The Florida Bar

2022 Merit Retention Election

The Vote’s in Your Court: Merit Retention Bios

Every two years, The Florida Bar provides biographies of District Court of Appeal (DCA) judges and Florida Supreme Court justices in merit retention elections. Click on the map to see which counties are in which districts.

2022 Biographies

Florida Supreme Court

Justice Charles T. Canady

Justice Canady

Canady was appointed to the Florida Supreme Court in August 2008 and has served three terms as Chief justice (2010-2012, 2018-2020 and 2020-2022). Before that, Justice Canady practiced law with the firm of Holland and Knight in Lakeland from 1979 through 1982 and with the firm of Lane, Trohn, et al., from 1983 through 1992. He then served three terms in the Florida House of Representatives followed by four terms in the United States House of Representatives, where he was a member of the House Judiciary Committee.  For three terms, from January 1995 to January 2001, Justice Canady was the chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution. Upon leaving Congress, Justice Canady became general counsel to Gov. Jeb Bush.  He was appointed to the Second District Court of Appeal in 2002. He received his bachelor’s degree from Haverford College and his law degree. from the Yale Law School.

Justice John D. Couriel

Justice Couriel

Couriel was appointed to the Florida Supreme Court on June 1, 2020. Before joining the court Justice Couriel worked as a government and private practice attorney. He clerked for the Honorable John D. Bates of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia before joining Davis Polk & Wardwell in New York, where he focused on securities offerings, mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcy matters, and investigations. In 2009, he became an assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, where he prosecuted hundreds of federal offenses, including international money laundering, public integrity, health care fraud, and human trafficking crimes. In 2013, he joined Kobre & Kim LLP, where he specialized in cross-border disputes and investigations relating to financial products and services, asset recovery, and government enforcement defense, with an emphasis on clients in Latin America.

Justice Jamie R. Grosshans

Justice Grosshans

Justice Grosshans was appointed to the Florida Supreme Court in September 2020. Before that, she had been appointed to the Fifth District Court of Appeal in 2018. Before that, she served as an Orange County Court Judge in the Ninth Judicial Circuit of Florida, where she presided over criminal and civil matters. She has previously served as an assistant state attorney for the Ninth Circuit of Florida in both the misdemeanor and felony divisions and spent nearly 10 years working as a private practice attorney. She also taught Hospitality Law as an adjunct professor at Valencia College and frequently volunteered as guardian ad litem with the Orange County Legal Aid Society. Justice Grosshans has served on state court system advisory committees and has been involved in numerous activities with The Florida Bar and other legal organizations.

Justice Jorge Labarga

Justice Labarga

Justice Labarga

Labarga was appointed to the Florida Supreme Court in January 2009, serving two terms as Chief Justice (2014-2016, 2016-2018). Prior to that, he served on the Fourth District Court of Appeal in 2008 following 13 years of service (1996-2008) as a trial judge in Florida’s 15th judicial circuit, presiding in the matrimonial, civil and criminal trial divisions. Justice Labarga began his legal career in the Public Defender’s Office and, later, State Attorney’s Office in West Palm Beach, where he was assigned to the felony division and the organized crime division. He entered private practice in 1987 and specialized in civil litigation. In 1992, he participated in creating the law firm of Roth, Duncan & Labarga, P.A., in West Palm Beach where he remained until 1996 when he joined the trial bench. He received bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Florida.

Justice Ricky Polston

Justice Polston

Polston was appointed to the Florida Supreme Court in October 2008, serving as Chief Justice from 2012 to 2014 and as Administrative Justice for many terms. Prior to that, he served as a judge for Florida’s First District Court of Appeal. Justice Polston has served on numerous Bar and Court committees and as the Court’s liaison to them. Since 2003, he has been an adjunct professor at the Florida State University College of Law, teaching various courses including Florida Constitutional Law, Insurance Law, and Florida Alternative Dispute Resolution. Before joining the bench, Polston worked as a private practice attorney in Tallahassee for 14 years, where he primarily focused on commercial litigation and was a certified circuit court mediator. He holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Florida State University and worked as a certified public accountant for seven years before returning to FSU for his law degree. Though he no longer practices accounting, he remains a CPA.

