County Court Courier

Volume 3, Number 9

October, 1996

Conference of County Court
Judges of Florida

Room 209, Old Court House,
324 S. Ft. Harrison Avenue
Clearwater, FL 34616
(813) 464-3261

Welcome once again to the "on-line" edition of the County Court Courier. This is provided as a service to the County Court Judges of the State of Florida and to the public that they serve.

Judge Hubert Grimes

Message from the President, Judge Hubert Grimes


Committee Reports


Articles,Humor,& Upcoming Events





Message from the President
by Judge Hugh Grimes

As the first installment of the president's corner, I find it fitting to share excerpts of my swearing in message given at the Annual Business Meeting in Key Largo on July 25th. A great portion of the credit for the success which the conference has achieved in the last two years is directly attributable to the leadership of outgoing president, Bob Zack. He has done a wonderful job and I pray I will be able to continue with similar and even greater success while building on the foundation he has left. His wife, Carol, has been a tremendous "help mate" and supporter for Bob and deserves a warm applause for her patience and support during his tenure as Conference President.

I wish to point out the three hallmarks of my anticipated tenure as President -Education, Fairness and Leadership. As a Conference, we exist primarily as a vehicle for educating both our membership and those persons and entities who assist us in performing the jobs for which we have been elected back home. We will continue to pursue high quality educational programs for the Conference and work to expand our offerings where appropriate, both within the existing structure and through programs offered by the state court system.

In carrying out our jobs back home and in operating this conference, we must always be concerned that persons appearing before us not only be treated fairly, but that they can leave our courtrooms with the perception that they were treated fairly whether they win or lose. We must continue to emphasize the highest ideals of fairness and professionalism in accordance with the oaths we took as judges.

In providing leadership, we must never forget the canon that instructs us of our responsibility to improve the administration of justice. Unfortunately, too many of us see our jobs of judging as only moving cases along. However, each of us have talents that far exceed judging - whether it be teaching a youngster or colleague or putting a new idea together which will steer people away from crime and into becoming productive members of society. Leadership provides ideas as to how we can make our communities better than they were when we arrived on the bench. We have a duty to create programs and promote ideas which will enhance the administration of justice and serve our communities to the best of our abilities.

My leg of this relay is to encourage, motivate, and coordinate the overall efforts. The success of this leg of the race is dependent on both you and I working together for the mutual goals of the conference.

Each of us as judges have worked hard and have been fortunate to occupy our respective positions. It took hard work plus something more. None of us should ever forget that even as there are many of you who could perform this job as Conference President, there are many persons who have the intelligence to do the job of a County Judge and would jump at the opportunity. Therefore, we should never take the attitude of arrogance or cynicism concerning the challenge of our jobs or the system of which we are a part.

I truly believe that our challenge is to recognize our task and the public we serve and not become cynical towards the people or the process. Be encouraged so that you may encourage, be strong that you may survive, be at peace that peace may always be with you, stay healthy that your tenure may be long and prosperous. Together we can make a difference through fairness, education and leadership.


Conference Committee Report
by Judge R. Earl Collins, Chair

The Conference Committee met at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, July 24, 1996, at the Ocean Reef Club, Key Largo, FL. Approximately 17 persons were in attendance and the following discussions and recommendations transpired.

(1) The following meetings have been scheduled and approved:

Fall Workshop - Oct. 30 - Nov. 1, 1996, Sarasota, FL.

Winter Educational Conference - Jan. 15-18, 1997, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL.

Summer Conference - July 9-12, 1997, Naples, FL.

(2) Proposed Spring Workshop in Tallahassee, FL., April 23-25, 1997. This proposal was later approved and a cocktail reception has been scheduled on April 23rd for the House, Senate, Supreme Court, and other guests. More details later.

1. The Conference Committee has been divided into committees, such as: Bulletin Board, Security, Summer Banquet/Entertainment, Children's Program, Exhibitors, etc.

2. Recommendation to eliminate the Winter banquet later approved at the Executive Board Meeting.

3. Recommended that coffee/drink breaks display notices that morning and afternoon drink breaks are for REGISTERED JUDGES ONLY. No spouses! No children!


Judicial Assistants Liaison Committee Report
by Judge Judy Goldman, Chair

The Committee meeting focused on J.A. educational opportunities and the great need for reimbursement in many counties. Upon Committee motion, the Executive Board adopted a formal position supporting all J.A.'s receiving reimbursement for educational conferences to the extent possible; and, at the very least, that reimbursement be provided for substantial representation from all counties. Conference President Grimes will relay our position to all Chief Judges.

JAAF President Linda Maina addressed the Committee regarding increasing sick pay and annual leave time consistent with State Attorney offices throughout the State. An update will be provided at the Fall Board Meeting.

Civil Rules Committee Report
by Judge Ronn Legendre, Chair

The committee discussed the proposed increase in the jurisdictional amount for Small Claims Court from $2,500 to $5,000. The Florida Supreme Court has heard oral argument on this issue and will issue an opinion. The Florida Bar Board of Governors voted for the increase without considering any committee reports. The Florida Bar Small Claims Committee had opposed the increases.

