Culver for Judge
Trust in the legal system is the greatest obstacle to justice in this country. I had a case where a man shot two men in the street in front of several witnesses. One person was killed, and the second person was wounded but no one would cooperate with the investigation not even the person who survived the attack. The State Attorney’s Office filed a misdemeanor charge of Improper exhibition of dangerous firearm and I told my client that he could go to trial but he wanted to plea to the Judge and she gave him nine months in the county jail. The courtroom was full the day of the plea with people wearing shirts with a picture of the deceased person and his name. I thought that if any of those people who were there that day were a witness to this event then why did they not cooperate with the investigation. Then it struck me, they did not trust the legal system.
To let the lawyers, do their job their way. I have trained new lawyers at the Office of the Public Defender and after they have learned what to do, I tell them to find their own voice. The State Attorney’s Office and the Office of the Public Defender hire attorneys at the start of their career and their first experience can leave a lasting impression on how to practice law and professionalism both in and out of the courtroom. A judge must be knowledgeable, patient and professional.
Terry v. Ohio, is the case I would choose. A police officer saw a three people outside of a store acting suspiciously so he approached them identified himself and searched them finding two concealed guns. One of the men was found guilty of concealed firearm and he appealed arguing that the search violated the Fourth Amendment. The Supreme Court found the search reasonable under the circumstances without a warrant. This "stop and frisk" changed the way police search citizens for the last 50 years
Listening to the parties before forming an opinion on how to rule in a case is the best way to keep personal feelings out of a ruling. During my career I have been before judges who would ask before the start of a hearing, “Why should I grant this motion?” I would politely remind them that the purpose of the hearing is for them to find out why they should grant the motion. Parties in litigation very often only get one chance to make their argument and must know that they have been heard.
I represented Pierre Butler and tried the case before a jury to a verdict of not guilty on charges of attempted first degree murder and robbery with a firearm. A dramatic trial before Charles M. Holcomb and against one of the most experienced attorneys I know, Greg Koniesczka. The trial had the feel of a culmination of personal and trial experience where my skill as a trial attorney changed the outcome of the case. The courtroom erupted with cheers when the verdict was read, a great moment.
Jessica Damoth 4 Judge
4306 Solstice Loop
Sanford, FL 32771
Jessica Damoth for Judge
The inability to recognize the validity of a point of view different from our own. Whether in criminal cases or civil cases – or even in life – an inability to appreciate a different perspective can make the ability to obtain justice very difficult. Any lawyer worth their salt will tell you that the inability to recognize your own argument’s weaknesses can be a huge liability, but the ability to do so can be a tremendous asset.
My philosophy is that the judiciary must provide an opportunity for citizens to be heard without prejudice or bias. Qualities that are essential are patience and understanding, the ability to listen to what is being presented, and the care to treat others as we want to be treated. The greatest challenge is to not take things personally. Judges are there to call balls and strikes, they are not trying to win a popularity contest.
To me the most important Supreme Court decisions are always the ones that protect our personal liberties and freedoms from government interference. They typically impact the largest number of people and are the most recognizable. Specifically, I am talking about Mapp v. Ohio, which protects our right to a fair trial, Roe v. Wade, which protects our right to control our bodies, and Obergefell v. Hoges, which protects our right to spend our lives with whomever we choose.
As an attorney with over sixteen years of experience, setting aside preferences is second nature to me. While I believe everyone is entitled to a legal defense and do all I can to protect my clients’ rights under the law, my defense of them isn’t an endorsement of their alleged crimes. Over the years, I have learned to set aside my feelings about the allegations against my clients so that I can focus on doing my job as their lawyer. As a result, I’ll have no problem setting aside my feelings.
My favorite cases are the ones where my clients wind up in a better spot than where they started. One case involved a dad who worked a full time job to support his family, but was facing a very serious drug sale charge. The twist was that he was an addict and his family didn't know it. Fortunately, we were able to keep him out of prison and get him into an extended drug treatment program. Through hard work he completed his treatment, recovered from his addiction, and still supported his family.