Donna M. Goerner
Committee to Elect Donna M. Goerner
18th Circuit Court Judge, Group 21
Beyond COVID, the greatest obstacle to justice is that the judicial branch and its components are critically underfunded. This includes the Clerks of Court which is the intake and file processing mechanism for all cases that come through the court system. Both the Seminole County Clerk of Court and the Brevard County Clerk of Court (which makes up the 18th Judicial Circuit) have indicated to me that they have lost approximately 1/2 of their revenues. This creates staffing problems along with problems in timely processing court paperwork. The clerks' offices rely solely on filing fees, court costs, and fines as they are no longer funded by the state budget. Of course, this means more of a backlog in cases being addressed by the court system. Prior to COVID, the court system already faced a back-log of cases, with many people having to wait months before they can get a court hearing. The aftermath will surely be an even greater dilemma for justice.
A judge's job is to follow the law impartially and fairly. A judge who works hard, is knowledgeable in life, in the law, experienced in the courtroom, and empathetic to persons appearing in court whether as plaintiffs, defendants, witnesses, or attorneys is trustworthy. People coming to court should see a judge who has represented people who have been where they are: whether going through a divorce, being sued for debts, facing foreclosure, a victim of a crime, or accused of a crime.
Cases addressing racial discrimination and sex-based discrimination continue to be a driving force in the legal climate of our country. Batson v. Kentucky (1986) and Taylor v. Louisiana (1975) are among those cases. Batson made it unconstitutional to systematically exclude jurors from service based on race, while Taylor made it unconstitutional to exclude women from jury service on the basis that the woman had not previously registered for jury service. Equal justice requires equality.
Bearing in mind that cases are not about the judge but that they are about justice is the key. Experience in court and an understanding of the law is the methodology. Because I have spent about 1/2 career as a plaintiffs/prosecutor and the other 1/2 as a defense attorney, I have learned how to comprehend a case from both sides of the issue. My experience makes me empathetic, patient, and a better listener and would undoubtedly help me make correct legal decisions.
My father was arrested for the first and only time in his life at 61 years of age. He and my mother had been married for 40 years and had never spent the night apart. I feel blessed to have been in a position to represent him. In less than 8 months, I, my law partner and my interns sifted through 20,000+ documents, took 19 depositions, and completely dismantled the allegations against my father; getting the case dismissed. Of course, I did not charge any legal fees. See my website for more.
Marc Jones for 18th Circuit Judge, Group 21
The greatest current obstacle is how the judicial system will recover from COVID-19. The system can be slow and inefficient even during “normal” operations. The COVID shutdown practically brought the justice system to a halt. Court dockets are backed up and will require judges to manage their courtrooms with efficiency and embrace the use of technology like Zoom cloud meetings to conduct virtual hearings.
A judge's job is to listen, follow the law, and efficiently manage their docket of cases. The greatest challenge is staying efficient with backlogs of cases and funding restrictions that affect courtroom staffing.
I respectfully decline to answer this question as it potentially violates Florida Judicial Code of Conduct Canon 7A(3)(e)(i). Judicial candidates are prohibited from discussing their personal legal or political views. I can say that I will follow all laws of the US and the State of Florida as they are written.
I am a Supreme Court Certified Civil and Appellate Mediator. To become certified, I went through extensive training on conducting myself in a fair and impartial manner. I am also required to participate in continuing education that focuses on impartiality. I have mediated many types of civil matters and have always "checked my feelings at the door" to serve as a neutral mediator.
I have worked on a number of high profile cases. Each of these cases had a major impact on me. I was part of a legal team that went before the US Supreme Court in 2013. We won that case and changed the law around the country. I handled several cases that solidified First Amendment rights of citizens and changed the law in the State of Florida and policies at the Orlando Police Department. I have a proven record of handling complex legal issues.