Downtown Miami’s newest architectural addition, a new Children’s Court, was dedicated this week and named for two long-time judges, Seymour Gelber and William E. Gladstone.
Gelber, 94, is a former Miami Beach mayor who still sits as a senior judge in the family and child support division. He was appointed to the Circuit Court bench in 1974. He served as an administrative judge for the juvenile division until his mandatory retirement in 1990. He was elected Miami Beach mayor in 1991 and served three terms.
Gladstone, 83, was elected as a circuit judge in 1980 and remained in the juvenile division for 32 years until he retired in 2011. He worked to expand the Miami Safe Start Initiative, which provides support for babies and mothers who come before the dependency court system, and created the Last Chance Ranch, a facility for violent youths. Gladstone also helped design the Youth Environmental Service program in 1993.
“They were very influential in creating programs for children,” said Eunice Sigler, spokeswoman for the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida. “It will be completed next year, but we did the ceremony this year because we wanted them to be here.”
The 14-story building at 155 NW Third St. will house 17 agencies that work with troubled children. “It will have room for 11 judges and magistrates,” Sigler said.
The new $130 million courthouse — with naturally lit corridors and public art, including brass depictions of Florida bears and a three-story mosaic mural — was dedicated Thursday and will replace the old Juvenile Justice Center at Northwest 27th Avenue and 33rd Street.
“The new Children's Courthouse embodies the courts’ and county’s commitment to children and families,” Chief Judge Bertila Soto said. “It will house not only the courts but all juvenile justice partners to make it easier for families to access the services they need, all in one place.”
Other positive features, she said, include its proximity to other courthouses and public transportation.
“It was designed to be bright and spacious,” Soto said, “a welcome replacement to the aging and undersized structure that is our current juvenile courthouse.”