The Fifteenth Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission (“JNC”) announces that it has received applications from the following persons for nominations to fill one or more of the vacancies created by the elevations of Judge Paige Kilbane and Judge John Parnofiello: 

  1. Ira Bergman *
  2. Alex Braunstein
  3. Lourdes Casanova *
  4. Santo DiGangi
  5. Gabriel Ermine
  6. Jean Marie Middleton *
  7. Amy Morse
  8. Katherine Mullinax *
  9. Steven Phillips
  10. Robert Rubin *
  11. Jeffrey Saidenstat
  12. Gregory Schiller
  13. Reid Scott
  14. Danielle Sherriff
  15. D. Small
  16. Sorraya Solages-Jones
  17. Schnelle Tonge
  18. Kevin Walsh
  19. Lawonda Warren
  20. Craig Williams

*County Court only

The JNC anticipates conducting interviews on Friday, March 17, 2023.   

All JNC proceedings are open to the public, except for deliberations.  Applications are not confidential.  If an applicant is nominated, all materials attached to the original application will be submitted to the Governor.

If you have any questions, please call Mr. Harvey at (561) 303-2918, or email at robert@flbiznow.com.


The Court has entered administrative orders establishing the office of magistrate in family law matters (Administrative Order 5.104), juvenile matters (administrative order 5.104) and mental health matters (Administrative Order 6.304).

NOW, THEREFORE, pursuant to the authority conferred by Florida Rule of General Practice and Judicial Administration 2.215, it is ORDERED as follows:

The following are hereby appointed to serve temporarily as magistrates within the 15th Judicial Circuit with all of the authority, responsibility and power conferred by the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure, Florida Rules of Juvenile Procedure, Florida Rules of Probate Procedure and Florida Statutes.

Jodi Cason
Sharon Feliciano
Stanley Silver
Jacqueline Smith
Kristen Smith- Rodriguez
Grant Spitzer

DONE and SIGNED in Chambers at West Palm Beach, Palm Beach County, this 23rd day of February 2023.

Glenn D. Kelley, Chief Judge

Civility Trumps Hostility in Settling Cases

Written by: (Ret.) Judge Kenneth Stern
Published: March 2023

There is a key to resolving cases that should be central to your efforts.   Often, we have a client, or opposing party,  who is so immersed in resentment and anger because of the dispute in which s/he is involved,  that s/he is incapable of addressing the situation which is the focus of the dispute.   Or we have an opposing counsel who postures, instead of discussing the issues.

The most common problem with such situations is that the person unable to focus on the situation to be resolved is  preoccupied with the emotional perception that s/he has been, or might be, outfoxed by the opposition.   Such a situation cries out for you to dip into your bag of interpersonal tactics and heed my favorite definition of all time:  “Diplomacy is the art of letting the other person have your way.”  This begins with explaining that the person’s own self interest is being disserved by not concentrating on what s/he really needs, which is getting the situation to yield what s/he wants.       

If the problematic person is your client, you must pierce the emotional cocoon that your client has woven, by sympathizing with his or her feelings,   then to point out that s/he shares a situation with the opposing party which has to be sensibly resolved.    Help your client to realize that the best way to make the harsh feelings and resentments disappear is to recall the last time your client and the opposing party were dealing with one another in a civil, cooperative way.

Do what you can to bring the client’s focus to that period, and get him or her to acknowledge that they once were able to deal with one another for their mutual benefit.   Then, urge your client to recall what occurred to create the dispute that now exists.  Although it is likely that your client will seek to blame the deterioration of their relationship on the opposing party, point out that the client’s self interest would best be served by resolving the matter, not by prolonging the dispute.

Help your client to identify what actions and concessions by both sides would defuse the anger and resolve the situation.  Urge the client to focus on what should be asked of the opposing side to help resolve the dispute. This will help you to formulate your comments to the other party during the joint opening session, after the mediator concludes his or her remarks and invites the attorneys to describe to the other side how they see the case,  and how they suggest a settlement could be reached. [1]  

If your opposing counsel is a reasonable person interested in settling the case to his client’s satisfaction, you might, prior to the  mediation date, suggest a resolution based upon fostering in both clients the perception you and your client have achieved during your discussions.

If the stubborn person is the opposing party,  your tactics would be shaped by the nature of that party’s attorney.   If the attorney is plagued by the client’s obstinacy and is having difficulty getting the client to address the situation objectively,  you might tell the attorney (regardless of whether it is true) that you had the same problem with your client,  and that you  used with your client the same approach you are suggesting he or she use with his or her client.

