Here are the platform statements for the 2013 candidates for The Florida Bar Board of Governors. Ballots for the election will be mailed around March 1 and must be returned no later than 11:59 p.m. on March 21.
Bar members will have the choice of voting by the mailed paper ballot or voting online by following instructions with the mailed ballot.
Michael G. Tanner
On June 30 of this year I will complete my first two-year term as one of the two representatives to the Board of Governors from the Fourth Judicial Circuit. I was elected to this position in 2011 and I hope the members in our circuit will return me to the Board of Governors for a second term beginning July 1, 2013.
From my experience on the board during these past 18 months, I believe two issues are of ongoing importance to the Bar and its membership.
The first is the independence of our judiciary. Recently we have seen circumstances which erode that independence — indirectly through inadequate court funding and directly through campaigns to oppose judges because of controversial rulings. There is nothing more vital to our liberty than courts which are independent of politics and other influences and which are recognized as such by the other two branches of government. The Florida Bar’s “The Vote’s In Your Court” campaign this past year during the merit retention process was an excellent example of how we, as an organized Bar, can support judicial independence. We must be ready to undertake that type of effort again in the future when the proper role of our courts is challenged. I will strongly support that as I have in the past.
The other key issue for us all is professionalism. Civility and professionalism of our members toward each other means that scarce judicial resources can be used where they are really needed — to resolve substantive issues in cases so that disputes are handled in our courts in a fair and timely manner. We owe it to our clients, to our profession, and to ourselves to insist on professional behavior in all that we do.
I believe my experience makes me the best qualified candidate to represent the lawyers of this circuit on the Board of Governors. My first service for The Florida Bar began in 1989 on one of the Fourth Circuit’s four grievance committees. I served as chair of that committee during 1991-1992. One of my most important responsibilities as a Board of Governors member has been the oversight of two of our circuit’s four grievance committees and I believe my grievance committee participation prepared me well for that.
From 1992 through June 2000, I had the privilege of serving on the Executive Council of the Trial Lawyers Section of The Florida Bar, concluding as chair of the section in 1999-2000. I later served five years on the Bar’s Board of Legal Specialization and Education which oversees the Bar’s certification program and its continuing legal education. I served as chair of the BLSE during 2007-2008.
It would be a privilege to represent the lawyers of this circuit for another term on the Board of Governors and I ask for your support in the upcoming election in March.
Dale E. Workman
There are 52 seats on The Florida Bar Board of Governors. In addition to those currently serving, there are 10 new candidates running for election this term. Of those 62 current and potential board members, only ONE is employed by any governmental entity. I am that one individual.
This means that if I am not elected, there will be no peer representation for literally thousands of assistant public defenders, assistant state attorneys, DCF attorneys, etc. They will have no voice in the board’s policy discussions, including those that affect their salary, budget, rules, legislation, and discipline. They will have no influence whatsoever on the direction of the Bar.
If I am elected, however, I will be able to speak for that large constituency, and I will be able to protect and defend their interests before the board. I share their concerns, and I share their needs.
But I am not a one-dimensional candidate. Over the past 14 years, I have not worked only for the government; I have also worked in the private sector and I managed my own firm for several years. During that time, I practiced statewide and I was therefore exposed to the different customs and practices in various parts of the state, giving me a comprehensive view of the practice of law and attendant issues throughout Florida. I have practiced both criminal and civil law, as both plaintiff and defense counsel. I have supervised attorneys, and I have addressed human resources and disciplinary issues. I have overseen trust accounting and advertising. In short, I have experienced first-hand the broad range of issues and matters with which a member of the Board of Governors must be familiar.
I am currently earning my Master of Public Administration degree, along with a Graduate Certificate in nonprofit management, to go along with my J.D. and B.A. in political science. Upon completion of the master’s degree program I intend to pursue my Ph.D. in political science.
In addition to Florida’s state courts, I am admitted to the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. District Courts for the Middle and Northern districts of Florida. I am also scheduled to be admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court on March 25.
I have the education, knowledge, and experience necessary to represent the interests of all members of The Florida Bar in an exceptional manner. I have the comprehensive and wide-ranging viewpoint necessary to identify and analyze the issues important to the members of the Bar, and to understand the consequences of the board’s actions with respect to those issues. I have the ambition, drive, and leadership ability that is necessary to effectively discharge the duties of a member of The Florida Bar Board of Governors.
