Hundreds of lawsuits to be filed for old alleged child sexual abuse cases in NY after passage of Child Victims Act

first_imgKuzma/iStock(NEW YORK) — Leaders of the Catholic Church in New York are facing a “dark time” in the wake of a passage of a law that now allows victims of child abuse to file civil lawsuits against offenders even if the statute of limitations expired previously.The Child Victims Act clears the way for alleged victims of sexual abuse — including other storied institutions as well as the Catholic Church — for hundreds if not thousands of lawsuits to be filed by the end of the day.Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, posted a video statement on Twitter Wednesday morning, acknowledging the legal battles.“Today, I don’t mind admitting to you, is a dark time for the church. As you have probably been hearing, this is the first day of the opening of the statute of limitations. So we are going to hear a lot today about people bringing a suit against the Catholic church and other organizations — public schools, government organizations, Boy Scouts, hospitals, you name it — for past sexual abuse. I just want to say that it is a tough time, it is a dark time, it’s especially difficult for our beloved victims and their families to see all this dug up again, to have these wounds open. It’s a tough time for our victims, survivors and families. and I’d ask you to pray for them,” Dolan said.Joseph Zwilling, the director of communications for the Archdiocese of New York, shared a statement with ABC News, saying the church “has been anticipating the filing of law suits since the Child Victim’s Act passed earlier this year.”The Archdiocese has also been paying out victims separately for the past three years through its Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program. Zwilling confirmed the fund has paid more than $66 million to 335 victims since it was created.Since any victims who reached a settlement through the fund waived their right to file subsequent lawsuits, those victims will not be participating in any of the suits filed in connection to the Child Victim’s Act window, which opened Wednesday and will last for one year.“While we carefully review the claims made in these suits, we ask that people pray for peace and healing for all those who have suffered from the sin and crime of the sexual abuse of minors, wherever it occurred, particularly victim-survivors and their families,” Zwilling said in the statement.Multiple law firms have announced their intentions to file dozens, if not more than 100 lawsuits each, on behalf of clients who allege that they were abused as children.“I think you will see hundreds or over a thousand cases filed today and then you will see hundreds more filed over the coming year,” said Jason Amala, an attorney at Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala PLLC.Amala’s firm, which is based in Washington state and partnered with New York-based The Marsh Law Firm, will be filing 16 lawsuits on Wednesday and expect many more to come in the following weeks and months during the year-long window.“I think today will be the biggest day, but as people see others coming forward, I think they’ll come forward as well,” Amala said.Even after the one year window expires, many survivors of alleged child sexual abuse will still be able to seek justice under the Child Victims Act. Civil suits can now be filed until the alleged victim turns 55 years old, up from the current 23. And the state’s statute of limitations on criminal charges against alleged child sexual abusers has been expanded to until their victims turn 28 in certain cases, rather than 23.Jeff Anderson and Associates, a law firm that regularly represents victims of clergy sex abuse, announced Tuesday that they will be filing over 200 lawsuits in New York on Wednesday.Mike Reck, an attorney at Anderson and Associates, said that they will be filing cases “involving every diocese and the archdiocese in New York.”“The Child Victim’s Act is a very powerful tool for child protection and it effectively catapults New York from the back of the pack to the front of the pack regarding child protection,” Reck told ABC News.Reck said that prior to the Child Victims Act being signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in February, New York’s statute of limitations was “abysmal and draconian.”“That was one of the most restrictive rules in all of the United States of America and because of that rule, there were multiple generations that were kept from the justice available in the courts,” he said.“These cases will expose dozens of perpetrators whose identities have been kept secret by the institutions that protected them,” Reck said, noting that victims are able to file their civil claims anonymously.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

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Notices: Court calls for comments on senior judge recommendations

first_img April 15, 2002 Regular News Notices: Court calls for comments on senior judge recommendations Court calls for comments on senior judge recommendationscenter_img The Florida Supreme Court Committee on the Appointment and Assignment of Senior Judges has filed its report and recommendations with the Supreme Court. The committee was established by the court in June of 2001 to address a number of issues regarding the appointment and assignment of senior judges.The court invites all interested persons to comment on the committee’s report and recommendations, which are reproduced in full below, as well as online at www.flcourts.org/sct/sctdocs/proposed.html. An original and seven copies of all comments must be filed with the Court on or before May 15, 2002, with a certificate of service verifying that a copy has been served on the committee chair, Judge Gilbert S. Goshorn, Jr., 10419 S.W. 75th Way, Gainesville 32608, as well as a separate request for oral argument if the person filing the comment wishes to participate in oral argument