The foreclosure crisis is placing incredible strains on our state’s underfunded court system and while there are challenges in many circuits, I am very pleased and proud to report that (in large part) the circuit court system in Florida’s 13th Judicial Circuit is rising to the challenge of making sure the consumers and voters that live here in the Tampa Bay area walk into a courthouse that shows the very finest elements of our state’s judicial system.
I had a trial there today, and had the opportunity to watch many other trials and motions, all being presided over by Senior Judges who were doing their job…putting all the lawyers, the witnesses and the parties through their paces. These judges clearly recognize that there are no giveaways on either side. They’re not going to favor one side or the other. They are no sooner going to favor a poorly presented and unsupported defense argument than they would just roll over and give it away to the plaintiffs….and this is exactly what we all want. A fair, an open and a challenging courtroom with tough judges that give every party that shows the court respect, the same amount of respect. What I mean to say by that is attorneys and parties that are prepared and ready to do their job have the full command of the court’s attention.
I particularly appreciated the attention paid to unrepresented parties that appeared before the court. Judges should not favor these parties….any more than they should favor any group of attorneys that appear before them…and from what I saw they did not. But what these judges did do, over and over and over again, was balance the need to show these citizens appearing before them that our court system was fair and just. All day long I watched these judges looking out for consumers and making sure that real justice was done. For that, we can all be most proud.
Finally, a very important word about the deputies that keep things safe and running smoothly…especially the fixture on Hillsborough Courtroom’s Fifth Floor, Deputy Williams. This woman runs an extremely tight and organized ship…if you’re on her floor you had better be prepared to move quickly and get your job done….she manages her courtrooms with the precision and organization of a military color guard. And don’t you think that you’re bumping to the head of the line or that you’re going to be treated special just because you’re an attorney. In her courtrooms, the consumers, the pro se people, everyone are subject to exactly the same rules….and they get exactly the same respect. Her work is a testament to her uniform and to the justice system she serves.
Our nation faces real challenges and our courts play a crucial role in protecting all our rights….this court really is rising to that challenge.