Judge Jeri Beth Cohen
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Monday, July 28, 2008 - The Miami Herald - THE MIAMI HERALD RECOMMENDS FOR MIAMI-DADE CIRCUIT COURT, GROUP 55
Summer 2008 - Juvenile and Family Justice Today - MODEL COURTS PARTICIPATE IN CHILDREN'S DENTAL HEALTH MONTH 2008
Wednesday, April 9, 2008 - The Miami Herald - SCHOOL READINESS PROGRAM GIVES KIDS A BOOST
Monday, March 24, 2008 - The Miami Herald - DRUG TREATMENT: LIFELINES ON THE LINE - EXCERPT
Thursday, February 7, 2008 - The Miami Herald - FOR DADE JUDGES, IT'S NOTHING BUT THE TOOTH - EXCERPT

Thursday, October 11, 2007 - The SunPost - POWER WOMEN 2007 - JUDGE JERI BETH COHEN

Friday, March 30, 2007 - The Miami Herald - JUDGE MIXES LAW WITH SOCIAL SERVICES - EXCERPT
Thursday, May 16, 2002 - The Miami Herald - CHILD-WELFARE CRITICS TESTIFY - EXCERPT
2000 - IN THE LAST TWO WEEKS OF HER LIFE, CYNTERIA PHILLIPS RAN DESPERATELY FROM ONE HOME TO ANOTHER.
Monday, May 10, 1999 - The Miami Herald - ADDICTED PARENTS GET HELP TO STAY CLEAN `DRUG COURT' OFFERS TREATMENT, COUNSELING - EXCERPT
December 1998 - JUDGE JERI BETH COHEN HONORED BY NATIONAL COMMISSION
Sunday, December 28, 1996 - The Miami Herald - PROGRAM TO TARGET REPEAT DUI OFFENDERS EXTRA COUNSELING AND STRICTER SUPERVISION ARE PART OF PLAN - EXCERPT
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Friday, December 7, 2007 A RIGHT OUTCOME IN DIFFICULT CASE
Saturday, September 29, 2007 DCF CHANGED ITS ROLE IN CUSTODY CASE
Wednesday, August 29, 2007 DCF TAKES UNUSUAL ROLE IN CUSTODY CASE
THE MIAMI HERALD RECOMMENDS FOR MIAMI-DADE CIRCUIT COURT, GROUP 55
Juvenile and Family Justice Today - Summer, 2008
Anyone who believes that a judge's job is cushy hasn't visited a Miami-Dade County courtroom lately. From the elegant Dade County Courthouse in downtown Miami to the teeming, overcrowded Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building in the Civic Center to the shabby, cramped Juvenile Justice Courthouse, Lady Justice demands grueling workloads from those who preside in court. The person who has been in the center of legal maelstroms recently is Judge Jeri Beth Cohen, whom we are recommending for reelection.

A 15-year veteran of the bench, Judge Cohen has had her share of media attention recently, thanks to two high-profile cases. First was the poignant plight of a 5-year-old Cuban girl brought to this country in 2005 by her mother, who later relinquished custody of her and her older brother. The children have different fathers. The boy's father agreed to his son being adopted by a couple acting as foster parents for both children. The girl's father, a Cuban citizen, wanted his daughter returned to Cuba. The foster parents wanted to adopt her.

The custody trial was contentious and emotionally charged. Judge Cohen, 54, does not tolerate antics or foolishness in her court. She has a quick wit and a sometimes sharp tongue, but she is always fair. These skills kept the custody trial from sliding into chaos. In the end, Judge Cohen granted the father custody, and he agreed to remain in South Florida for two years to allow his daughter time to adjust. This was a just, legally correct outcome.

Judge Cohen's opponent, Abbie Barbara Cuellar, represented the foster parents in the custody case. Ms. Cuellar, 45, appears to be running with a grudge: Judge Cohen ruled against her clients.

