BOARD POSITION OPENING FOR THE PBC ENVIRONMENTAL APPEALS BOARD 

Environmental Appeals Board Members consist of five members: a professional engineer from the Palm Beach branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers; a water resource professional from the South Florida Water Management District; a drinking water engineer from Department of Environmental Regulations; a member of the Gold Coast Builders Association; and an attorney from the PBC Bar Association.

Responsibilities include:

  • To hear appeals made by the PBC Public Health Unit or the environmental control officer under rules of the Unified Land Development Code (ULDC).
  • This is a 3-year term.

All interested members must submit this form, along with your resume to our Executive Director, Carla Tharp-Brown at ctbrown@palmbeachbar.org.

Submission deadline: Monday, May 24th, 2021.

THE HONORABLE WALTER N COLBATH, JR.

The Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Judges and Court staff celebrate the life of the Honorable Walter N. Colbath, Jr., who passed away on Tuesday, May 4, 2021.  He was 86 years old.

Judge Colbath was passionate about public service and politics, beginning his legal career as the Public Defender of the Fifteenth Circuit in 1966.  He left the Public Defender’s office in 1972, and later successfully ran for Councilman, then Mayor of the Village of North Palm Beach.

In 1984, Governor Bob Graham appointed Judge Colbath to the Circuit Court bench, replacing Judge Lewis Kapner.  During his term as Chief Judge from 1997 to 2001, Judge Colbath led the Circuit in many outstanding achievements, including, early on in his term, the establishment of the Foreclosure division, which he presided over. Under his leadership, the juvenile mediation and alternative sanctions programs were developed to address the escalation of cases involving juvenile offenders.  Then, in 1999, Chief Judge Colbath entered an Administrative Order establishing Community Court as a separate County Court division, utilizing volunteer judges to hear pleas involving quality of life offenses.  In 2000, the Domestic Violence Intake Unit and the Batterers Intervention Program were implemented to address the increase in domestic violence cases in the County.  He also oversaw the implementation of programs aimed at reducing jail overcrowding and recidivism rates, while also addressing possible underlying issues such as addiction, mental illness, and joblessness.  In 2001, in his role as Chief Judge, he established the Elder Justice Center to identify and remove barriers faced by older adults by offering services to assist them in connecting with appropriate legal, medical and social service agencies. He retired from the bench in 2001.  After his retirement, he continued to serve the legal community as a successful Circuit Civil Mediator.

Judge Walter N. Colbath, Jr. was a gentle giant and highly respected in the legal community.  He was also a dedicated family man and raised three children, Walter N. Colbath, III; Jeffrey Colbath; and Stephanie Colbath.  Walter N. Colbath, III, who preceded him in death, served as a Mediator and Mediation Coordinator in the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit. Judge Jeffrey Colbath (retired), also followed his father’s footsteps, first serving on the County Court bench from 1992 to 2003, then the Circuit Court bench from 2003 to 2019, and as Chief Judge from 2013 – 2017. He currently practices as a Circuit Civil Mediator.

Judge Walter N. Colbath, Jr. will be remembered fondly as a great leader of the Circuit and will truly be missed by the judiciary, the legal community, and the Court staff of the Circuit.

MAY APPOINTMENTS TO BE FILLED

ABA House of Delegates:  Two lawyers to serve two-year terms commencing August 2021, at the conclusion of the ABA Annual Meeting.  Applicants must also be ABA members.

Florida Legal Services, Inc. Board of Directors:  One lawyer to serve a three-year term commencing July 1, 2021.  This 15-member board provides judicial advocacy through co-counseling with local program attorneys and volunteer pro bono attorneys and provides legislative and administrative advocacy on policies impacting the legal rights of the poor, as well as providing civil legal assistance to indigent persons who would not otherwise have the means to obtain a lawyer.

Florida Lawyers Assistance, Inc. Board of Directors:  Three lawyers and two non-lawyers to serve three-year terms commencing July 1, 2021. This 15-member Board assists the legal community in securing counseling and treatment for emotional and chemical dependency problems for lawyers.

Persons interested in applying for this vacancy may download the Application for Special Appointment or call Bar headquarters at 850-561-5757, to obtain the application form.  Completed applications must be received by the Executive Director, The Florida Bar, 651 E. Jefferson St., Tallahassee, Florida, 32399-2300 or submitted via e-mail to submitted via e-mail no later than the close of business on Friday, April 16, 2021.  Resumes will not be accepted in lieu of the required application.  The Board of Governors will review all applications and may request telephone or personal interviews.

MAY SPECIAL APPOINTMENTS APPLICATIONS DUE APRIL 16

ABA House of Delegates:  Two lawyers to serve two-year terms commencing August 2021, at the conclusion of the ABA Annual Meeting.  Applicants must also be ABA members.

Florida Legal Services, Inc. Board of Directors:  One lawyer to serve a three-year term commencing July 1, 2021.  This 15-member board provides judicial advocacy through co-counseling with local program attorneys and volunteer pro bono attorneys and provides legislative and administrative advocacy on policies impacting the legal rights of the poor, as well as providing civil legal assistance to indigent persons who would not otherwise have the means to obtain a lawyer.