The committee heard a report from the June meeting of the Fla. Bar Civil Rules Committee as follows:

a. A rule change was discussed to determine whether a Motion For Protective Order is an automatic stay.

b. The new rule regarding service of process by mail.

c. Changes in replevin forms.

d. New Eviction Summons. The supreme court requested Spanish and Creole translations.

e. Drafting a form for final judgment of replevin.

f. Discussion of lawyers advising a witness not to answer at deposition.

The committee was reminded to use final judgment forms that permit post judgment interest on pre-judgment interest.

The committee discussed awarding a contract interest rate on final judgments instead of the Comptroller's rate. The committee also discussed the amounts of attorney's fees awarded by judges around the state in evictions and condo lien foreclosures.



Sentencing Committee Report

by Olin W. Shinholser, Chair

The sentencing committee met on July 24, 1996. The committee discussed various new laws pertinent to sentencing including the new statutes on battery, DUI and public defender appointment. Committee members have been asked to bring with them to the fall board meeting copies of any administrative orders, documents or other items that will be utilized in their respective circuits for implementation of the new public defender appointment/assessment statute. All members of the conference are requested to submit to the sentencing chair copies of any information pertinent to the implementation of the new statute. The committee will then disseminate the information to members of the conference.

The committee noted that the DUI impoundment statute has been declared unconstitutional by the Second District Court of Appeal.


Criminal Rules Committee Report
by Judge Aymer L. "Buck" Curtin, Chair

The Criminal Rules Committee met on Thursday, July 24, 1996 with eight (8) members in attendance.

The increased use of video technology was again discussed. The Court Technology User Committee has been studying/developing technology and will address policy issues that need to be established in order to implement the available technologies. The Judicial Management Council is also addressing emergency technologies in long range planning for the Courts.

Judge Venzer, Dade County and Judge White, Escambia County, have agreed to draft two different proposals dealing with Juvenile Criminal Traffic offenses. One proposal will deal with consolidating criminal traffic offenses involving juveniles with any of the misdemeanor/felony offenses arising out of the same transaction. The second proposal will be more comprehensive. Any judge having an interest in assisting with this effort is encouraged to contact Judge Venzer and Judge White. The proposals will be considered at the Board Meeting in Sarasota in October.

There being no further business the meeting was adjourned.



Education Committee Report
by Judge Terry P. Lewis, Chair

The Education Committee meeting was well attended on July 23rd in Key Largo, Florida. The Committee approved a tentative schedule for Winter 1997 Conference Education Program. There will be plenary sessions Wednesday afternoon on Civil Law Update, Americans With Disability Act, and Criminal Law Update. Thursday's program will contain three tracks for most of the day, including a criminal track of criminal law review, probation, civil courses on jury trial issues, discovery violations, consumer issues and domestic relations, and a course on professionalism. Friday's session will be plenary with a course on pro-active community relations for Judges.

Our Subcommittee on materials continues its work on a uniform bench book for county judges. Progress is slow, but steady, as would be expected on this project. If you would like to contribute with this project, please get in touch with Judge Beth Bloom of Dade County.


Traffic Court Rules Committee Report
by Judge Brian P. Kay, Chair

The traffic court rules committee met on July 24, 1996. A discussion occurred concerning various new statutes as well as proposed rule changes. No formal action was taken nor were any recommendations made to the board.


Trial Court Selection Committee Report
by Judge G. J. Roark, III, Chair

The Trial Court Selection Committee met on July 24 at the summer conference. After a review of the history of the committee and the current status of the issues the committee was created to address, its members unanimously decided to recommend placement on an inactive status pending further activity. This committee was created as an advisory body, and its existence is not mandated by the bylaws.

The chair wants to thank all of those who spent time researching single member district litigation and single tier court systems, and who worked tirelessly on the issues of merit selection and retention. Hopefully this work will have some impact on these issues in the future.


Claims Committee Report

by Judge Tom B. Freeman, Chair

The meeting was held on Tuesday, July 23, 1996 at the County Judge's Conference in Key Largo at the Ocean Reef Resort.

The Committee discussed the recent efforts to change the jurisdictional limits in Small Claims litigation. The general feeling of the members is that they are not in favor of an increase to the jurisdictional limit.

The Committee also discussed the supplemental procedures involved in collection procedures and the fact that they are becoming increasingly time consuming.

Should you have any matters to be considered before the Committee please contact me at my office.

Administration and Management Long Range Planning Committee Report
by Judge Peter D. Blanc, Chair

The Long Range Strategic Planning Committee met for a two hour session on July 23, 1996. The goals for the meeting were three-fold. First, the committee finalized a Draft Vision Statement for the Conference. Second, the committee attempted to clearly and specifically identify strategic issues impacting our Conference. Those issues were then divided into internal and external categories. Internal issues relate to our Conference's ability to provide services to its members while external issues focus on our Conference's relationship with other stakeholders. Finally, the committee attempted to identify the objectives of the Conference in relation to each of the strategic issues.