The second hot potato to land in Judge Cohen's lap is Norman Braman's lawsuit challenging the megaplan cobbled together by the county and city of Miami. The plan includes building a $515 million retractable-dome stadium for the Florida Marlins. Mr. Braman says the issue should have gone to county voters to decide. The stakes are high in the outcome of this trial, which Judge Cohen is handling in her usual no-nonsense style. One of Judge Cohen's invaluable qualities on display in this trial is her refusal to be intimidated by lawyers for either side.

This year, Miami-Dade's justice system is losing some fine circuit-court judges to retirement. No matter how able their replacements, the absence of these veterans' integrity, grit and commitment to fairness will be a loss to the courts. All the more reason to keep judges of the caliber of Judge Cohen on the bench.

For Miami-Dade County Circuit Court, Group 55, The Miami Herald recommends Judge JERI BETH COHEN.

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MODEL COURTS PARTICIPATE IN CHILDREN'S DENTAL HEALTH MONTH 2008
Juvenile and Family Justice Today - Summer, 2008
SCHOOL READINESS PROGRAM GIVES KIDS A BOOST
The Miami Hearld, Judge Jeri Beth Cohen Juvenile Division - April 9, 2008
Several years ago the Linda Rey Intervention Center at the University of Miami assessed 200 children ages 0-3 who were entering the dependency system in Miami- Dade County due to abuse, neglect or abandonment. Of those 200 children, 70% exhibited a significant delay in at least one developmental domain. With quality early learning interventions by 36 months of age, the study found that all children started school at grade level. Sadly, the rest of the group falls behind, lacking the necessary skills to develop at the same pace, and, as a result, always starting at lower levels of learning than their peers. The effect of not starting school at grade level extends beyond the early classroom years and prevents children from reaching their full potential.

In this time of economic uncertainty, when there does not seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel, it has proven to be a challenge for our leaders to make decisions with long-term benefits in mind. Imminent decisions by our State's Legislature will result in major cuts to School Readiness programs and will severely handicap the future well-being of communities throughout the State. The Senate is about to make what amounts to $15,000,000 in cuts to the state's School Readiness program, which provides quality child care to more than 250,000 lower income children. When forfeited matching federal funds are factored into this equation, the effect of the cuts could exceed $30 million dollars.

The cuts will have a profoundly negative impact on families, businesses, and the state's sputtering economy. Here's why:
• As many as 14,000 children could lose School Readiness services that enable parents to remain gainfully employed. Without work, families cannot afford basic necessities such as food, clothes and shelter.
• Businesses will be less productive because access to quality child care often means the difference between employees working while their children are in safe care, or not working because they can't get affordable, quality child care.
• In addition to the children already in the program, 47,526 children sit on a School Readiness waiting list. Program funding has not been increased in seven years, yet the need continues to grow.
• School Readiness services have been shown to save the state up to $7 for each dollar invested. As children learn, they become productive students and successful citizens of their communities.
• Parents who cannot work because they have no child care may become unemployed and create economic strains on other programs such as financial aid, Medicaid and food stamps. This does nothing to stimulate our current weak economy.
• In desperation, parents without quality child care may have no choice but to leave their children in substandard care, which could result in accidents, abuse, or neglect, and eventually could lead to removal of the child from their home and placement in the foster care system.
• At a time when Florida is struggling to provide quality education, budget cuts that undermine the educational foundation of Florida's children will have long-term social and economic consequences.

Admittedly, state legislators must make some tough choices in a year of painful budget cuts. However, when it comes to protecting children's safety, ensuring families can work, and keeping businesses productive, a cut to early learning and intervention just doesn't work for Florida. The state simply cannot afford this cut.

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DRUG TREATMENT: LIFELINES ON THE LINE - EXCERPT
Proposed funding cuts to successful drug treatment programs may leave thousands untreated
The Miami Hearld, Carol Marbin Miller cmarbin@MiamiHerald.com - March 24, 2008
"This is a nightmare," said Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jeri B. Cohen, who presides over a drug court for parents accused of abusing or neglecting their children, and refers hundreds of parents every year into drug treatment in an effort to improve their parenting skills. "This will cause a flood of parents into court, and it will cause more children to enter care."

