Ever heard of Child Support Credit For “Necessaries”?

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This is Disbar The Florida Bar, the campaign which is uncovering the corruption at the Florida Bar…. Posted by Disbar The Florida Bar on Sunday, September 26, 2010 Disbar the Florida Bar Rules Regulating The Florida Bar Excerpts from the Preamble: A Lawyer’s Responsibilities We are uncovering the corruption at the Florida Bar. This regulatory agency is obstructing justice and denying honest services to many Floridians. This has a profound effect on all of us. When rogue attorneys use the courts and their profession to line their own pockets, the only line of def… more »

 

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Several judicial heavy-hitters, including four former Florida Supreme Court justices and former governor and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, will hold a press conference Thursday to oppose sweeping changes to the judicial branch advocated by House Speaker Dean Canno

The public perception is that when a vacancy appears on an appellate court such as the state…

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Who chooses the judges?

The public perception is that when a vacancy appears on an appellate court such as the state Supreme Court, that the governor selects the person to fill the vacancy.

In reality, it’s not the governor who makes the determination, it’s a group of unelected individuals, half of which are selected directly by the Florida Bar Association. The governor chooses one of the 3-6 names handed to him by this group.

Our representatives are trying to change that, to make the judicial system accountable to the voters. The legal community, even lawyers with whom I share many political similarities, are opposed to these reforms.

Sarah Rumpf wrote an article about the legislature’s attempts to reform how judges are chosen. I know and respect Sarah and think she is a great patriot. I think that this is an issue on which reasonable and otherwise like-minded people can disagree.

Sarah did quote an individual named John Hamilton. Given the following comment made on his Facebook page, John doesn’t respect those who disagree with him on this, or believe that reasonable people can disagree:

[HJR 1097 is a] profound, outrageous attack by the Florida legislature on the independence of the Florida judicial system. It’s shameful, embarrassing, disgusting, and appalling. No legislator who actually cares even remotely about our system of justice could even consider voting for this bill…

Although I’m not a legislator, I do care about our system of justice and I believe firmly in protecting the independence of the judicial system against activist judges. I’m going to do my best to defend some reforms that the Florida Bar deems so ‘shameful’ without responding to some of the ad hominem hyperbole that I feel characterizes this debate at times.

First, we must admit the absolute necessity of reform.
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1. The Florida Bar is increasingly out of touch. They gave Justice Jorge Labarga an 88% approval rating before the last election, the highest they have ever given any judge. Just a few weeks later, the voters gave Labarga a 59% approval rating, the lowest ever. That gap of nearly 30% between the Bar and voters is quite alarming, when you consider that the Bar gets to choose who gets put up as a judge.

2. Conflict of business interest for lawyers. I have talked with many lawyers and asked them about judges, merit retention and judicial reform. I am met with anything from vitriol to absolute fear that anything they say will get back to the judge and hurt their client’s chances in court. Like it or not, lawyers are in the business of winning cases for clients, and the judges decide who wins. I’m not faulting lawyers for trying to win cases. That’s their job. I’m just pointing out an obvious conflict of interest when it comes to judicial nominations.

A lawyer’s nomination of a judge, as happens in the JNC, is at least in part a business decision that will affect their success in the practice of representing clients, since the judges determine the outcome of their cases. I believe this conflict of interest does not protect, but actually compromises the independence of the judicial system, the way any business interest would compromise the objectivity of that individual or group of individuals.

Imagine the outcry there would be if the Chamber of Commerce wrote our tax laws. We have a similar conflict with lawyers choosing judges.

More could be said about the necessity of reform, but I want to address the characterization of these reforms by the legislature. They have been characterized as some sort of outrageous attack by the legislature.

The US Constitution dictates a system of executive appointment and Senate confirmation for our Federal Government: Sarah, and many other lawyers believe that this bill, which would allow the Governor to appoint and the Senate to confirm a judge is “so horrible I just can’t keep quiet.” I respectfully disagree.

I know that invoking the US Constitution in a discussion about a state bill will probably create a response that the US Constitution doesn’t dictate how a state should set up its system. My only point is that I wouldn’t consider the system of refurbishing the judiciary that was enshrined in our national Constitution and thought to be wise by our founding fathers as “horrible”. It actually seems pretty wise to me to have elected representatives (governors, presidents and Senators) pick the next judge, rather than unelected legal professionals and laypersons controlling that process.

I won’t stop there: I believe the empirical evidence suggests that the appointment-confirmation process produces a more balanced court than the nomination-appointment process. Case in point: our national Supreme Court is a 5-4 court. Our state supreme court is a 5-2 court. The greater balance is achieved by a process that is subjected to the will of the people and their elected representatives.

The national Supreme Court, like the country as a whole, is slightly center-right. When elected officials control the process, the court gradually reflects the ideological stance of the citizens. When that safety-net is removed and the process is controlled by any non-elected group, the court will gradually reflect the ideological bent of that group rather than the population at large.

This is exactly what has happened in Florida. Lawyers, for one reason or another, tend to be more liberal than conservative on the whole. The court, as a result of their influence on the system, is 5-2 liberal in a state that just elected conservatives to a veto-proof majority.

In summary, the current judicial reforms put forth by the Florida House of Representatives seeks to model our state system after the US Constitution. If this is how we’re defining extremism or an ‘attack’, then I say “fire at will.”
Very Rarely Like Judges - 2015


Herston on Tennessee Family Law

Facts: When Mother and Father divorced, Mother was designated the custodial parent of their two children and Father was awarded visitation. Father was ordered to pay child support of $350 per month.

Almost immediately, the parties began exercising equal parenting time via alternating weeks. They agreed to cut Father’s child support obligation in half because they were equally dividing parenting time, but never obtained a court order approving the child support modification.

Shortly thereafter, Mother moved to Nashville. The parties’ son moved in with Father and their daughter continue to live primarily with Mother. From October 2003 through December 2009, Father paid no child support, nor did he file a petition to modify child support.

In December 2009, the parties’ son moved to Nashville and began living with Mother. In January 2011, Father resumed paying child support of $433 per month.

Mother petition for contempt and modify child support

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