Interviewer: You said the judges will tend the rules differently or feel differently. Have you noticed that judges are different in Pasco, Pinellas or Hillsborough county or is it just by judge?
Wendy Doyle: I think it’s the courthouses that the judges work in. Like I said, in Pinellas County, we have Clearwater courthouse and St. Pete courthouse. The St. Pete judges all kind of operate pretty much the same way. One down there that doesn’t tend to follow rules just right. The other three of them too, but the Clearwater judges all kind of operate the same way pretty much. And then the Tampa judges all kind of operate the same way too.
Certain Judges May Possess a Certain Collective Herd-Like Mentality on How to View Issues
Interviewer: What can you say about how they operate?
Wendy Doyle: Yes like I was saying, in St. Pete’s the judges did not like the order for 50 – 50 time sharing for a very long time when Tampa just did so routinely for years. St. Pete is starting to more often and Clearwater is open to it. So they are sort of in the middle, between Hillsborough and St. Petersburg. I definitely see this pattern, I see that certain judges are kind of like a collective sort of “herd mentality” and I think maybe they sit down and they talk to each other. They talk about their cases and they probably go for a consensus on how to view issues. I’m sure it has to do with why there are similarities.
A Competent Family Law Attorney Advises Clients in Accordance With the Courthouse They’re Attending
Interviewer: Do you advise clients differently depending on the courts they are going to.
Wendy Doyle: Yes, I absolutely tell my clients whatever the case is. I think this is how this is going to go. I can absolutely give my clients an opinion on who their judge is, where their case is, what their facts are and what the outcome is going to be.
The Driving Factors of a Family Law Case in Florida are the Facts and the Judge
Interviewer: Anything else you’d advise them depending on where they’re going?
Wendy Doyle: Well, really what drives the case significantly is where the case is and who their judge is absolutely. But often times, I would say that the first driver of somebody’s case is going to be the facts, what’s going on in the case and it really kind of steers me as how I will advise them too. But in Tampa, I know that there is counseling going on, I know that Tampa judges are not as open to a parent facilitation program so I have to litigate it differently for them. Whereas for instance in St. Petersburg, I know the judges, I’ve got a high conflict case, I know the parents don’t get along. They are throwing things at each other in front of the kids. The cops are only going to do so much, they are going to go tell them to go deal with the civil case.
Therapeutic Intervention is Highly Beneficial in Child Custody Cases
It’s not quite rising to the level of a dependency case, not quite child abuse, maybe the cost is similar,they are not going to open up a dependency case. In St. Pete, I know I can go up to the judge and say, “Hey, these two are not getting along. They need therapeutic consultation, they need therapeutic intervention.” The judge down there granted this easily for me. Thank God they do because I think it really helps. I think it’s the most helpful for people when you are in a custody fight. Whereas in Tampa, they’re not as open to it. They’d rather just push the thing on to a trial than maybe do a social investigation or something like that. That’s not the same, not that they don’t care, I think Tampa just has a whole different conscience because there are so many cases, there are just too many cases for them over there. I think they may not be as familiar with the program or have as many attorneys asking for it. It is different than St. Petersburg family law judges.