scheduled in this case for Friday, June 7. IN THE SUPREME COURT OF FLORIDA IN RE: REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE APPOINTMENT AND ASSIGNMENT OF SENIOR JUDGES, Case No. SC02-593. Report and Recommendations of the Committee on the Appointment and Assignment of Senior Judges The Committee on the Appointment and Assignment of Senior Judges (the committee) was formed by the Florida Supreme Court and asked to address a number of issues regarding policies and procedures in the appointment and assignment of senior judges. Before turning to those issues, the committee emphasizes that senior judges are a vital component of Florida’s judicial system, providing the citizens of Florida with the equivalent of more than 35 full-time judges.The availability of senior judges improves the service that Florida courts are able to provide citizens: Parties have better and speedier access to courts, trial calendars are shortened, backlogs are reduced, and interruptions are avoided when active judges are unable to serve because of illness or death. In short, senior judges represent a valuable resource of competent, experienced judges who are willing to continue public service. Such a resource should be valued and carefully cultivated for the benefit of the people of Florida. I. Background The Committee on Appointment and Assignment of Senior Judges was established by administrative order of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Florida on June 6, 2001. The committee consisted of three circuit court chief judges, two senior judges, a public defender, a state attorney, and four private practice attorneys, one of whom is a retired judge.Members: • Gilbert S. Goshorn, Senior Judge, Gainesville, chair • J. Lewis Hall, Jr., Senior Judge, Tallahassee • Robert Rouse, Chief Judge, Seventh Judicial Circuit, Daytona Beach • David Demers, Chief Judge, Sixth Judicial Circuit, St. Petersburg • Dale Ross, Chief Judge, Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Ft. Lauderdale • Rosemary Enright, Public Defender, Sixteenth Judicial Circuit, Key West • Harry Shorstein, State Attorney, Fourth Judicial Circuit, Jacksonville • Edward Rodgers, Attorney and Retired Judge, Riviera Beach • Theodore Babbitt, Attorney at Law, West Palm Beach • Hector J. Lombana, Attorney at Law, Coral Gables • W. L. Kirk, Jr., Attorney at Law, Orlando Committee Staff: Peggy Horvath, Chief of Strategic Planning Brian Lynch, Senior Court Operations Consultant Steve Henley, Court Operations Consultant Other OSCA Support Staff: Patty Harris, Court Analyst Elaine New, Senior Attorney Laura Rush, Senior Attorney Kristine Slayden, Senior Court Statistics Consultant Greg Smith, Senior AttorneyJustice Major B. Harding served as the liaison to the Court for the committee. Tom Hall, Clerk of the Florida Supreme Court, provided valuable input to the committee.The establishment of this committee followed the Court’s consideration of a report from a Senior Judge Workgroup of the Judicial Management Council’s Committee on Trial Court Performance and Accountability. That workgroup developed a set of recommendations regarding the utilization, allocation, and management of senior judges.The committee first met on August 24, 2001, at the Supreme Court Building in Tallahassee. The committee met again on November 27, 2001, in Tampa, and for a final time on January 24, 2002 in Tallahassee. Justice R. Fred Lewis attended the August 24 meeting of the committee; and Justice Harding attended the January 24 meeting. The administrative order establishing the committee directed the committee to submit a report to the Court by February 1, 2002. The Court extended this time frame to mid-February at the request of the committee.In a June 14, 2001, letter to the committee, Justice Harding articulated its charge. The committee was asked to address the two areas of appointment and assignment of senior judges. The committee would have broad discretion to develop recommendations regarding any aspect of the appointment process. In addition, Justice Harding identified several areas in which policy guidance was sought by the Supreme Court.The Court desired that the committee first make a recommendation regarding whether there is a need for a formalized certification process for senior judges. If the committee were to conclude that there is not a need for a certification process, then the committee was asked to make recommendations regarding the type of process that should be used to determine the eligibility of senior judges for assignment in the various courts. If the committee were to recommend that a certification process is needed, then the Court requested that the committee make recommendations on the policies and procedures that should be adopted. Justice Harding also set forth some specific questions to be addressed should the committee recommend that a certification process be established:• What criteria should be used to certify senior judges? • Should age be a factor in certification? • Who should review and provide the certification approval or denial? • What should be the term of the certification? • Should there be an appeal process for denials of certification? If so, how should it work? • Should there be a continuing review or evaluation? If so, how should it work? • Should there be a requirement for continuing education for senior judges?Regarding the manner in which senior judges are assigned in courts, the Court granted the committee broad discretion to develop recommendations regarding any aspect of the process. The Court was particularly interested in the committee’s recommendations regarding the policies and guidelines that should be established to ensure that senior judges are utilized effectively. As with the appointment process, the Court specified a number of questions to be addressed within the committee’s recommendations:• Should the assignment of a senior judge be limited to the level of court that the judge had previously been elected or appointed to (supreme court, district court of appeal, circuit court, county court)? • Should a senior judge serve only in the jurisdiction where he or she was previously elected or appointed? • Should the number of days that a senior judge can serve in a year be restricted? • Should some types of cases or proceedings not be handled by a senior judge? • Should there be formal guidelines or limitations for the implementation of senior judge service and, if so, what should those be?In order to formulate their recommendations, the committee reviewed existing policies and practices in Florida and other states, and solicited input from a variety of stakeholders throughout the justice system. Specifically, the committee: • reviewed the Senior Judges Workgroup Report of the Judicial Management Council’s Committee on Trial Court Performance and Accountability; • studied the current process that is used to certify retired judges and justices as senior judges, and the current process that is used to make senior judge assignments in trial courts; • studied the current guidelines concerning the utilization of senior judges, and the current manner in which senior judge days are allocated to the circuits; • studied the utilization of retired judges in other states; • analyzed legal issues governing the use of senior judges, including public records law, employment law, and advisory ethics opinions; • solicited the input of a wide range of stakeholders in the senior judge system, including chief judges, senior judges, and government and private attorneys; and • discussed a wide range of alternative approaches to the appointment and assignment of senior judges.Consistent with the Senior Judges Workgroup Report and other materials, the committee recognized the great value to the judicial system of the services provided by senior judges. Senior judges in Florida perform the work of approximately 35 full-time judges, at a cost of about $2.9 million, a small fraction of the cost of that number of full-time judges. The committee also recognized that many more remunerative work opportunities are available to retired judges. In light of this finding, the committee recommended that the compensation rate for senior judges be substantially increased. Recommendation One: The committee recommends a significant increase in senior judge compensation in order to encourage and recruit the services of qualified retired judges. II. Authority for the Use of Senior Judges Article V, section 2 (b) of the Florida Constitution establishes the power of the chief justice to assign former justices or judges to temporary duty, a status commonly referred to as that of “senior judge.” It also authorizes the chief justice to delegate the authority to assign judges within a circuit to the chief judge of a circuit court:The chief justice of the supreme court shall. . . have the power to assign justices or judges, including consenting retired justices or judges, to temporary duty in any court for which the judge is qualified and to delegate to a chief judge of a judicial circuit the power to assign judges for duty in that circuit.It is important to note that not all former justices and judges are retired justices or judges, and not all retired justices and judges are senior justices or judges. The terminology can get confusing: a term such as “retired judge” may be appropriate in one context (retirement benefits, for example), but not another (such as recall to judicial service). Further, aside from temporary judicial service or retirement benefits implications, the terms “retired judge” and “senior judge” are also considered honorary designations that are not available to all former judges. For the purposes of assignment to temporary service, the following definitions apply: “former justice” “former judge” Any person who has been a judicial officer of this state. “retired justice” “retired judge” Any former justice or judge who: a. has not been defeated in seeking reelection to, or has not failed to be retained in seeking retention in, his or her last judicial office; and b. is not engaged in the practice of law. 1 For the purpose of judicial administration, a “retired judge” is defined as a judge not engaged in the practice of law who has been a judicial officer of this state. 2 “senior judge” A retired judge serving on assignment to temporary judicial duty may be referred to as a “senior judge.” This designation is honorary and has no effect on the responsibilities or conduct of the retired judge. 3 III. Eligibility to Serve as a Senior Judge The committee was asked by the Supreme Court to make a recommendation whether there is a need for a formalized certification process for senior judges, or if not what other process might be instituted to determine the eligibility of senior judges for assignment. The committee agreed there was not a need for a formal certification process; the chief justice would be well served in exercising the authority to assign retired judges and justices to temporary service by the existence of a structured process that would aid in determining the eligibility for assignment of retired justices and judges who would like to serve as senior judges.The committee concluded that the process of reaching a determination of eligibility should include screening to ensure that the retired judge is current with educational requirements, that judicial leadership within the judge’s resident court do not have concerns regarding the judge’s present ability to serve, and that the judge has no pending investigations before the Judicial Qualifications Commission. In addition, the committee agreed that, for judges and justices who have been inactive as well as for active senior judges, the determination of eligibility should also take into consideration attorney input regarding the judge’s work. Recommendation Two: Potential senior judges should be subject to a process to determine eligibility for assignment that includes the following components: •screening to ensure compliance