Happy New Year to all.
During the break, The Florida Bar News announced only three contested Board of Governors (BOG) races statewide this year, to be held in March. One is in Miami, and two are in Broward.
Candidate platform statements were due yesterday, for publication later in the month online and in print. My statement is below.
Additionally, I have challenged Jay to a debate concerning qualifications and the critical issues facing The Florida Bar (TFB) today, and personally assured him of equal time for anything professionally written he may wish to post here on JAABLOG. However, as noted in the platform statement, Jay doesn’t return my emails. I had also emailed his partner, Robert Vaughn, in his capacity as incoming president of the Broward County Bar Association (BCBA), to see if he could help arrange a debate in the event Jay rises to the challenge. Robert promptly replied that he would forward my request to his colleagues on the BCBA Executive Committee for consideration and discussion, so let’s hope Jay doesn’t run from this important dialogue.
In the meantime, please take the time to read my statement, and do contact me with any questions, concerns, or insights to help me win. I know there are an awful lot of people out there who also feel TFB needs a change of course, and together we can make a difference.
RESTRICTED WORD COUNT PLATFORM STATEMENT:
My name is Bill Gelin, and I am running against Jay Kim for BOG in Broward. I graduated UC Berkeley, and Stanford Law School.
I am known as an aggressive criminal defense attorney after daily courtroom appearances over eighteen-plus years, and for my role as principal author of the courthouse blog, JAABLOG.
My work on “the blog” has led to a large body of local, national, and international news stories over fourteen years, and helped to root-out corruption. However, I am most proud of starting the public dialogue in Broward for criminal justice reform and diversity on the bench more than a decade before they became fashionable topics. For my service, I was named Broward-Palm Beach “Best Lawyer” and “Best Gadfly,” and JAABLOG “Best Blog” by local media. Despite helping to usher in needed reforms, TFB has never been a fan, and has pursued numerous unfounded, anti-free speech/reform-chilling complaints, for which probable cause has never been found.
Because I believe in offering and working towards solutions, instead of simply pointing out flaws.
This is a critical time for TFB. Former president Michelle Suskauer is under investigation for serious ethics allegations discovered by a federal judge, and a Miami judge recently wrote a report that reads like an indictment of TFB’s disciplinary arm. Taken together with ongoing repressive Bar actions against critical free speech, I believe an independent audit of Bar practices is necessary to ensure the public is properly protected and reassured.
Enhancement of a disciplinary process viewed as inefficient, anti-due process, and sometimes politically manipulated both offensively and defensively, is not the only area of concern. Professionalism and civility must be addressed, namely combatting institutional racism via TFB’s educational and legislative advocacy functions. There is nothing more unprofessional and uncivilized than disparate systemic impacts upon minorities, and TFB should be exercising more leadership. If elected, lip service to ideals of behavior will not be espoused, but rather inconvenient truths stated and countered.
Why run against Jay Kim?
I don’t think he’s accomplished much on the BOG, and besides not adequately addressing the issues above, he voted to terminate a judicial professionalism feedback program, instead of working to fix it.
I also disagree with his mentoring position, stating for YLD consumption “your client is generally not worth a bad personal relationship with your opposing counsel.” The public distrusts the legal profession because it’s perceived as self-serving; I will work to educate everyone that clients are always paramount.
Lastly, I emailed Jay before and after announcing, with no response. Professionalism requires more, and I will faithfully communicate with all.
As a busy sole practitioner, I am sensitive to the needs of running a business. I will be there for lawyers interested in solving personal issues, as well as addressing “macro” problems. Transparency is key, and in the changing technological legal landscape of which we all are part, I will seek your input to help shape the future practice of law to both benefit hard-working attorneys and protect the public.
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