Finally, there is the situation where the problematic person is your opposing counsel.  Once in a while, the attorney on the other side is a “hot dog,” whose modus operandi consists of arm waving, posturing, and threatening.   If you can, convince opposing counsel that his/her client will be well-served, and will appreciate the attorney’s work, if a satisfactory solution can be created to allow both parties to put this situation behind them,  and to get on with their lives.  If that doesn’t motivate him or her to foster a settlement, appeal to the attorney’s self interest: stress that a happy client will return with more business, but if the case languishes for months, with attorneys’ fees mounting, the client will not likely return with more business or recommend him to others.

If your efforts do not produce a conciliatory attitude, call the mediator and explain that there’s a problem that you would appreciate his/her addressing at the mediation.   Explain who’s the problem and what you would like the mediator to do, either in his opening statement (if there will be one), or in caucus.  An experienced mediator can do wonders.  (See article, “Recruiting the Mediator as Your Ally,” in the ADR Corner column in the  PBCBA Bulletin of April 2017.)

Since his retirement from the Circuit Court bench, Judge Stern has served as a Mediator in Circuit Civil, Family, appellate and federal cases.  He also serves as an Arbitrator (AAA approved), and as a Special Magistrate, helping to move cases toward resolution by hearing motions which have been languishing on crowded court dockets.   Judge Stern may be reached at kdstern@gmail.com or 561-901-4968.

“For additional ADR tips and resources, go to https://www.palmbeachbar.org/alternative-dispute-resolution-committee/.

[1]  When mediating a case, I strongly urge the attorneys to agree to such a joint session, wherein either attorney is urged to speak calmly and respectfully to the other party.  Such a joint session often helps to shorten the time needed for mediation, because it helps to identify the key issues that need to be addressed, and often defuses the anger the opposing parties so often feel toward one another.

The Past, Present, and Future of Women in the Law

Written by: Nalani Gordon & Marc Hernandez
Published: March 2023

In 1987, Congress first declared March to be Women’s History Month as a way to recognize and celebrate the achievements of women. This recognition would be incomplete without acknowledging the contributions of women lawyers in particular. And while celebrating the trailblazing work of women in the law, we should also acknowledge the historical and current realities of our profession, so we can work toward what the American Bar Association refers to as a “more inclusive, just, and equitable profession” in the future.

The Past

A century and three years ago, women had no constitutionally guaranteed right to vote. The eventual passage of the Nineteenth Amendment was far from preordained. It was the result of decades-long relentless work of countless individuals including suffragists like Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and the many others who supported them, marched with them, and demanded change.

In 1970, women comprised only 3 percent of the legal profession. A decade later, Sandra Day O’Connor was appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States, becoming the first female associate justice on the high court. However, a decade after that, in 1990, the Florida Supreme Court’s Gender Bias Study Commission concluded that “discrimination based solely on one’s gender was a reality that permeates Florida’s legal system.”

Fortunately, in the ensuing years the number of women serving as U.S. Supreme Court justices has increased. At present, that number is four, but four is a minority. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a pioneering Supreme Court justice and champion for women’s rights, famously once said that there would be enough women on the Supreme Court “when there are nine.” Justice Ginsburg acknowledged that some were shocked by this statement, but as she explained, “there’[s] been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.”

The Present

Currently, the number of women in the legal profession is closer to 38 percent according to the Florida Bar. Yet, this is far from an accomplishment given that women make up 50 percent or more of first-year law students, indicating that many women are being forced out of the profession or choosing to leave. Moreover, the women who remain in the profession are not proportionately represented as partners in law firms, judges, or in other top-level positions like deans of law schools. In Florida Bar surveys, women lawyers also have reported that they continue to be adversely and uniquely affected by gender stereotypes, harassment, unequal pay, and work-life balance issues. As Justice O’Connor recognized:

Despite the encouraging and wonderful gains and the changes for women which have occurred in my lifetime, there is still room to advance and to promote correction of the remaining deficiencies and imbalances.

In other words, it is far too early to declare victory in the struggle to eliminate bias against women lawyers and unjust barriers to their entry in the legal profession. We have work to do.

The Future

As a bar and a profession, we have a number of opportunities to promote the advancement of women lawyers.

One avenue of support and empowerment is available through voluntary bar associations and civic organizations like the Florida Association for Women Lawyers (FAWL). FAWL has a long track record of working toward gender equality in the legal profession and the community as a whole. The association also plays an instrumental role in promoting the leadership of women lawyers by encouraging them to join the judiciary, committees in the Florida Bar, and executive boards for non-profit organizations. Similarly, the Sheree Davis Cunningham Black Women Lawyers Association, which was recently founded in 2021 by three stellar attorneys from our community, focuses on empowering and supporting black women in the legal profession. This organization will undoubtedly have a profound impact on the women lawyers in Palm Beach County and beyond.

