The Florida Bar

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January 12, 2021
CONTACT: Leslie H. Smith, [email protected]
TELEPHONE: (850) 561-5764

The Hon. Barbara Twine Thomas (photo), judge of the 13th Judicial Circuit Criminal Division serving Hillsborough county, is the recipient of the 2021 Distinguished Judicial Service Award. The award, which honors outstanding and sustained service to the public especially as it relates to support of pro bono legal services, will be presented by Chief Justice Charles T. Canady in a Jan. 28 ceremony streamed live by the Supreme Court of Florida.

In January 1976 at the age of 23, Judge Twine Thomas began work as a lawyer as a Reginald Heber Smith Fellow at Jacksonville Area Legal Aid.

Throughout her career, Judge Twine Thomas has demon­strated a deep personal and professional commitment to the community, those in need, and the legal profession.

Judge Twine Thomas states that she supports pro bono so strongly now because of all that she has seen and learned over the years regarding the compelling needs of the under­served and the importance of assuring that each litigant is effectively represented in a disputed controversy.

Judge Twine Thomas generally had several active pro bono cases at a time and donated at least 100 hours of pro bono service every year while she was in private. Judge Twine Thomas provided pro bono services to the individuals who sought help at the offices of the Hillsborough County NAACP. In recognition of these efforts, in 2003 Judge Twine Thomas was awarded the “Foot Solider in the Sands” Award at the NAACP national convention for a pro bono service to the local branch.

In November 2014, Judge Twine Thomas was elected to a seat on the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit. She was automati­cally re-elected in 2020 when she drew no opponent. As a judge, she has engaged extensively in activities to improve the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice, and particularly the improvement of criminal and juvenile justice.

Judge Twine Thomas is the current chair and immediate past vice-chair of the Thirteenth Circuit’s Pro Bono Com­mittee, which provides oversight of pro bono services in Hillsborough County and includes representatives from pro bono and legal assistance providers, bar associations, and law schools. Judge Twine Thomas has also provided train­ing to judges in the Thirteenth Circuit on pro bono services and their value.

The Hon. Ronald N. Ficarrotta, chief judge of the 13th Circuit, stated: “Her passionate support of pro-bono legal services and her leadership ability led me to appoint her as chair of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Pro-Bono Commit­tee, and she has not disappointed me. She has an amazing talent for bringing people together and inspiring action.”

Note: Support of pro bono legal services by members of the bench is an activity that relates to improvement of the administration of justice. Accordingly, a judge may engage in activities intended to encourage attorneys to perform pro bono services, including, but not limited to: participating in events to recognize attorneys who do pro bono work, establishing general procedural or scheduling accommodations for pro bono attorneys as feasible, and acting in an advisory capacity to pro bono programs.

This year’s ceremony, which also honors IndividualCircuitVoluntary Bar, Law Firm, Young Lawyers Division and Distinguished Federal Judicial Service pro bono efforts, is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 28, at 3:30 p.m. and can be streamed live on Facebook,  WFSU: Gavel to Gavel and the Florida Channel, as well as on YouTube.

A full version of each of the honoree’s accomplishments can be found here.



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