New chief judge Joel Brown plans out-of-box solutions to combat lagging jury pools, decay of Dade Courthouse
The first new chief judge of the 11th Judicial Circuit Court in 14 years, Joel Brown, steps into the post facing unique challenges. State funding cuts have left the courts with a staff down 20% when caseloads have hit notable highs. Foreclosures are pouring in and weighing down a system burdened also by increased casework in other areas — fallout of a recessionary economy.
But he's eager for the challenge. In past administrative positions, Judge Brown has come up with innovations to provide better court access and improve efficiency, such as a "DUI blitz" that helped clear a daunting case backlog in days, and a courthouse on wheels that allowed residents easy access to the judiciary even while their neighborhood courthouses were closed for renovations.
This kind of out-of-the-box thinking is vital to address circuit-wide challenges, Judge Brown says. "It's those types of things that, whatever we need in the court system, I'm willing to listen and make the improvements."
He ran for chief judge well aware of the issues at hand — and ready to tackle them. "I've always looked for challenges, and that's why I ran for election, and I went into this with eyes wide open," Judge Brown says. Only one month into his two-year term, he shared his outlook with Miami Today staff writer Risa Polansky in an interview in downtown Miami's Lawson E. Thomas Courthouse Center.
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