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Diversity Issue Heats Up in Miami Courts

Posted Jul 18, 2007 3:35 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A simmering controversy over a series of insensitive remarks recently made by Miami area judges has heated up further, following the resignation of a Broward County jurist chairing the court's newly created diversity board.

Elijah H. Williams, the first black to be appointed to the Broward County bench in 20 years, has stepped down due to claimed interference with his role by the court's acting chief judge, according to the Miami Herald.

Williams complained that Mel Grossman, the acting chief judge, excluded him from at least one meeting on diversity issues. He also took issue with Grossman's doubts about whether diversity training for the Broward bench--which has been recommended by the Florida Commission on Human Relations--is necessary.

''In today's environment, every issue involving diversity has a significant impact on this circuit,'' Williams wrote Grossman. "I say this as the first black male judge to be appointed to Broward's circuit bench in over two decades. This fact, in and of itself, speaks volumes about the need to address diversity issues at the highest level ... and with all deliberate speed.''

A former Broward criminal division chief recently stepped down and asked for reassignment to civil trials after a controversy over his use of the acronym NHI, short for "no humans involved," at the conclusion of a trial, as previously discussed by ABAJournal.com.

A second Broward judge was removed from a case after equating a juvenile accused of carrying a razor blade in school with defendants in the notorious Columbine school-shooting case, as discussed in another ABAJournal.com post.

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