Judge John Bowman
Elected in 2002 to Broward County’s 17th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, the state's highest civil trial court, Judge John Bowman has made a major impact in the Juvenile Dependency Division. Upon his arrival, a backlog of 150 children eligible for adoption languished in foster care. Applying statutory mandates and strict oversight, Judge Bowman reduced the number to five. Final adoptions now occur within six months of parental-rights termination.
In other notable achievements, Judge John Bowman led the efforts to resolve the catch-22 of juvenile lockouts. When parents refused to pick up their children from the detention center after such accusations as misdemeanor battery in the home, many children spent more time than necessary in secure detention. In these situations, the parties that could have returned the children home within the required 24 hours refused when other agencies did not perform certain investigations or referrals.
Judge John Bowman researched the laws, addressed various agency concerns, and formulated a plan. He met with top-level stakeholders, including ChildNet, Inc.; the local welfare agency; the Broward Sheriff’s Office; and the Florida Department of Children & Families; and refined the plan. Legally, the “Broward Solution” implemented a statewide agreement between the Florida Departments of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) and Children & Families (DCF) to address the problem of lockouts.
Additionally, Judge John Bowman enacted stricter oversight for residential facilities that provide mental health treatment to children in a secure setting. Typically outside the judicial purview, these treatment centers concerned the judge. His hearings ultimately led the DCF to institute safety guidelines and conduct extensive reviews of residential treatment facilities, which resulted in lost licenses for several centers that provided substandard care.
Previously a Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society scholar at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, where he earned a Bachelor of Public Administration, Judge John Bowman received his Juris Doctor at St. Thomas University in the Miami area. Named 2007 Community Advocate of the Year by the Florida Guardian ad Litem program, he serves on the DJJ Advisory Board and the One Community Partnership Board. He also participates in the Stephen R. Booher American Inn of Court and belongs to the Broward County Bar Association.