GAL project aims to help children
GAL project aims to help children
In partnership with the Appellate Practice Section
In partnership with the Bar’s Appellate Practice Section, the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program announced its latest pro bono initiative, the “Defending Best Interests Project,” which will allow more Florida attorneys to use their skills to defend the best interests of dependent children when challenged on appeal.
In dependency court, it is a fundamental principle that the child’s best interests are paramount.
“The Defending Best Interests Project represents some of the most important work pro bono attorneys can do — allowing the appellate courts to hear the voices of children in the dependency system,” said Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, and a longtime champion of pro bono service.
The Pro Bono Committee of the Appellate Practice Section will partner with the GAL program on this project. According to Committee Chair Joe Eagleton of Brannock & Humphries in Tampa, it is sometimes a challenge for attorneys to find time to volunteer their services on a consistent basis.
“The Appellate Practice Section is thrilled to partner with GAL on this project, which offers our members a concrete opportunity to make a difference in the life of a child,” Eagleton said. “The Defending Best Interests Project checks so many of the boxes our members tell us they are looking for to get more involved in pro bono work — a time-limited commitment, an easily digestible record, institutional support, and the opportunity to feel good about themselves to boot.”
Although the project has recently launched, it is quickly gaining momentum, with Vincent Trimarco, of the Trimarco Law Office in Winter Haven, winning the program’s first appellate victory on May 31.
“As a practicing criminal defense attorney, this might be the first time in almost 15 years I’ve been happy to see a PCA from the DCA,” Trimarco said. “Thank you, everyone, for trusting me with this opportunity. I’m glad to give a child permanency and a fighting chance.”
In addition to Trimarco, nearly two dozen attorneys have already committed to write briefs. “I feel like a kid on Christmas,” said Beth Roland, of Friedman & Friedman in Lake Mary. “This opportunity to volunteer my time and experience is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you!”
Leading the initiative is Thomasina Moore, an attorney with more than 20 years of experience in complex litigation and appeals.
“If you are an attorney who wants to use your legal expertise to give a voice to a child, these are the children who need you the most,” Moore said. “Whether you are a practicing attorney, a retired judge, or a law student, you will find rewarding service through the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program’s Defending Best Interests Project.”
There are more than 30,000 abused, abandoned, and neglected children under the jurisdiction of Florida’s juvenile dependency courts that need a voice.
Attorneys accepting pro bono appointments within this project will have unlimited access to GAL’s extensive online training database, detailed practice aids, and support through the GAL’s skilled appellate attorneys and executive leadership.
To learn how you can help one of the 32,000 abused, abandoned, and neglected children in Florida by becoming a child advocate, visit the Guardian ad Litem Program or call 1-866-341-1GAL.