Local Judge Gets International Honor




The Broward County Courthouse recently got some international recognition.

Broward County Court Judge Ginger Lerner-Wren was a finalist for an award given those around the world who are judicial innovators.


Ginger Lerner-Wren

Ginger Lerner-Wren


Lerner-Wren honored as the pioneer of the Broward Mental Health Court, which diverts mentally ill folks charged with misdemeanor, non-violent offenses into community-based treatment.

She was one of three finalist for the 2013 “Successful Innovation” Award presented by The HiiL Foundation of The Hague, Netherlands.

The award is given to unique, beneficial judicial programs, which can be sustained and duplicated in other parts of the globe.

Lerner-Wren lost the first prize at a ceremony on Dec. 11 in Netherlands. The winner was a Kenyan who developed a web application to monitor human rights violations in his country via SMS, Twitter, e-mail and the web.

The Broward Mental Health Court began in 1997 with Lerner-Wren at the helm.  It works like this:

Once arrested, a defendant has 24 hours to be referred to the Mental Health Court.  Family members, social workers, lawyers, jail staff, or county criminal court judges can make the referral.

Before entering the program, the defendant is screened in the court room by a licensed clinical social worker.

Many defendants are referred to treatment centers.  The homeless are referred to a residential facility.

The program, established by then-Chief Judge Dale Ross,  is designed to break the endless cycle of arrests of some mentally ill folks for minor crimes.

“Our court has been widely replicated across the U.S. and globally,” Lerner-Wren was quoted in a news release on the award. “It has been observed by delegations and journalists worldwide. In 2003, Human Rights recommended it as a preventative strategy to further criminalization and it has been hailed as a groundbreaking court innovation. To date, there are more than 250 Mental Health Courts in the U.S. and serves as a model for subsequent therapeutic Veteran’s Courts and related diversionary problem solving justice strategies.”

This is not the first honor for Lerner-Wren. She is recognized internationally as an expert on justice for the mentally ill and has spoken around the world on the subject.

 Innovating Justice is run by four legal groups: the Hague Institute for the Internationalisation of Law (HiiL), the Microjustice Initiative (MJI), the European Academy for Law and Legislation (EALL) and the Center for International Legal Cooperation (CILC). The award is subsidized by the Dutch government.


7 Responses to “Local Judge Gets International Honor”

  1. Wake Up Broward says:

    It takes one to know one.

  2. Rhonda Bohs says:

    CONGRATULATIONS JUDGE WREN AND THE BROWARD MENTAL HEALTH COURT STAKEHOLDERS AND COMMUNITY! Let’s not forget the times in which this Court was initiated! Mental Illness was not discussed, was surrounded by stigma and the culture of the times saw the mentally ill incarcerated due, primarily, to their illness. The Broward Court has provided restorative justice by prioritizing treatment over jail to over 16,000 people! Bravo to all who have contributed or participated in this Court!

  3. SAM FIELDS says:

    I have been in court with Judge Lerner-Wren when she works the docket with the mentally ill.

    She has the patience of Job!

  4. Telling Truth Always says:

    Wake Up Broward says:
    December 19th, 2013 at 8:43 pm
    It takes one to know one.

    Really? Sounds like YOU need to be one of the defendants.

    What have you done to better this world? Being a loser doesn’t count.

  5. Roscoe says:

    Hey Ginger: many folks been talking about that transcript where you say, on the record, that “people being in jail by mistake is not an emergency”.

    Good thing the dutch didn’t catch wind of that gem – and lest anyone think the quote is taken out of context, the prosecution agreed it was a mistake -was a signed stipulation.

    But, of

  6. Roscoe says:

    of course, you were out on vacation that day, so another judge signed it & that’s what got you all mad.

    One would think a transcript like that would keep a judge from presiding over ANY criminal cases.

  7. Colleague and Friend says:

    This is a Judge that has truly dedicated her life and career to those in need. Even being one would think more familiar and patient with this illness working in the field and having been formally educated as well in mental health, my expertise and grasp of how to handle this population pails in comparison to this Fine Judge’s who has an inexplicable knack for sitting several feet away on her bench and knowing exactly the correct “road map” for these sick and suffering to take. She is truly an AMAZING woman and a true humanitarian. I feel honored and blessed to have been in her courtroom and requested by her Court often to be utilized as an expert. Although confident in my knowledge base and feeling at times that I am also kind and passionate about the mentally challenged, I can tell you I could not hold a candle to this fine Judge who is extremely intelligent, informed and gorgeous to boot! Why do we not have more like Judge Ginger Lerner-Wren? Moreover, she conducts herself like a consummate professional and we never have to worry whether she is going to have a bad night out spilling over into her decision making and judgment the next day. Remarkable woman and wonderful Judge and friend to all. Can I have another few 1000 words to use up please, I need it?