The Dade County Bar Association has named Frances Feinberg, director of the program that represents child victims and witnesses in Miami-Dade criminal court, as one of its Women of Distinction for 2018.
Feinberg, who oversees Guardian ad Litem’s Criminal Court Project for the 11th Judicial Circuit, won the Dade Bar’s Women of Distinction Public Interest Award.
Generally, attorneys for the Guardian ad Litem Program represent abused, abandoned and neglected children in dependency court. But when these vulnerable children also must appear in criminal court as the victims of crimes, or as witnesses to them, they are represented by the Criminal Court Project – and Feinberg.
“Fran has done amazing things for our dependent kids who must participate in the criminal hearings,” said Kristen Solomon, Guardian ad Litem’s southern regional director. “And she always keeps their best interests at the heart of her advocacy.”
Feinberg has been the senior staff attorney at the Criminal Court Project since it started in 1991, responsible for its management and direction. She supervises the staff, assigns criminal cases to pro bono attorneys and supervises their work, and develops administrative orders aimed at safeguarding children’s legal rights.
“Fran Feinberg works tirelessly to not only protect children but also to preserve families when that is the right outcome,” said Circuit Judge Nushin G. Sayfie, administrative judge of the Criminal Division. “When she walks into the courtroom, she has instant credibility as a result of proving herself to many ‘generations’ of judges. Cases involving harm or neglect of children are the toughest cases for most of us to handle. Fran’s voice gives us enormous comfort and peace of mind. I cannot imagine doing this work without her guidance!”
Additionally, Feinberg is affiliated with Kristi House, where she serves as board treasurer and participates in fundraising for both Kristi House and Voices for Children, the local nonprofit that supports the local GAL Program.
“Fran is relentlessly resourceful, upbeat and effective,” said Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, formerly the legal director for the Guardian ad Litem Program of the 11th Circuit. “She pioneered the GAL Program in criminal court and paved the way for thousands of children to have their best interests protected.”
“Our Program is blessed to have Fran lead our best-interest advocacy for child victims and witnesses in criminal court for over 20 years,” said Jessica Allen, director of the Guardian ad Litem Program of the 11th Judicial Circuit. “She provides a voice for those who are unable to speak for themselves in often-terrifying situations, and because of this is well respected by members of the bench and bar. We are proud to claim her and pleased that the Dade County Bar Association is recognizing her commitment to this vulnerable population.”
Alan Abramowitz, executive director of the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program, also praised Feinberg and said her work exemplifies the dedication of Florida GAL’s 170 best interest attorneys.
Dade County Bar Association & MSP Forum’s
Women of Distinction 2018
Public Interest Award Winner