The Miami-Dade Chapter of FAWL is pleased to announce that the Honorable Gill S. Freeman was chosen by the Florida Association for Women Lawyers to receive the Rosemary Barkett Outstanding Achievement Award.
The Rosemary Barkett Award is given annually to a FAWL member who has demonstrated a commitment to FAWL's purposes, excelled in their career, overcome traditional stereotypes associated with women, and promoted the status of women within the legal profession and in the state of Florida.
PLEASE JOIN MIAMI-DADE COUNTY LAW
LIBRARY IN CONGRATULATING JUDGE GILL S. FREEMAN ON RECEIVING THIS DISTINGUISHED
Johanna Porpiglia, Director of the Miami-Dade County Law Library took part in a panel discussion concerning "The Shrinking Law Library". The discussion was sponsored by the South Florida Association of Law Librarians and was hosted by Nova Southeastern University Law Library. Robert Hudson of Nova Southeastern University Law Library and Sheryll Rappaport of Ruden McCloskey Smith Schuster & Russell were also members of the panel.
When the Miami-Dade County Law Library (MDCLL) system was created under a plan conceived and sponsored by the Dade County Bar Association in 1937 (Laws of Florida, Chapter 17720), it was dedicated to the "perpetual use" of the Bench and Bar of Dade County. Although the Library's collection has grown from its original 4,000 volumes to almost 80,000 volumes today, and its mandate has expanded to include service to all the citizens of Dade County that require its service.
In an interview with "El Abogado", the Director of the Miami-Dade County Law Library since 2005, Johanna Porpiglia, a graduate of Nova University in 1979, and who supervises the "bilingual staff" of 7 people who assist the public, declared that during the last fiscal year free services were given to approximately 35,000 residents of this county that needed help with legal research.
According to Ms. Porpiglia, what she likes the most about her work is helping the users find information about specific cases, legal and computer research. The law library provides multiple software databases e.g. Westlaw Lexis, Hein-on-line, Federal Register, etc. and a large collection of print materials. Also, the law library has CLE CD's & Tapes for Continuing Legal Education available to its patrons, copiers, and conference rooms.
The Miami-Dade County Law Library is located on the Third
Floor of the Miami-Dade County Courthouse, 73 West Flagler St., Room 321A,
Miami, Florida 33130 and is open Monday through Friday, from 8:15 AM - 6:00
PM., Phone # 305-349-7548 and its' web cite is www.mdcll.org
Thats what 11th Circuit Judge Gill Freeman asks
in the wake of bad news that the Miami-Dade County Courthouse Law Library
is on the budget chopping block because of cutbacks due to new property tax
As chair of the librarys board of trustees, Freeman is helping get out the word: This library really does need to be saved.
In the works are fundraising efforts in the legal community, asking for grants
and possible federal money if they did some education, appealing to county
commissioners, and exploring why the Miami-Dade clerk only collects about
25 percent of fines, half of neighboring Broward County, Freeman said.
We need to alert the legal community about this crisis. I dont think the legal community has any idea the law library will be forced to close its doors, said Miami lawyer Lyle Shapiro, who is heading up short-term fundraising efforts and setting up an account.
Why is a law library in a courthouse so important?
Notwithstanding the fact that there have been unbelievable advances in technology, when you are a trial lawyer and in court and running around all over the place, you need that resource. You need to be able to run up the stairs to pull the case you may not have thought about pulling. Trials can take twists and turns, and a lot you cant predict, Shapiro said.
Further, the law library staff is very resourceful. At a moments notice, they can pull cases, look to see what type of treatises or other types of horn books may answer a question you have.
And thats just from an attorneys perspective. The law library also serves the public and pro se litigants that numbered about 700 a month in 2005, the last time those numbers were tracked, Freeman said.
Johanna Porpiglia, director of the law library, said the news is a devastating déjà vu. Its like here we go again only worse.
Three years ago, because of the Revision 7, Article V court funding shift from the counties to the state, Porpiglia lost half her staff from 14 to seven, when funding was cut by 75 percent.
We were left with a minimal staff and a minimal collection, Porpiglia said. We have managed to stay open with remaining staff. Luckily our staff members have more than 25 years experience and have taken on additional responsibilities. They work very hard and are very dedicated. To dedicate ourselves to the law library and have this happen at this late date is really devastating.
Last year, the county came through with $330,000 to help subsidize the law library for the fiscal year that ends September 30.
That is a third of our funding. With that money, we were really just managing to keep our heads above water, Porpiglia said.
Under the proposed budget, they are going to pull county funding from us. I dont know if we would even be able to keep our doors open.
Located on the third floor of the Dade County Courthouse on Flagler Street, the law library served 27,344 people from October 1 through June 30, Porpiglia said.
Shapiro noted there used to be a law library in the criminal court building across I-95 until the Article V, Revision 7 shift wiped out its funding. When hes asked attorneys who practice criminal law what happened, theyve told him they had no idea. They walked into the courthouse one day and it was gone.
We dont want that to happen to this law library, Shapiro said. Not on our watch.
The Miami-Dade County Law Library (MDCLL), a 75 plus year old Public Law Library tucked away in the Dade County Courthouse, is beginning to flex its muscles to enter the electronic age. Exciting technology initiatives for the new year include: installation of a computer network, creation of an online catalog that will be searchable from remote locations via the Internet, the addition of six public terminals for accessing LEXIS/NEXIS and WESTLAW (for existing subscribers to these services), and a new computer training/conference room on the 20th floor.
The Main Library, located on the third floor of the Dade County Courthouse, houses approximately 70,000 volumes including statutes for all 50 states, the complete National Reporter System, Practicing Law Institute Corporate and Commercial course handbooks, and a treasure trove of treatises running the gamut from banking to zoning. Featured special areas include Aviation, Automobiles, Maritime/Admiralty, Intellectual Property, Real Estate, Tax, Family Law, Immigration, Municipal Government.
The Miami-Dade County Law Library has expanded its menu of services offered to its patrons. Public access to legal databases such as Westlaw, Lexis and Hein on-line are now offered at the law library.
County Law Library
73 West Flagler St. #321
Miami, FL 33130