Ed. Note: Today's post comes from guest author Judge Robert Dietz of the OJCC District office for Melbourne/Sebastian.
January 28, 2016, was another great day at the Florida Supreme Court. In their annual presentation of The Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Awards, the workers’ compensation practitioners of the state were again represented as Pam Foels of Zimmerman, Kiser & Sutcliffe in Orlando received the award for the 9th Judicial Circuit for her work as a guardian ad litem. Although the most recent, and from the circuit with the most workers’ compensation practitioners to be recognized over the years, Pam is in a long line of recipients around the state that have given selflessly of their time and resources in pro bono work in their legal practices.
One person very involved in workers’ compensation has even won the prestigious Tobias Simon Pro Bono Service Award, the highest award given in Florida for pro bono service for extraordinary contributions in ensuring the availability of legal services to the poor: retiring First District Court of Appeals Justice Philip John Padovano who won the award in 1983.
I thought you might be interested to see who else in the world of Florida workers’ compensation has won the Pro Bono award from around the state. In the First Judicial Circuit, John Carr (Pensacola, 1988) and Jemison Mims (Pensacola, 2008). In the Second Judicial Circuit, Philip John Padovano (Tallahassee, 1983), Robert Cohen (Tallahassee, 2004; current Chief Judge, DOAH), and Wendy Loquasto (Tallahassee, 2012). In the Fourth Judicial Circuit, Suzanne Judas (Jacksonville, 2012). In the Fifth Judicial Circuit, Daniel Hightower (Ocala, 2011). In the Sixth Judicial Circuit, Jack Helinger (St. Petersburg, 2004). In the Seventh Judicial Circuit, Michael Wingo (Daytona Beach, 1998). In the Eighth Judicial Circuit, Emory Springfield (Gainesville, 1992).
The Ninth Judicial Circuit has had the most award recipients with six: Charles Stepter (Orlando, 1987), John Kest (Orlando, 1996; current Circuit Court Judge), Jeff Branham (Orlando, 2001), Robert Dietz (Orlando, 2010; current JCC), Frank Wesighan (Orlando, 2015), and Pam Foels (Orlando, 2016). In the Tenth Judicial Circuit, Merette Oweis (Lakeland, 2002). In the Twelfth Judicial Circuit, Vanda Bayliss (Sarasota, 1991). In the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, Susan Whaley Fox (Tampa, 2000) and Gwynne Alice Young (Tampa, 2003). In the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit, Tim Campbell (Panama City, 1991). In the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit, Louis Cianfrogna (Titusville, 1996), Daniel Faherty (Cocoa, 2003), Deborah Smith (Rockledge, 2007). In the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit, Linnes Finney, Jr. (Fort Pierce, 1993) and Mark Hill (Vero Beach, 2009).
If you see anyone we missed, please let me know. We thank all workers’ compensation practitioners that perform pro bono work in their communities. A lot of Floridians were impacted by your work that would not have been otherwise able to afford representation.