Judges in Florida have for years created secret dockets to hide the court cases of the rich and famous and now the state’s Supreme Court Chief Justice wants to end the unorthodox practice that he calls un-American.
Several counties throughout the state have a so-called secret judiciary, but Broward County in South Florida takes the cake with more than 400 divorce, negligence, malpractice and civil-fraud cases and an unknown number of criminal cases hidden from public view in Circuit Court since 1989. Many of those civil cases involved politicians, judges, lawyers, police officers or prominent businessmen.
Courts in Palm Beach, Hillsborough, Sarasota, Pinellas and Pasco counties have also hidden cases in the Sunshine State. This conflicts with two of the most basic tenets of this country’s judicial system; that courts are always open to the public and that they provide equal treatment to all. It is precisely why Chief Justice Fred Lewis is working to outlaw the practice.
The veteran judge, who says he nearly “swallowed his tongue” when he first learned about this rampant practice in his state, says that the secrecy can fuel the perception that the rich, the famous and the politically connected get special treatment from the courts.
Even family court cases – nearly 3,000 of them–that were supposed to be sealed to protect sensitive information, were completely left off the public docket as if they didn’t exist. Evidently, this court secrecy is not limited to state court with one reporter’s organization claiming it is also commonplace in Florida’s Federal district courts.
Joint Legal Custody and Dealing with the Difficult Ex
By their very nature, divorce and custody matters are generally contentious. But what if one of the parties is a particularly vengeful and bitter ‘ex.’ How does that change the nature of the game? What if the difficult ‘ex’ is your adversary- or what if it’s you?
Establish the right of a parent to make decisions regarding upbringing, education and care of their child AS A FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT.
To pass legislation, it will require Passage through certain committees. The individuals who chair these committees decide what bills get discussed, and thus passed through to the house for a vote. So this next step is critical to the life of this effort for 2015.
CALL TO ACTION Contact the three Legislators via e mail IMMEDIATELY. Three legislators that Chair committees that the 2015 Parental Rights Bill needs to pass through.
What should I write? Here is some suggested Language for your e-mail. Add edits as needed to personalize if desired. But remember – keep it short and to the point. Lengthy e mails lose their power because they are not likely to be read by the Representative or their staff.
Subject Line: Committee Chair – Please Support Parental Rights Bill
Body: Dear Rep. (Their Last Name), This e mail is to express my strong support for HB 737 – The Parental Rights Bill. I support it because I believe that Parents should have a fundamental right to direct the care, upbringing and education of their children. This bill has been assigned to the committee that you currently chair. I respectfully ask that you allow HB 737 (Parental Rights Bill) to be discussed and voted on in your committee. I look forward to seeing HB 737 Parental Rights Bill passed as Law in Florida this year! Sincerely, (Your Name)