Florida Chief Justice Labarga Creates New Award For Judges

Jul 17, 2015

Instead of a plaque for the Judicial Excellence award, Chief Justice Jorge Labarga opted to fly an American flag over the Florida Supreme Court, and sign and fold it for recipients.
Credit Julian Carvajal via Flikr / WFSU News

Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga has created a new award to recognize judicial excellence. The first recipient is getting kudos for his efforts to change the court's treatment of mentally ill offenders.

Miami-Dade County Judge Steve Leifman is the first to receive the newly-established Chief Justice Award. Leifman helped develop a training program that teaches police officers to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illnesses. Next it diverts those with illnesses to treatment centers, rather than lock them up. Chief Justice Jorge Labarga said he hopes it catches on.

“Judge Leifman’s award hopefully will send an even stronger message of what the need is out there today,” Labarga said.  

The award, an American flag flown over the Florida Supreme Court, will be given to one circuit judge and one county judge in the state annually.