The JNC doesn’t care. Governors don’t either.
There are still only six Black judges amongst Broward’s ninety-one jurists, despite the fact the county is categorized roughly 30% Black in the most recent census data online. And after this week’s JNC submission to Governor Scott, it doesn’t seem things will be getting better anytime soon.
So here’s the thing. Qualified Black lawyers need to start applying with Chief Judge Peter Weinstein for General Magistrate positions. These slots are a proven pathway to the bench, and GM’s hold as many or more hearings with the public than some judges. Weinstein has nearly unbridled discretion who to appoint, and can do more than almost anyone to ensure Black people are at least represented on the lowest rung of the judicial ladder, with great opportunity for advancement.
There’s currently a GM position available, because of Rita Berry’s impending retirement. The problem is Weinstein has opened the position up only to “qualified Court Administration staff“, fueling speculation he plans to hand it off to Alexandra Rieman,* the current General Counsel for Court Administration. She’s one of roughly twenty-four attorneys employed throughout Court Administration, so it’s a pretty small pool of individuals with the credentials to even consider applying, let alone go through the trouble of filling out an application. Of that number, there are only a few Black attorneys.
Diana Sobel, Chief of Personnel, told us she was directed by Kathy Pugh, the Court Administrator, to make this an “internal announcement” only. Sobel also stated the GM slots are usually open to the legal community, and that a closed posting is “rare“. Additionally, of the six jobs posted in Human Resources today, the GM slot is the only one not open to the public, despite carrying the most responsibility.
There is hope, however. Sobel said Weinstein could easily open this up to the general public, and extend the December 11th, 5:00 PM deadline, if he chooses to do so. It’s happened before, in situations where there weren’t qualified people to choose from. Given Weinstein’s pro-diversity statements in the past, the importance of a diverse bench reflecting the community it serves, and the criticisms directed at the Chief Judge that he likes to take care of his friends, together with the current lack of a Black GM, ** Weinstein should open this position up immediately, and extend the deadline to apply.
Toward that goal, Ruby Green, President of TJ Reddick Bar Association, confirmed she has left a request to speak with Weinstein.
It makes sense, considering everything that has happened in the past with the appointment process, that we need to step it up and open the local pathway to the bench to qualified applicants of all backgrounds.
And from Howard Finkelstein:
This is nothing more than good old boy, same old same old, and it’s how Broward has gotten to be so lacking in diversity, and why our criminal justice system is so skewed. It should always be open to the public, because the pathway to the bench should be for the best and brightest of all ethnicities, and not just for your friends or supporters who you may owe a favor.
So there you have it. Everyone should call Weinstein’s office at 954-831-5506 to ask for the GM position and application deadline to be opened and extended. Additionally, Black lawyers are urged to fill out the application, and send it in as soon as possible. Who knows, like former General Magistrate Michael Robinson, you just may end up on the circuit court …
We’ll update if Weinstein returns calls …
* Rieman and Pugh haven’t returned calls regarding the rumors, or talk that Rieman, if appointed, would start at a higher salary than most GM’s typically do …
** Phoebee Francois is a Hearing Officer, not a GM …
GM APPLICATION (Quick and Easy)