I am an excellent and well-qualified candidate to represent the Fourth Circuit, and I would appreciate the opportunity to do so. I thank you for your vote and for your support, and I look forward to serving you.
Timothy A. Knowles
I have placed my name in nomination to be the representative of the 12th Judicial Circuit on The Florida Bar Board of Governors.
I am a native of Bradenton, who attended local public schools. I received a B.S. in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering from Webb Institute of Naval Architecture in 1975 and my J.D. from Stetson University in 1982. While practicing as a consulting naval architect with JJ McMullen & Associates in Washington, I received additional training at MIT in Naval Surface Ship Design and became a co-holder of US Patent # 4,341,174 “Bow Dock.” I have practiced in Bradenton at the firm of Porges, Hamlin, Knowles, & Hawk, P.A., (and predecessors) since 1984.
In addition to service to my clients, important components of my practice have always been: (1) community service, and (2) service to my profession.
In the area of community service, I have been a member of the Board of Directors for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County, Inc., for more than 25 years serving two terms as president. Additionally, I have served on the Board of Directors of the Florida Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs, Inc., including multiple terms as chair. The alliance was the first collaboration of statewide Boys & Girls Clubs in the nation, and resulted in significant funding of Boys & Girls Club programs throughout our state.
With regard to service to my profession, I have practiced law in Manatee County for over 30 years. During that time, I have served on the Board of Directors of the Manatee County Bar Association, including serving as president in 1999-2000, as well as service on various committees. While president, I attended a state conference for voluntary bar board officers, and a Florida Bar-sponsored round table on diversity in the Bar. At the state level, I was appointed and served on both the 12th Judicial Circuit Grievance and Unlicensed Practice of Law committees. My service on these committees was particularly fulfilling and is a reason that I seek greater involvement in the Board of Governors.
Having practiced law in the 12th Circuit for over 30 years, I have seen great changes in the practice of law and am proud that our circuit still, I believe, continues to exemplify the practice of law in a professional and civil manner. I would hope to bring this perspective to my service on the Board of Governors. Issues of particular interest which I would hope to promote as your representative would be: (1) protection of the independence of the Bar against regulation by any legislative controlled agency; (2) the funding of low income legal services in light of reduced IOTA income and funding to traditional legal service agencies; (3) maintaining funding for the judicial branch; (4) maintaining an independent judiciary; and (5) competition from non-attorney sources.
It would be a great privilege to serve as your 12th Circuit representative on the Board of Governors and your support would be honored by my highest efforts on your behalf.
F. Scott Westheimer
The 12th Circuit needs a strong leader on the Board of Governors who understands our legal community and has demonstrated the dedication necessary to represent our interests. I believe that my experience and commitment to our circuit make me well suited to be your board representative.
Since graduating from the University of Florida College of Law in 1996, I have spent my entire career practicing in the 12th Circuit with Syprett Meshad. As a young lawyer, I gained experience in many different practice areas, which gives me a solid foundation for understanding the diverse range of issues that lawyers face in our circuit. I was privileged to serve our circuit in various capacities, including as president of the Sarasota County Bar Association (SCBA), president of the SCBA Young Lawyers Division, and co-founder and chair of the SCBA Diversity Committee. At the state level, from 2004-2008, I served as the 12th Circuit’s elected representative on The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors. Since 2008, I have been appointed each year by the YLD president as an ex-officio member of the YLD Board of Governors, and I currently serve on its Executive Committee. Through these leadership roles, I have gained a unique perspective on the issues facing our legal community, which will be beneficial in serving as an advocate for your interests.
If elected, I will work to maintain a strong, independent, and properly funded judiciary, which is vital to the functioning of our society and the rule of law. As president of the SCBA, I worked together with the Manatee County Bar Association and other bar associations across Florida to fight legislation that would have substantially weakened the judicial branch. That hands-on experience will be invaluable for service on the Board of Governors.
In these troubling economic times, I believe the Bar can do more to assist lawyers with their practices, particularly with the use of technology. With our constantly evolving profession, adapting to technology is imperative to practicing law. The Bar must be at the forefront of these technological advancements and find new ways to use technology to improve services, communicate with its members, offer educational opportunities, and increase member benefits.
