MEET 2017 TOP HONOREE: MR. GARRET BERMAN
MEET 2017 FLORIDA STATE TOP HONOREE: MR. GARRET BERMAN
This year, we wanted to illustrate the significance of Mothers Against Drunk Driving State-Wide recognition and, most importantly, highlight the Heroes among us!
In this interview, we feature Garett Berman, Supervising Assistant State Attorney and Former Florida Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor of the Office of the State Attorney – 17th Judicial Circuit. Mr. Berman was the 2017 top honoree for Outstanding Prosecutor Recognition.
Mr. Berman was nominated by Senior Supervising Assistant State Attorney Linda Berman. Her nomination reads:
Garett Berman has shown extreme passion and dedication to saving lives on Florida’s roadways for the last ten years as a prosecutor with the Office of the State Attorney in the 17th Judicial Circuit in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. For the last seven years he has spent tirelessly working as the Florida Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor training and educating prosecutors, law enforcement officer and the judiciary in all aspects of impaired driving enforcement and prevention, in an effort to eliminate impaired driving.
As Florida’s TSRP, Mr. Berman was instrumental in combating challenges to breath testing throughout the state, being entrusted by many of Florida’s elected State Attorneys to litigate issues for their offices on challenges to Intoxilyzer source code and breath and blood testing rules affecting all DUI cases in those jurisdictions. He has never faltered. Notably, Mr. Berman received two favorable opinions from Seminole County on the issue of the Intoxilyzer 8000 source code, which had been litigated over six hearing dates, over three years. Mr. Berman sits on several committees and working groups, locally and throughout the State, to address various issues pertaining to impaired driving, such as the Florida Impaired Driving Coalition, and the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association Education Board. He has drafted several legislative proposals and amendment to assist in the elimination and prosecution of impaired drivers, such as first refusal penalties, Drug Recognition Expert testimony and warrant exceptions for misdemeanor DUIs. Many of the prosecutors in the State today have, in some way, been trained by Mr. Berman, in 2016 and prior years. In some way, his fingerprint is on foundation of the training and education of many prosecutors throughout the State who litigate impaired driving cases. It would be difficult to find another prosecutor who has given more as Mr. Berman has done as a line prosecutor in Broward County and as the Florida TSRP when it comes to the prevention, prosecution and elimination of impaired driving. Unfortunately for the State of Florida, but fortunately for the citizens of Broward County, at the end of 2016, Mr. Berman returned to the front lines of prosecution when he returned to the State Attorney’s Office in the 17th Judicial Circuit. Although it is a loss to the State as a whole, Mr. Berman still assist other State Attorney’s Office, and continues in the fight against impaired driving as a Supervising Assistant State Attorney and the Director of Training for the Broward County State Attorney’s Office.
Recently, we spoke with Mr. Berman. Here’s what he had to say:
- What was the significance/meaning of receiving Top Honoree at the 2017 MADD Florida Recognition Ceremony?
It’s definitely a great honor just to be nominated as one of the year’s top prosecutors, so receiving top honors out of all the nominees for the year is certainly the penultimate honor. It is a great feeling to be recognized by one’s peers and colleagues within the law enforcement and prosecutorial community, especially within a niche field like impaired driving.
- What was your reaction when you found out you were nominated?
I felt a sense of pride and graciousness when I received the notification of being nominated. I don’t think there is a greater feeling of satisfaction than to be recognized by your peers for what you do. There are so many great prosecutors doing such good hard work throughout the State, so for a someone to take the time to nominate me is great honor.
- How did it feel when you found out you won?
I honestly did not expect to win. In fact, it had become sort of a running joke amongst my friends and colleagues that I was always the bridesmaid but never the bride. So, to hear Larry [Coggins] call my name that year was a bit of a shock—but one that eventually segued into a feel of pride and satisfaction once I started walking up to the stage. To sit in a room with the top law enforcement officers, prosecutors and civilians throughout the State of Florida and to hear your name called as the Top Honoree really gave me a sense of accomplishment. But receiving Top Honoree is only a testament to how good the law enforcement officers, breath test operators, agency inspectors, toxicologists, prosecutors and everyone else I have worked with are. All I do is analyze cases and make arguments, but it’s really their dedication to their craft that enables me to be as good as I am and they are the real reason why I, or anyone, can really be worthy of receiving top honors.
- What led you to become a Prosecutor?
I don’t have any interesting story or past experience that drove me to become a prosecutor. I had just graduated law school with my wife, we needed jobs, and Mike Satz took a chance on us. But my parents always instilled in me the need to have principals and the duty to always to the right thing, even if it’s to your disadvantage. Those principals and morals fit perfectly with being a prosecutor. I enjoy pursuing justice for victims and keeping our communities safe. But at the end of day, I take pride in the fact that I’m able to do justice and ensure that everyone’s rights are upheld legally, not only for the State of Florida, its citizens and victims, but also for those accused.
- If you could do one thing, leave one mark in the community, what would it be?
During my time as an Assistant State Attorney and as the former Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor I’ve had the opportunity to lecture to and train thousands of prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and judges throughout the country. I’ve created training manuals for prosecutors, written legal memoranda that been adopted as policy by State Attorney’s Offices and law enforcement agencies throughout the State of Florida, and I have authored book chapters on prosecuting impaired drivers in Florida. However, the one thing that I have yet to accomplish that I feel would effectuate real change, not just in the community but throughout the State, would be to author legislation that is approved and passed into law. Having written several pieces of proposed legislation, I hope that my latest effort in revising the Florida warrant statute to allow for blood draws in any DUI or BUI case, is eventually adopted into law, and makes it easier for law enforcement to obtain chemical test evidence, which will enable our prosecutors to better prosecute impaired driving cases.
- Will you be attending this year’s ceremony?
Regardless of being nominated for anything, schedule permitting, I will attend. It’s always nice to see so many of the friends that I’ve made throughout the State be honored by MADD.