with continuing education requirements; •employment screening including inquiries to chief and administrative judges with whom the candidate has worked; •inquiry with the Judicial Qualifications Commission regarding whether the retired judge is the subject of a pending investigation; and, •consideration of input about the retired judge’s work from attorneys who appear before the court.Additional eligibility criteria were discussed by the committee. The committee considered whether judges who had been defeated in an election or who failed to achieve a majority vote in favor of retention in their last judicial position should be eligible for assignment as a senior judge. The committee observed that, while qualified and competent judges may occasionally fail to win re-election or retention, concerns of public trust and confidence and deference to the constitutional electoral process dictate that the expressed will of the voters should be respected, and a judge or justice who in his or her last judicial position was not re-elected or retained by the voters should not be eligible for senior judge service. Recommendation Three: A judge or justice who has been defeated in an election or retention vote in their last judicial position should not be eligible to serve as a senior judge.The committee agreed that it was not necessary that judges who honorably retire and are otherwise eligible to serve as a senior judge be subject to the attorney feedback feature when they initially apply for assignment as a senior judge. Therefore, the committee recommends that a judge or justice who retires and applies for assignment as a senior judge within one year of retirement should be eligible for assignment without being subject to the feedback process. Recommendation Four: A judge who is otherwise qualified to serve as a senior judge, and who applies for assignment as a senior judge within a year of retirement , should be eligible for assignment without review of attorney input. An initial determination of eligibility would therefore be based on education, employment, and Judicial Qualifications Commission screenings, but would not require review of attorney input.The Supreme Court asked the committee to address the question of whether there should be a requirement for review or evaluation of a senior judge’s work. The committee agreed that while the quality of judicial work performed by senior judges in Florida is consistently very high, the chief justice should nonetheless direct that every senior judge be subject to periodic review. Regarding the frequency of such review, the committee deems a three-year cycle to be appropriate. This would allow synchronization with the existing three-year judicial education cycle.The committee furthermore recognized that one’s ability to perform complex tasks invariably diminishes with age, though the rate of decline is different for different individuals. Because of this fact of life, the committee concluded that, consistent with the mandatory retirement provision of the Florida Constitution, those who are constitutionally required to retire should be subject to more frequent review. A two-tiered system is therefore recommended by the committee, dependent on age. Recommendation Five: Senior judges who have been determined to be eligibility for assignment who have not reached the constitutionally required age of retirement should be subject to review every three years. Senior judges who have been determined to be eligibility for assignment who have reached the constitutionally required age of retirement should be subject to review annually. Educational requirements, however, should be reviewed only every three years in all cases, consistent with the existing court education cycle.The committee recommends that the chief justice, in making a determination that a senior judge continues to be eligible for assignment, should consider the three elements of the initial review, and should also consider the recommendation of a committee, or review board, that is based on an assessment of input from attorneys appearing before the court. The rationale in support of such a review rests on the concept of accountability: While sitting judges are elected or appointed through a merit-selection process, senior judges are assigned under the constitutional authority of the chief justice. Further, while full-time judges are subject to removal by the voters through election or retention vote, senior judges are not. For sitting judges, therefore, accountability rests ultimately with the voters. 4 V oters do not, however, have a similar opportunity to retain or remove a senior judge. Accountability for their continued judicial authority rests with the chief justice. The committee therefore recommends that, to provide accountability, the chief justice rely on a structured review process. Recommendation Six: Continuing service as a senior judge should require periodic review, based on education, employment, and Judicial Qualifications Commission screening, and on the recommendation of a review board after consideration of input from attorneys who appear before the court.The Supreme Court asked the committee how a review process could be structured. The committee discussed the potential mechanisms that might be used to solicit input from attorneys about the work of senior judges and who should review this feedback. The committee recommends that a set of committees, or review boards, be created, one in each of the five appellate districts. The review boards would solicit attorney input regarding any senior judge who is scheduled for review, as well as any retired judge from within that appellate district who requests assignment and has been retired for more than a year. A district review board would, upon consideration of attorney input, make a recommendation to the chief justice whether a candidate is eligible or not eligible for assignment. The recommendation of a review board should not be subject to appeal.The committee