The Florida Bar
www.floridabar.org
Fifth District Court of Appeal
The Vote's in Your Court - Judicial merit retention. Know the Facts





Judge Wendy W. Berger

Judge Wendy W. Berger joined the Fifth District Court of Appeal in September 2012. Before that, she served as an assistant state attorney in the Seventh Judicial Circuit from 1993 to 2000. 






  • In January 2001, Judge Berger became assistant general counsel to Gov. Jeb Bush and served in that capacity until May 2005, when she was appointed as a circuit court judge in the Seventh Judicial Circuit. She has presided over the civil and probate divisions (2005 to 2006) and adult felony division (2006 to 2012) in St. Augustine.  She was also the presiding judge of the St. Johns County Adult Drug Court Program (2005 to 2012)
  • Judge Berger has lectured on a wide range of topics including practicing with professionalism, judicial diversity, the judicial appointment process, effective oral arguments, fundamentals of extradition, capital cases, gender bias in the media, drug court and drug and alcohol prevention.
  • Judge Berger received her undergraduate degree from Florida State University in 1990 and her law degree from the FSU College of Law in 1992. 

Visit the court website for Judge Berger's full biography. External Link.

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Judge Kerry I. Evander

Judge Evander has served on Fifth District Court of Appeal since July 2006. Before that, he served as a circuit court judge in the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit, from January 1993 to June 2006, serving as chief judge for the last year of his tenure there. While on the circuit court bench, he served as the administrative judge for Brevard County from July 2003 to June 2005 and as the family administrative judge from June 1995 to December 1998.    




  • Judge Evander began his judicial career as a county court judge in Brevard County from May 1989 to January 1993 and served as the county court administrative judge from July 1991 to January 1993.
  • He was in private practice with Gleason, Barlow, & Evander, P.A., in Indialantic from February 1988 to May 1989. He served as an associate professor, Mississippi College of Law, in Jackson, Miss., from August 1986 to May, 1987. And he was in private practice with Reinman, Harrell, et al., from March 1980 to August 1986 and again from May 1987 to January 1988.
  • Judge Evander has served on the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission, beginning in September 2011.
  • He received his B.A. (with honors) in political science from the University of Florida in 1976 and his J.D. from the University of Florida with honors in 1980.

Visit the court website for Judge Evander's full biography. External Link.

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Judge C. Alan Lawson

Judge Lawson has served on the Fifth District Court of Appeal since 2006. Before that, he was a circuit court judge in the Ninth Judicial Circuit from 2002 to 2005.









  • For four years, from 1997 to 2001, he worked as an assistant county attorney in Orange County.
  • He was general counsel for Verses Wear Inc. in 1996 and an associate and partner with Steel Hector & Davis, in Miami and Tallahassee, from 1987 to 1995.
  • Judge Lawson has served as the Fifth District Court of Appeal representative to the Appellate Practice Section of the Florida Bar since 2006. He is also the Fifth's representative since 2006 to the Appellate Court Technology Committee.
  • Judge Lawson received his B.S., in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management (with an emphasis in Natural Resource Management) from Clemson University in 1983, with Highest Honors. He received his A.A., from Tallahassee Community College in 1981, with Highest Honors. Judge Lawson received his J.D. from Florida State University College of Law in 1987 with Highest Honors.

Visit the court website for Judge Lawson's full biography. External Link.

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Judge Richard B. Orfinger

Richard B. Orfinger has been a judge on the Fifth District Court of Appeal since 2000, and served as the court’s chief judge from 2011 to 2013. He was a circuit court judge for the Seventh Judicial Circuit from 1991 to 2000, and led the court as chief judge from 1996 to 1999. Before taking the bench, Judge Orfinger was a shareholder with Monaco, Smith, Hood, Perkins, Orfinger and Stout, P.A. ,from 1990 to 1991, and a shareholder in Orfinger and Stout, P.A. from 1979 to 1990.