Florida Lawyers Assistance, Inc. Board of Directors:  Three lawyers and two non-lawyers to serve three-year terms commencing July 1, 2021. This 15-member Board assists the legal community in securing counseling and treatment for emotional and chemical dependency problems for lawyers.

Persons interested in applying for this vacancy may download the Application for Special Appointment or call Bar headquarters at 850-561-5757, to obtain the application form.  Completed applications must be received by the Executive Director, The Florida Bar, 651 E. Jefferson St., Tallahassee, Florida, 32399-2300 or submitted via e-mail to submitted via e-mail no later than the close of business on Friday, April 16, 2021.  Resumes will not be accepted in lieu of the required application.  The Board of Governors will review all applications and may request telephone or personal interviews.

Like Rollin’ the Dice in Vegas

Published: April 2021
By:  Tami Augen Rhodes

Two attorneys, a CPA, and a Mediator walk into a room….  Sounds like the beginning of a joke, right?  However, it is unmitigatedly serious.  These four individuals agreed that we could try the case ten different days in front of ten different judges and get ten different results.  The reason this is so concerning to the parties is because this involves their children, property, hopes, and dreams.  It is the end of the life they thought they were building together and now, they must go through a process fraught with fear, confusion, and uncertainty where a person who has known them about eight hours – the Judge – will make a decision regarding the rest of their lives.

However, many family law practitioners are starting to believe there is a better way for Florida families to navigate their divorce.  Florida has adopted the Collaborative Law Process Act, §61.55 et seq., which provides in part, “[t]he collaborative law process is a unique nonadversarial process that preserves a working relationship between the parties and reduces the emotional and financial toll of litigation.”  One highlight of Collaborative Law, is that the parties, their collaboratively trained counsel, and other professions involved in the matter enter into a  Participation Agreement which ensures that no Collaborative Team member will proceed to litigation with either party should the collaborate process not resolve the matter and the parties ultimately litigate.

Collaborative Law is a process choice.  Process choices run the gamut from parties sitting down for coffee together writing out the terms of an agreement on the proverbial paper napkin to lengthy, no holds barred, multi-day trials.  While there are many avenues into the Collaborative process, the end result is that both parties retain collaboratively trained counsel.  The core team is typically rounded out by a Neutral Mental Health Professional and Neutral Financial Professional.  However, there is no limit on who can become involved in the process and join the team.  This is truly a “client-centric” approach and the professional team and parties can bring in any other type of professional to assist in the process.  For example, a particular matter may call for a child specialist or one party may seek the assistance of a Financial Professional who is not the team Neutral Financial Professional.

I want to be clear that the Collaborative Law Process is not solely for parties who want to hold hands and sign Kumbaya.  This is perhaps one of the biggest fallacies regarding Collaborative Law.  Many practitioners may wonder how two people who have gotten to the point of ending their marriage would ever be able to sit down together, discuss issues rationally and respectfully, and evaluate different solutions.  Whereas other civil litigation has a winner take all outcome; family court is equitable where, absent extenuating circumstances beyond the scope of this article, neither party “wins” all of the assets or child timesharing.

The Collaborative Law Process allows for streamlined discovery.  Specifically, the Neutral Financial Professional communicates with both parties to obtain necessary documents and discovery.  People are not perfect, and the parties to the Collaborative Process are not always perfect either.  However, unlike traditional litigation which can sometimes have long and drawn out disputes regarding hidden assets, protective orders to prevent discovery, and hearings to compel discovery; the attorneys involved in the Collaborative Process are trained to address these issues head-on and assist the client in moving toward a place of acceptance and understanding in regard to the need to freely provide discovery so that any difficult or sensitive issues can be dealt with in a forthright and respectful manner.  The professional team helps to create a safe space for the parties to operate within in order to accomplish the dissolution of marriage and resolve all issues presented.

Being able to create that safe space to deal with complex family law issues is another highlight of the Collaborative Process.  One example is in the realm of children’s issues.  At first blush, it may appear that the Collaborative Process would not be appropriate for a party dealing with substance abuse disorder when minor children are involved.  I would suggest, it is just the opposite.  Within the safety of the Collaborative Process, a parent can address the real issues surrounding his or her substance abuse.  The team can pause the Collaborative Process and help that party obtain much needed rehabilitation and other services.  They can respectfully acknowledge the delicate balance and care that is required when a parent-child relationship needs to be considered in light of a parent’s substance abuse and create a mechanism that does not serve to punish the parent but, instead, provides continuing safe access along the path to sobriety.

Contested family law litigation which leaves lifelong decisions in the hands of a Judge who has known the family for perhaps mere hours, is like rolling the dice in Vegas.  If you want to improve the odds of parties adhering to a long-term resolution, a buy-in to the Collaborative Process should prove much more successful than a buy-in at the poker table.


Tami L. Augen Rhodes practices exclusively Marital and Family Law and is the principal at The Law Offices of Tami L. Augen, P.A.  She is the Immediate Past President of the Craig S. Barnard American Inn of Court LIV; the Founder and President of the Palm Beach Academy of Collaborative Professionals; and is SuperLawyers and AV rated.  You can contact her via www.tamiaugenlaw.com

For additional ADR tips and resources, go to https://www.palmbeachbar.org/alternative-dispute-resolution-committee/