recommends district-wide review boards, rather than circuit-wide boards or a single statewide board for several reasons. A district-wide board could have representation that includes those who have first-hand knowledge of judges, as well as those who have experience in other jurisdictions, allowing for a balancing of perspectives. Further, the committee estimates that there would need to be approximately 150 to 200 reviews conducted each year for the foreseeable future. District-wide review boards would therefore conduct approximately 30 to 40 reviews each year, an amount that the committee hopes would not be an onerous burden. Review boards at a circuit level would be required to conduct only a small number of reviews, a number which may not justify the accompanying administrative activity. The committee anticipates that review boards would be able to organize their work on an annual cycle and conduct all reviews in one or possibly two meetings of each board each year.The committee suggests that the review boards be comprised of the chief judge of each circuit court in the district, or a designee, the chief judge of the district court of appeal or a designee, and an equal number of attorneys. One attorney should be appointed respectively by each circuit chief judge and the district court chief judge. Because each appellate district contains a different number of circuits, ranging from two to six, the memberships of the boards would range from four to twelve. Recommendation Seven: The review of senior judges should be conducted by five review boards, with one board created to serve each appellate district. Review boards would solicit attorney input regarding any senior judge who is scheduled for review, as well as any judge from within that appellate district who requests assignment and has been retired for more than a year. The review boards would make a recommendation to the chief justice whether a candidate is eligible or not eligible for assignment. Recommendations of review boards should not subject to appeal.Because senior judges can and sometimes do serve in multiple jurisdictions, the committee discussed the question of which board should conduct a review of a judge who has served in more than one appellate district. The committee concluded that the review should be conducted by the board in the district in which the judge has performed the most service in the present period of eligibility.The committee also discussed the criteria the boards should use in reviewing senior judges who seek assignment or re-assignment. Regarding physical and mental health, the committee concluded that the central consideration is ability, and concerns regarding ability would be expressed by attorneys and colleagues in the peer review process. Therefore, physical and mental examinations would not be necessary. In addressing other criteria, the committee refrained from setting out formal standards or guidelines, but would suggest that chief justices, in asking review boards for their recommendations regarding eligibility, might direct that they be guided by the following factors in formulating their recommendations. 5• Scholarship: Knowledge and understanding of substantive, procedural and evidentiary law; attentiveness to factual and legal issues before the court; and proper application of judicial precedents and other appropriate sources of authority. • Communication: Clarity of bench rulings and other oral communications ; quality of written opinions with specific focus on clarity and logic, and the ability to explain the facts of a case and the legal precedent at issue; and sensitivity to impact of demeanor and other non-verbal communications . •Case Management and Productivity: Effective docket management and prompt case disposition including devoting appropriate time to all pending matters and discharging administrative responsibilities diligently. • Temperament: Ability to deal patiently with and be courteous to all parties and participants ; and willingness to permit every person legally interested in a proceeding to be heard, unless precluded by law or rules of court . •Work Ethic: Punctuality, preparation and attentiveness, and meeting commitments on time and according to the rules of court . •Good Health: Physical and mental competence required to perform the duties and responsibilities of a judge. • Integrity: Avoidance of impropriety and appearance of impropriety; freedom from personal bias; ability to decide issues based on the law and the facts without regard to the identity of the parties or counsel, the popularity of the decision, and without concern for or fear of criticism; impartiality of actions; and compliance with the Code of Judicial Conduct.Under the system contemplated by the committee, review boards would be directed by a chief justice to provide a structured opportunity for input from attorneys who practice within the jurisdiction in which the senior judge has served. The requested input could be in reference to the above criteria or any criteria deemed relevant by that chief justice to the exercise of the assignment power. The opportunity for input could be created through any of several methods, including published invitations to provide comment by letter, the use of a survey instrument, or other mechanisms. To allow variation in response to local legal culture, and to promote innovation and experimentation, the committee suggests that the method of the opportunity to provide input be left to the sound discretion of each review board.The committee recognizes that the information collected by review boards about senior judges who are eligible for assignment would be of great assistance to chief judges in making assignment decisions. Assuming that the administrative support for the review process would be located at the Supreme Court, the committee recommends that the information collected for the consideration of a review board be forwarded to each circuit and district chief judge. Recommendation Eight: The