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The Newsletter of the Lakeland Bar Association

Volume 16, Issue 3         

March-April, 1998

JUDICIAL PROFILE:

POLK COUNTY JUDGE ANNE KAYLOR

 

by Michael P. Sampson


The Tenth Judicial Circuit has found its solution to the "Year 2000" problem: Judge Anne Kaylor
Polk County Judge Anne Kaylor. That of course, is a bit of hyperbole but Judge Kaylor has developed for the citizens of the 10th Judicial Circuit and for many others, an Internet presence that reflects well on us. Thousands of visitors have found their way to the web site and many return to the site regularly for updated information.

If you can, go right now to the following address:

http://jud10.flcourts.org

There you will find at first blush what appears to be an incongruous phenomenon: in the most modern of settings (the edge of the Internet), a picture of the Polk County historic courthouse. From that root, you will find links to treasure troves of information. Along the way, you will encounter messages from officials of the Court, bios of the Judges, phone numbers for the court and law enforcement agencies in the circuit, and all of the administrative orders. The site includes colorful graphics, photographs, a memoriam to Judge Langston, tunes, jokes, links to other courts' resources, and at least one reference to a group called "Gators." 

Her favorite project is the site that she and Judge Michael Raiden are developing on Florida's Historic Courthouses. All of that history and all of those stops are linked to each and every other page. You will also find the latest 2nd DCA opinions which Judge Kaylor publishes the same day they are sent to the Supreme Court.

The Internet site "is a service to the people we work for," Judge Kaylor said.   "If we don't provide that, we'll fall behind."  More and more, people look to the "Net" for information and expect to find the judicial circuits using the latest technologies, she explained.  "Even my 90-year old mother is on the net!" she said.

Judge Kaylor pushes for the technology people expect, and those they have yet to know what they should expect.  "There is no reason not to have the latest technology."  She is encouraging the 10th Circuit to develop its own intranet, taking advantage of the fiber optics lines which were installed when the courthouse was renovated, and is actively promoting eventual videoconferencing.
Arraignments of persons arrested who are entitled to a speedy "first appearance" before a judge to determine bail could be handled by videoconferencing from the jail, thus saving the cost of transportation and extra security, plus the eventuality of being able to conduct other court-related activities, such as depositions and even testimony from witnesses who might have difficulty appearing physically in court.

The judicial website springs from the persona of Anne Kaylor. Like the site, she provides humor and color, substantive appreciation of history, indispensable public service, all presented appealingly.

Anne Kaylor soaks up diverse subjects and deploys this knowledge in ways that even she may not realize.She was raised in orphanages and foster homes until she was adopted at the age of nine by a family in Indialantic. She graduated from the Northampton School for Girls in Massachusetts and attended Russell Sage College in Troy, N.Y. Then, that Gator place, the University of Florida, trapped her until 1965, when she received her B.A. degree in History and English. In 1971, Judge Kaylor earned a masters in Guidance and Counseling from Rollins College and then proceeded to complete the requirements to be certified as a specialist in school psychology.

Her teaching experience encompassed serving as a reading specialist in Atlanta, teaching sixth grade in Palm Beach, fourth grade and tenth grade English in Winter Haven, and serving as an area wide School Psychologist for the Polk County School Board until 1973, when her youngest child was born.
If you think she completed her education when she earned her law degree from Stetson College of Law in 1978, you are overlooking chapters of self-teaching and on-the-job learning at warp speed. She was also a Real Estate Broker and the owner of three restaurants in Polk County.

Before beginning service as a judge, Anne Kaylor served as Assistant Public Defender in the 10th Judicial Circuit (1978-1981) and in private practice in the areas of criminal and family law. (1981-1990). In 1990, she was elected to the Polk County bench as a County Judge. She has served as judge for seven years, and was re-elected in 1994.

Kaylor currently serves as Administrative County Judge, having served in that capacity in 1995 as well. She has spent most of her judicial years in the cauldron of the Criminal Division (1990-Dec.1996 and July 1997- Present), with the exception of an 18-month sojourn in the Small Claims Division (Jan 1996 - July 1997). Judge Kaylor--the teacher--assisted in teaching the course in Computer Technology at the Advanced Judicial College course in May 1995. She is Vice-Chairman of the Technology Committee of the Florida Conference of County Judges, and co-webmaster for that site as well. She continues to learn and to teach at any hour of the day. It is not unusual to receive an electronic message from Judge Kaylor in the wee hours of the morning.

She loves her role as county court judge. In that capacity, Kaylor observes "every possible panoply of human life," from the "hysterically funny" things that occur on a daily basis to the sad and dramatic. "I like where I am. I'm one of the few who has no desire to move to Circuit Court. County Court is where most of our citizens come into contact with the court system (other than for a dissolution of marriage) and I feel that the experiences I've had in life provide me with a unique opportunity to relate and understand the problems they face. I've been there, done that.......... got the scars and T-Shirts to prove it!"

Kaylor compares what she and other judges in the criminal rotation do during "Rock Week" to Sisyphus pushing a boulder uphill. "Rock Week" is comprised of street arraignments in the morning and first appearance hearings, pre-trial release motions, child support hearings for those people arrested because they are behind in their child support, and jail arraignments in the afternoon. "We may see up to a thousand people during that week. It is a long week and we feel drained by Friday afternoon," Kaylor said.

"In this job you can't satisfy everyone, including the lawyers, but I'm not there to serve the lawyers, I'm there to serve the public. I do the best job I can to be fair to everyone."

Kaylor notes that many people expect judges to be different from the rest of society.  "Judges are not gods," Kaylor says. "Everybody looks to the court to solve all their problems. We, of course, cannot do that and so people often leave the court disgruntled. All we can do is follow the law and try to be fair and compassionate in doing so, without abusing our power."

Her son, David, whom she swore into The Florida Bar,  recognizes his mother's fairness. David said he would not get any special treatment if he had to appear before her, (which of course he is not allowed to do.)  Her youngest son Mathew is in law school following in the family tradition. Following another family tradition, her daughter Deborah taught school in Polk County and is now busy raising her own children.   Anne's oldest son Jody, is a Captain in the US Army serving in Bosnia.

Judge Kaylor truly is an original.  (Her dress robe is cranberry colored, a muted tone of her favorite hot pink.)  She brings a historical perspective, love for teaching, sense of service, and great color and vision to the court in a way no other judge does. When speaking of herself she says: "I'm a survivor!".



Michael P. Sampson
is a partner at Holland & Knight LLP, coeditor of Noble Pursuits. Working with Judge Kaylor on getting the newsletter wired to the 10th Circuit's web site  has been a learning but humbling experience.

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