First District Court of Appeal

Judge Ross Bilbrey

Judge Bilbrey

Judge Bilbrey was appointed to the First District Court of Appeal in 2014. Previously, he was appointed circuit court judge for the First Judicial Circuit beginning in 2012 and served as a Santa Rosa County court judge in 2006. He was assigned all misdemeanor domestic violence cases in Santa Rosa County and was recognized by FavorHouse domestic violence center for his work in reducing domestic violence in Santa Rosa County. Prior to taking the bench, Judge Bilbrey was in private practice in Pensacola from October 2003 until March 2006, practicing in the areas of civil and commercial litigation and family law. From May 2000 to October 2003, Judge Bilbrey was a legal assistance attorney for the Judge Advocate General Corps at the Naval Legal Service Office Central at NAS Pensacola. While there, he was named Civilian of the Year for his work in mobilizing reservists to active duty following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Before returning home to Northwest Florida, Judge Bilbrey was in private practice in Jacksonville for seven years. Judge Bilbrey was an adjunct professor of legal studies at the University of West Florida and has taught criminal law, criminal procedure, and evidence classes. Judge Bilbrey is active in the American Inns of Court and was president of the Pensacola Chapter for 2014 until his appointment to the First District Court of Appeal, having previously served as president-elect from 2012 to 2014.

Judge Susan Kelsey

Judge Kelsey

Judge Kelsey was appointed to the First District Court of Appeal in 2015. From 2007 to 2015, she was the sole practitioner of Kelsey Appellate Law firm. Before that, she practiced with Anchors Smith Grimsley Litigation Group and Holland & Knight. She is an active member of the First District Appellate American Inn of Court, having served as president and master (2009-2010) and as an executive committee officer and master member (2008-2016). Before taking the bench, she was a member of The Florida Bar Appellate Practice and Small Firm and Solo Practice sections and served as vice chair of the Appellate Rules Committee. Judge Kelsey has been recognized in multiple publications, including Best Lawyers in America, Florida Super Lawyers and Florida Trend, and is the co-recipient of a Florida Bar Appellate Practice Section Pro Bono Award. She received her bachelor’s degree from Freed-Hardeman University and her law degree from the University of Florida, where she was the editor-in-chief of the Law Review.

Judge Robert E. Long

Judge Long

Judge Long

Judge Long was appointed to the First District Court of Appeal in 2020. Prior to joining the Court of Appeal, Judge Long served as a trial court judge on Florida’s Second Judicial Circuit Court. Before taking the bench, Long was the general counsel and a major on the Executive Command Staff at the Leon County Sheriff’s Office. A law enforcement officer and an attorney, he oversaw the operations of the Legal and Professional Service Division. Prior to that, he worked in private practice. Judge Long started his legal career as an active-duty Judge Advocate with the U.S. Navy. A veteran, he served in Afghanistan and in the pacific area of operations and currently serves as a commander in the Navy Reserves. Prior to attending law school, Judge Long worked as a law enforcement officer at the Leon County Sheriff’s Office. He has served on the boards of directors for the Legal Aid Foundation, the Rotary Club of Tallahassee, and the American Inn of Court. Judge Long is a graduate of the University of Florida College of Law.

Judge Lori S. Rowe

Judge Lori S. Rowe

Judge Rowe

Judge Rowe was appointed to the First District Court of Appeal in 2009 and currently serves as chief judge. Prior to that, she was the deputy chief of staff for two years in the Executive Office of the Governor and held several high-level positions in the Office of the Attorney General between 2003 and 2006. She also practiced with Gray, Harris & Robinson from 2000 to 2003. Judge Rowe began her legal career as an assistant attorney general in the Antitrust Section of the Office of the Attorney General. She is a member of the Federalist Society and the William H. Stafford American Inn of Court, where she served as president. She serves on the faculty for the Florida Court Personnel Institute and the New Appellate Judges Program. She was an adjunct faculty member at the FSU college of business from 2013 to 2015 and is currently an advisory board member of the George Mason University Antonin Scalia School of Law, Law and Economics Center, Judicial Education Program. Judge Rowe holds both an MBA and a JD from Florida State University.

