Top prosecutor Dave Aronberg continues his Christmas First Appearance tradition
Dave Aronberg is forgoing a U.S. Attorney gig.

The Palm Beach State Attorney has made suiting up to cover First Appearance Court a traditional gift to his staff.

If Christmas Eve revelry lands you on the wrong side of the law in Palm Beach County, you might find your first appearance in court is truly a VIP affair.

In keeping with a longstanding, annual tradition — whether or not an election year is nigh — State Attorney Dave Aronberg is going to be covering First Appearance Court hearings on Christmas this Sunday at the Gun Club Courthouse, beginning at 9 a.m., until the docket is complete.

“It is a small thank you to my hard-working staff to cover First Appearance court and allow my team members to be home with their families on Christmas Day,” he said, in a prepared statement.

Most individuals who are arrested must see a judge within 24 hours. That means any Christmas Eve arrests require a court to operate the next day.

Aronberg will be celebrating Hanukkah that day, but he’s happy to do his part to keep the wheels of justice moving, his spokesman said. Crime doesn’t take a holiday, after all.

“It’s something he enjoys doing,” said Marc Freeman, spokesman for Aronberg’s office. “Christmas Day, you know where to find him.”

Aronberg, a former state Senator, has led the State Attorney’s Office in the 15th Judicial Circuit — which encompasses Palm Beach County — since he was first elected in 2012. He’ll be up for election again in 2024.

The proceedings also require a judge and a defense attorney to spend their holiday in court. Typically, the shift involves a few dozen cases on the Christmas docket that takes a few hours to get through, Freeman said.

Over the years, Aronberg has found that Christmas Day exerts a certain traditional influence, even when it comes to crime. Most of the cases involve domestic violence, he told a Palm Beach County TV station when he picked up the Christmas shift in 2017.

“It’s the dark side of families getting together with food and alcohol, it’s that you have some people who act poorly then commit domestic violence or other crimes,” Aronberg said.

Many of the 15th Judicial Circuit’s courts are closed during the holidays. The regular schedule is set to resume Jan. 3.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


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