I am also a strong supporter of increasing mentorship and educational opportunities for lawyers. With today’s pressures on younger lawyers, providing mentorship is becoming more crucial for the Bar. Mentorship not only promotes professionalism, but also strengthens the foundation of our Bar and improves its standing within the community. With 44 percent of the Bar’s budget allocated to lawyer regulation and discipline, providing mentorship opportunities is a good investment in the future of our profession. Finally, the Bar’s continuing commitment to professionalism, diversity, and inclusion is also critical to our legal community.
I welcome your viewpoints and ideas on how we can improve our profession. If elected, I will be accessible to all lawyers in DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties, and I give you my commitment that I will be a strong advocate for you on the Board of Governors. Thank you for your consideration and I hope to have your vote.
Ronald P. Ponzoli, Jr.
Three principles guide everything I do in my professional life: hard work, attention to detail, and professionalism. These life principles ensure that as a member of the Board of Governors I will faithfully and diligently represent your interests in The Florida Bar.
As a shareholder with the law firm of Richman Greer, P.A., I have devoted much of my legal career to Bar service, both with The Florida Bar and through the Palm Beach County Bar Association. My history of service includes: serving as president of the North County Section of the Palm Beach County Bar Association; chairing the Palm Beach County Bar Association’s Professionalism Committee; serving as a six-year elected member to The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors; and presently serving on The Florida Bar Civil Procedure Rules Committee. These past and present Bar leadership positions, coupled with the strong relationships I have built with Bar leaders through these experiences, will assist me in serving as an effective member of the Board of Governors.
The Florida Bar is facing many important issues in the coming years. As a member of the Board of Governors, I pledge to devote myself to all issues before the Bar, including: the battle for increased court funding and increased funding for government attorneys; educating Florida citizens about merit retention of our judiciary; increasing diversity in Bar leadership and on the bench; and enhancing professionalism and civility throughout the Bar. Each of these issues directly impacts our clients and the quality of the legal profession. I will always have an open ear to ideas and will equally represent all attorneys from our 15th Judicial Circuit on each issue that comes before the Board of Governors.
Please contact me (561-803-3519) if you have any questions concerning my campaign or The Florida Bar. I would consider it a privilege and an honor to represent you on the Board of Governors. With your support and vote we can do great things.
David I. Shiner
If elected as your representative for The Florida Bar Board of Governors, 15th Judicial Circuit, I will ensure that every practicing attorney from my district will benefit from my service.
For those of you who do not know me, I was born in Ft. Lauderdale and, after being raised throughout the Southern United States, I decided to make Palm Beach County my home — both professionally and personally. After graduating locally from Shepard Broad Law School at Nova Southeastern, I started out as a young associate in a traditional small firm and eventually had the honor of starting and maintaining my own law firm in Boca Raton.
By way of background, volunteer work has been an integral part of my life and helping others continues to be a passion. I am dedicated to the legal system and I am committed to ensuring that the practice of law in Florida continues to be the best it can be. Over the years I have volunteered and contributed to numerous local and state bar associations, as well as other organizations, including several local Palm Beach County bar associations and The Florida Bar.
In today’s electronic era, streamlining access to the court system is paramount. As a practicing attorney, I understand the difficulties that face lawyers daily — such as the need to create a more efficient online filing and email service process. Let’s face it, technology is here to stay, is rapidly changing, and the days of paper filings have become obsolete. For instance, the federal model — although thought to be intimidating — allows a practicing attorney to more efficiently file and serve pleadings and court filings; thus enabling our respective offices to spend more time on client development and case management. Aggressively working on making access to the courts easier will increase our legal communities’ quality of life and practice.
In addition, I will focus on creating, maintaining, and making the resources for the traditional small firms more accessible. As a managing attorney, I understand the needs of a traditional small firm. For instance, The Florida Bar currently has many programs that can benefit the traditional firm; one of these valuable resources is LOMAS — which was a great resource, personally. If elected, I would strive to create focused local outreach programs that educate and assist practicing attorneys and their offices regarding these easily accessible, but sometimes forgotten, programs and resources. These Florida Bar resources have personally helped my firm navigate in growing our practice and would assist any practicing attorney; thus, I would strive to make sure all practicing lawyers have knowledge and access to these beneficial resources.
