Visionary Legal Giant and Former Florida Chief Justice and Double 'Cane, Gerald Kogan Dies



Chief Justice Gerald Kogan and wife Irene Kogan

Gerald and Irene Kogan

Double 'Cane and former Florida Chief Justice Gerald Kogan died Thursday, March 4, 2021. He was 87.

The J.D. '55 and B.B.A. '55 University of Miami graduate is credited with ushering in the era of public trust and ethical governance as the founding president of the Alliance for Ethical Government in Miami-Dade County in 1996, immediately upon retiring as chief justice. His efforts succeeded in unifying the Miami-Dade community's many disparate parts to promote, enforce, and monitor ethics in governments and public service after a period of ethical lapses and scandals among public officials throughout the county.

"Justice Kogan leaves behind a massive footprint on how the business of law is conducted, not just in our county and state, but throughout the nation," said Dean and M. Minnette Massey Professor of Law Anthony E. Varona. "He will long be remembered as a legal pioneer, and millions will continue to be positively impacted by his work and legacy long into the future."

Ethics Vanguard

Led by Kogan, the alliance developed a groundswell of community and business support for best practices in government. Through his visionary guidance and drive, the Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics became the law in the county and is a national model for good governance.

During his time as a member and chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court, Kogan promoted the broad dissemination of information about the justice system's role in developing the Rule of Law and the means by which the public can rely on a fair and equal application of the law. He was responsible for naming the Florida courts' first director of the office of public information. The position enabled the Florida justice system to promote the public's understanding of and participation in the justice system's operations, which became critical during the Bush v. Gore 2000 Presidential Election Recount litigation.

Kogan's service on Florida's Constitution Revision Commission came at an essential time in Florida's history, as he and other members advanced the reforms needed to unify the state courts system under the leadership of a chief justice and state courts administrator.

An Advocate of Inclusion and Openness

Kogan spearheaded "Access Initiative," a program during the 1990s that looked at the burgeoning internet as a tool for making court documents available to the public. It allowed anyone with a modem to watch the unedited video of court arguments, Craig Waters, the justice's longtime senior attorney, and the court's current spokesman told Law360.

While on the high court, Kogan chaired the Gender Bias Study Commission. According to retired Judge of the 11th Judicial Circuit and University of Miami alumna Gill S. Freeman, the Florida Association of Women Lawyers specifically requested the chief judge of the Supreme Court to appoint Kogan to lead the commission knowing that he was dedicated to equal rights and would honestly and fairly support the investigation and reporting of bias in the legal system. It was Justice Kogan's first year on the court, and even though many thought the commission was merely a boondoggle, he enthusiastically corralled the commission into action, she said.

The Florida Supreme Court issued the report after two-and-a-half years of his guidance and leadership. It was comprehensive, direct, and fully documented with factual findings. It became a model for the study of gender bias in the courts across the nation. It found many significant disparities in the treatment of women in the court system and profession. The report resulted in legislation addressing those findings, including the first domestic violence statute and changes to family law, sexual assault criminal proceedings, and delinquent child support collection, all within the first year. It sparked changes in the education of judges and lawyers. The Florida Bar then created its Commission on the Status of Women in the profession.

"When Justice Kogan became the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court, he created the Fairness Commission to monitor and investigate all areas of bias in the court system, including racial bias, gender bias, and bias against the disabled and the elderly," said Freeman, M.Ed. '73, J.D. '77. "That commission is now a standing committee of the Supreme Court and has furthered his mission of fairness for all.

"Justice Kogan's contribution to the improvement of fairness and justice in Florida is immeasurable," said the former partner at Ruden McCloskey. "His passing is a great loss not only to his friends and family but to all citizens of Florida."

Formative Years at UM

While attending UM, Kogan served as chief of Iron Arrow Honor Society, the highest honor society at the University of Miami, and president of the Student Senate. He was listed in Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities. In 1955 he received an Ibis citation, which is given annually to the outstanding student at UM. He also won the National Intercollegiate Debate Championship and was a Charter Member of the Southern Debate Hall of Fame. He won the Southern Law School Moot Court Championship in law school and became a National Moot Court Finalist.

