Olanike “Nike” Adebayo: Nigerian-American seeks to be judge of Miami-Dade County, Florida

Nigerian-American, Olanike “Nike” Adebayo is seeking to be a circuit judge in Maimi Dade county in Florida. Adebayo who is the assistant regional counsel attorney with the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel in Miami will be facing off against Joseph Perkins of Garbett, Allen & Roza in Miami for Miami-Dade Circuit Judge, Group 55.

Meet the candidates

By Raychel Lean  | Law.com

Here’s why they say they should get a vote. Responses have been edited for style and content.

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Olanike Adebayo

Adebayo is assistant regional counsel in the dependency division of the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel in Miami, which handles cases that public defenders can’t take for legal reasons. She’s also a former prosecutor at the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.

Why are you running for this position?

My past and present civic involvement throughout Miami-Dade County as a voluntary bar association past president, board member for Legal Services of Greater Miami Inc., mentor and volunteer for several organizations, including Women of Tomorrow, 5000 Role Models, Teen Court and The Women’s Breast and Heart Initiative helped me to become a great listener and a collaborative, decisive leader committed to excellence and equality. My varied legal background includes 22 years of criminal and civil litigation and extensive trial experience. My servant leadership roles, legal experience and strong work ethic qualify to serve as an excellent circuit court judge.

What about your experience qualifies you for the position?

My childhood was the initial impetus for my desire to be a judge. My father is from Lagos, Nigeria and my mother is from Niles, Ohio. Though they divorced when I was young, I visited my father in Nigeria every summer from age 8 to 23. During these visits, it disturbed me to learn that Nigeria’s few existing laws were not necessarily enforced. The police had a limited infrastructure and their legal obligations to investigate a crime and prosecute did not exist.

Whenever I returned to the United States, I recognized the value of living in a country where laws are enforced, and people are held accountable for their actions. I knew at an early age I wanted to play a role in the judicial system. My yearning to help in the judicial system never subsided. My legal career and community service activities spurred my desire to become a judge. Moreover, I am a servant leader who believes “service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.” l desire to serve as a circuit judge to ensure that justice is rendered fairly and with compassion and excellence.

What’s your biggest achievement so far?

My biggest achievement so far would be the adoption of my son. My husband and I encountered health and fertility issues during our marriage. We unsuccessfully attempted medical intervention to have a child. During this time, I began working at the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel, Third Region of Florida as an assistant regional counsel assigned to the dependency division and read a document regarding my son. My husband and I were registered with Our Kids to become adoptive parents and were ready to accept a child into our home. Not long after reading the document, I brought our son home from the shelter hospital at three weeks old and adopted him eight months later. He is now 5 years old and remains our best ever decision.

What would a successful term look like for you?

A successful term would be my ability to conduct trials in a timely fashion and to run a large docket while listening swiftly and efficiently to all parties. Listening from the bench fosters civility and respect in the courtroom. Managing cases effectively, helping to encourage ethical cooperation between the parties, facilitating alternative dispute resolution, if appropriate, and controlling the progress of cases promotes the legal process as a whole. It is of utmost importance to be fair and impartial to all parties and to adjudicate cases appropriately.

What is the most important issue facing your county at the moment?

The courts have an exceptionally large caseload, which means that many people do not get their day in court in a timely fashion. Also, our courts need to work on providing better accessibility to the public and educating the public about the ins-and-outs of the court system and the importance of the role of a judge.

Olanike “Nike” Adebayo, assistant regional counsel attorney with the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel in Miami, left, and Joseph Perkins of Garbett, Allen & Roza in Miami, right.

Joseph Perkins

Perkins is a commercial litigator partner at Garbett Allen & Roza in Miami, where he focuses on federal fraud cases and litigates high-stakes contractual and business disputes. He also speaks Spanish and Japanese.

Why are you running for this position?

It is 100% a call to service. I have had the good fortune of meeting with many attorneys across practice areas during and before my campaign. I am convinced that there is a consensus within our community regarding what we desire in our judiciary. Competence and intelligence are JUST the baseline. With today’s ever-increasing caseloads and ever-decreasing funding, we need more judges who will also be present, thoughtful and ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work. We need more judges who will arrive to chambers early and leave late because that is what the job requires. We need more judges before whom you can appear with 100% confidence that he or she has read all materials before the court. I desire to serve our community through our circuit court because I will bring to the bench change that we seek.

What about your experience qualifies you for the position?

First, I have broad experience in the areas where our community’s and circuit court’s needs overlap. Of the approximately 31,000 to 37,000 circuit civil case dispositions each year, for example, around 70% involve contracts and indebtedness, real property or business disputes. Of the approximately 14,000 circuit criminal dispositions each year, the single largest category of cases generally involves theft, forgery, fraud or worthless checks. I have substantial legal experience involving these subject matters.

Second, in addition to having extensive (primarily federal) trial experience, I also have substantial experience briefing and arguing dispositive motions, which account for nearly 20% of circuit civil dispositions.

Third, I’ve never stopped actively practicing law since being admitted a few months after graduating from law school, and my experience is easily verifiable. I believe that actions speak louder than words and encourage voters to review my Westlaw litigation history report, available at http://www.Vote-Joe.com/experience.

What’s your biggest achievement so far?

My family. My wife, Fernanda, and I have been married for over 17 years (and I, without question, married up). We also recently welcomed into the world our first child.

In practice, I am proud to have successfully represented, on a pro-bono basis, a church in an impoverished community in foreclosure litigation.

What would a successful term look like for you?

Within the first few months of my term, I hope to develop the reputation of a hardworking judge who knows the law, who reads (and thinks about) all submitted materials, and who will not be swayed by smoke-and-mirror tactics.

What is the most important issue facing your county at the moment?

There are two. First, high judicial caseloads hinder both judicial accessibility and accuracy of rulings. No one should have to choose between scheduling a five-minute calendar hearing in a few weeks or waiting months for a 15-minute hearing. No one should have to wonder before going to a hearing whether the judge has read the materials and will be prepared to thoughtfully rule.

We need more judges who will put in the judicial labor the job requires. In practice, I value accurate case and record citations and intellectually honest presentations of the law and facts. I will bring these values to the bench. I will put in the judicial labor (early mornings, late nights, weekends) to read (and think about) all materials before the court and to make myself accessible for hearings, because that is what the job requires and that is what I have always wanted from the judges presiding over my cases.

Second, in a COVID world, we need tech-savvy judges, and I am very tech-savvy.

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