Three candidates have filed to fill the unexpired term of 19th Circuit Board of Governors member John Stewart, who will be sworn in as the Bar’s president-elect at the June Annual Convention. Below are the platform statements from the candidates. Ballots will be mailed by the Bar’s elections company around March 1, and must be returned by 11:59:59 p.m. March 21. Bar members will have the option of voting online or by paper ballot and instructions will be included with the mailed ballot.
My fellow Bar members:
I am a candidate for the Board of Governors, representing the 19th Judicial Circuit, and humbly request your vote. This vacancy is left by John Stewart, of Vero Beach, who was recently elected president-elect designate of The Florida Bar. I would hope to serve The Florida Bar with the same passion and dedication as John has over the years.
My career began as a prosecutor in Collier County before moving back to my hometown. For the past 21 years, I have practiced both criminal defense and family law.
I have previously served as president of the Indian River County Bar Association, president of the Indian River County Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and currently serve as president of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, one of the nation’s largest voluntary bar associations. My peers have honored me with an AV rating in Martindale-Hubbell.
I have done my best to serve my clients with integrity, compassion, and competence. I have twice received the Indian River Bar Association’s Pro Bono Service Award and was honored to receive the Florida Rural Legal Service’s Pro Bono Award of Excellence.
Prior to the implementation of Article V, I was appointed to and served on the Indigent Services Committee for the 19th Judicial Circuit.
My passions lie with criminal justice reform and ensuring and promoting the accessibility of legal services to our state’s citizens. As a partner in a small firm, I understand and appreciate the balance of running a business with providing a best effort to ensure justice and quality legal representation.
I appreciate your consideration and look forward to serving the members of The Florida Bar.
I am honored to be considered for the 19th Circuit seat on the Board of Governors vacated by Florida Bar President-elect Designate John Stewart. John has done an outstanding job since 2006. These are tough shoes to fill, but if elected I will follow in John’s footsteps and also make new strides advocating strongly for our circuit. I practice plaintiff’s personal injury law with the law firm of Steinger, Iscoe & Greene in Port St. Lucie. I am a past president of the Port St. Lucie Bar Association. During my three-year term as president (2012-2015), I helped grow the PSLBA into a formidable organization, providing CLE credits, helping local charities, encouraging pro bono efforts, and promoting diversity and inclusion.
I worked very hard to become a proud member of The Florida Bar. As such, I strongly advocated against reciprocity and will continue to do so. I will fight to maintain the integrity of The Florida Bar and stand strong against the unlicensed practice of law.
Although I currently work for a larger firm, I came to Florida after working in New York as a clerk for a sole practitioner for two years and then after law school as his associate for another 11 years. I understand the struggles that solos and small firms face and am committed to ensuring that they have affordable access to CLE credits and technology resources.
Also at the forefront is the mental health and wellness of attorneys. One reason I decided to run was to ensure attorneys have the resources to properly represent their clients, and maintain their health and wellness, for themselves, their clients and their families. Many Bar grievances filed by clients occur as a direct result of an attorney simply needing help but not knowing how to get it. I see this occurring repeatedly as I am currently the vice chair of 19th Circuit Grievance Committee “A.” My past three years on this committee have prepared me for the responsibilities this seat would include in overseeing this circuit’s two grievance committees. I am also a past chair of and served four years on the 19th Circuit Professionalism Panel. My involvement in these committees demonstrates my deep beliefs that we must maintain the integrity of our Bar and our profession as a whole.
I am a Class II alumnus of The Florida Bar’s Leadership Academy, and currently serve as chair of the academy’s Alumni Relations and Recruitment Subcommittee. I also proudly serve on the Bar’s Standing Committee on Diversity & Inclusion and Annual Convention Committee. The Leadership Academy has given me extraordinary opportunities to interact with the Board of Governors, have conversations with numerous past Bar presidents and Bar leaders, as well as the justices of the Florida Supreme Court.
If I have the honor of representing the 19th Circuit, I will always be accessible to every attorney in the circuit. The 19th Circuit only gets one voice on the Board of Governors and I would like our collective voice to be heard. Regardless of your choice, please voice your choice and vote March 1st to 21st. Thank you.
I respectfully ask for your vote to serve as the 19th Circuit’s representative on the Florida Bar Board of Governors. I have reached out to many friends and colleagues in our circuit to discuss the issues facing our practices. Based on those discussions, if elected, I intend to:
• Seek greater opportunities for our circuit’s attorneys to become involved with The Florida Bar;
• Address the impact of evolving technology on our practices;
• Oppose reciprocity (in the event it is raised again);
• Fight to ensure the judiciary’s independence; and
• Require the highest levels of ethics, civility, and professionalism.
I believe my substantive legal experience, combined with my prior Bar involvement, make me the best candidate to represent and advocate for our circuit on the board. I was born and raised in Florida, and graduated from the University of Florida for college and law school. I am a shareholder in the business trial law firm of Mrachek, Fitzgerald, Rose, Konopka, Thomas & Weiss, and I am board certified in business litigation.
Before I began practicing business litigation in Stuart in 2005, I served on active duty in the U.S. Army JAG Corps for over five years, mainly as a military prosecutor and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney. During that time I deployed to Iraq for a year as a military prosecutor. Thus, my experience includes handling criminal cases, civil litigation (on both a contingency and hourly basis), and appeals, in state and federal courts, in varied and challenging environments. Moreover, throughout my career, I have regularly tried cases to verdict.
I understand the issues facing attorneys at small and large firms, as well as issues facing government attorneys. Moreover, I have become highly involved in the impact of electronically stored information on litigation, and have lectured on the subject for Florida Bar technology CLE credit. My professional experience gives me great insight into the challenges facing the diverse practices in our circuit, and will assist me in advocating to improve our practices on the Board.
I have served in several leadership roles in our profession, including:
• President and Executive Board, Martin County Bar Association
• Chair, Young Lawyers Division, Martin County Bar Association
• President and Executive Board, UF College of Law Alumni Council
• Florida Bar Business Litigation Certification Committee
• Florida Bar Leadership Academy Fellow (Class I)
• Florida Bar Code & Rules of Evidence Committee
• Supreme Court Bar Admissions Committee
• Florida Bar Military Affairs Committee
• Justice Major B. Harding American Inn of Court
• UF College of Law Board of Trustees
Each of these experiences has given me a greater understanding of the issues facing Florida lawyers. Those experiences, and the relationships I have developed, will allow me to effectively advocate for attorneys practicing in Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee, and St. Lucie counties on the board and at the state level.
I highly value our profession and practice in our state, and especially in our circuit, and I intend to effectively represent our circuit on the board. I ask for your support in that endeavor.