In addition to participating in voluntary bar associations, attorneys have the responsibility on an individual, organizational, and societal level, to work toward a “more inclusive, just, and equitable profession.” As individuals, we can mentor, support, and invest in women lawyers. All of this can be done without a formalized structure and without significant effort. As members of organizations and society, we can educate others regarding the value of representation, ensure that women are heard, and give women the same opportunities that are available to others. The key is speaking up and acting because if we wait for someone else to do so then no one will.

The responsibility for creating a more equitable legal profession—a  profession that demands equality under law—lies with us. And if we faithfully discharge our responsibility, we can take pride in the fact that we have not only honored the work of past pioneers but also the work of those who still walk among us.

Nalani Gordon is an associate at Gunster. Her main areas of practice are employment law, Title IX, and business litigation. Marc Hernandez is a board-certified appellate attorney at Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath, focusing on personal injury, medical malpractice, and products liability cases.


Chief Judge Glenn Kelley will serve a second two-year term as Chief Judge of the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit beginning July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2025.

At a Full Court meeting held today, the Judges of the Circuit selected Chief Judge Kelley to continue serving in this capacity. Prior to his initial term as Chief Judge, which began on July 1, 2021, Judge Kelley served on the Circuit Civil and Circuit Criminal bench. He also served as the Administrative Judge of the Circuit Civil and Circuit Criminal divisions. In 2012, he was awarded Jurist of Year by PBCJA. In addition to his Chief Judge duties, since 2019 he has served on the Florida Supreme Court Trial Court Budget Commission (TCBC). Other appointments include the TCBC Executive Committee, Funding Methodology Committee, Personnel Committee, Statewide FTE Resource Management Policy Workgroup and the Judicial Management Council Workgroup on Court Technology Strategies. In 2023 he was also asked to serve on the State Courts Legislative Delegation Committee.

Chief Judge Kelley was appointed to the Circuit bench in 2006 by then Governor Jeb Bush for a term beginning in January 2007. Prior to taking the bench, he practiced civil law in the private sector with Gunster, Yoakley, Criser and Stewart, P.A.; Broome, Kelley, Aldrich and Warren, P.A; and Kelley and Warren, P.A. He received his Bachelor and Juris Doctorate from the University of Florida. His goals over the next two years include bringing to fruition the buildout of the 7th and 8th floors of the Main Courthouse as well as the completion of two courtrooms in the Juvenile wing of the Main Courthouse.

Arbitration Case Law Update

Published: February 2023
Written by: Donna Greenspan Solomon

Arbitration Case Law Update

Morgan v. Sundance, Inc., 142 S.Ct. 1708 (2022).  Employee brought nationwide collective action asserting employer violated federal law regarding overtime payment.  Eight months later, employer moved to compel arbitration.  The district court denied the motion, and the Eighth Circuit reversed, finding that a waiver of the right to arbitration required a showing of prejudice.  The US Supreme Court vacated and remanded, holding that prejudice is not required to show that a party, by litigating too long, waived its right to compel arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”). 

Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana, 142 S.Ct. 1906 (2022).  The FAA preempts any state rule discriminating on its face against arbitration, for example, a law prohibiting outright the arbitration of a particular type of claim.

Southwest Airlines Co. v. Saxon, 142 S.Ct. 1783 (2022).  Any class of workers directly involved in transporting goods across state or international borders falls within FAA’s exemption for contracts of employment of seamen, railroad employees, or any other class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce.

Outokumpu Stainless USA, LLC v. Coverteam SAS, 17-10944, 2022 WL 2643936, at *3 (11th Cir. July 8, 2022).  On remand from the US Supreme Court, the Eleventh Circuit found that non-signatory to the arbitration agreement could nevertheless compel arbitration as a defined party covered by the arbitration clause.

 Attix v. Carrington Mortgage Services, LLC, 35 F.4th 1284 (11th Cir. 2022).  The Eleventh Circuit held that a borrower and mortgage servicer, through an express delegation clause, clearly and unmistakably agreed to submit questions of arbitrability to the arbitrator, stating:  “At the end of the day, the ‘arbitrability of arbitrability’ is simply about the freedom to decide who decides disputes. Federal law provides, emphatically, that parties may opt out of the judicial system. One would be hard-pressed to find a topic about which the Supreme Court has provided more consistent clarity in recent years than arbitration. The Court’s precedents make clear that, when an appeal presents a delegation agreement and a question of arbitrability, we stop. We do not pass go. At some point in this litigation, someone may, perhaps, collect $200. Whether anyone will—and who will ultimately decide whether anyone does—are not questions we answer today.”

