BREVARD COUNTY – With thirty-one minutes left in 2016, Brevard County Court Judge Alli B. Majeed will abide by Florida law and end his twenty-four year service on the bench. The Dec. 31 resignation makes Majeed the longest serving judge in Brevard County, a career marked by tremendous community involvement along the Space Coast, and caps a great American success story.
Born in Guyana, South America, to poor parents who were indentured servants of Indian descent, Majeed quickly came to realize the dangers and dehumanization of economic injustice. He saw that education was the key to success, but his first attempt at getting a student visa to America fell short. It took the actions of a good Samaritan with the American Peace Corps to bring Majeed to the United States.
Once here, he attended Howard University and the Columbia School of Law. Graduating in 1975, Majeed became a citizen and was able to move his parents to his adopted country.
Majeed worked in a private practice for two years before landing a job as assistant public defender in Orlando in 1984. His road to the judgeship began the following year when he became assistant state attorney for Brevard County. From there, former Gov. Lawton Chiles appointed him to the bench in 1993, following Majeed’s unsuccessful run for judge the previous year. Since then, he has not looked back and describes every day as “living the dream.”
The Florida Record was honored in being able to interview Majeed. In recapping his upbringing, Majeed said that the lack of opportunity and education were key causes of economic inequality. Most interestingly, the judge propounded a view held by our Founding Fathers. “No one can make you economically equal. All that they can do is give you the opportunity” to succeed.
The 70-year-old judge lamented that there have been “a lot of promises of redistributing wealth” made by politicians and that he was opposed to such a ploy. A government that decides how the money of its taxpayers is allocated sets itself up as being a binding source of citizen dependence. “Independence is the key to success”, Majeed told the Florida Record.
With independence comes the chance of failure, but that should not be seen as a stigma or an end to one’s struggles. The Eighteenth Circuit Court Judge said that “without the ability to absorb failures, success was much harder” for individuals, and cited the numerous bankruptcies of President-elect Donald Trump as an example.
His humble origins have left the judge deeply grateful for what he has and to those around him. Majeed told the Florida Record: “So many people around me helped me” to become the success he is. He has not let this go to his head either. “I never forget that I’m a human being.”
Asked about his time on the bench and what case he regarded as being the most influential, Majeed did not reference a decision about a county ordinance or a lawsuit against an egregious corporate entity. His most memorable case involved a divorcing couple.
In 2015, Stephen and Deborah Ehrhardt were on the cusp of dissolving a 30-year marriage that followed on the heels of a failed business, bankruptcy and eviction from their longtime home.
After listening to the pair’s reasons for divorce, Majeed prepared to sign the divorce papers but felt impelled to address a couple he saw as still loving each other. Majeed said that a divorce was nothing more than signed papers when it came to a couple with kids. Milestones and unforeseen circumstances would have Stephen and Deborah reunited again and again while their kids grew up.
Saying his piece, Majeed signed the papers and the two left his office. Months later, Stephen returned to see the judge. With tears in his eyes, he thanked Majeed for saving his marriage. When they had left the Judge’s chambers, the Ehrhardt’s went to dinner and felt Majeed’s words had merit. They decided to continue living together and eventually remarried on their wedding anniversary.
The Florida Record asked Majeed about his plans after retirement. “I really want to run for a seat in the Florida Senate,” was his reply. “One day I hope to make that happen.”
While Majeed mused that the chances of this were small, the fact that he is so beloved in his community and by the people he has served leaves such a possibility very tangible.