Business and community leaders recently collaborated with judges from the North Dade Justice Center to present the 60th anniversary Law Day celebration featuring Roberto Martinez, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and shareholder at the law firm of Colson Hicks Eidson. Judges overseeing Law Day 2018, themed “Separation of Powers: Framework for Freedom” were Associate Administrative Judge Linda Singer Stein, Judge Myriam Lehr, Judge Caryn Canner Schwartz, Judge Alex Bokor, Judge Ranatha S. Francis, Judge Gordon C. Murray, Sr., Judge Laura Shearon Cruz and Senior Judge Martin Shapiro.
Special guests included Chief Judge Bertila Soto, as well as county and circuit court judges, elected officials, law enforcement officials, Bar Association leaders, educators and Law Day essay contest student winners.
Law Day commenced with an invocation by preeminent attorney Paul Novack; the Pledge of Allegiance led by the Bailiffs of the North Dade Justice Center; Color Guard presentation by the Bal Harbour Village Honor Guard; and an inspiring rendition of “God Bless America” sung by talented vocalist Cameron Wheeler.
During the event, proclamations were presented by Miami-Dade Commissioner Sally Heyman; Aventura Mayor Enid Weisman; Sunny Isles Beach Mayor George “Bud” Scholl; Surfside Vice Mayor Daniel Gielchinsky; North Miami Beach Mayor Beth E Spiegel; Bay Harbor Islands Vice Mayor Joshua Fuller; and Miami Gardens Vice Mayor Erhabor Ighodaro. Proclamations were also accepted on behalf of Golden Beach, Miami and Miami Beach, lauding Law Day as, “A public acknowledgement of our nation’s and state’s heritage of justice, liberty and quality under the law.”
Next on the docket, keynote speaker Roberto Martinez was introduced as a prominent attorney with a distinguished career in both public and private service, who has successfully handled high profile litigation cases at the state, federal and international levels. He has received humanitarian and pro bono service awards, and currently serves as a member of Florida’s Constitution Revision Committee.
Martinez discussed a question that will be on the November ballot regarding the Doctrine of Judicial Deference to Administrative Agencies. “It’s asking whether you’re for or against requiring judges and hearing officers to independently interpret statutes and rules rather than deferring to government agencies’ interpretation,” he explained.
“Right now, when judges deal with the interpretation of a rule or law that is within the jurisdiction of an administrative agency, they have to defer to that agency’s interpretation unless it is clearly erroneous. This gives the government an incredible advantage, basically taking away the authority of the judiciary to say what the law is, and putting it in the hands of the administrative agency. It’s also a violation of due process.
“I feel very strongly that we should do something to rectify this, so I sponsored the proposal to change our Constitution. You will see it on the ballot as part of revision number six. I hope you’ll give serious consideration to abolishing this doctrine, which has eroded the independence of the judiciary.”
During Law Day, special recognition for outstanding dedication and service was expressed to Esther Blynn, coordinator of the North Dade Bar Association’s Law Day essay contest; and Russel Lazega of Florida Advocates, an inaugural recipient of the essay contest’s first prize over 30 years ago. Blynn and Lazega have overseen the annual Law Day essay contest for many years.
Heidi Vazquez, an 8th grader at Highland Oaks Middle, won this year’s first prize for writing an essay on the topic of “The Fate of DOCA Children Rests with Congress,” highlighting positive points associated with separation of powers.
Special presentations were also made to Elaine Adler, President of the Aventura Marketing Council/Chamber of Commerce for being, “A dear friend, role model and ‘Wonder Woman,’ settling for nothing less than perfection”; and Judge Caryn Canner Schwartz, who will be retiring at the end of the year.
Following a touching rendition of “Unforgettable” sung by Cameron Wheeler, Schwartz shared, “This has been the greatest 26 years of my life. I’ve worked with the best judges, staff and clerks anybody could ask for. I can truly say is they have are fair and impartial, just wonderful people whom I believe is the best bench in the U.S. They listen, care and render justice. I’m very proud to be a part of the North Dade Justice Center. We have a family here, which I’ll continue to be part of as a senior judge.”
Ruling Law Day 2018 “highly successful,” North Dade Justice Center judges expressed special thanks to supporters including: Law Offices of Fenstersheib and Berkowitz, PA; Florida Advocates, a Private Law Firm; the Aventura Marketing Council/Chamber of Commerce; Bank of the Ozarks; Caribbean Bar Association; Cuban American Bar Association; Dade League of Prosecutors; Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association; Haitian Lawyers Association; Miami-Dade County Trial Lawyers Association; North Dade Bar Association; South Broward Bar Association; STEINLAW Personal Injury Attorneys; and Wilke D. Ferguson, Jr. Bar Association.