Campaign website: Hyde4Judge.com
Date and place of birth: Jamaica, West Indies
List in reverse chronological order each college, university and law school and indicate for each the years of attendance, class standing and GPA.
New York University School of Law, J.D. 1996
University of Virginia, B.A. in Economics 1993
Tokyo International University – Japan Studies, Study abroad semester 1992
List in reverse chronological order your work history for the past 15 years.
HYDE LAW OFFICE PL March 2010- Present
Sole Practitioner and founder of private law firm. Practice areas include Family Law (80%), Probate, Estate Planning and Civil Litigation. Assisted hundreds of clients in circuit court in South Florida. Initiate and defend lawsuits. Successful in helping clients to reach marriage and custody agreements. Attend mediations. Advocate for clients at hearings and trial. Supervised and trained staff of law school, college, and high school interns.
BROWARD COUNTY TRAFFIC HEARING OFFICER Jan 2012- April 2022
Preside over trial and pretrial dockets for all civil traffic infractions. Handle caseload of 90 -100 trials and 125 pre-trial hearings per docket. Rule on written motions, including requests for rehearing, continuances, and mitigation. Hearing officer in the Teen Court Program.
AEQUICAP INSURANCE CO. 2007 – 2009
Associate General Counsel. In-house Legal Counsel assigned to litigate coverage liability for commercial automobile insurance carrier. Reviewed and analyzed insurance policies, contracts, and operating guidelines. Analyzed strengths and weaknesses of coverage actions and developed litigation strategies with the underwriting department. Reported to claims department. Reviewed and evaluated agency files, underwriting files and claims files. Prepared own pleadings and discovery and deposed witnesses. Litigated cases throughout the entire state of Florida from inception to trial. Monitored trial court and appellate cases assigned to outside counsel. Performed managerial duties such as personnel supervision and evaluation of performance, as well as recruitment of new hires for the legal department.
HOUCK ANDERSON PA, June 2007 – October 2007
Associate. Managed PIP litigation office representing insurance company. Handled own caseload and supervised junior staff. Responsible for instructing and leading staff of newly admitted attorneys. Made court appearances and drafted motions. Handled all aspects of cases, from inception to trial. Liaison between firm and Insurance company.
As a lawyer, judge, or both, describe what types of cases you have typically handled.
Family law, Civil Litigation, Probate, Insurance Defense, PIP Litigation
If you are an attorney, how many cases have you tried in the past five years? Of those cases, how many were tried before juries to verdicts and how many were tried before a judge?
100% Bench trials & 10 cases
If you are a judge, how many jury trials have you presided over that resulted in verdicts and judgments?
A Civil Traffic Hearing officer is a quasi-judicial position and I have handle presided over 100′s of trials.
Have you been a party to a lawsuit, including bankruptcy or foreclosure? If so, provide details, including case style, jurisdiction and nature of disposition.
Yes. Civil foreclosure actions.
Bank of America vs. Suzette Hyde – Broward County, Florida – Voluntary Dismissal
Santander Bank vs. Suzette Hyde – Middlesex County, New Jersey – Voluntary Dismissal
Have you been charged or convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, including adjudications of guilt withheld? If so, provide charges, dates of conviction and terms of sentence.
Have you ever been disciplined by the Florida Supreme Court as a result of a recommendation by the Florida Bar, or have you ever been the subject of an investigation by the Judicial Qualifications Commission? If so, provide details.
List three cases in which you were lead or co-counsel and why they are significant.
I am a sole practitioner and lead counsel on all my cases. The cases below are family cases and are discussed without party names.
Case 1: Broward County, Florida. I represented a divorcing father who (by agreement) was also stay-at-home dad during the marriage while the mother was the bread winner. Upon the divorce filing, the mother restricted the father’s visits and opposed equal time sharing. At trial, the Judge referred to her own divorce, took 2 lengthy breaks within 2 hours of trial and made negative remarks to the father. Although presented with the option, the client was afraid to stop trial and recuse the judge. Before the Judge rendered a decision and after leaving the courthouse, the client was able to consent to me filing a recusal motion. After a few years, the Judge presiding over this case was disbarred.
