Florida Legal Community Mourns Loss of ‘Visionary’ Judge Amy Karan

Just five months after the death of Broward Circuit judge Susan Aramony, the South Florida community suffered another loss, as Amy Karan, a former Miami-Dade judge, passed away on Sept. 8. Karan, known as a judiciary leader in the area of domestic violence, was 54.

Karan, a Long Island native, received both her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Miami. Karan’s professional career began as a family law practitioner, and she also served as an Assistant City Attorney in North Bay Village. She moved to the bench in 1997. There, she served for a dozen years before retiring in 2010. Karan retired early as her battle with the effects of Multiple System Atrophy, a rare form of Parkinson’s Disease, had begun to affect her ability to speak. In addition to her work on the bench, Judge Karan taught multiple courses at the National Judicial College and St. Thomas University.

A central piece of Karan’s legacy involved her leadership in the area of domestic violence, particularly the intertwining of domestic violence and guns. In 2007, while on the bench, Karan began requiring individuals subject to domestic violence injunctions to surrender not only their weapons but also their concealed weapons permits.

During the period from 1997 to 2008, Judge Karan received numerous awards, including the And Justice for All Award, the In the Company of Women Award, the Governor’s Peace at Home: Stopping Domestic Violence Award and the Unsung Heroes of Domestic Violence Award. In 2010, she received the V. Robert Payant Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in teaching from the National Judicial College.

Legal practitioners throughout South Florida, as well as those who assist domestic violence victims, hailed Judge Karan’s contributions, specifically “her visionary views on a better approach to treating the issue of domestic violence” said Hilarie Bass, co-president of Greenberg Traurig, told the Herald. Greenberg Traurig established the “Amy Karan Legacy Fund”, which supports programs that aid victims of domestic violence in the South Florida area. Teresa Descilo, executive director of the Trauma Resolution Center, told the Miami Herald that “Judge Karan was a remarkable human being who leaves a considerable legacy. Thousands will continue to benefit from the work she did.”

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges also highlighted Judge Karan’s pioneering innovation. Her “mixed model approach to domestic violence cases (a combination criminal and civil domestic violence court) began as a pilot project in 1991 and eventually served as a model for many other courts around the country. She was one of the early pioneers in DV courts and inspired other judges to develop DV courts in their own communities,” according to the Council.

Judge Karan is survived by a daughter, Amber Kornreich, a law student at Florida International University. Kornreich, in a statement, opined that her mother’s legacy was “her passion for protecting victims of domestic violence and also the numerous writings she leaves behind,” according to the Daily Business Review.

The South Florida family law attorneys of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. extend our sincerest condolences to the family of Judge Karan and join with the rest of the Florida legal community in recognizing the profound legacy she leaves behind. Her passionate, tireless work has enriched many, and will continue to benefit many more, not only in the legal community, but in the realm of domestic violence survivors and those who support them.

More Blog Posts:

Domestic Violence in Florida, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, June 20, 2013
Loss for Florida Court System – Judge Susan Aramony, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, April 12, 2013
Broward Circuit Judge Susan F. Greenhawt Resigns, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, April 4, 2012