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FOR DADE JUDGES, IT'S NOTHING BUT THE TOOTH - EXCERPT
The Miami Hearld, Staff Reporter - February 7, 2008
Miami Herald Staff Report Circuit Court Judges Cindy S. Lederman and Jeri B. Cohen and their colleagues at the Juvenile Justice Center, 3300 NW 27th Ave., drew attention to the importance of regular dental checkups for children by launching the initiative "Brushes from the Bench," which will run through February.
The campaign kicked off Friday with free dental checkups provided by a Miami Children's Hospital mobile health van that will make return visits to the center during the month.

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JUDGE MIXES LAW WITH SOCIAL SERVICES - EXCERPT
The Miami Hearld, Jay Weaver jweaver@MiamiHerald.com - March 30, 2007
Her shoebox of a courtroom is crammed with child-welfare lawyers, social workers and families with crying babies.
Circuit Court Judge Jeri Beth Cohen is in her element, checking on the treatment of a drug-addicted mother whose 7-year-old son with Down syndrome lives with grandparents because the father is in jail.
"Our focus is the child. We have to keep our eye on the child," lectures Cohen as she prods the boy's grandfather to get his wife more involved in caring for him. "I'm not going to give up on this."
And so ends another day in the dependency court in Allapattah, where Cohen digests a steady diet of society's most pressing problems.
Cohen has been known to draw from a mix of legal, social and psychological solutions in dealing with complex cases.
"With her background, she has a keen understanding of both legal issues and child welfare issues," said University of Miami law professor Bruce Winick, an early advocate of what has come to be known as therapeutic jurisprudence. "That's what drives a case like this -- the best interest of the child."
Cohen, 53, who grew up in the Aventura area, inherited a spirit of social activism from her mother. Shirley Cohen was on the front lines of that generation's defining issues: women's liberation, civil rights, the Vietnam War.
"My mother was always very political and was always concerned with justice for those who were not treated equally or fairly by society," Cohen said.
The independent-minded daughter, who attended a private Jewish high school, traveled far and wide for a decade to pursue an extraordinarily diverse education -- capped by her J.D. degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 1985.
A magna cum laude graduate, Cohen clerked for a judge in Washington, then joined the Securities and Exchange Commission.
She could have gone to Wall Street and made millions.
Instead, she returned to South Florida and became a low-paid prosecutor for then-Miami-Dade State Attorney Janet Reno.
"I really could have done anything," Cohen said in her chambers at the Juvenile Courthouse. "I've always been a social activist."
That moved her to run for judge in 1992. She won a seat on the county bench.
"You really have the ability to make positive changes in people's lives," she said. "But when we first started doing this, people thought we were crazy."
That's because the old court model was to impose criminal penalties for all offenders, including nonviolent drug users. But that approach changed as Cohen and other Miami-Dade judges brought social services into the courtroom.
"What's amazing is her commitment to using the best practices available in the country to get all these things done," said County Judge Steven Leifman, who is recognized as a pioneer himself on mental health problems. "She will research things ad nauseum."

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CHILD-WELFARE CRITICS TESTIFY - EXCERPT
The Miami Hearld, Carol Marbin Miller and Charles Rabin cmarbin@MiamiHerald.com - May 16, 2002
Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Jeri Beth Cohen believes she knows why some foster children disappear.
They are sent to live in crowded and often chaotic foster homes. Their caseworkers sometimes don't pay any attention to them. They don't always get even basic medical care. They run away, she said Wednesday. Then, if the system works properly, they are found - and appear before her, a dependency court judge.
``I have to look at them and say, `I don't have anything to offer you. My hands are empty,' '' Cohen, a seven-year veteran of the Miami-Dade dependency bench, told members of a special panel investigating Florida's beleaguered child-welfare system. ``I wish to God I did.''
Cohen was one of the first witnesses to testify before the task force who was not linked to the Department of Children & Families, which has been engulfed in scandal since police reported that 5-year-old Rilya Wilson has been missing from foster care for perhaps 16 months.

