By Derek Joy
They assembled at the Betty T. Ferguson Complex Center in Miami Gardens on Mother’s Day weekend for a legal education forum.
Danielle Clark organized the event for the Miami Gardens Commission for Women, where a panel of six Miami Dade Jurists that were hosted by Radio Station HOT 105 personality Rodney Baltimore. They were invited to share their expertise in legal matters in the courts.
Miami Dade Circuit Judge Abby Cynamon, County Court Judge Don S. Cohn, County Court Judge Tonya Brinkley, Attorney Linda Kelly Kearson, Circuit Judge Orlando A. Prescott, Circuit Judge Fred Seraphin and General Magistrate Charles Murray, Sr., who presided. Also sharing their legal expertise were Assistant Miami Dade State Attorneys Etta Mills and Denise Kelly.
A bevy of legal issues were discussed by the panelists. Domestic violence, juvenile delinquency, small claims, circuit/civil proceedings, landlord/tenant disputes, mortgage foreclosure, misdemeanor, traffic, child support, sealing and expungement among them.
“I didn’t know a mortgage foreclosure could be delayed if you have a minor child,” said Miami Gardens Commission Co-Chair Karen Tynes. “I didn’t know that until I heard Judge Cynamon say so. I wonder how many other people know that.”
Cynamon offered legal insight on a prominent issue, as did the other panelists. Each spoke on specific areas of law and fielded questions following the discussion.
Sealing and impingement of records a topic of interest for Prescott, who told the audience: “You can’t expunge your record if you have been convicted. You can if adjudication was with-held.”
While state statutes prohibit impingement or records where the applicant has been convicted, that person can apply for Clemency.
“If a permanent domestic violence injunction is issued you can never possess a gun again,” said Brinkley, in discussing options available to victims of domestic violence.”
Paternity cases and child support commanded even more attention. The topic was covert by Murray.
Said Murray: “One of things that are unique about Dade County is that we have so many different courts. We don’t see each other very often even though our work is related.
“Parents complain to the courts about being evicted. They complain about not being able to pay child support because a suspended driver’s license prevents them from working. They complain about domestic violence. So all of our work is related.”
Kelly, Chief of the Child Support Division of the Miami Dade State Attorney, added to what Murray told the audience about child support.
“Our goal is to ensure children receive the support they deserve and need. Child support is a vested right of the child. Last year we collected $115-million in child support in the state of Florida.
“Is it enough? No. But we have to do something. There are things the law allows us to do to collect child support. We can intercept refund checks; suspend driver’s licenses, professional licenses and recreation licenses.”
The options against those delinquent in child support payments include being arrested and jail under a purge order, which allows release upon payment of the stipulated amount.
The benefits of the event were summed up by Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert II.
“All efforts to inform the public are worthwhile,” said Gilbert. “Every person whose questions are answered leave better for it.”