Judge Thomas “Bo” Winokur

Judge Winokur

Judge Winokur

Judge Winokur was appointed to the First District Court of Appeal  in 2015. Before his appointment, Judge Winokur was assistant general counsel for the Executive Office of the Governor since 2011. He previously served as assistant attorney general for the Florida Office of Attorney General, practicing in criminal appeals and capital litigation. In these positions, Judge Winokur handled more than 800 cases before the First District Court of Appeal and over 40 cases in the Florida Supreme Court. Judge Winokur began his career in private practice in Live Oak, but later served in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps from 1992 to 1995. He is the current chair of the Supreme Court Committee on Standard Jury Instructions (Criminal), of which he has been a member since 2018, and is a past member of the Speedy Trial Subcommittee of the Criminal Court Steering Committee. Judge Winokur is a member of the First District Appellate American Inn of Court, the Federalist Society, and the Tallahassee Bar Association, and is a past member of The Florida Bar Criminal Law, Appellate Practice and Government Lawyer sections. He received his bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Florida.

Second District Court of Appeal

Judge Patricia J. Kelly

Judge Patricia Kelly

Judge Kelly

Judge Kelly was appointed to the Second District Court of Appeal in 2001. Previously, she practiced law with firms in West Palm Beach and Tampa and then served as a staff attorney to the Hon. James E. Lehan at the Second District Court of Appeal. In 1998, she obtained Florida Bar Board Certification in appellate law. Judge Kelly has served on various committees including the Appellate Court Rules, the Pro Se Appellate Handbook, CLE, and Publications committees of the Appellate Practice Section of The Florida Bar, and the steering committee for the 2007 Florida Appellate Justice Conference. She also served as a member of the Innocence Commission. She received her bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of South Florida and her law degree from the University of Florida College of Law.

Judge Nelly N. Khouzam

Judge Khouzam

Judge Khouzam

Judge Khouzam was appointed to the Second District Court of Appeal in 2008. She became chief judge in July 2019 and led the court through the turbulent times of the pandemic. Prior to joining the Second District Court of Appeal, she served for 14 years as a circuit court judge in the Sixth Judicial Circuit. She previously worked as an attorney in private practice, earning an AV rating by Martindale-Hubbell. A frequent author and lecturer, Judge Khouzam has written articles for The Florida Bar Journal, Nova Law Review, Litigation Magazine and the Trial Advocate Quarterly. She is a frequent lecturer at judicial conferences and is a faculty member of the Florida Judicial College and the Florida Appellate Judicial College. She has been a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) since 1993 and is past president of the Barney Masterson Inn of Court. Judge Khouzam has received numerous awards, including: the 2002 ABOTA “Florida Jurist of the Year Award,” the 2006 William Castagna Award for Judicial Excellence, and the Clearwater Bar Association’s John U. Bird Distinguished Jurist Award in 2008. She is an executive committee member of the Chief Judges of the States Court of Appeal (CCJSCA) and is the 2022 chair of the Annual Conference Committee. In July 2020, Judge Khouzam became the first judge in Florida to be sworn in as president of the Florida American Board of Trial Advocates (FLABOTA).

Judge Suzanne Labrit

Judge Suzanne Labrit

Judge Labrit

Judge Labrit was appointed to the Second District Court of Appeal in 2020. She spent the first 15 years of her career in private practice, where she handled litigation and appeals involving commercial real estate, health care, insurance coverage and intellectual property. Judge Labrit also spent two years as general counsel for a Florida-based commercial real estate company. She then spent two decades as a partner with Shutts & Bowen, where she founded and chaired the firm’s appellate practice group. While in private practice, Judge Labrit handled hundreds of appeals in all the Florida District Courts of Appeal, the Florida Supreme Court, and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. She is Florida Bar Board Certified in appellate practice. She is a current member of the J. Clifford Cheatwood American Inn of Court, the Bruce R. Jacob-Chris W. Altenbernd Criminal Appellate American Inn of Court, and the William Reese Smith, Jr. Litigation American Inn of Court. Judge Labrit received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and her law degree  from Nova Southeastern University-Shepard Broad College of Law, where she was a member of the Law Review.

