ON THIS OCCASION, I AM USING THIS BLOG SPECIFICALLY FOR PURPOSES OF HOPING THAT ANY/ALL OF MY USERS WILL EXERCISE THEIR RESPECTIVE (AND COLLECTIVE) POWERS TO INFLUENCE THE STATE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS. I DO SO BECAUSE OF THE SERIOUS, DIRE THREAT BEING POSED AGAINST THE JUDICIARY BY BOTH THE LEGISLATIVE AND EXECUTIVE BRANCHES. BELOW, IS AN EMAIL RECEIVED FROM A FELLOW ATTORNEY DOCUMENTING THE SERIOUSNESS OF THE THREAT, AND THE NEED FOR ACTION. PLEASE CONSIDER GIVING THIS YOUR CLOSE ATTENTION. DEREK
Today I attended a forum on the budget cuts and how they will impact the judiciary. Also, on Wednesday, Chief Judge Brown gave a comprehensive and powerful speech on this subject that I wish everyone had heard, because it scared the living daylights out of me. Without sounding overly alarmist, to quote the Chief Judge, “This is a war.” The Florida Legislature has declared war on the judiciary.
We can talk about all of the awful measures that have been threatened that will impact the selection of Judges, which are aimed only at one thing, and that is control over judges by the two other branches. They are truly awful and a direct threat to separation of powers in Florida. But, many of those changes will require constitutional amendments, and, the most immediate and drastic event on the agenda is the budget.
Here again, we have worked with the Chiefs through these things before; and, while there have been a lot of hits and we have seen the decline in the system, it is nothing compared to what is coming. There will be no system as we know it. The Complex Business Litigation Court will close. The special Foreclosure Court that Judge Bailey and others established will also shut down. Because of the constitutional demands in criminal cases, there will likely be a shift from the other divisions to Criminal and Juvenile where a speedy trial is at stake. And, all of this is assuming that the court does not shut down completely, which is not a fanciful prospect. This is not like before when the judges were facing pay cuts and we would offer our help, send some emails and that was it.
What to do? We should be contacting our representatives in Tallahassee, which we should. However, everyone agrees that the strongest voices to be heard will be those of the business community. Without businesses, new and existing, there are no sales (no sales tax), no new homes built and not much change in the foreclosure situation, which again means no sales and no new jobs. Many of our clients are involved in litigation or contemplating it, or worse, they will find themselves embroiled in it. It is the nature of doing business and even more so in a down turned economy. They will be seriously affected if they are denied access to courts. Most of us hear the words “access to courts” and we think of the poor and legal aid. Not here and not now. Our clients will be the ones denied. All of us need to explain this to each one of our clients for whom this is important, and they need to contact their representatives and the key players. Shutting down or shutting off the courts is bad for business; it is not a boost for the economy. Businesses need to have disputes resolved; commercial property in foreclosure cannot drag on for 3 years because the Civil Division is understaffed; a partnership dispute should not be settled because one of the partners takes off with all of the assets before the other can get a Receiver appointed.
> The most effective way to have your opposition registered is with a phone call. Call your state Representative or Senator. However, you can also go to MyFloridaHouse.gov and flsenate.gov and find contact information there.
> The next best thing is to write a letter. If you are an attorney, state right away (a) the types of clients you represent; (b) how this will hurt them and be as specific as you can; and, (c) how you are advising all of these clients of what is going on in Tallahassee so that they can make the necessary business decisions in light of what our Legislature is proposing to do to the courts. If not an attorney, please write succinctly regarding your concerns, and stress how these matters will exercise a definitive impact upon your vote, the votes of family and friends, as well as determinations on campaign donation.
Do not forget the Governor. He is a key player here, and will be signing these laws, so send letters to him. And to: Senate President Mike Haridopolos and Speaker Cannon. But you have to act now; these bills are making there way through the process.
I cannot emphasize enough how important this is.