“There are no words to describe what this means,” said Tama Beth Kudman, West Palm Beach’s 2020 “Lawyer of the Year” in Criminal Defense – White Collar Law, when describing the honor. “It’s extraordinary.”
Kudman’s passion for criminal justice and the rights of citizens is abundantly evident in both the way she speaks and the actions she takes in the community.
It is fair to say that being a lawyer is in Kudman’s blood. The drive however, was something that was instilled from her father. He arrived in the United States at a very young age and firmly believed in the rights granted to the people.
“He was so passionate about constitutional democracy,” Kudman explained. “The importance of protections for individuals. He believed that there was not greater gift a person could receive, than those gifts under the Constitution. Real due process.”
Kudman’s work isn’t limited to her clients and firm. She is heavily involved with the Innocence Project in Florida and champions their charitable events. The project seeks out meritorious cases of potentially wrongly incarcerated individuals and advocate for criminal justice reform to prevent future wrongful convictions.
Criminal justice reform is topic Kudman feels very strongly about. The current system has become deeply flawed because of many conflicting interests, including sentencing guidelines. “People are afraid to go to trial,” she explained when describing the choice a defendant faces from a prosecutor who offers a lenient plea vs a guideline that could demand over 10 years of prison. She notes that for profit prisons have corrupted the intent of justice and a shift towards punitive law have moved us as a society away from rehabilitating. “We have created a cycle of crime,” Kudman illustrated. “We get so much more back as a society by focusing on rehabilitation.”