Judge Matthew C. “Matt” Lucas

Judge Matt Lucas

Judge Lucas

Judge Lucas was appointed to the Second District Court of Appeal in 2014. He was previously appointed to the Hillsborough County Court in 2010 and then to the 13th Judicial Circuit Court in January 2013. While on the trial bench, Judge Lucas served as the president of the Tampa Family Law Inn of Court, vice chair of the 13th Circuit’s Pro Bono Committee, and on The Florida Bar’s Business Litigation Certification Committee, the Florida Supreme Court Committee on Civil Jury Instructions, and the 13th Circuit’s professionalism and executive technology committees. Prior to joining the bench, Judge Lucas worked in private practice, where he focused on commercial and real estate litigation and appellate work. While in private practice, he was Florida Bar Board Certified in Business Litigation Law, a certified circuit civil mediator, and served as an arbitrator in commercial disputes. Judge Lucas currently serves on the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee and the District Court of Appeal Performance and Accountability Commission. He has taught as an adjunct law professor and written articles appearing in various law reviews and bar journals. He received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Florida State University and his law degree from the University of Florida, Levin College of Law, where he was the articles and research editor for the Journal of Technology Law & Policy.

Judge Robert Morris

Judge Robert Morris

Judge Morris

Judge Morris was appointed to the Second District Court of Appeal in 2014, where he currently serves as chief judge. Before that, he was the chief judge of the Sixth Judicial Circuit, where he was a trial judge since 1997. He has served on the Supreme Court Judicial Management Council since 2012. Before becoming a judge, he practiced law for 17 years. After a stint as a prosecutor, he became a partner and Florida committee member with Foley & Lardner, following which he formed his own firm. He had a corporate, commercial and real estate practice and earned an AV rating by Martindale-Hubbell. Judge Morris holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida, a law degree from DePaul University, and a masters of laws degree from Duke University. He was editor-in-chief of Judicature.

Judge Stevan T. Northcutt

Judge Stevan T. Northcutt

Judge Northcutt

Judge Northcutt was appointed to the Second District Court of Appeal in 1997. He served as chief judge of the court from July 2007 through June 2009. Prior to taking the bench, Northcutt was a shareholder in Levine, Hirsch, Segall & Northcutt P.A., in Tampa from 1986 to 1997, and a partner with Levine, Freedman, Hirsch & Levinson P.A., in Tampa from 1978 to 1986. In 1976 Judge Northcutt was awarded a Florida Legislative Fellowship, and for the next two years he served on the staff of the Florida House Judiciary Committee. Prior to his law career, he worked in journalism. He is a past chair of the state’s District Court of Appeal Budget Commission, where he continues to serve. He sits on the Florida Courts Technology Commission and chairs the Appellate Courts Technology Committee. Judge Northcutt served on the Appellate Court Rules Committee of The Florida Bar for many years and was a charter member of the Appellate Practice and Advocacy Section of The Florida Bar. He was the first chairman of the section’s Civil Appellate Practice Committee. Judge Northcutt is a past president of the Florida Conference of District Court of Appeal Judges. He is a long-time lecturer in Florida’s annual New Appellate Judges’ Program. Judge Northcutt received a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida, and his law degree from Florida State University College of Law.

