The 17th Judicial Circuit Announces Creation of Virtual Courtrooms via Zoom

Although it is unknown when face to face courtroom activity will resume in the Seventeenth Circuit, we will be prepared with new virtual courtrooms which allow litigants, attorneys, and witnesses to appear via Zoom from a remote setting or in-person inside the courtroom. The circuit’s IT and Audio/Video departments have been hard at work developing a process to interface Zoom into technology that already exists in the courtrooms. When put to use, these virtual courtrooms will offer many advantages to seamlessly maintaining court dockets.

17th Judicial Circuit Virtual Jury Trial Initiative

17th Judicial Circuit Virtual Jury Trial Initiative 

On May 11th, The 17th Judicial Circuit hosted a Circuit Civil Mock Jury Zoom Trial in partnership with ABOTA’s Fort Lauderdale Chapter. Due to current COVID-19 Crisis and the rising demand to keep the courts running remotely, The 17th Circuit has been experimenting with running Jury Trials Remotely, via ZOOM. This is The 17th’s third Mock Jury Zoom Trial in its: Virtual Jury Trial Initiative.

Below are the YouTube links to all 3 Mock Jury Zoom Trials:

Circuit Civil Mock Jury Zoom Trial, Partnered with ABOTA – 05/11/2020

County Criminal Mock Jury Zoom Trial – 05/06/2020

1st Circuit Civil Mock Jury Zoom Trial – 04/14/2020

Cannabis Cards in the Courts

Dependency Division 31 with Judge Africk-Olefson and Magistrate Plant recently hosted a standing room-only “Cannabis Cards and the Courts” lunch and learn session, featuring a 4-person panel of experts in the field. Medical marijuana doctors, researchers, substance testing, dispensaries, law and legislation were all topics of the two-hour discussion.

Informed Voters Project Educates Youth About Judicial Branch

Last Friday, the Central Broward County Courthouse hosted more than 100 high school students from schools across the county as part of the Informed Voters Project, a national initiative developed to educate the public about the constitutional role of the judicial branch and to protect the courts from outside influence. The half-day event was devised by staff with the Broward County Public Schools System, and involved attorneys and judges volunteering their time to lead group sessions in different courtrooms. There was Judicial Jeopardy, Judicial Bingo, and Judicial Q&A sessions to engage the children and help them learn more about the judiciary. Kicking off the morning was a greeting from former Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara J. Pariente, the event’s guest of honor.

Self-Help Center Resource Fair is a Hit

Ever since the Seventeenth Circuit opened its Expanded Self-Help Resource Center in the central courthouse two years ago, a great number of people in the community have sought, and received, assistance from the services provided. On-site, the downtown courthouse offers staffed offices from these agencies: Women in Distress, 2-1-1 Broward, Henderson Behavioral Health, South Florida Wellness Network, and Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida. In an effort to remind court agencies and members of the community of these services, we host Resource Fairs at least twice a year. Last Friday, staff from all agencies set up in the first floor lobby for a 1/2 day, handing out materials and information to anyone who stopped by.

The agency offices are located on the fourth and fifth floors of the West building. More information can be found here.

Black History Month – Celebrating Broward’s Black Mayors

In recognition of Black History Month this year, the Seventeenth Circuit and the Broward County Bar Association hosted a Celebration of Broward’s Black Mayors on Friday, February 21, 2020. The honorees included Mayor Dale V. Holness, Broward County; Mayor Hazelle Rogers, City of Lauderdale Lakes; Mayor Ken Thurston, City of Lauderhill; Mayor Wayne Messam, City of Miramar; Mayor Ashira Mohammed, City of Pembroke Park; and Mayor Reverend Eric Jones, Jr., City of West Park.

Retired Judge Ilona Holmes served as event moderator, with Chief Judge Jack Tuter offering welcome remarks and event chairperson, Judge Michael A. Robinson, giving the closing remarks.