Meet the Magistrate: Thomas Remington to oversee city hearings

Savannah Vasquez
Thomas Remington, a former Okaloosa County Circuit Court Judge, serves as the special magistrate for the city of Destin.

Since June the city of Destin has taken a new approach towards code enforcement. Instead of using a code enforcement board to address issues surrounding city code and ordinance violations, a special magistrate has been appointed.

The reason behind this new method is to “streamline and maximize compliance,” and “to accelerate the processing of code cases.”

So just who is this Special Magistrate and what they do?

Former Okaloosa County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Remington has taken on the magistrate role for the city. Remington will be overseeing the code hearings that are scheduled twice a month.

His compensation for the job? $300 per session.

When asked why he chose to take on the role as special magistrate, Remington said he just likes to work.

“I retired as a judge, because you have to retire in the state of Florida when you are 70,” he said. “They made me retire about three years ago, but I’m still pretty healthy and I like to work so I do private mediations.”

Remington’s qualifications easily meet the requirements for the position, as he boasts 23 years as a lawyer and 20 years as a Circuit Court Judge for Okaloosa County, but he told The Log, he enjoys the process…for the most part.

“It’s been great, the city clerk and the code enforcement officers of Destin are very pleasant to work with I just have to listen to the facts and make a decision,” he said. “The only hard part in the summer is the traffic’s bad because I live in Shalimar. But it’s better doing what I’m doing if you are not personally connected to the people.”

When asked how the process under the new method has run as compared to the previous code enforcement board, Public Information Manager Doug Rainer said it has been successful thus far.

“Our Code Enforcement Board did a great job over the years,” he said. “However, code board meetings depended on a quorum that sometimes proved difficult, which delayed code case hearings. Also, city staff heard from the community back in October 2014 that the effectiveness of code enforcement was an issue in Destin. Having a special magistrate to oversee all code cases has expedited the enforcement process and has proven to be effective and efficient.”

Although the legal process does not allow for a special magistrate and a Code Enforcement Board to operate simultaneously, the city will have the ability to bring the board back at a future date.

“The board can be reconvened if the city so chooses,” said Rainer.