If elected to the Board of Governors, I will use the skills, leadership, and service I have acquired over the years to provide active representation for the 15th Judicial Circuit; I will listen to your voice and advocate on your behalf to ensure that the Bar is working for you. I ask for your vote so that I may continue my commitment to serving our community; thank you for your consideration.
Debra Moss Curtis
I am a professor of law at Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center, and a member of The Florida Bar since 1993.
As a practicing lawyer in Florida, and later a member of the NSU Law Community, I have been active in The Florida Bar for many years and would like to bring my service to the next level. From 1997-2000, I was a member of the Public Interest Law Section Executive Council, and served as editor of that section’s newsletter for one year. During that time I was building and growing a pro bono program at NSU Law to serve both the 17th Judicial Circuit and the state of Florida.
In 2001, I became a full-time member of the law faculty, and was awarded tenure in 2008. My service to the Bar continued during that time. In 2004, I was appointed to the Advertising Task Force, charged with reviewing the advertising rules, and also served on the Student Education and Admissions to the Bar Committee. In 2006, I served on the Committee on Professionalism.
From 2005-2011, I began my Bar service in which I believe I have made my biggest impact: I became a founding member of the Judicial Independence Committee, charged with ensuring the preservation and protection of a fair, impartial, and independent judiciary. My last year eligible to serve on the now titled Constitutional Judiciary Committee, I was named chair, and also have served as vice chair (two years). My work included service to the Education Subcommittee, the Mission Statement Subcommittee, and supervising the creation of thousands of pages of educational materials regarding judicial independence. These works have covered the current state of the crisis locally, nationally, and globally, and have helped attorneys, educators, and the public focus on the importance of the judiciary as a co-equal branch of the government. I have been actively involved in developing and teaching in the Benchmarks program, bringing adult civics education statewide.
Additionally, I have ties to this work nationally, as a member of Our Courts America, seeking to expand and tie together adult civics education opportunities from various bar associations and courts around the country.
In 2012, I served as the reporter for the Hawkins Commission on Attorney Discipline. I currently serve on the Florida Law Related Education Committee, heading up several projects including the Legal Guide for New Adults and the YouTube video contest for high school students.
As a full-time member of a law faculty I hope to bring a unique perspective to the Board of Governors — helping to bridge the concerns of future lawyers with those of the Bar membership today. I would consider it a high honor to represent the 17th Judicial Circuit on the Board of Governors.
Diana Santa Maria
For the past 27 years, I have been a part of and served our legal profession. I seek to continue this objective by holding a seat on the Bar Board of Governors for the 17th Judicial Circuit.
In addition to being a practicing trial lawyer, I’ve endeavored to give back to our profession, in a volunteer capacity, throughout my legal career. A commitment to elevating the standards of our profession and to preserving and protecting our system of justice has inspired me along the way.
Some examples of my service to the profession include the following positions to which I have been elected or appointed by my peers, nominated by the Board of Governors, and/or appointed by the governor of the state of Florida:
* President, president-elect, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer, ABOTA (Ft. Lauderdale Chapter), 2008-2012
* Board of Directors, Broward County Bar, 2005-2010
* Board of Directors Broward County Justice Association, 2004-2008
* Grievance Committee 17th Judicial Circuit, 2001-2004
* Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission, 2004-2008
* Florida Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, 2004-present
* Florida Bar Citizen’s Forum member, 2000-2004
* Florida Justice Association (Academy Fla. Trial Lawyers) Board of Directors, 1996-2006
* National Crime Victim’s Bar Association, Board of Directors, 2006-present
* Adjunct Professor of Law, Nova Southeastern University School of Law, 2006
This past year we have seen an unprecedented attack on the independence of our judiciary. As a profession, we must resist any efforts to infringe upon the Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial or to politicize our civil justice system. As lawyers we stand in the best position to ensure that the courthouse doors remain open to those seeking justice and that none be denied access to courts, for any reason.
Given my past experience in leadership roles where decision making, fair play, and a commitment to excellence is required, I believe I bring the necessary skills and sense of purpose to become one of your representatives on the Board of Governors for the 17th Judicial Circuit.
I ask for your trust and your vote and give you my commitment to work hard to protect and preserve the values we cherish and to always strive for excellence on behalf of and for the legal profession and our circuit.