The Brooklyn native came to Miami with his parents and brother in 1947, graduating from Miami Beach Senior High School before attending UM, where he received a business administration degree before attending law school.

"I've always loved this particular law school," Kogan said at the occasion of his 50th reunion. "One of the great feelings that I would have when I was in law school was competing in moot court and undergraduate debates against the finest law schools and colleges in the U.S. and winning which indicated to me that while we were, in the scheme of things, a young university and law school, we had great faculty, we had great teachers, and we had great students here."

After law school, Kogan joined the United States Army, graduating from the Army Intelligence School and serving on active duty as a special agent in the counterintelligence corps.

He was tapped as an assistant state attorney in the Dade County State Attorney's Office in 1960, rising to chief prosecutor of the Homicide and Capital Crimes Division before going into private practice and serving as the prosecutor on behalf of the Florida Bar in attorney disciplinary cases. He later served as special counsel to the Florida Legislature's Select Committee on Organized Crime and Law Enforcement.

Former Florida Governor Bob Graham appointed Kogan as a circuit judge in Florida's Eleventh Judicial Circuit in 1980 and he served in the court's criminal division in 1984. He was appointed to the state's high court in 1987 as part of a reform movement that sought to transform the state's courts into an example of open and transparent government. He served on the Florida Supreme Court from 1987 to 1998, the last four years as chief judge.

A Legal Educator

Justice Kogan was a member of the American Academy of Judicial Education faculty, teaching Constitutional Criminal Procedure and Trial Procedure. He was a member of the University of Miami School of Law's adjunct faculty, where he taught criminal evidence, trial advocacy, and professional responsibility.

He also taught trial advocacy workshops for prosecutors and public defenders at Miami Law and was a member of the faculty at the Trial Judges Academy at the University of Virginia and of The National Judicial College. He was also a faculty member for the appellate judges' seminar at New York University School of Law.

In later years, family and friends of the Kogans established a scholarship in Kogan's name at Miami Law to preserve and honor his legacy. The scholarship supports law students who demonstrate the integrity, scholarship, and devotion to public service characterized by the former Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice's exemplary career in law.

The Law Alumni Association awarded Kogan with an Alumnus of Distinction Award to recognize his prominence and service to his alma mater. The association presents the award to a distinguished alumnus/a who brings honor and recognition to Miami Law for a lifetime of outstanding personal or professional achievement. He also served his alma mater on the Board of Trustees as an alumni trustee from 1992 until 1995.

Devoted to Family

Kogan met his wife, Irene Kogan, née Vulgan, BED '55, when she was also a student at the University of Miami. He was a loving family man throughout their 65-year marriage. Irene and their children, Robert Kogan and Karen Kogan Rosenzweig, and five grandchildren survive him. His daughter, Debbie Kogan Lyda, pre-deceased her father.

In his chief justice profile in The Florida Bar Journal in 1996, Irene recounted that she once asked him how he would like to be recalled.

"He said he would like to be remembered as a man of vision, an advocate for the rights of individuals, and one who respected the dignity of his fellow human beings with a deep understanding of the human condition," she said. "He always says you cannot be a good lawyer or a good judge unless you understand the human condition."


In place of flowers, please consider making a donation in memory of Justice Kogan to the charity of your choice, to The Debbie Kogan Lyda - Dr. Warner Huh Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, 1720-2nd Avenue South, Birmingham, AL 35294-3300, or to The Justice Gerald Kogan Endowed Scholarship Fund at the University of Miami School of Law.

 See Past Recipients of the Kogan Scholarship

2020-2021         Jae Huckaba, 2L                         

2019-2020         Franco Piccinini, J.D.’20               

2018-2019         Paige Bettge, J.D.’’19                   

2017-2018         Paige Bettge, J.D.’19                    

2016-2017         Jessica Brautigam, J.D.’17           

2015-2016         Paul Nunez, J.D.’16                     

2014-2015         Nejla Calvo, J.D.’15                         

2013-2014         Joshua Truppman, J.D.’14              

2012-2013         Erin Lewis J.D.’13                          

2011-2012         Kelly Rains, J.D.’12                          

2010-2011         Alison Flowers Lintal, J.D. '10                             

2008-2009         Alison Flowers Lintal, J.D. '10

2007-2008         Todd Allison, J.D.’08