi-Richardson, Leon County, is the recipient of the 2019 Distinguished Judicial Service Award.  This award honors outstanding and sustained service to the public, especially as it relates to support of pro bono legal services: in addition to the demands of her court docket, Judge Ashenafi-Richardson averages 15 to 25 hours a week in service to various legal or judicial programs, organizations, and statewide committees.

Judge Martin Bidwill, Seventeenth Circuit, received the Judge of the Year Award from the Fort Lauderdale Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates, whose mission is to uphold the jury system by educating the American public about the history and value of the right to trial by jury; Judge Bidwell, who has been on the bench since 2005, was honored for his many years of hard work as a jurist.

Judge Alice Blackwell, Ninth Circuit, was recognized as the 2018 Champion of Justice by Harbor House; this award recognizes leaders in the Central Florida community who work towards ending violence and creating lasting, positive change in the lives of domestic violence survivors.

Judge Patricia A. Doherty, Ninth Judicial Circuit, received the 2018 Trial Judge of the Year Award from the Central Florida Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates.

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.

Judge Samantha Schosberg Feuer, Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, was awarded the Distinguished Jurist Award by the Palm Beach County Chapter of the Florida Association of Women Lawyers.

Chief Judge Ronald Ficarrotta, Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, is the recipient of the 2018 Luis "Tony" Cabassa Award for his extraordinary contributions to the Tampa Hispanic Bar Association.

Mr. Gary Hagan, court technology officer in the Fourteenth Circuit, was recognized with an Excellence in Technology Award at the Florida Digital Government Summit in Tallahassee; Mr. Hagan was responsible for restoring technology to five courthouses in the circuit’s six counties following devastation caused by Hurricane Michael in October 2018.

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.

Chief Judge Frederick Lauten, Ninth Circuit, received the 2019 James G. Glazebrook Memorial Bar Service Award by the Orange County Bar Association; this award is presented to a state or federal jurist who best demonstrates service to and support of the legal profession.

Judge Steven Leifman, Miami-Dade County, was awarded the 2018 Pardes Humanitarian Prize in Mental Health; presented by the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, this prize recognizes him for his leadership in reducing the number of people with mental illnesses in the criminal justice system

Judge Janeice Martin, Collier County, was honored with the 2018 Murray Hendel Civic Achievement Award by the Collier Citizens Council; she was distinguished for her extraordinary contributions to the community, particularly for running all three Collier County Treatment Courts—drug, mental health, and veterans courts—in addition to carrying a full caseload as a county court judge.

Retired Justice Peggy A. Quince was distinguished by the Tampa Bay Inn of Court with its first award of honorary lifetime membership; she was also recognized as one of the Inn’s founding members and one of its early presidents.

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

Judge Jose Rodriguez. Ninth Circuit, was honored with the inaugural Honorable Jose R. Rodriguez Legacy of Service Award by the Hispanic Bar Association of Central Florida Foundation; the award, inspired by its namesake, honors “his deep value of service and his commitment to the Hispanic Community.”

Judge Meenu Sasser, Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, was recognized with a Leadership Award from the Palm Beach County Hispanic Bar Association; the award honors her for being “an inspiration to the legal profession with her passion and dedication to mentoring young diverse minority attorneys and doing so with grace.”

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.

Chief Judge Bertila Soto and Ms Rene Tew, assistant general counsel, Eleventh Judicial Circuit, were honored with 2019 Women of Impact Awards, titled “Visionary Women: Champions of Peace and Nonviolence.”  These awards, presented in March each year in celebration of Women’s History Month, are sponsored by the Women’s History Coalition of Miami-Dade County, Inc.

Judge Jessica Ticktin, Fifteenth Circuit, received the Jurist of the Year award from the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

Mr. Craig Waters, director of the Florida Supreme Court’s Public Information Office, was distinguished with the Pete Weitzel/Friend of the First Amendment Award, created to recognize the significant contribution made by Pete Weitzel—former managing editor of The Miami Herald and founder and past president of the First Amendment Foundation—in support of open government.   Given annually to someone in Florida who has made a significant contribution to the cause of furthering open government, the Weitzel Award honors Mr. Waters for his tireless efforts as the public face in the weeks following the 2000 election. 

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.

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In Memoriam

Former Judge Charles David Hood, Jr., served on the bench of the Seventh Judicial Circuit from 2014 – 2016.

Former Judge Felix Andrew Johnston, Jr., served on the bench in Jefferson County from 1983 – 1996.  

Retired Judge Alan R. Schwartz served on the bench of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit from 1973 – 1978 and on the bench of the Third District Court of Appeal from 1978 – 2004; he also served as a senior judge from 2004 – 2013.

Senior Judge George A. Shahood served on the bench in Broward County from 1978 – 1981; of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit from 1981 – 1994; and of the Fourth District Court of Appeal from 1994 – 2009; he then served as a senior judge in the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit from 2009 – 2018.  

Retired Judge W. Thomas Spencer served on the bench of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit from 1991 – 1997.

Former Judge William A. Van Nortwick, Jr., served on the bench of the First District Court of Appeal from 1994 – 2015. 

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On the Horizon

June 2019

6 – 7                Florida Court Education Council’s Florida Court Personnel Committee Meeting

7                      Dispute Resolution Center Advanced Mediator Ethics Training

18 – 21            Court Interpreter Orientation Workshop

20 – 21            Steering Committee on Problem-Solving Courts Meeting

20 – 21            Steering Committee on Families and Children in the Court Meeting

July 2019

9 – 11              Annual Education Program of the Conference of County Court Judges of Florida

August 2019

5 – 7                Annual Education Program of the Florida Conference of Circuit Judges

5 – 7                Annual Education Program of the Trial Court Administrators

8 – 9                Judicial Faculty Training Course

8 – 9                Florida Courts Technology Commission Meeting

15                    Annual Alternative Dispute Resolution Directors Meeting

15 – 17            Dispute Resolution Center Annual Conference

20 – 23            Florida Courts Public Information Officers Annual Meeting

September 2019        

4 – 6                Florida Conference of District Court of Appeal Judges Annual Education Program

4 – 6                Appellate Clerks and Marshals Education Program

6                      Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice Meeting

12 – 13            Joint Meeting of the Steering Committee on Problem-Solving Courts and the

                       Steering Committee on Families and Children in the Court

24                   Joint Investiture of Justice Robert Luck and Justice Carlos Muñiz