There is a voluntary bar in south Florida called the Cuban American Bar Association, or CABA. As the name suggests, this is an association of attorneys of Cuban descent. Their mission includes promotion of equality, increase of diversity, the study of jurisprudence, promotion of equal access, and facilitating the administration of justice. Their complete mission statement is on their website.
Their website evidences a broad assortment of efforts and projects in the legal community including scholarship efforts, mentoring opportunities, educational programs and more. One of their projects is a poll cxonducted in Miami-Dade County.
CABA states it "is dedicated to its members and to the fair treatment of Hispanics in the legal system." In furtherance of that goal CABA conducted a confidential poll by email and asked for opinions regarding incumbent judges, judges seeking re-election, candidates for election and magistrates in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit and Dade County.
The Poll asked about qualifications, and whether someone was "exceptionally qualified," or "qualified" or "unqualified" to serve as judge. The respondents were also asked to reply "yes" or "no" to the inquiry whether the judge/magistrate/candidate was fair and equitable toward Hispanics and other minorities. The deadline for completion of the survey was back in July.
The August 1, 2014 edition of the Daily Business Review was recently provided to me by some proud OJCC staff in the Miami district office. They wanted me to know about the results of the poll. According to the Review, the "brightest superstar among the CABA crowd appears to be Charles Hill, a judge of workers' compensation claims." It notes that "he scored a total of 100 percent for exceptionally qualified (85.7) and qualified (14.3)." Judge Hill was also "one of 19 judges who scored 100 percent for his attentiveness to minorities."
The poll results demonstrated that Judges Almeyda and Kerr also scored 100 percent when "exceptionally qualified" and "qualified" were combined. Judges Almeyda, Hill, Kerr and Medina-Shore each scored 100% on the question of "does the Judge treat Hispanics and other minorities fairly and equitably, as well as demonstrate a responsiveness to their needs."
There are those who criticize polls and surveys. Certainly these are not scientific by any means. The results are very dependent upon who takes the time to respond. They may also be influenced by a perception of recent successes with a particular judge in a particular case. The numbers may be skewed by low participation or other such influences. Polls and surveys are certainly not the be all and end all, but they are interesting sometimes and perhaps add something to the overall understanding of people's perceptions.
I am proud of our Miami judges regarding the perception that they treat minorities fairly and equitably. I would hope that the results would be the same if the question was broader, that is do we treat people fairly and equitably. Congratulations in particular to Judge Hill for being recognized by the Review as a "superstar." It is great to know that our Miami judges are held in such regard.