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Business Observer Friday, Jun. 25, 2004 15 years ago

Florida Bar Honors 6th Circuit Judge

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Circuit Judge Susan Schaeffer is known as an expert on capital criminal cases and for her endless work as chair of the Trial Court Budget Commission. Both achievements have garnered her the 2004 Selig I. Goldin Memorial Award from the Florida Bar.

Florida Bar Honors 6th Circuit Judge

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Susan F. Schaeffer is known as an expert on capital criminal cases and for her endless work as chair of the Trial Court Budget Commission. Both achievements have garnered her the 2004 Selig I. Goldin Memorial Award from the Florida Bar.

For four years, Schaeffer, 61, has led the commission - the state courts' link to the Florida Legislature - during the ongoing shift of court funding from the counties to the state.

Florida's judges, lawyers and court employees feared the change would result in cutbacks and chaos at the courthouses since the state was in somewhat of a fiscal crisis. Although it's too early to know for sure, most court administrators say it appears the Legislature has set aside an adequate amount for the courts when the shift occurs July 1.

Schaeffer, a 6th Circuit judge since 1982, was expected to receive the award June 25 during the bar's annual meeting in Boca Raton.

"No one could have stepped into Judge Schaeffer's shoes and delivered for the trial courts of Florida at this crossroads of our existence," says Carol Lee Ortman, a commission member and the Broward County courts administrator.

Schaeffer is "the heart and soul of the entire movement" dubbed Justice for All Floridians, Ortman says.

Says Florida Supreme Court Justice Harry Lee Anstead: "She led the legislative effort involving countless judges, court staff and Bar representatives that resulted in the successful unification of the state courts' operational budget ... Without the exhaustive work of her and her colleagues, this legislative success would have been unimaginable."

Schaeffer served as chair of the Article V Steering Committee from 1998 to 2000. After the Trial Court Budget Commission was formed in 2000, she was named chair, a position she still holds.

The Selig I Goldin Memorial Award is named after a criminal defense attorney who at 41 died of cancer. It's dedicated to "a man who possessed the best attributes of the profession - competence, service and compassion."

- Janet Leiser

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