USF Health faculty spend a day in court to see inside the legal system

After spending a morning in courtrooms at the George Edgecomb Courthouse in downtown Tampa, USF Health faculty, administrators and students saw firsthand the similarities of the medical and legal professions.

USFH students, faculty and administrators were invited to experience the judicial process first hand.

USF Health faculty, administrators and students were invited to experience the judicial process first hand.

About two dozen people from USF Health who attended this year’s Black Robe Day, a morning-long event that partners lawyers and judges with faculty and administrators from the USF Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Public Health, and Pharmacy, and the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, as well as medical students.

The event is organized by Jay Wolfson, JD, DrPH, USF Distinguished Service Professor and associate vice president for Health Law, Policy and Safety at USF Health and Senior Associate Dean Morsani College of Medicine, and Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Gregory Holder, and coordinated by Dionne Ferguson, JD, PhD, director of Strategic Planning and Institutional Effectiveness, and Laura M. Daniels, judicial assistant to Judge Holder.

The Honorable Judge Gregory Holder.

The Honorable Judge Gregory Holder.

The lunch for event attendees was hosted by the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), a group of litigators that promotes issues that support the courts and provide a better understanding of the court system.

The main goal of the Black Robe Day is to give a glimpse of our legal system so USF Health students and faculty gain better perspectives of the commonalities of law and medicine. The program is also linked to the Law and Medicine Scholarly Concentration, one of several programs offered by the Scholarly Concentration Program in the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.

This year, the group from USF Health met with judges for part of the morning of Oct. 20 and then split into smaller groups to shadow individual judges and access many of the court cases taking place that day. Guests of the court heard details about drug possession, domestic violence, theft, and battery, among other types of cases, as they watched the proceedings.

Reflections from the students and faculty about their day in court included gratitude for the inside look at the court system and a newfound appreciation for the legal process. Some of the quotes from the morning included:

“There are similar competency and skill sets in both professions. The ability to listen and the ability to have compassion. People were at odds with family and children in the courtroom, but they came together. The ability to dissect a lot of information in a short period of time,”said Joe Ford, assistant vice president of the USF Health Shared Student Services.

“There are similar competency and skill sets in both professions. The ability to listen, the ability to have compassion and the ability to dissect a lot of information in a short period of time. People were at odds with family and children in the courtroom, but they came together to help,”said Joe Ford, assistant vice president of the USF Health Shared Student Services.

USFH students, faculty and administrators were invited to experience the judicial process first hand.

“I teach domestic violence and human trafficking and today, seeing it from the real world, was very impressive. I love this,” said Anthonia Imudia, DNP, FNP-BC, assistant professor in the USF College of Nursing.

Black Robe 2015

“We have a lot of patients with substance abuse problems so it was really good to see the follow up of that,” said Sharon Aroda, MD, assistant professor in the Morsani College of Medicine.

USFH students, faculty and administrators were invited to experience the judicial process first hand.

“It impressed me how you helped people make informed decisions. Many times they had to make tough decisions and what was best for them was laid it out very clearly,” said Douglas Holt, MD, professor of medicine and director of the Hillsborough County Health Department.

USFH students, faculty and administrators were invited to experience the judicial process first hand.

In Judge Richard Weis’ courtroom “I learned some inside baseball lawyering. We had a number of young attorneys in his courtroom and he told me afterwards how he tried to give them hints to get them back to the middle of the road when they were going off into the weeds. Because he operated his courtroom with amazing discipline and efficiency,” said William S. Quillen, PT, PhD, SCS, FACSM, professor and director of the USF School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences and associate dean for the Morsani College of Medicine.

"The disparities we see in health care mimics what you see in the courtroom. And being open to more students would be good because we could be studying these issues from a systems point of view. We need to get more people involved and passionate about this,” said Jacqueline Wiltshire, PhD, MPH, associate professor of Health Policy and Management at USF College of Public Health.

“The disparities we see in health care mimics what you see in the courtroom. And being open to more students would be good because we could be studying these issues from a systems point of view. We need to get more people involved and passionate about this,” said Jacqueline Wiltshire, PhD, MPH, associate professor of Health Policy and Management at USF College of Public Health.

“I was struck by the co-morbidity of substance abuse with almost every story we heard today. No matter their angle or what their drug of choice was, it was amazing how much substance abuse there is and you wonder what direction the causality is. But it’s still shocking and has grim statistics,” said Sean Gregory, PhD, MBA, assistant professor of Health Policy and Management at the USF College of Public Health.

“I was struck by the co-morbidity of substance abuse with almost every story we heard today. No matter their angle or what their drug of choice was, it was amazing how much substance abuse there is and you wonder what direction the causality is. But it’s still shocking and has grim statistics,” said Sean Gregory, PhD, MBA, assistant professor of Health Policy and Management at the USF College of Public Health.

“As a health economist, it’s amazing to me the lost resources that are coming through this building. I can’t believe the challenges you all face on a day-to-day basis and it’s really nice to learn your perspective on it,” said Troy Quast, PhD, associate professor of Health Policy and Management at the USF College of Public Health.

“As a health economist, it’s amazing to me the lost resources that are coming through this building. I can’t believe the challenges you all face on a day-to-day basis and it’s really nice to learn your perspective on it,” said Troy Quast, PhD, associate professor of Health Policy and Management at the USF College of Public Health.

In juvenile court “I saw just how much you judges are trying help them turn their lives around. Even though your hands are tied with that point system, you all really care about the citizens and try to help them,” said Chelsea Frost, fourth-year medical student.

In juvenile court “I saw just how much you judges are trying help them turn their lives around. Even though your hands are tied with that point system, you all really care about the citizens and try to help them,” said Chelsea Frost, fourth-year medical student.

“The thing that got me throughout this experience is the sheer volume of cases that there are. It was quite eye opening. When you say you’re running through 300 cases in a morning that to me blows my mind. So hats off to all of you. What you do on your end is amazing to me and I appreciate the time here,” said Amanda Davis, NP, instructor in the USF College of Nursing.

“The thing that got me throughout this experience is the sheer volume of cases that there are. It was quite eye opening. When you say you’re running through 300 cases in a morning that to me blows my mind. So hats off to all of you. What you do on your end is amazing to me and I appreciate the time here,” said Amanda Davis, NP, instructor in the USF College of Nursing.

“For me it was really about solidifying the parallels between law and medicine. It’s not unlike walking through a hospital – the future hung in the balance for these people and their families. Compassion played a big part in the outcomes,” said Luis Espinosa, first-year medical student.

“For me it was really about solidifying the parallels between law and medicine. It’s not unlike walking through a hospital – the future hung in the balance for these people and their families. Compassion played a big part in the outcomes,” said Luis Espinosa, first-year medical student.

Judges of the Thirteenth District Court.

Judges of the Thirteenth District Court.

USFH students, faculty and administrators were invited to experience the judicial process first hand.

Judge Greg Holder and USF Health’s Jay Wolfson.

 

 

Story by Sarah Worth, photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Office of Communications.