In addition to serving the circuit bench for the second-largest circuit court in the state of Florida, Judge Edward H. Merrigan Jr. also serves in the United States Armed Forces in the Army Reserves. Earlier this year, he was formally promoted from the rank of Colonel to the rank of brigadier General in the Reserves, with the actual pinning and promotion ceremony taking place on Friday, August 10, 2018 in the jury assembly room of the central courthouse in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Special permission had to be granted to hold the ceremony in a non-customary venue, but this is where Judge Merrigan, who presides over the circuit’s Veterans Treatment Court, wanted it.
To watch the video of this highly-distinguished rite, click here.
A group of students and chaperones from The Broward Social Network, a youth mentoring program with a focus on career shadowing, spent a day at the central courthouse last week, learning about court processes and the variety of careers in the legal community. Judge Robert Lee hosted the group, providing for a tour and courtroom observation, as well as presentations by judges and other officials specifically requested by the group’s coordinator. The teenage children had one-on-one time with Judge Robert Diaz, Judge Michael Usan, Judge Kim Mollica, Judge Florence Barner, and Magistrate Yves Laventure, among others.
Last month the same organization, with different students, visited the South Satellite Courthouse for a similar experience, hosted by Judge Michael Davis and Judge Teri-Ann Miller.
In his relatively short time on the circuit court bench, Dependency Judge Jose Izquierdo has taken his job to a new level by recognizing, and addressing, the need for trial court assistance for children in the Seminole Tribe community. The Daily Business Review has written an in-depth article on his work with the community, which can be viewed here.
The Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court has appointed Judge Robert W. Lee as one of 10 county judges state-wide to the newly-established Work Group on County Court Jurisdiction. The work group will evaluate whether the county court jurisdiction and small claims jurisdiction limits should be adjusted, the appropriate amount of any such adjustment, and whether there should be periodic adjustments in the future while also exploring technologies that may enhance access to justice in such cases. As part of The LongRange Strategic Plan for the Florida Judicial Branch 2016-2021, the work group will also make recommendations for next steps, which may include one or more pilot projects including but not limited to on-line dispute resolution.
More information can be found by reading Administrative Order SC18-39.
The Seventeenth Circuit’s Girls Court program, run by Juvenile Delinquency Judge Stacy Ross, was one of only five in the nation selected by Boston College of Law and the National Girls Initiative to participate in a comparative study of girl-focused Specialty Courts. Researchers conducted a site visit last week at the Central Courthouse, observing Girls Court and conducting interviews of various stakeholders. Judge Ross says, “It is a very exciting study on this emerging trend and we are very honored to be a part of it!”
As problem-solving courts continue to grow and thrive throughout the state and the country, the Florida Supreme Court has established a Steering Committee on Problem-Solving Courts in an effort to continue providing thoughtful practices and principles to the specialized dockets. Circuit Judge Michele Towbin Singer and Magistrate Randi Boven have both been appointed to this ever-important committee.
The Seventeenth Circuit held another successful Suspended Driver License Clinic last week. The all-day affair assisted 75 appointments, and several walk-ins. At the end of the day, 22 had their records reinstated, 19 licenses were issued, and one ID card. Three licenses were reinstated and one-third of all parties entered into a partial payment plan, thus having their cases withdrawn from collections.
The clinic is a collaborative effort between Chief Judge Jack Tuter, Judge Robert Diaz, Clerk Brenda Forman, attorneys from the Public Defender’s and State Attorney’s offices, DHSMV and the Department of Revenue.