Outreach panel to set obtainable goals

first_imgThe Membership Outreach Committee is seeking minority attorneys who want a shot at serving on one of the state’s 26 judicial nominating commissions.While the Board of Governors is still months away from creating the five screening panels — one for each district court of appeal — that ultimately will recommend 156 lawyers — six from each circuit — to the board to be forwarded to Gov. Jeb Bush in June 2006, for JNC appointments, President-elect Hank Coxe, chair of the Membership Outreach Committee, wants to get a jump on the process and is encouraging minority lawyers to get involved.Those JNC applications are available now at floridabar.org by clicking on the judicial applications link near the bottom of the opening page.Coxe said the Bar sent the governor a slate of 78 JNC nominations in 2004, but that list only included one African American male and one African American female. Coxe said that is an “indefensible position for The Florida Bar to be in” and that the Membership Outreach Committee is obliged to finding minority lawyers willing to serve on the JNCs.Coxe, speaking at the Membership Outreach Committee meeting recently in Tampa, said the Virgil Hawkins Florida Chapter of the National Bar Association has agreed to help the Bar find minority JNC applicants and that now is the time to start the process.John F. Harkness, Jr., the Bar’s executive director, also said the committee should work to have members of the Board of Governors visit voluntary minority bar associations in their circuits to discuss the JNC application process.Each judicial nominating commission has nine members. Five members are appointed directly by the governor, and the Bar sends nominations to the governor to fill the remaining four spots. This year the Bar is responsible for three lawyers each for two seats on each of the 26 JNCs. Each appointee will serve a four-year term, commencing July 1. Applicants must be engaged in the practice of law and a resident of the territorial jurisdiction served by the commission to which the member is applying, and applicants must comply with state financial disclosure laws. Commissioners are not eligible for state judicial office for vacancies filled by the JNC on which they sit for two years following completion of their four-year term.Persons interested in applying for any of these vacancies can download the proper application form (there is a specific JNC application) from the Bar’s Web site, floridabar.org, or can call Bar headquarters at (850) 561-5600, ext. 5757, to obtain the application. October 1, 2005 Managing Editor Regular News Outreach panel to set obtainable goals Outreach panel to set obtainable goals Mark D. Killian Managing Editor Created to draw a broader cross-section of Florida lawyers into Bar activities, the Membership Outreach Committee now plans to narrow its focus. Specifically: To work to encourage more racially and ethnically diverse lawyers to become involved in Bar work.The committee, chaired by President- elect Hank Coxe, plans to do that by working more closely with the Equal Opportunities Law Section and setting short, obtainable goals. The first goal is to start now to identify minority lawyers who have an interest in serving on judicial nominating commissions. In June, the Bar will submit 156 names to the governor — six from each circuit — for appointments to the JNC.Meeting in September at the Bar’s General Meeting in Tampa, Coxe said while the committee’s stated purpose was to extend participation to everyone, the panel is “really addressing something much more specific than just getting more lawyers to apply for more committee appointments.“We have got to do something about the JNCs; we have got to do something about the grievance committees; we have got to start not only having an inclusive approach, but we also have to get everybody else comfortable that that is the way we should be going,” Coxe said.Dr. Solomon Badger, a public member of the Board of Governors, reminded committee members that while over the past two years the Bar’s leadership has made a committed effort to reach out to minority lawyers, there are still only seven women on the Board of Governors and two black males.“Do we address those things by continuing to have symposiums and all kinds of meetings and so forth, or do we address them head-on by having a committee that is focused in one direction to create a plan for the Bar and focus all energies in that direction?” Badger asked.YLD President Jamie Billotte Moses agreed.“We have a problem with the leadership of the Bar that needs to be fixed and we just need to be honest about it,” Moses said. “I don’t think there is an outcry to get a solo practitioner on the Board of Governors. I think there is a huge outcry to get African American males on the board. I think we need to get more focused and realistic about what this committee should be doing and why it should be doing it.”June McKinney Bartelle, president of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers, said she is interested in the Bar being diverse on many levels but the Bar can’t leave it up to the voluntary minority bar associations to solve the lack of diversity at The Florida Bar level.“I think the Bar has a responsibility itself to do something, too,” Bartelle said, adding the Membership Outreach Committee must identify areas to work on and then concentrate on achieving those goals.Some of the ideas mentioned included:• Demystifying the JNC application process.• Holding leadership training sessions to groom future Bar leaders.• Working to get more minority lawyers involved in local voluntary bars, which often serve as springboards to Bar leadership positions.• Encouraging minority lawyers to play a greater role in the Bar’s sections and apply for committee assignments.“As an African American female I want to see people like me,” Bartelle said. “If there are no blacks on the Board of Governors, I’m not going to look at the Board of Governors, because the reality is if there is nobody up there that looks like me, that is not going to be one of my goals.”Bartelle also said the panel should study how people are being elected to the board so minority candidates can be successfully groomed to win seats on the board. And once more minorities are elected, it will have a trickle down effect because those minority board members will reach out to other minorities, she said.Badger said minority lawyers have to learn to play politics and “participate in the game,” saying it is the “American way.”Coxe said the Membership Outreach Committee also needs to work more closely with the Equal Opportunities Law Section since their missions are similar. He asked that section to put on The Florida Bar’s Annual Diversity Symposium, with an eye toward bringing new participants into the event, and not just those already committed to diversity. Coxe also pledged the Bar’s financial and staff resources so the section would not have to assume the financial burden of staging the event.Ardyth Walker, EOLS chair, agreed to take over the symposium and pledged to assist the committee in its work so long as the section’s input in the process is respected and the goals are not imposed on the section.“We are foot soldiers; we are out there doing the hard, substantive work,” Walker said. “If this committee sets goals we are the people out there making sure that it happens, finding the names, getting the people out, [that] is the goal to the EOLS.”Walker said the EOLS can take the diversity message to the minority community in ways the Membership Outreach Committee can’t.Want to help pick Florida judges? Panel seeks minority lawyers interested in JNC appointmentslast_img

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