Dinter interviewed The Honorable Joseph P. Farina, chief judge of the
11th Circuit comprising Miami-Dade County’s circuit and county courts in
clogged court results in disservice to taxpayers and makes it difficult
for judges to give their all.
overload is severe
have the highest caseloads in the state of Florida,” confirms Judge
sheer numbers tell the story — it's an enormous pressure on everyone
in the courthouse.
Farina admits, “We face delays trying criminal cases, delays in
settling divorces, delays returning children to their parents, delays
Eleventh Circuit has 108 judges in nine different courthouse facilities
around the county. There are over 500 people involved in the court
system, judges included. The annual budget is $63 million (which does
not include the budgets of the state attorney, public defender,
corrections, the clerk of court).
lead is to plan
court’s budget for key support personnel to help judges carry out
judicial duties more efficiently.
Family values are the key
reflects on the court’s accomplishments in 1995: 25% more jury trials
in the Criminal Division; more career criminals were sentenced to
mandatory state prison than any other county in Florida; convicted
criminals are kept in prison longer than ever before.
chief judge adds a stern warning: “But society is developing more
violent people than ever before and it is going to be worse.”
demographics paint a grim picture: the juvenile population in Florida in
the next five to ten years will grow 40%. That's where the largest
increase in violent crime will be found — rape, robbery, murder,
must stop developing this violent person because there are not enough
judges, not enough courtrooms, not enough prisons to try, sentence and
house the number of bad people our society is creating," Farina
continues his warning. “We have to reach further back.”
must all be role models
man whose day-to-day job brings him face to face with the cruel reality
of life wants all to know, “I am not hopeful that we can be.”
Because, he warns, too much is being asked of judges if it is all put at
the courthouse steps. Judges need the help of the parent, the clergy,
and the teacher for the judicial system to work.
County now has a truancy intervention program where the court and the
school system work together to identify those students who are not in
school, get them in school as part of a court order, and monitor them.
County has started a boot camp program. With pride in his voice Judge
Farina invites, “Go out there to the Dade County Boot Camp and observe
the good we do. It's the best in the country.”
program focuses on many aspects of making the inmates productive members
of the community.
is not just the four months military yell at them and let them do the
push ups so they can be stronger and faster to do more crime later,”
Farina emphasizes. “This goes beyond that.”
juveniles ordered to attend the boot camp are given computer classes;
they are getting their GEDs. The boot camp personnel are working with
the community college and getting them enrolled; they are working with
the unions to get them apprentice jobs; they work with local businesses
to find jobs.
judges know that they have an important role to play but they need help
because the court system is only one part of the justice system.
justice system is a big umbrella,” the energetic head of the 11th
Circuit explains. “The court system is only one rib. The other ribs of
that umbrella are the family, the clergy, the school system, the job
market, equal opportunity in getting jobs so people feel they are part
of the system.”
court system is an important part,” the judge adds. “Though we are a
sanctioning part, we also try to help mold behavior. Our hope is getting
to the young people in kindergarten and in elementary school. That's
where our resources must be focused because by the time we see them in
the Juvenile Division it's almost too late.”
Farina was elected chief judge of the 11th Circuit of Florida by his
colleagues and took office in July 1995. At age ten, the Detroit native
moved to Miami with his family, earned his J.D. at the University of
Florida, and returned to the magic city — his home for the past 40
We judges can do little more without being joined by the reestablishment of family values, the invigoration of the traditional religious institutions, the improvement of the educational system all around us, and following the Golden Rule.
We must stop developing this violent person because there are not enough judges, not enough courtrooms, not enough prisons to try, sentence and house the number of bad people our society is creating. We have to reach further back.
hope is getting to the young people in kindergarten and in elementary
school. That's where our resources must be focused because by the time we
see them in the Juvenile Division it's almost too late.