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High praise for the courts' advocates.

In a conversation with The Florida Bar News, Sen. Victor Crist, R-Tampa, chair of the Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Committee, gives credit to the Trial Court Budget Commission for helping him understand the issues related to court funding.

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"Lisa Goodner (state courts administrator) and John Laurent (10th Circuit judge) and Judge (Belvin) Perry (chief judge of the Ninth Circuit) and their team (Trial Court Budget Commission) are very, very effective in representing the courts' concerns and helping to educate lay people like myself that are not practitioners of law or the legal system on how the courts operate and what their needs are, what the strengths and weaknesses are.

"We have spent a lot of time over the years, and they have passionately worked diligently as volunteers to represent the concerns of the civil and criminal justice side of the court system. That is important in the legislative process.

"We get 6,000 issues a year. We get literally thousands of people in our face every year. Out of the 40 senators and 120 House members, we come from a variety of different disciplines and occupations, and sometimes it can be challenging to understand an area where you may not be an expert or a practitioner.

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"I've been the lead on justice for 14 years, and I'm not a practitioner in that area. I run an advertising firm. But people say, 'Why have you been the lead on justice in the House and now in the Senate for so many years?'

"It's because leadership knows I work hard. They know I approach the issues from an unbiased perspective. I see the entities we fund, and we set policy for within my disciplines--which is civil and criminal justice--as family.

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"It's like having siblings. You love them all. You play no favorites. And sometimes one thinks you are favoring another and gets angry with you.

"And later on they realize that's not the case, that you are actually just being fair."

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Title Annotation:Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Committee chairperson, Senator Victor Crist
Publication:Florida Bar News
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:Apr 1, 2010
Words:337
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