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ADDICTED PARENTS GET HELP TO STAY CLEAN `DRUG COURT' OFFERS TREATMENT, COUNSELING - EXCERPT
The Miami Hearld, Gail Epstein Nieves gepstein@herald.cm - May 10, 1999
The program, one of about 10 nationwide, offers addicted parents intensive drug treatment, special counseling, twice-a-week urinalysis and weekly meetings with the judge. The goal is to go straight and regain custody of the children. The threat is losing the kids permanently.
The idea is desperately needed in Miami-Dade, where crack cocaine or alcohol addictions plague 70 percent of the parents whose children have been removed from the home for abuse or neglect, Cohen said. She has already enrolled 34 addicted adults who are parents to more than 90 children.
The Dependency Drug Court allows judges to move cases along faster - and more successfully, Judge Cohen believes - because it is based on unique coordination between the courts, treatment providers and caseworkers for the state Department of Children and Families. If a parent's urine sample reveals drug use, for instance, everyone involved in the case knows and can react immediately.
That's a significant change in a system that traditionally offered little feedback to judges making important decisions about children's futures. ``For the first time, we're all working together,'' said Cohen, the driving force behind Miami-Dade's court. ``This is a miracle in this county.''
Lawyer Karl Hall Jr., who represented McIntosh on Friday, called the Dependency Drug Court ``a positive, holistic approach'' tailored to address some of the largest problems in the juvenile justice system.
McIntosh's case ``is an example of how the court system, through the front-loaded services of Judge Cohen's drug court and the individual successes of the parents, can place children back with their families while still addressing the drug problem,'' Hall said.
Cohen's lobbying got Miami included in a three-city study of family drug courts being administered by the George Washington University Medical Center. Since March, analysts have been collecting data on 30 participants and comparing the information to results in a regular dependency court - without a specialized drug component - in Tampa.
Cohen also got funding for programs that help participants' children. ``We treat substance abuse as a family issue,'' Cohen said. ``I tell them if one person is using, the whole family is ill.''
Miami's group, like those elsewhere around the nation, is primarily women, but does include several fathers who have custody of their children or are partners of addicted women. Because the women have such a high birth rate, Cohen asks them if they want to have their fallopian tubes tied for birth control. Most do.
``A lot of these women are very young and have five, six, seven children,'' Cohen said. ``They'll never get out of this mess if they keep having children.''
On Friday, the day the judge regularly meets with parents, all 12 who came to court gave ``clean'' urine. The results aren't always that perfect. Two women have been dropped from the program for noncompliance. Their cases will proceed toward termination of parental rights.
For the most part, though, optimism runs high that more women will leave the courtroom as Altamese McIntosh did Friday: smiling, drug-free, with her baby - and heading home.
``Today the judge took a ray of hope, with caution,'' said Hall, McIntosh's lawyer. ``Perseverance will continue to be needed on this case and thousands of others like it that go through this court every day.''

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PROGRAM TO TARGET REPEAT DUI OFFENDERS EXTRA COUNSELING AND STRICTER SUPERVISION ARE PART OF PLAN - EXCERPT
The Miami Hearld, John Lantigua, Herald Staff Writer - December 12, 1996
The program will be funded with a $129,000 grant from the state Department of Transportation. It will be monitored by the 11th Judicial Circuit's administrative office and will extend a pilot program designed and currently being implemented by Judge Jeri Beth Cohen.
Cohen began monitoring more closely the DUI cases that came before her and found that her pilot program had helped reduce the number of repeat offenders.
``It's no surprise that it is judges who have an interest here, because it is judges who see these people again and again,'' McGriff said.
He said under the new program the probation officers will have greater access to those judges.
``Let's say a guy misses a counseling session or two, which is not enough to revoke his probation,'' McGriff said. ``Well, the probation officer can get the guy hauled into court right away, and the judge can put him in jail for a day just to get his attention. You can see it's going to be much more proactive.''

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