Mark A. Touby
Each new year brings to mind the close of the past year as well as the occasion to reflect on it. Last year was a year unlike any other. Your section and the Florida workers’ compensation community continued to conduct business as “the new usual” allowed. It is important not to overlook that. In an era that has been repeatedly described as unprecedented and uncertain, the Florida workers’ compensation community continued to fulfill the purpose of the law by adjusting claims, providing benefits, litigating disputes, and effectuating resolutions.
The WCI held its conference in December 2021 with the theme “better together.” In addition to the educational aspects of the conference, the Judicial Nominating Committee met and recommended the reappointment of eight JCCs. The five Florida-based American Inns of Court chapters also met and were joined by the Workers’ Compensation Section executive council members, the First District Court, and members of the national organization. The gathering was highlighted by the presentation of the Jake Schickel Award for Professionalism to Rosemary Eure from Sarasota and a donation to Give Kids The World.
The Roman philosopher Seneca is credited with the expression “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” For years, Deputy Chief Judge David Langham, DOAH, and the OJCC developed and improved our electronic filing system and incorporated a closed video telecommunication system (the VTC as we call it) to meet the needs of the time. When March 2020 came in like a lion, they were prepared. In what should be recognized as one of the greatest pivots, the OJCC incorporated Zoom usage and we did not miss a beat. Recently, the OJCC has rolled out the Zoom “hybrid” to allow some people to be physically present in the courtroom with the JCC and others to participate by Zoom. Imagine the efficiencies this will allow.
Looking ahead in 2022, the section will continue to provide you with opportunities to involve yourself and benefit from the events that are planned. I would like to reiterate my invitation that if you have never been to a meeting (or it has been a while), I invite you to come to the live meeting on April 6, 2022, at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate. If you can’t make the meeting, try to attend The Forum on April 7-8, 2022. We have a great speaker lineup. This year will see the return of live oral arguments before a panel of judges from the First District Court of Appeal as well as the addition of a breakout session on day two on topics specifically appropriate for our JCCs.
After several years, I am pleased to let you know that on May 13-14, 2022, the section is again offering the Trial Advocacy Workshop. This program is limited to 24 participants and historically fills up quickly (register here). Anyone who has previously attended the workshop will tell you it is worth your time. The opportunity to prepare and present a case before a sitting JCC with the guidance of experienced attorneys is invaluable no matter what your experience level.
We have faced uncertain times. We may face more. I continue to invite, encourage, and cajole you to join in what the section is doing. I do believe we are better together—wherever we might be.