Judge John K. Stargel

Judge Stargel

Judge Stargel

Judge Stargel was appointed to the Second District Court of Appeal in 2020. Before that, he was elected as 10th Judicial Circuit judge, where he served in the Family, Felony and Probate Divisions. He also presided over the Drug Court Program for three years. During his tenure on the circuit court, Judge Stargel served on the Trial Court Budget Commission (2013-2020); as chair of the Due Process Workgroup (2016-2020); legislative chair and executive committee member for the Florida Conference of Circuit Judges (2009-2020); and as a member of the Judicial Branch Long Range Strategic Workgroup (2014-2016). In 2017, he was appointed to serve on the Florida Constitutional Revision Commission. Before joining the bench, Judge Stargel served as assistant general counsel for W.S. Badcock Corp., vice president and general counsel at Richland Towers Inc., and as a partner with the law firm of Shelby Medina and Stargel. He has been an active member of The Florida Bar, serving on the Rules of Judicial Administration and Small Claims Rules committees, where he served as chair. He also spent six years serving on the Judicial Nominating Commission for the 10th Judicial Circuit. Judge Stargel received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tampa and his law degree from Florida State University College of Law.

Judge Craig C. Villanti

Judge Craig C. Villanti

Judge Villanti

Judge Villanti was appointed to the Second District Court of Appeal in 2003. Before that, he served as a circuit court judge for the Sixth Judicial Circuit beginning in 1992. Before his first judicial appointment, Judge Villanti was a private practice attorney in New Port Richey, where he focused primarily on handling appeals for the firm. His appellate practice included cases in the Second District Court of Appeal, the Florida Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Villanti held all offices of the West Pasco Bar Association before serving as president in 1985. He has also served on Florida Bar committees for Civil and Criminal Procedure and chaired a Bar Grievance Committee. He has lectured at the Judicial College on Advanced Education on topics concerning probate and guardianship law, and he has taught as an adjunct professor at Pasco-Hernando Community College and at St. Leo College on subjects involving real estate and torts. In 1991 he founded Helping the Elderly with Legal Problems (H.E.L.P.) to provide weekly pro bono services to the needy elderly population in Pasco County. Judge Villanti received his bachelor’s degree from degree  the State University of New York at Binghamton, where he attended on a New York State Regent’s Scholarship Award. He received his law degree from Stetson University College of Law.

 

Third District Court of Appeal

Judge Alexander S. Bokor

Judge Alexander S. Bokor

Judge Bokor

Judge Bokor was appointed to the Third District Court of Appeal in July 2020. Previously, Judge Bokor served as a judge for four years, most recently as a circuit judge in the civil division of the 11th Judicial Circuit from 2018, and before that as a county judge for Miami-Dade County since 2016. Prior to taking the bench, Judge Bokor served as a Miami-Dade County assistant attorney from 2008 to 2016. From 2002 to 2008, he was a commercial litigator in private practice in both New York and Florida. Judge Bokor also clerked for now-chief Judge Steven D. Merryday of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. As a circuit judge, Judge Bokor served as part of the chief judge’s task force charged with pandemic planning, responsible for enabling and implementing remote video appearances and remote evidentiary procedures for all of circuit and county court. Judge Bokor also served as a visiting associate judge on the Fourth District Court of Appeal in March 2020 and has served on multiple circuit appellate panels. He is a frequent continuing legal education seminar speaker and guest judge in moot court competitions. For his work on the bench and in the community, Judge Bokor was honored in 2018 with the Miami Jewish Legal Society’s 9th Annual Rodef Sholem Purveyor of Justice Award. Judge Bokor earned his bachelor’s degree from Southern Methodist University and his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he served as an editor on the Journal of Constitutional Law.

