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Meet the Court: Justice Barbara Pariente April 15, 2002 Jennifer Krell Davis Regular News Meet the Court: Justice Barbara Pariente [Editor’s Note: This is the fifth installment in a series of brief profiles on the justices of the Florida Supreme Court as produced by the Bar’s Public Information and Bar Services Department. These profiles serve to let Bar members and others get to know each justice as an individual.] Bar Public Information CoordinatorAlthough becoming a judge wasn’t her initial aspiration, Justice Barbara J. Pariente is focused on being a jurist committed to the needs of children and the legal profession.Justice Pariente has long been concerned about the ways children are affected by the legal system and currently serves as liaison to the Supreme Court’s Family Court Steering Committee. She also participates as a faculty member on the court’s Justice Teaching Institute and serves as a member of The Florida Bar’s Commission on the Legal Needs of Children.Pariente passionately “wants to take steps to ensure our legal system adequately addresses the needs and interests of children.” Children’s needs must be addressed “as early as possible” or those problems have the potential to escalate, she cautioned. “The focus should not be counting cases, but making sure the case counts.”Although deciding issues ranging from capital murder to family law is demanding, Pariente said she truly enjoys coming to work at a court with such a collegial group of justices.“We always take our job seriously, but try not to take ourselves too seriously,” she said.Pariente also values the work of the court’s staff, saying gratefully, “We get excellent information.”Another network of support for the justice is her family, which she calls her main passion. Her husband, Fourth District Court of Appeal Judge Fred Hazouri, provides her with both emotional and mental support.“He has had to make a great sacrifice [with us living in different parts of the state], and I probably don’t adequately express how much I appreciate that sacrifice,” Pariente said. “And, on top of that, his intelligence and common sense and his own sense of integrity and professionalism are traits I have always tried to emulate.”She counts herself blessed to be the mother of three and grandmother of six, one of whom was born this past February.“My grandchildren are a never-ending source of wonder and delight,” she said with a smile.Pariente’s family was an important factor in initially deciding whether to apply for a vacancy on the Supreme Court.“It seemed that at that point in my life things were coming together that made it the right time for me to apply,” she said. “My youngest son was in college, there were no women sitting on the court at that point, and it seemed like the opportunity of a lifetime to at least aspire to.”Pariente also held herself to the standards to which she had held others when sitting on a judicial nominating commission.“I was mindful that, to be a good judge, it was important to have a certain amount of life experience and professional experience, and I certainly followed that myself,” she said.Pariente began her distinguished career at George Washington University Law School, where professors encouraged her to challenge herself and take on internships. She spent several summers working for the Public Defender’s Office in Washington and for a legal services office doing landlord-tenant cases. Pariente said law schools should stress internships and mentoring as ways to help students learn how to become better lawyers and how to build good client relationships.Communication with clients and advocacy for children in the legal system are areas in which Pariente thinks lawyers should receive a greater amount of training.“I would hope that law schools will consider courses that embrace interdisciplinary approaches to those areas of law that really demand it, such as family law and similar areas,” Pariente said. “In my view, to best represent a child or a parent, it is important for an attorney to recognize underlying issues, such as learning problems, substance abuse, or mental illness.”Justice Pariente said she is focused on working to make the legal system meet the demands of society for all its citizens. read more

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