information collected for purposes of review should be made available to circuit and district chief judges prior to the board’s recommendation. The information should be sent to the chief judges to aid them in the assignment and management of senior judges, and then forwarded to the relevant board.The committee directed research into the public record status of materials collected under the eligibility review process. It does not appear that materials collected for the purpose of determining eligibility for assignment as a senior judge would qualify for exemption from the public record requirements of the Florida constitution. The committee discussed that while these records could be made exempt through the creation of a statutory exemption, there is value in public accountability. IV. Assignment of Senior Judges The Florida constitution creates the power of the chief justice to assign consenting retired judges and justices to temporary duty, and specifically authorizes the chief justice to delegate to the chief judge of a judicial circuit the power to assign judges within a circuit. 6 T hus, chief judges can assign senior judges under the delegated authority of the chief justice. There was extensive deliberation by the committee regarding appropriate and inappropriate assignments for senior judges. The committee agreed that the issue should be addressed through guidelines to chief judges annually provided by the chief justice. The committee considered each of the questions posed by Justice Harding regarding the assignment of senior judges. The committee recognizes that chief judges, in consultation with administrative judges, are most familiar with the skills of judges and the workload needs of a court. Chief judges should therefore continue to have maximum flexibility in making assignments of senior judges. The follow recommendations are directed to that end. Recommendation Nine: Annual guidelines from the chief justice regarding the assignments of senior judges should be consistent with the recommendations in this report.The Court asked the committee to consider the question of whether a senior judge should be limited to service at the level of court that he or she had been elected or appointed. For example, can a retired county judge serve as a senior judge in circuit court, or a retired circuit judge serve in a district court of appeal? The committee recognized that many active county judges are extensively assigned to preside over circuit court dockets, and many circuit judges are assigned to sit on district court panels. 7 The committee considers that such experience can qualify a judge to serve in a court superior to that which the judge was appointed or elected. The committee therefore concluded that a senior judge should be permitted to serve in a court superior to the court in which the judge had been elected or appointed. Recommendation Ten: Senior judges should not be prohibited from serving in a superior court than that in which they were elected or appointed.A principle area of assignment considered by the committee was complex cases. The committee concluded that, in general, complex cases should be handled by full-time judges who are subject to constitutional mechanisms of accountability. In some cases, particularly where the parties consent, assignment of a senior judge to a complex case is not objectionable. Recommendation Eleven: While there should not be a per se prohibition against the use of senior judges in complex cases, guidelines regarding the assignment of senior judges should provide that, absent an agreement by the litigants, chief judges are encouraged not to assign senior judges to preside over complex cases.Florida Rules of Court do not provide a definition of “complex case.” To clarify the concept, the committee reviewed legislation introduced during the 2000 session of the Florida Legislature. 8 That bill defined the following actions as complex cases: •antitrust claims; •construction defect claims involving multiple parties; •shareholder derivative claims; •environmental or toxic claims involving multiple parties; •mass tort claims; •claims involving class actions; and •insurance coverage claims arising out of any claims listed above.The committee observed that this itemization is not exhaustive, and suggests that other kinds of cases can be complex, including: •medical malpractice claims; •product liability claims; •environment torts without multiple parties; and, •aviation actions.The committee was also asked to address the question of whether the amount of time a senior judge serves within a year should be limited. The committee concluded that it should not. The committee noted that senior judges are compensated at a level far less than can be earned in private practice, and that many senior judges continue to serve out of an abiding commitment to public service. Where there is a demonstrated need for qualified judges, and a senior judge is available, artificial limitations on the extent of service should not prevent workload from being addressed by a senior judge. The state and citizens of Florida benefit from this service.The constitutional language regarding senior judge service refers to “temporary duty,” 9 and Florida Statutes purport to limit assignments to sixty days service in a year “without approval of the chief justice.” 