Judge Edwin A. Scales, III

Judge Edwin A. Scales III

Judge Scales

Judge Scales was appointed to the Third District Court of Appeal in 2013, making him the first Monroe County attorney ever appointed to the court. Since joining the court, Judge Scales has been appointed by the Florida Supreme Court to represent Florida’s judiciary on the Florida Bar Foundation Board of Directors. He has also been appointed to Florida’s Judicial Management Council. Before his appointment, Judge Scales was a sole practitioner in Key West, where he concentrated in the areas of appellate litigation, commercial and real estate litigation, administrative law, and mediation. He has served as the general counsel to both the Florida Citrus Commission and Historic Tours of America Inc. He served for four years on The Florida Bar Board of Governors and chaired both the Legislation and Citizens Advisory committees. In 2006, Judge Scales was appointed to the board of trustees of the Florida Keys Community College. He has also served on the board of directors of the University of Florida Alumni Association, taught the complex civil litigation courses at Florida’s College for Advanced Judicial Studies, has taught courses as part of the faculty of the National Judicial College, and regularly presents continuing legal education seminars to local bar associations. Judge Scales has served on the Federal Judicial Nominating Commission for Florida’s Southern District and on the Judicial Nominating Commission for Florida’s 16th Judicial Circuit. Judge Scales holds both his bachelor’s and law degree from the University of Florida. While in law school, Judge Scales served as student body president and received the Book Award for Florida Administrative Law.

Fourth District Court of Appeal

Judge Ed Artau

Judge Artau

Judge Artau was appointed to the Fourth District Court of Appeal in 2020. Before that, he served as a judge for the 15th Judicial Circuit for six years. Before his appointments, Judge Artau had a long legal career in which he gained experience working as a private practice attorney and as general counsel for the South Florida Water Management District. His honors include the 2017 Jurist of the Year Award and the 1998 award for Outstanding Leadership and Dedicated Service to the Bench, Bar, and Community. He has served as the civil program department chair for the Florida College of Advanced Judicial Studies and as circuit civil program department chair for Florida Judicial College. Judge Artau’s memberships include the Appellate Court Rules subcommittees for civil, criminal, general, and administrative practice. He has also held many leadership roles, including serving as chair of the Appellate Court Rules Internal Operating Procedures Committee and of the Constitutional Revision Subcommittee. He has served as vice chair for the Judicial Nominating Procedures Committee  and the Fourth District Court of Appeal Judicial Nominating Commission. He is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediator and a member of the Broward, Martin, Palm Beach, South Palm Beach & St. Lucie County bar associations. He is also a past president for the South Palm Beach County Bar Association. Judge Artau received his bachelor’s degree from Nova Southeastern University and his law degree from Georgetown University Law Center, where he was the Law Review editor.

Judge Cory J. Ciklin

Judge Ciklin

Judge Ciklin

Judge Ciklin was appointed to the Fourth District Court of Appeal in 2008, where he served as chief judge from 2015 to 2017. He previously served as a county court judge for Palm Beach County, where he also served as chairman for the Traffic Hearing Officer Oversight Committee. Before his current appointment, he also served as administrative and presiding judge for the Gun Club Criminal Justice Complex and North County Courthouse. Prior to his judicial career, Judge Ciklin had a long career as an attorney, which included positions as assistant county attorney and consumer advocate for Palm Beach County and seven years in private practice. He is a current member of the Palm Beach County Bar Association. Previous memberships include: Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers, American Bar Association Corrections and Sentencing Committee, and the Conference of County Court Judges, where he served for five years on the Administration and Management Committee. Judge Ciklin has a long history of civic service, which includes serving as president of Epsilon Sigma National Alumni Association from 1981 to 2000, a member of the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches since 1983 and of the FSU Seminole Torchbearers Board of Directors since 1989. He received both his bachelor’s and law degrees from Florida State University.

Judge Dorian Damoorgian

Judge Dorian K. Damoorgian

Judge Damoorgian

Judge Damoorgian was appointed to the Fourth District Court of Appeal in 2007 and served as chief judge from 2013 to 2015. Prior to that, he served as an administrative judge of the Civil Division of the 17th Judicial Circuit (December 2007) and as a circuit court judge on the 17th Judicial Circuit from 1999 to 2007. He was in private practice between 1980 and 2007. Judge Damoorgian has served on various committees involving issues relating to court budget and personnel, resource allocation and diversity. He received his bachelor’s degree from American University and his law degree from Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law.

