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July 15, 2017

Lactation Rooms
I am writing in response to Melissa Burt DeVriese’s letter in the June 15 News regarding the lack of a dedicated lactation area in Orlando’s federal courthouse.

While I was saddened to read about Ms. DeVriese’s experience during her jury service, I am happy to report that thanks to the Orlando Chapter of the Federal Bar Association and the generous financial contribution and support of the Bench Bar Fund of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, as of March 2017, the federal courthouse in Orlando now has a private lactation space.

The space is located in the attorney lounge on the fourth floor of the courthouse in Room 4-421. The lactation space includes comfortable seating, a privacy wall and curtain, and a small refrigerator to store breast milk. The space is open and accessible to any courthouse visitor — whether attorney, staff, juror, or member of the public — and there is a sign posted in the courthouse atrium providing information to visitors about the space. It is my sincere hope that, with these new accommodations, lactating mothers will feel welcome in Orlando’s federal courthouse and will not be forced to endure the frustration and discomfort Ms. DeVriese experienced that day.

Tea Sisic
President-elect of the Federal Bar Association, Orlando Chapter

In the June 15 News, Melissa Burt DeVriese wrote to lament the absence of a station for breast-feeding while serving federal jury duty at the Orlando Federal Courthouse. Ms. DeVriese presumably reported for jury service prior to the installation of lactation facilities here at the George C. Young United States Courthouse. While I very much regret that her experience was disappointing, there is good news to report.

Recognizing the need to provide nursing mothers with a private, clean, and well- equipped area for lactation, the court worked closely with the Orlando Chapter of the Federal Bar Association to install a private lactation area on the fourth floor of the courthouse annex. Signage advising litigants, lawyers, jurors, and visitors to the courthouse of the location of the facility is posted in the lobby.

The court is indebted to the FBA leadership for their efforts in establishing and outfitting the lactation area. Funding for this important service to the public was provided by the Bench Bar Fund of the Middle District of Florida. These funds are not appropriated from the Congress of the United States to the judiciary, but, rather, are funds collected from lawyer fees.

Hopefully, Ms. DeVriese’s next opportunity to discharge her duties as a federal juror will give us a chance to show off our improvements.

U.S. District Judge Roy B. Dalton, Jr.

Please tell me I was just imagining the June 1 front page photo and article on the ceremonious opening of the Tampa courthouse “lactation rooms.”

I’m not quite sure how we arrived at this point in history to make such features newsworthy or even something we should be candid about.

So call me old-fashioned or ignorant or insensitive; just don’t call me to give directions to the frantic woman carrying her child, scurrying about the courthouse looking for someplace private to nurse her child.

John J. Dolatowski
Daytona Beach

Parental Leave
I applaud the Board of Governors’ proposal to allow attorneys to obtain three-month continuances for parental leave.

The board is quite right not to leave such applications to the discretion of trial judges. Some judges are insufficiently steeped in political correctness. Some actually cling to the notion that justice delayed is justice denied.

Perhaps the new rule will spawn a new specialty:

Gestation & Lactation, P.A.
Board Certified in Continuances

Edward B. Greene
Ponte Vedra Beach

Gender Bias
Never mind that members just recently elected the female candidate (from a two-person firm) for Bar president-elect over her male counterpart — in a tough, close contest. With the June 15 News headline “12-point plan aims to eradicate bias,” The Florida Bar has anointed itself, once and for all, as the omnipresent, autocratic “nanny” of Florida lawyers.

The slippery-slope campaign alleges that Florida attorneys are currently engaging in implicit or explicit “gender bias” on such an egregious level as to warrant wholesale reviews, committees formation, and new categories of compliance. The Bar plans to develop and disseminate “easy-to-use toolkits” so managing attorneys can uniformly address ways to run their businesses more decently (in line with Bar direction), and salaried associates or job applicants might assess their individual treatment and expectations.

Some specific campaign proposals: “Toolkits” that address fair and transparent compensation, family leave, gender-neutral hiring, etc.; new rules/policies for confidential reporting and grievances; non-public disciplinary measures for misconduct; and “blue ribbon” designations for those that show a “commitment to diversity” (alternately molding and shaming the ribbon-less).

Governing bureaucracies (like the Bar) are loath to pull back on the reins. They won’t restrain their impetus toward expansion of power and scope of authority — at least in part, and perhaps subconsciously — because their directors, together with select recruits (to run those committees), see themselves as smarter, more enlightened, and morally superior to the masses. I’ve viewed women as strong and accomplished individuals of equal value all of my life, and I’ll bet most every Bar member does today as well. Blaming gender-based statistical variations or dispersion on the intent or ignorance of others is divisive and insultingly gratuitous at best. Remember President Obama’s misguided 2012 feminist insulation: “The Life of Julia?”

This campaign portends of intrusive layers of extrajudicial examination of Florida lawyers’ hearts, minds and work-lives vis-a-vis arbitrary correlations and/or subjective perceptions of prejudice or bias. Nevertheless, a politically fashionable sociocultural proclamation/mandate such as this will have no shortage of zealous advocates eager to align. And following such an audacious foothold, future initiatives on related themes is a foregone conclusion. Most disconcerting, however, is how shrewdly “governors” encroach upon freedoms and professional discretion, presumably contented that relatively few among the governed are likely to push back.

Alan J. Denis

Chesterfield Smith
I would like to commend Michael T. Moore on the great July 1 article about one of my legal heroes, Chesterfield Smith. Mr. Moore captured him, and I appreciate his writing the article, especially for those who did not have the privilege of knowing Mr. Smith.

I met Mr. Smith when I was director of Florida House in Washington, D.C. Sen. and Mrs. Chiles introduced me to him. His wife was also on the board of Florida House. I had the privilege of spending time with Mr. Smith and his amazing wife. He used to tell me that I needed to go to law school, and I would nod my head and say, “Yes, sir.”

My nodding went on for years, and finally one night at a reception at Florida House, hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Smith, in 1974, for the chief justice, he introduced me and told the chief justice: “Michael here is going to law school.” I was honored, but told him I had not applied. As only he could, Mr. Smith said, “You are going. End of discussion.” He then wrote a letter to Dean Dillon at Stetson.

Needless to say, I went to law school.

He was and is my legal hero, and all the members of the Bar should be required to take a course titled “Chesterfield Smith.” We would all be better at our profession if we could hear his voice and follow his example. Thank you again for a fantastic article.

Michael S. Mullin

[Revised: 05-19-2018]