Why we need Florence Taylor Barner for Broward County Court Judge Group 3
By Staff writer
Florence Taylor Barner has worked as an attorney in Broward County for over ten years, and is now running for County Court Judge in Group 3. Although she came in first place in the August primary, she fell short of the required “over 50%” needed to secure the seat, so she is now in a runoff.
Florence was born and raised here in South Florida. Florence lives in Pompano Beach with her husband, Bill Barner, a local criminal defense and immigration attorney with an office in Sunrise. The Barners have two children, one dog, and two very impressive careers.
Florence’s accomplishments speak for themselves: Top 40 Under 40: Nat’l Black Lawyers; Rated AV Preeminent: Martindale-Hubbell, Rated AV Preeminent: Martindale-Hubbell Judicial Edition; Top 20 Under 40 Professionals: Haitian Chamber of Commerce; Top Rated Lawyers: South Florida’s Legal Leaders [as published in The Miami Herald], America’s Most Honored Professionals 2016… and the list goes on.
Similarly, her list of endorsements is as endless as a handkerchief being pulled from a magician’s mouth: Broward Sun-Sentinel, The Westside Gazette, Le Nationale, Police Benevolent Assn., Broward Counsel of Professional Firefighters, Fraternal Order of Police, The Puerto Rican and Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, local community leaders such as Eugene Pettis, activists, mayors, commissioners… and the list goes on.
Florence studied at U.C. Berkley as a National Institutes of Mental Health Psychology research scholar, graduated Summa Cum Laude from Barry University, and secured her law degree from University of Florida. While in law school, Florence received many honors, awards and scholarships for her community service/pro bono legal work and for her academic success in the classroom.
As a prosecutor, she worked in the juvenile division, the misdemeanor trial unit, and all throughout the [adult] felony trial unit trying countless cases to juries in Broward County. These cases ranged from misdemeanors such as DUI and Harassing Phone Calls to serious felonies such as Child Sexual Battery, Armed Robbery and Murder. Impressively, Florence has tried over 50 first chair jury trials.
However, a County Court Judge must be ready to handle civil or criminal cases on day one, depending on the decision made by the Chief Judge. Thankfully, Florence is prepared regardless of the assignment.
For approximately seven years, Florence has travelled throughout Florida representing Fortune 500 companies as a civil trial attorney obtaining millions of dollars in judgments on behalf of her corporate clients. This gave her not only civil trial experience, but also exposure to so many other county court systems. She has seen what works and what does not work, and she has seen what is efficient and what is inefficient. Now, she can bring this experience and perspective to our County Court bench.
When working as an Assistant State Attorney (ASA), she handled each case with care, treated others fairly and with dignity and went the extra mile to assist victims of crimes. When prosecuting juveniles, she worked with the judiciary and the defense attorneys, insisting that the youngsters, as part of their sentence, watch and re-port on several adults being sentenced for the same crimes that they were charged with. Many of these youngsters watched adults being sentenced to prison time for the same charges they were sent there to write a report on! This is the kind of foresight that we need on the County Bench.
However, this is not Florence’s only experience dealing with Broward’s youth. In addition to the many youth mentoring programs she’s worked with, Florence is the mother of two children and an active member of her Parent Teacher Assn. [PTA] and is a volunteer with Broward County Public Schools. Florence believes that the youth really are the key to a successful future and therefore the youth must have positive role models to show them, as Florence always says, “that no matter where you start out in life it does not have to dictate where you will end up”. Florence, herself, is living proof of this.
Florence believes in community involvement and this is why she has volunteered her time with Habitat for Humanity working on homes in Pompano Beach. Florence also volunteered with the Broward County Humane Society Share-A-Pet therapy Program where she and her husband would visit local hospices and nursing homes to spend time with those without families of their own. Florence also speaks at local elementary schools and alternative schools/programs to encourage those children to work hard to achieve success. Florence and her husband also volunteered their time at the Police Athletic League in Deerfield Beach where they would assist in teaching the children the “sweet science” of boxing as an alternative to school violence.
She showed exceptional strength as a mother several years ago. Pregnant with her second child, health complications dictated that she put her career as a civil trial attorney on hold and that she live on full bedrest. She complied, staying on full bedrest for nearly six months. Because of her strength, tenacity, and sacrifice, Florence gave birth to a healthy little boy.
She now wants to take her experience working with youth as a mother, a mentor, a former juvenile ASA, and a PTA member and apply it to our judiciary.
She has been campaigning not only on her exceptional experience and stellar credentials, but also on what she sees as an area of need in how Broward County handles our youth: In Florida, juveniles who break into cars or homes go to juvenile court, while juveniles who drive without a license get charged as an adult with the crime of Driving with No Valid License. These children are sent to one of our many [adult] County Court Judges to be prosecuted with the adults. These judges, prosecutors, and public defenders are already buried in adult misdemeanors to adjudicate with high caseloads. Florence wants to make a positive change and work together with the Chief Judge towards creating a new specialty county juvenile court.
Broward County has pioneered specialty courtrooms in the past, such as drug court, mental health court, and veterans’ court. Florence wants to work with the Chief Judge to create one specialty courtroom with one judge who handles both truancy matters as well as all juvenile traffic criminal cases, such as Driving While License Suspended and DUI.
A specialized courtroom would result in more consistent outcomes as well as less court hearings for juveniles and their parents who have both truancy and traffic criminal hearings to attend, often on different days before different judges. Less hearings will mean less juveniles are missing school unnecessarily and less parents are missing work unnecessarily. It also means that the court system can take the time needed to understand the underlying causes for the behavior and get services into the home when and where needed to achieve positive results for our children and families.
In short, Florence has the experience, temperament, and perspective needed to fill this important role in our criminal justice system. She also has the vision to make things better for our youth. Her “Go with the Flo” campaign, including more information about her career, her endorsements, and how you can help and get involved, is available at www.FlorenceBarnerForJudge.com. Early voting starts 10/24 and runs through 11/6 with mail in ballots already being mailed out. Please get out there and VOTE.