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Former Florida Chief Justice Gerald Kogan passes away

Chief Justice Gerald Kogan

Chief Justice Gerald Kogan  in 1996 was the first chief justice of Florida to be inaugurated publicly, emphasizing the major policy initiative of his administration—increasing public access to the state’s justice system.

Former Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerald Kogan died in Miami on Thursday, March 4. He was 87 and was Florida’s 73rd justice since statehood was granted in 1845.

In the 1990s, Kogan earned international praise for his “Access Initiative” – a program to use the emerging technology of the Internet to make Florida’s court more transparent to the public.

He pushed for courts to provide their records freely to the public on the World-Wide Web. Kogan also organized the first program to make all Florida Supreme Court arguments available gavel-to-gavel by Internet livestream.

These are practices now standard around the nation but novel when he pioneered them.

From his appointment on January 30, 1987, until his retirement on December 31, 1998, Kogan was a key figure in a series of reforms that made the Florida Supreme Court one of the most respected and accessible in the nation. He served as its chief justice from 1996 to 1998.

Born in New York City, Kogan moved with his parents and brother to Miami Beach in 1947 and remained a Florida resident for the rest of his life. He graduated from Miami Beach Senior High School and attended the University of Miami, where he received the bachelor’s degree in business administration and his law degree.

Upon graduation from law school, Justice Kogan entered the United States Army. He graduated from the Army Intelligence School and served on active duty as a special agent in the Counterintelligence Corps.

Upon his discharge, he entered the private practice of law in Miami. In 1960 he was appointed an assistant state attorney in the Dade County State Attorney’s Office and rose to the rank of chief prosecutor of the Homicide and Capital Crimes Division.

In 1967 he left the State Attorney’s Office to resume private practice, specializing in criminal trial and appellate law. During this time, he was a prosecutor on behalf of The Florida Bar in attorney disciplinary cases.

Justice Kogan was special counsel to the Florida Legislature’s Select Committee on Organized Crime and Law Enforcement.

In 1980 he was appointed a circuit judge in Florida’s 11th Judicial Circuit. In 1984 he was appointed administrative judge of the Criminal Division, and he served in that capacity until his appointment to the Florida Supreme Court in 1987.

Kogan is survived by his wife Irene and his children Robert Kogan and Karen Kogan Rosenzweig. Arrangements for services are pending.

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