Caught speeding? If you managed to avoid points on your license in exchange for attending traffic school, you might have Judge Marshall Ader to thank.
As administrative traffic judge and, from 1990 to 1992, Miami-Dade County clerk of courts, Ader was an early advocate of sending drivers to traffic school rather than giving points that can cause insurance rates to skyrocket.
Not that he was easy. A 1991 Miami Herald report ranked Ader, the county’s chief traffic judge, one of the toughest judges for jailing DUI offenders. From 1986 to 1990, he sentenced 217 convicted DUI defendants to jail.
“Second offense goes to jail — first offense usually not,” he said. But first-timers faced fines, court costs, community service requirements and requirements to attend DUI programs.
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Ader, who died at age 95 on Feb. 6, could also have a novel approach at the bench. There was the time, his daughter-in-law Sheila and her husband Michael recall, when Ader sentenced a man to time served. With his wife.
Seems the defendant’s wife was “just being awful” in court. “At the end, my father-in-law found him guilty and gave him time served with his wife,” Sheila Ader said
Ader’s son Michael picks up the story. “The woman was being terrible. So my dad asked how long they have been married. The man said, ‘53 years.’ And he said, ‘You’ve been punished enough. Case dismissed.’”
Ader, born on March 3, 1919, in Chicago, served in the Army Air Corps during World War II, and graduated from Northwestern University Law School. After moving to Miami in the 1950s, he earned his graduate degree in law from the University of Miami Law School and opened a law firm with friends Burton Young and Richard Gerstein. In addition to his court posts, he also founded the Metro Traffic School.
As a judge, he helped pioneer video in courtrooms. Televised bond hearings began in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court in 1985, the peak period of Miami Vice. These airings eliminated “the six-ring circus” atmosphere of twice-daily bond-setting sessions in circuit court, Ader believed.
These visuals also helped cement Ader’s image: dapper gentleman in white beard and bow ties. His collection of bow ties topped 65, many made for him by his housekeeper.
“He was very charming, fastidious, and took great pride in his appearance,” his daughter-in-law said. At his memorial service at Riverside Gordon in Aventura on Monday, all the men in his family wore bow ties in his honor.
“He really reached out to all factions of the Dade County community. He was a unifier, bringing people together,” she said.
In the 1960s, while an agent for the U.S. Treasury Department, Ader was knighted by Malta for legal work he had conducted for the Southern European island country.
“I’d like to think it was his character,” she continued, “but my husband said it would probably be less efficient to be any other way than that.”
In addition to his son Michael, Ader is survived by his wife, Lydia, and grandchildren Matthew and Pamela. Donations can be made in his honor to Hope Center, Inc., 2700 W. 81st St., Hialeah.
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