The proposed vision statement which will be presented to the Board of Directors as part of the comprehensive Long Range Strategic Plan is as follows:







The Conference identified three primary internal strategic issues. They are:

1. The involvement of Conference members.

2. The diversity of Conference membership.

3. The expectations of Conference members.

A variety of objectives which are encompassed by these strategic issues were identified and will be incorporated into the final draft of the Long Range Plan.

Three primary external strategic issues were also identified. The external strategic issues are:

1. Effective input into the statewide Judicial Management Council's Long Range Strategic Plan.

2. Our Conference's relationship with others (i.e. other conferences, the Bar, the Public, the Supreme Court, the Legislature).

3. Professionalism and public perception.

Again a variety of objectives encompassing these strategic issues were identified and will be encompassed in a Long Range Strategic Plan.

The next step for the committee is to specifically identify all objectives necessary to properly address these strategic issues and to then identify the specific tasks that should be undertaken in order to reach each of the objectives. If kept on track, the Long Range Plan should be ready for presentation to the Board of Directors at the Winter Conference and to the general membership immediately thereafter. Anyone with comments, constructive criticism, or suggestions related to the Long Range Strategic Plan may contact Palm Beach County Judge Peter D. Blanc at the Palm Beach County Courthouse, 205 N. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach, FL 33401, or any other member of the committee. Work continues.




by V. Lynn Whitfield, President



An old man traveling a lone highway,

Came one evening cold and gray,

To a River deep and dark and wide,

Because there was no bridge at the other side

The old man crossed in the twilight dim,

The sullen stream was really no trial for him;

And when he reached the other side,

He built a bridge to span the tide.

"Old man," said one man standing near,

"You waste your time building here,

You'll never come this way again,

Why build this bridge out here, my Friend?"

The builder lifted his old gray head,

And to the cynic he thoughtfully said,

"On the path I safely trod today,

There follows a youth who must come this way,

This sullen stream which was no trial for me,

To that care-free youth a pitfall may be,

While I'll never pass this way again

I build this bridge for him, my friend."


Submitted by: Karl Grube

The following dialogue is reported to have occurred when a Washington State Patrol Trooper pulled over a car near Marysville.

DRIVER: What's the problem, officer?

TROOPER: Do you know how fast you were

going, sir?

DRIVER: 55 MPH (The speed limit)

TROOPER: I clocked you at 68 MPH.

DRIVER: You couldn't have. I've been

going 55 MPH for the last several miles. I know because I was watching the speedometer.

Whereupon, the DRIVER'S WIFE pipes up:

WIFE: That's not true. You know very well you've been speeding for miles.

TROOPER: And sir, you're not wearing your seat belt.

DRIVER: I was wearing it when I was driving. I just unfastened it to get my driver's license out of my pocket.

WIFE: That's not true. You know very well you haven't had that seat belt on since we left home.

TROOPER: Ma'am, does he always lie like that?

WIFE: Oh, no sir! Just when he's been drinking excessively.

People Say The Darndest Things In Court

by Karl Grube, County Judge

Pinellas County, Florida

In the course of teaching at the National Judicial College during the past 14 years, I have had the pleasure of meeting hundreds of judges from many jurisdictions, both foreign and domestic. Several of these judges have been kind enough to supply me with excerpts of courtroom dialogue that they had the foresight to preserve. I am pleased to present the two which follow. In offering these excerpts it is not my intention to offend anyone or diminish the seriousness of any court proceedings. None of the incidents portrayed occurred within the jurisdiction of the State of Florida.

Defendant's Motion for Substitute Counsel

DEFENDANT Judge, I want you to appoint me another lawyer.

THE COURT And why is that?

DEFENDANT Because the P.D. isn't interested in my case.

THE COURT (to public defender) Do you have any comments on defendant's motion?

PUBLIC DEFENDER I'm sorry your honor, I wasn't listening.

The Wrong Voir Dire Question

COUNSEL Can you participate in a case in which the ultimate result might be death by lethal injection?

JUROR They do that up in Huntsville, don't they? Yeah, I guess I could do it if it was on a weekend.

COUNSEL And (next juror) you, sir?

JUROR Yes, but, I think it's too quick.

COUNSEL And you, sir?

JUROR It should be left up to the victims' families rather than the courts.

COUNSEL You know that my client is charged with robbing a Seven-Eleven, tying up two employees and shooting them both in the head as he fled. Now if the state offers you evidence to prove these facts, would you--

JUROR He's gone!!!!!

Mark Your Calendars

Fall Workshop

Oct. 30 - Nov. 1, 1996,

Sarasota, FL.

Winter Educational Conference

Jan. 15-18, 1997,

Ponte Vedra Beach, FL.

Summer Conference

July 9-12, 1997,

Naples, FL.