T. Charles Shafer Attends Chief Judge’s “State of of 19th” Speech
On February 2, 2018 Mr. Shafer was in attendance when the Honorable Elizabeth Metzger, Chief Judge of the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit of Florida, comprising Martin, St. Lucie, Okeechobee, and Indian River Counties, addressed a gathering of the St. Lucie County Bar Association held at the Fort Pierce Bistro on “The State of the 19th,” reviewing notable events occurring in the circuit the past year and offering aspirations for the court system in 2018.
Judge Metzger informed her audience of the preparations and actions of the court system before, during and after the recent hurricane, and the Circuit’s continued readiness for future natural disasters. She also reported on various pilot programs around the circuit that have been instituted to assist citizens dealing with legal matters.
Okeechobee county now has a mental health court. Mental health courts oversee those with confirmed mental disabilities who have been charged with crimes falling under the mental health court’s consideration. While the recidivism rate for those convicted of crime generally hovers at 75%, Judge Metzger was proud to relate that those who successfully complete the mental health court programs in all three counties were it has been implemented in the circuit have recidivism rates of less than 20%.
There will be continuing challenges to ensure that the court system keeps up with constantly changing technology. To assist in that regard, Judge Metzger told the audience a request for additional State funding has been made.
Judge Metzger ended her talk by admitting that challenges remain; however, the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit continues to strive to ensure that all individuals have equal access to its courts and the fair administration of justice.