Preserving the Independence of the Judiciary

America doesn’t need another empty courtroom. This mission of Save Our Juries is to uphold the jury system provided by the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by educating the American public about the current issues, the history and the value of the right to a trial by jury. Please click here for more information.

One of the goals of ABOTA members is to maintain and support public confidence in the judiciary by providing timely assistance to members of the bench in responding to adverse publicity, misinformation, or unwarranted criticism of an individual judge or the judiciary. Please click here to read more about, or print, Protocol for Responding to Unfair Criticism of Judges, as presented by the American Board of Trial Advocates.

Chapter Crisis Response Team members are invited to click here for examples of correspondence that has been prepared and distributed by chapter leaders throughout Florida.

On July 20, 2012 at the FLABOTA Annual Convention in Key Biscayne, a speech was delivered as part of FLABOTA’s educational program by former Iowa Supreme Court Justice David L. Baker. The following link will take you to a transcript of that speech, which also appeared in the Summer 2012 issue of ABOTA’s Voir Dire magazine, entitled “The Challenges Judges Face When They are Besieged by Special Interest Groups.”
Baker Speech 7-20-12

The effectiveness of the administration of justice depends in large measure on public confidence. The reporting of inaccurate or unjust criticism of judges, courts or our system of justice by the news media erodes public confidence and weakens the administration of justice. It is vital that nonlitigants as well as litigants know and believe that the courts, their procedures and their decisions are fair and impartial.

It is unethical for a judge to answer criticism of her or his actions appearing in the news media regarding pending or impending matters. This policy has been developed to ensure the dignity of the administration of justice, to prevent interference with pending litigation, and to reaffirm the commitment to an independent judiciary, a judiciary dedicated to decision making based on facts and law as presented. Therefore, cooperation of attorneys is necessary to respond accurately, quickly and fairly to unwarranted criticism of judges and courts.

FLABOTA is dedicated to protecting the independence of the judiciary. Each of the 11 local chapters has established a Crisis Response Team, ready to implement the Protocol for Unjust Criticism of Judges, when needed. Click here the link below to view the full text of the Protocol.

The chapter Crisis Response Teams are:

Central Florida

David Paul
Joseph L. Amos, Jr.
Christopher Hill
Melvin B. Wright

Fort Lauderdale

Mitch Chester
Jay Cohen
Diana Santa Maria


Howard Coker
Hugh Cotney
Wayne Hogan
Mike O’Neal
Jake Schickel


Kim Cook
Michael Mullen
Manuel A. Reboso
Peter Spillis

North Florida

Mark Avera
Randy Briggs
Carl Schwait

Northwest Florida

Brent Bradley
Steve Echsner
Linda Wade

Palm Beach

Richard Benrubi
Bruce Ramsey
John Wilke


Jim Burgess
Mark Kapusta

Southwest Florida

Bill Donovan
William D. Keith
Allan Parvey
Vicki Sproat
Wallace C. Von Arx
Gregory Woods


Chris Barkas
Dave Dunlap
Lisa Foran
Don Hinkle
Sid Matthew
Kathy Maus

Tampa Bay

Mike Addison
Ed Gerecke
Skooter Kinman


Chapter Leaders are encouraged to purchase desk plates for members of the judiciary in their area.

Judicial Investiture deskplate order form.