 Perera v. Genovese, 345 So. 3d 882 (Fla. 4th DCA 2022).  Once a court determines that arbitrator exceeded his or her powers, the court’s decision to vacate the award either in whole or in part is a discretionary decision that turns on whether the arbitrator’s other rulings are intertwined with the arbitrator’s unauthorized ruling.

Navarro v. Varela, 345 So. 3d 365 (Fla. 3d DCA 2022).  The determination of whether a particular claim must be submitted to arbitration necessarily depends on the existence of some nexus between the dispute and the contract containing the arbitration clause.  The trial court did not err in concluding that claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress and violations of the Florida Civil Rights Act were not arbitrable because they lacked a sufficient nexus to the parties’ agreement.

Malek v. Malek, 346 So. 3d 179 (Fla. 3d DCA 2022).  Arbitration agreement applicable to disputes between a company and its shareholders did not apply to dispute over ownership of the company in a dissolution action.

Addit, LLC v. Hengesbach, 341 So. 3d 362 (Fla. 2d DCA 2022).  Arbitration agreement contained on page 15 of 23-page assisted living residency agreement, which was neither set off nor made conspicuous in any manner, and where there was no opportunity for meaningful negotiation, was a contract of adhesion and was procedurally unconscionable; provision carving claims for eviction out of arbitration agreement was substantively unconscionable; as a matter of first impression, confidentiality provision of arbitration agreement was not substantively unconscionable; however, trial court erred in denying motion to compel arbitration where offending provisions were severable.

UniFirst Corp. v. Stronger Collision Ctr., LLC, 336 So. 3d 1283 (Fla. 3d DCA 2022). Under the rules of the American Arbitration Association (AAA) incorporated into arbitration provision,  plaintiff was entitled to proceed to ex parte arbitration under the AAA’s expedited rules, without seeking a court order compelling arbitration, after defendant chose not to participate in arbitration and did not reply to arbitration notices.

Donna Greenspan Solomon was the first attorney certified by The Florida Bar as both Business Litigator and Appellate Specialist.  Donna is a Member of the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals and serves as a Chair on AAA (Commercial Panel) and FINRA arbitrations.  She is also a Certified Circuit, Appellate, and Family Mediator and Florida Supreme Court Qualified Arbitrator.  Donna is also a Member of the Florida Supreme Court Committee on Standard Jury Instructions—Contract and Business Cases.  Donna can be reached at (561) 762-9932 or Donna@SolomonAppeals.com or by visiting www.solomonappeals.com.


For additional ADR tips and resources, go to www.palmbeachbar.org/alternative-dispute-resolution-committee.


The Fifteenth Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission (“JNC”) announces two vacancies: one vacancy for a Circuit Court Judge position created by the elevation of Judge Paige Kilbane and one vacancy for a County Court Judge position created by the elevation of Judge John Parnofiello.  The JNC has been asked to provide Governor Ron DeSantis with nominees for both vacancies by Friday, March 17, 2023.

Qualifications of Applicants:

Applicants must be able to fulfill the Constitutional qualifications for county court judges described in Article V, Section 8 of the Florida Constitution.

Instructions for Submission:

1)            The current Judicial Application form must be used and can be found at https://www.flgov.com/judicial-and-judicial-nominating-commission-information/. Applicants should ensure they are using the correct and current form.

2)            Applications must be in .pdf form and submitted as follows: (i) one original copy of the application, including all attachments, (ii) one redacted copy of the application, including all attachments, excluding all exempt information under Chapter 119 of the Florida Statutes or other applicable public records law. The two .pdf files should be named in a “last name.first name” format. For example: Jane Smith should submit two files named: (1) Smith.Jane.pdf and (2) Smith.Jane-REDACTED.pdf. Each electronic application, including exhibits, must be a single pdf file. The Commission strongly prefers the submission of applications in a text-searchable (i.e., non-scanned) pdf format.

3)            The deadline for submission of the completed application is 5:00 p.m., Friday, February 24, 2023. Please state in your application whether you are applying for the Circuit Court Judge vacancy, the County Court Judge vacancy, or both vacancies.  Both the original and redacted electronic applications must be submitted by email to all Commission members at their email addresses below:

It is anticipated that any interviews will be held the week of March 13, 2023.

All JNC proceedings are open to the public, except for deliberations.  Applications are not confidential.  If an applicant is nominated, all materials attached to the original application will be submitted to the Governor.

If you have any questions, please call Mr. Harvey at (561) 303-2918, or by email at robert@flbiznow.com