Case 2: Broward County, Florida. Father used prior counsel to file paternity action 2 weeks after child was born. Mother did everything in her power to prevent father from parenting (other than through video chats), including moving out of state, and filing domestic violence actions. Father held a pickup order that the state of Georgia refused to enforce. Father contacted my office understandably distraught. The judge was very skeptical of my client despite the evidence, as the DV action clouded the facts. I persisted over several hearings held within months, pushing the court to bring the case back to the Judge. Finally, the court ordered the mother to bring the child to court because the mother disobeyed every order. The child was brought to court without shoes and diapers. Had it not been for the bailiff handing the child to the father, the mother would have continued disobeying all orders. The father has been raising the child since then.
Case 3: Albany, New York. Florida mother had a drug history and asked her father (children’s maternal grandfather) living in NY to raise her children while she received help. Mother completed the program, yet father refused to return the children. We were successful in proving to the court that mother was fit, and it was in the children’s best interest to return to live with the mother. The children and mother rejoiced. Years later, the mother contacted me stating that the children had been removed from her custody again due to what the mother described as an accident from a rare use of alcohol. I declined further representation because it appeared that the mother had relapsed.
List current and former memberships in civic, fraternal, legal, or social organizations.
Toastmasters International, Member since 2016
Florida Guardian Ad Litem Program 2009-2020
Deerfield Beach High School Band Parent Association
Broward County School District Advisory Council Past Member
Broward Art Guild – Past Board Member
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Lifetime Member
Member of the New York State Bar since 1999
Member of the New Jersey State Bar since 2004
Member of the Florida State Bar since 2007
Admitted to the Florida Southern District Bankruptcy Court
Member of the Broward County Bar Association
Member of the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar
Member of the Caribbean Bar Association
Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator
If you are or were an officer or director or engaged in management of any business enterprise other than a law practice, list its name and business activity, your duties and whether you intend to resign upon election.
Why are you running for this office?
I am following a lifelong calling to make our judicial system more accessible to the people. Our Broward County Judicial system is still making strides towards achieving the ideal of “justice for all.” My skills, experience, and mindset qualify me to bring “justice for all” closer to reality for Broward County residents as County Court Judge. We need the courts working for the people. Yet many of Broward County’s people fear court or are skeptical that their concerns will find a fair hearing. I want to change that.
During my 10 years as Traffic hearing officer and as sole practitioner, I have facilitated 1000′s of people in having a positive experience with, and even changing their outlook of our judicial system. Stepping up to serve as County Court Judge will allow me to continue serving the community but accomplishing more for more people. There is more work to be done. Having raised my now adult son, I am ready to work for the improvement of our judiciary and community.
If you have chosen to run for judicial office against an incumbent, specify why you have chosen to do so.
If you have sought appointment as a judge through a Judicial Nominating Commission, provide details, including year(s) and results.
2016 – No nomination by the JNC.
Why should voters elect you instead of your opponent(s)?
1] I am the most prepared to step into the position.
A. I am the only person who has experience on the bench in our Broward County Courts. The Civil traffic hearing officer program is an excellent and easy way for people who want to serve the general public and gain experience on the bench. Yet, I am the only one who has taken the opportunity. In fact, the program struggles to find applicants. Over the past 10 years, I have learned how to develop judicial temperament by handling many cases where people do not speak English, come to court with disabilities, or who are simply angry that they are brought into court. As the hearing office program is not heavily funded, I have done this all without a court bailiff or an appointed court interpreter. I have received positive feedback from the community, the clerks, and attorneys who appear before me.
B] Statistics demonstrate that most of the cases handled by Broward County Judges are civil insurance cases. I have 7 years of insurance litigation experience, including insurance defense and PIP cases. I am uncertain whether my opponents currently practice law. A Google search reveals minimal information about their practice.
C] With the exception of a few paragraphs, Hearing officers are subject to the judicial canon of ethics. It is a quasi-judicial role. Therefore, I have been subject to these rules since 2012.
2] I have worked to improve administration of justice.
A. In 2012, I challenged the Florida Bar’s refusal to apply their CLE fee waiver policy to Traffic Hearing officers. Upon consideration of my letter and arguments, the Florida Bar reversed their decision thereby increasing the benefits offered to the Hearing officers in the program. Prior to me writing the Florida Bar, Civil Traffic hearing officers did not receive discounted benefits for CLE courses afforded to other magistrates and hearing officers.
B. In my role as Hearing officer and with the Teen court program, I have often sat with the clerks to discuss ways we can improve the efficiency of the docket.
3] Voters can be assured that I will remain fair and impartial
My motivation to serve is unhindered by any obligation to specific individuals or organizations. This is not a personal comment about my opponents as I don’t know my other opponent personally. I do know that 1 is married to a county court judge and the other has managed the campaign for many judges and judicial candidates and has stated at campaign events that he is endorsed by other judges.
