ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Former Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerald Kogan, a champion of opening public access to legal proceedings, has died, a court spokesman said Friday. He was 87.
Kogan, who died Thursday, was appointed to the high court in 1987 by then-Gov. Bob Martinez, a Republican. He was chief justice of the court from 1996 to 1998, after which he went into private legal practice.
Among other things, Kogan was known for an “Access Initiative,” which was intended to use the internet to make courts more open to the public. One of Kogan's ideas was to make state Supreme Court oral arguments available over the internet.
“These are practices now standard around the nation but novel when he pioneered them,” court spokesman Craig Waters said.
The Florida Court Public Information Officers organization, which presented Kogan with an award in 2019, said his work “became the foundation of Florida’s cutting edge court communications program as we know it today.”
"It was on full display when high profile cases hit the court, most notably the presidential election cases of 2000 known to history as Bush v. Gore,” the organization said.
That battle was ultimately settled by the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of Republican George W. Bush, who became president, over Democrat Al Gore.
In 1997, Kogan ordered broadcasts of all Florida Supreme Court oral arguments over cable and satellite TV and via livestream. Other courts around the country soon followed suit.
After his Supreme Court service, Kogan joined JAMS, a Miami law firm that specializes in resolving legal disputes outside the courtroom.
“Justice Kogan was a well-respected member of the Florida legal community," firm CEO Chris Poole said Friday in a statement. "He was honored and recognized for his work in legal ethics and was admired by his colleagues and attorneys. We will remember him for his passion for justice, his wisdom and most of all, for his dedication and commitment to his family.”
Kogan moved with his family from New York to Miami Beach in 1947. He attended high school there and then the University of Miami, where he earned a bachelor's degree in business and then his law degree.
After that, Kogan joined the U.S. Army, where he served as a special agent in the counterintelligence corps.
In 1960, Kogan was named a prosecutor in the Dade County state attorney's office — it didn't become Miami-Dade until later — and became chief of the homicide and capital crimes division.
In 1980, he was named a circuit judge in Miami and then, a few years later, a justice on the Florida Supreme Court.