10 In keeping with these provisions, the existing practice has been to issue assignment orders for specified time periods. In the view of the committee, an order of a chief justice assigning a retired judge or justice to service for a period of one year or three years satisfies the statutory requirement and is, furthermore, within the constitutional authority of a chief justice. Repeated re-assignments are not necessary. The committee also suggests that the statutory provision be considered for revision. Recommendation Twelve: There should not be a limit on the number of days that a senior judge serves within a calendar year.The committee was asked to address the question of whether a senior judge should serve only in the jurisdiction where he or she was previously elected or appointed. Upon consideration the committee determined that there is no public policy benefit to limiting assignment to a certain jurisdiction only, such as the jurisdiction of prior service or the jurisdiction of current residence. A senior judge who has been determined to be eligible for assignment should be made available for service statewide. The rationale for this recommendation revolves again around the concept of accountability. Accountability for senior judges rests ultimately with the chief justice rather than the voters of a particular circuit or district. The authority and responsibility of a chief justice extends throughout the state, and a chief justice can assign a senior judge to duty without limitation to the jurisdiction of prior service. Recommendation Thirteen: Standard assignment orders to duty that allow for service statewide as a senior judge should be created for issuance by the chief justice. V. Implementation The committee discussed at length the implementation of the proposed system of ongoing eligibility review and assignment, and recognizes that such a system would create a substantial and ongoing commitment of resources to maintain. The committee consulted at length with the Clerk of the Supreme Court and staff of the Office of the State Courts Administrator. The committee does not see the necessity for a continuing committee to address policy matters, and understands that, should issues of policy arise, the review boards and the chief judges of the circuit and district courts will raise the issue with the chief justice. Further, the chief justice may at any time create a committee or direct an existing Court committee to study additional issues that may arise.The committee discussed the desirability of promoting efficiency and effectiveness in the use of senior judges through the creation of an intranet website that would centralize information and facilitate activity. This concept follows the prior work of the Senior Judge Workgroup of the Committee on Trial Court Performance and Accountability, which recommended that a single senior judge management information system be created to replace the existing separate databases associated with senior judge authorization, compensation, and utilization. The Information Systems Division of the Office of the State Courts Administrator has the capability to provide the technical infrastructure for such a website, which would be accessible to the circuit and district courts, the Supreme Court and the Office of the State Courts Administrator, and all senior judges.The senior judge management information system would provide a registry of eligible senior judges that chief judges, administrative judges and court administrators could consult. The registry would provide information on the availability of senior judges, as well as their areas of substantive expertise and preference, current education information, and locations. Circuit and district courts would directly update information on the registry about senior judge service. The system could also provide automated links to finance and accounting functions that would facilitate requests for reimbursement. The system could be linked to the judicial education system to facilitate continuing education. Recommendation Fourteen: The Office of the State Courts Administrator should create and maintain an intranet website to support the efficient and effective assignment and use of senior judges.To address operational matters and procedures, and to support the chief justice in implementing and maintaining the proposed system, the committee suggests that the chief justice direct that a permanent workgroup be created under the guidance of the State Courts Administrator and the Clerk of the Supreme Court. Such a workgroup should include staff from the Finance and Accounting Division, Personnel Division, Court Services Division, Legal Affairs, Information Systems Division, and Strategic Planning Unit of the Office of the State Courts Administrator, and the Clerk or designated staff of the Clerk of the Supreme Court. The workgroup should also include representation of the trial court administrators.The workgroup should address the following operational matters: •the procedural steps for applying for senior judge assignment; •the guidelines and procedural considerations regarding the assignment of senior judges; •the development and application of an intranet website to facilitate senior judge assignment; •the reporting of information on senior judge utilization and performance measurement; and, •the process of requests for reimbursement of senior judges payment and expenses. Recommendation Fifteen: A permanent workgroup should be created under the State Courts Administrator and the Clerk of the Supreme Court to address ongoing operational matters and procedures and to support the chief justice in implementing and maintaining the proposed system for the assignment and support of senior judges. 1 S ection 25.073 (1), Florida Statutes. 2 Rule 2.030 (a) (3) (B), Florida Rules of Judicial Administration. 3 Rule 2.030 (a) (3) (D), Florida Rules of Judicial Administration. 4 O ther mechanisms to remove judges include impeachment by the Legislature and removal by the Supreme Court, which may be of limited application in the context of senior judges. 5 The committee drew upon the experience of several other states, particularly New York and Utah, in developing these criteria. 6 Art. V., sec. 2 (b), Fla. Const. 7 The same provision of the constitution that allows for the assignment of retired judges allows for the assignment of active judges to temporary duty “in any court for which the judge is qualified.” Art. V., sec. 2 (b), Fla. Const. 8 S enate Bill 934, 2000 Legislative Session. 9 Art. V., sec. 2 (b), Fla. Const. 10 2 5.073 (2) (a), F.S.last_img read more

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