Judge Andrea Wolfson rules peoples court

A county judge who may face up to 150 cases in a single day shared her philosophy with a West Kendall audience on Nov. 19.

“You should realize that the county judge truly represents the ‘people’s’ court,” emphasized County Judge Andrea R. Wolfson.

“In any single day, we may hear 50 or 150 cases, remembering we have no boss to answer to regarding any decision we make, other than administrative judges who review our decisions.”

Judge Wolfson defeated Greer Elaine Wallace for re-election in 2012, receiving 53.8 percent of the vote. Since honored for her service by several Miami-Dade bar associations, Judge Wolfson underscored that “decisions in county courts must carefully weigh human elements involved in any case.

“That’s because we hear the first-time DUI’s, thefts, petty crimes, even in some cases, simply a mistakes an offender makes.”
She emphasized decisions in such cases often are made in the light of individual circumstances but the right of appeal always protects a defendant in an appellate court.

“I have always first followed the law — the most important point people must realize,” Judge Wolfson said. “We cannot change a law sitting on the bench; we can only do what the law permits us to do, whether or not a decision is regarded as unfair or unjust, even when the judgment appears unmerited.”

One of 123 Circuit and County Court Judges, Judge Wolfson presides in the 11th Judicial District, largest of 20 in Florida and annually disposing of some 800,000 cases including civil traffic violations.

“What makes a good judge? Someone who is not only smart but thoughtful and fully conscious of the Florida Constitutional law as it effects each and every case,” she said.

She explained that when cases occur in which the law may seem to unfairly direct a decision, it is the judge’s job to explain the law and the reasoning used to reach that decision.

“We are now in the process of meeting regularly with Miami-Dade lawyers in the hopes of developing more understanding of those limitations,” she added.

Judge Wolfson has served as a county judge since her June 2010 appointment by then-Gov. Charlie Crist after nearly 10 years’ service as a Miami-Dade assistant state attorney in the 11th District.

A graduate of the University of Notre Dame (1995), she received her law degree from the Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2001, married fellow graduate Jonah Wolfson, a Miami Beach City Commissioner. The couple has two children, Jacob and Allyson.

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