  • His public service includes working as an assistant state attorney in the Seventh Judicial Circuit from 1976 to 1978.
  • Judge Orfinger has served on numerous court committees and work groups including the District Court Budget Commission from 2009-2013, serving as its Chair from 2011-2013.
  • Judge Orfinger was instrumental in organizing the Seventh Circuit's Committee on Professionalism in 1997. He has been an instructor at the Florida College of Advanced Judicial Studies and has been a frequent lecturer on ethics and professionalism topics.
  • Judge Orfinger received a B.A. from Tulane University in New Orleans in 1974. He was awarded his J.D. with honors from the University of Florida College of Law in 1976.

Visit the court website for Judge Orfinger's full biography. External Link.

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Judge William D. Palmer

Judge William D. Palmer joined the Fifth District Court of Appeal in 2000 and led the court as chief judge from July 1, 2007, to June 30, 2009.













  • He worked in private practice at Palmer & Palmer, P.A., from 1997 to 2000, and at Carlton, Fields, Ward, Emmanuel, Smith & Cutler, P.A., from 1976 to 1997.
  • Judge Palmer has served on the Supreme Court Committee on Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules and Policy from 2006 to the present, chairing from 2009 to present.
  • Judge Palmer is author of numerous publications including "Top Ten Lapses of Professionalism in Appellate Practice," Orange County Bar Brief, 2002.
  • Judge Palmer received his B.S. in Management Science with honors from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1973 and his J.D. from Boston College Law School, cum laude, in 1976.

Visit the court website for Judge Palmer's full biography. External Link.

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Judge Thomas D. Sawaya

Judge Sawaya was appointed to the Fifth District Court of Appeal in February 2000 and served as chief judge of the court from July 1, 2003, to June 30, 2005.



  • He was elected as a Marion County judge in 1986 and to the Fifth Circuit Court bench in 1990. His decade as a circuit court judge included four years as presiding judge of the appellate division of that circuit.
  • Judge Berger has lectured on a wide range of topics including practicing with professionalism, judicial diversity, the judicial appointment process, effective oral arguments, fundamentals of extradition, capital cases, gender bias in the media, drug court and drug and alcohol prevention.
  • Judge Sawaya worked part-time as an assistant state attorney from 1985 to 1986. He maintained a general law practice in Ocala from 1978 to 1986.
  • Judge Sawaya is a member of the faculty of the Conference of Circuit Court Judges and College of Advanced Judicial Studies. He has written and published extensively in such legal publications as the Florida Bar Journal, the ABA Journal, the University of Florida Law Review, Litigation, and For the Defense. His published works include "Florida Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Actions, (West Group 2003), which contains 27 chapters dealing with the substantive law relating to personal injury and wrongful death litigation in Florida. This work is revised and a new publication issued annually.
  • Judge Sawaya received his B.A. from the University of South Florida in 1974 and his J.D. from Stetson University College of Law in 1977.

Visit the court website for Judge Sawaya's full biography. External Link.

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Judge F. Rand Wallis

Judge F. Rand WallisJudge F. Rand Wallis began serving on the Fifth District Court of Appeal in 2013. Before that for five years, he was a circuit court judge in the Ninth Judicial Circuit.











  • For 13 years Judge Wallis was in private practice in Central Florida. He was a partner with Cabaniss, Smith, Toole & Wiggins, P.L. in Maitland from 2001 to 2008; an associate with Cabaniss, McDonald, Smith & Wiggins, P.L., in Maitland, from 1996 to 2001; and an associate with Cameron, Marriott, Walsh, Hodges & Coleman, P.A., in Orlando, from 1995 to 1996.
  • Judge Wallis serves on the Florida Supreme Court Committee on Standard Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases.
  • He received his B.A., from Furman University, in Political Science, in 1989 and his J.D. from Stetson University College of Law in 1992.

Visit the court website for Judge Wallis' full biography. External Link.

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[Revised: 08-06-2014]