Congratulations Robert Cohen
I missed posting last Friday. My apologies. It has been a busy season, with travel, the annual report, the child support transition and more. My post would have been, and instead today is, congratulations to DOAH Director Bob Cohen. Last Friday the Division celebrated his tenth year leading the Division. It is an achievement worth noting.
Like all organizations, the Division is composed of a multitude of different personalities. We each have our particularities, or perhaps idiosyncrasies. Lawyers are difficult to manage, as anyone knows who has managed a law firm. I see some managing partners that make it look easy, but I know that this is just an appearance created by their particular skill. I also know that they are few and far between. I see them making difficult decisions, planning futures, putting out daily fires, mending fences, mediating turf battles, you all get the picture.
DOAH is no different. There are a multitude of issues that arise in this agency ranging from the downright mundane to the mission-critical. The agency is complicated by the simple fact that it is comprised of two very different sub-populations who sometimes have little in common. The jurisdiction of the JCCs and the ALJs is vastly different. The operations of the ALJs, centralized in Tallahassee, are very different than the operations of the OJCC, spread throughout the state. The funding of the two parts is diverse, with all of the OJCC funding coming from the Administrative Trust Fund and the ALJ funding sources being more diverse. From some perspectives, the two parts might be seen as compatible as Felix and Oscar so many years ago. Despite that, Bob brings cohesion, cooperation, and camaraderie to these groups.
Bob Cohen was appointed to head this Agency in 2003. I was appointed Deputy Chief Judge of the OJCC in 2006. To a large extent, many of the innovations we enjoy today predate us both; in theory and in practice. The use of videoteleconference had begun already, but using the Department of Management Services. Through the last six years, we have installed these facilities within the OJCC offices, affording access to both ALJs and the JCCs who need to hear reassignments or recusals. The foundation of e-filing had been begun through the database concepts that predate us. However, e-filing as it is came about in fact during these last ten years. When I was appointed, only one OJCC district was accepting e-filing, and it was merely lawyers emailing PDF documents to district staff, a far cry from the e-JCC we deployed in 2005, and an even more distant process than the e-JCC of today. Like BASF, you might say that we have made the products you use better over the last ten years. That would not be possible without the support of Director Cohen.
That is not to say that there have not been innovations. E-service has been a great example. Ten years ago we had nothing in the way of e-service. That process was innovated by a few, garnering the DOAH a Davis Productivity Award in the process. It evolved into a very powerful tool that makes life as a practitioner far easier and far less costly.
You may or may not know that Bob practiced in Tallahassee for 21 years before taking the DOAH helm in 2003. If there is a Bar committee, a judges organization, or a foundation he has served on it. He has been involved in the Inns of Court movement, the NAALJ, and many sections of The Florida Bar.
Congratulations Bob on ten years running this diverse and interesting Agency, navigating the pitfalls, and planning for the continued vitality of these necessary administrative processes. Here is looking for ten more years!