Canon 1 of the Judicial code of ethics calls for Judges to be independent and to act without fear or favor. I believe they will have a more difficult time meeting this responsibility.
What in your life experience best qualifies you to serve as a judge?
There are recurring life experiences that qualify me to serve:
1] Continuous broadening of my perspective. It is my natural inclination to embrace people. Having lived and studied in different places both around the country and globally, choosing to live in Broward County was deliberate. Broward County is the most diverse county in the state. There is diversity in cultures, races, families, viewpoints, and lifestyles. Experiencing the same things in the same manner does not improve our perspective of others. We judge the familiar as good and deserving, but the unfamiliar as wrong. We keep the unfamiliar at a distance and find it difficult to embrace the good in others. My primary goal is to attract and be comfortable with the unfamiliar to further strengthen my representation of all cultures and diversities. The work of a judge is not to reinforce behavior, but to improve our communities.
2] Awareness of the Vulnerable in our Society. During my childhood, I lived in different households with various relatives. In my formative years, I was invited to live with my great granduncle who became ill. My memory is that he provided me with a loving home and provided comfort through the reading of the bible at his bedside every night. Generally, I find it very natural to be mindful of the vulnerable and voiceless in our society. While a judge should be concerned about the fair application of the law, a judge should also make sure the law is not exploiting or oppressing those who are vulnerable.
3] My commitment to peaceful resolutions. I am a divorced single parent who has raised my son almost single handedly. A divorce did not keep me from focusing on having a strong family foundation, it only aided in my understanding of what future clients who would go through. In my law practice although I deal with divorcing parties and custody battles, my focus is on improvement. When clients come to me, they know there will be no revenge litigation. Divorce is an event, and the families should be forward focused. With the proper compassion Broward County Judges are given the unique opportunity to help these families build a brighter future for themselves and their community.
4] My dedication to mentorship and educating the public. Growing up in a family of teachers has given me the gift of natural mentorship and guidance. When you grow up surrounded by people in the teaching profession, you quickly grasp an understanding of the importance of education. I constantly strive to gain knowledge and share that knowledge in the 22+ years I have been practicing the law. Broward County has many self-represented individuals who are not experienced lawyers and demonstrate little to no understanding of the legal system. Although a judge cannot advocate for them, it is important for a judge to be listen, be patient with them, walk them through the process, and make the court seem easily accessible to ordinary people. In doing so, the courts can be trusted as that arm of the government that is working for the people, not against them.
What are three major challenges facing the justice system in Broward County, Florida, or the U.S.?
1] Justice should not be confined to court proceedings. Justice is often a word applied only to what happens in courthouses and courtrooms. Yet, justice begins from the person who is willing to speak up for someone else or themselves when something is wrong; justice begins with the person who is willing to hold someone else to the standard of the law as well as abide by the law, despite personal feelings; justice is about pursuing the best interest or the improvement of others and the community when there is personal conflict. Once justice is a standard outside of the governmental system, the system just becomes an extension and a higher tier for handling what we already practice in our community. But if we encourage corruption, turn a blind eye to bias, and behave as people who just follow the crowd because we fear, then our justice system will reflect that as well.
2] The Judicial process is overshadowed by the outcome/decision. People often come to court for relief, and while our courts should remain solution oriented, the process used to come by that decision can often be rushed, irreverent and unfair. Ordinary people who come to court self-represented still feel as if they are dealing with a system that is above their level or unwilling to help due to unexplained or unfair processes. Attorneys are treated as inconveniences to the court. Judges should take the time to educate, be patient and show respect. Moreover, judges should strive to suspend judgment until the appointed time to make a decision. Court processes should be given more attention and be constantly evaluated and improved.
3] Inadequate Funding. According to a recent article in the Florida Bar news, the judicial system receives less than 7/10 of 1% of the state budget. And while on the one hand that can be positively viewed as an effort to run a “lean” system, it could mean that our system is overburdened without adequate financial relief. We cannot cry for “justice” and be unwilling to put adequate funding towards this effort. Broward county judges carry a caseload of about 7000 – 8000 cases, and decisions are appealed at a high rate, demonstrating that people lack confidence in the decisions themselves. Civil traffic hearing officer programs relieve judges of their caseload but receive minimal compensation, therefore, the program cannot find people who want to serve. An increase in funding could relieve many of the problems our judiciary faces.