BEST JUDGE - 2004
Too many judges race through their calendars, blindly dispensing whatever the better courtroom lawyer defines as justice. Senior U.S. District Judge William Hoeveler prefers to give a damn. A thoughtful, venerable jurist, Hoeveler has dedicated years to salvaging what's left of the Everglades and to making certain your children have clean drinking water when they grow up. Recently the alleged slave-driving, state-controlling, wilderness-destroying sugar barons forced Hoeveler's removal from the major Everglades-pollution case he'd overseen since 1988. The judge, it seems, had the audacity to alert the public to a nasty piece of legislation about to be signed by Gov. Jeb Bush, a new law that would ease the clean-up pressure on those very same sugar barons. (Of course Bush signed it.) Now Hoeveler is holding the gavel over a lawsuit brought by environmentalists intent on reversing a ruling that allows rock miners to gut more than 5000 acres of West Miami-Dade. He won't rush matters, he'll listen carefully to both sides, and as always, he'll do the right thing.