Jamie Cole and Gary Rosen are leaders at different law firms in Fort Lauderdale who became friends working on the Broward Business Council on Homelessness and other community efforts that placed them in the same orbits.
The attorneys were recognized Thursday night as the Daily Business Review’s Attorneys of the Year for another combined effort — shepherding the creation of a professionalism and civility magistrate pilot program in Broward Circuit Court.
Chief Judge Jack Tuter is forceful on the subject, calling out bad behavior when he sees it and issuing an administrative order to get the unique program off the ground.
The heavy lifting was left to Cole, Broward managing partner of Weiss, Serota, Helfman, Cole & Bierman, and Rosen, Becker managing partner.
They had no model to guide them. Since the first meeting on the program in 2017, they recruited a diverse panel of 20 lay magistrates and drafted a framework for accepting complaints from judges after a January 2018 rollout.
They sought magistrates who were “highly experienced practitioners in civil litigation who have some stature on the community,” Rosen said. The list includes James Haliczer of Haliczer Pettis & Schwamm; Keller Landsberg’s Chuck Morton, former chief assistant state attorney; and Cheryl Wilke, partner in charge of the Fort Lauderdale office of Hinshaw & Culbertson.
The intent of the program is to stop derailing behavior with early intervention in a way that avoids sanctions motions and the lengthy Florida Bar disciplinary process. Resolution rather than punishment is the goal, Cole said.
The program requires face-to-face meetings as well as briefs on a quick schedule. A complaint in the magistrate program is likely to “wrap up in 45 to 60 days, which is very fast relative to what could happen in the court system and is lightning fast in terms of what could happen with the bar,” Rosen said
Rosen, who serves as a magistrate, has addressed cross-accusations of lying to the court and extreme stonewalling on discovery.
Ideally, the magistrate guides a discussion among the lawyers to resolution.
The program is expanding from civil to family court following a meeting organized by Cole and Rosen with all of the judges in the division.
Tuter, who is outspoken on professionalism, told the organizers to expect a three-year rollout, so the attorneys’ organizational work isn’t over.
“We’ve got the infrastructure pretty much in place, we’ve got the magistrates in place, and we’re getting the judges to refer the cases,” Cole said.
Other finalists for the Attorney of the Year award were Kerri Barsh of Greenberg Traurig and James Sammataro, who helped open Pryor Cashman’s Miami office this month after leaving Stroock & Stroock & Lavan.
Reprinted with permission from the Daily Business Review.