Judge Robert M. Gross

Judge Robert M. Gross

Judge Gross

Judge Gross was appointed to the Fourth District Court of Appeal in 1995. He previously served as county court judge, starting in 1984, and then as circuit court judge from 1991 to 1995. Judge Gross has held positions as an assistant district attorney, assistant state attorney and administrative judge, and has worked in private practice with Moyle, Jones, and Flanigan P.A., in West Palm Beach. Since 1990, he has been a faculty member for Florida Judicial College, where he teaches classes on evidence, landlords and tenants, and building a judicial style. His legal memberships have included: Task Force on Criminal Justice and Corrections, Palm Beach County Bar Association, and the District of Columbia and New York bars. He has also served as an essay judge for Palm Beach County Bar Association Law Week and as a lecturer for conferences of Circuit Court Judges, County Court Judges, Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers, and Palm Beach County Bar Association. He received his bachelor’s degree from Williams College and his law degree from Cornell.

Jonathan D. Gerber

Judge Jonathan D. Gerber

Judge Gerber

Judge Gerber was appointed to the Fourth District Court of Appeal in 2009, where he served as chief judge from 2017 to 2019. He had previously been appointed to the Circuit Court in the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit in 2004. He served as dean of the Florida Judicial College New Appellate Judges Program for 10 years and served in several education-focused roles including: Florida Judicial College New Trial Judges Program faculty, Supreme Court Justice Teaching faculty, and The Florida Bar Advanced Trial Advocacy faculty. He has also served on the Board of Trustees and Alumni Council for the University of Florida. He has been a co-coordinator for the Judge Marvin Mounts Statewide Prison Tour since 2003. Currently, he serves on the Judicial Management Council and Unified Judicial Compensation Committee of the Florida Supreme Court. He is also a member of the Conference of District Court of Appeal Judges and District Court of Appeal Budget Commission. Judge Gerber spent eight years working as a private practice attorney before joining the bench. He received his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and his law degree from the University of Florida College of law, where he was an editor on the Florida Law Review, a member of the Trial Team, and the recipient of the Book Award in Jurisprudence.

Judge Spencer D. Levine

Judge Spencer D. Levine

Judge Levine

Judge Levine was appointed to the Fourth District Court of Appeal in 2009 and served as the court’s chief judge from 2019 to 2021. Judge Levine has held several leadership positions including senior vice president and chief operating officer for North Broward Hospital District of Broward Health, director of the Florida Medicaid Fraud Control Unit in the Office of the Attorney General, senior chief assistant attorney general, and assistant attorney general. He has served as general counsel for Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and held multiple positions within the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office including: assistant state attorney, chief of Organized Crime and Official Corruption Unit, chief of Economic Crimes Unit, chief of Felony Trial Division and chief of First Appearance Division. He was an adjunct faculty member for St. Thomas University School of Law, Florida International University School of Law and as faculty for the University of Florida, Levin College of Law Gerald Bennett Prosecutor/Public Defender Trial Training Program. Currently, he is the judicial director the University of Miami Law Alumni Association. Judge Levine received his bachelor’s degree from New York University, a law degree from the University of Miami, and a masters of laws degree from Duke University.

Judge Melanie G. May

Judge Melanie G. May

Judge May

Judge May was appointed to the Fourth District Court of Appeal in 2002. Before that, she was a circuit court judge on the 17th Judicial Circuit in the juvenile delinquency and felony drug court divisions, beginning in 1991. Judge May has served as president of the Council of Chief Judges of State Courts of Appeal and of the Florida District Court of Appeal Judges Conference. She currently serves on the National Center for State Courts Board of Directors, and she chairs the District Court of Appeal Performance and Accountability Committee. Judge May has served on numerous boards and committees dedicated to substance abuse and mental health including: the Department of Children and Family Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Advisory Board; the Florida Supreme Court Task Force on Treatment-based Drug Courts; and as the Florida Supreme Court’s appointment to the Advisory Council of the Florida Office of Drug Control. She is the acting chair and past chair of the Florida Association of Drug Court Professionals. She was an attorney in private practice for nine years before becoming a judge. She received her bachelor’s degree from Florida Atlantic University and her law degree from Nova Law Center.

Fifth District Court of Appeal

Judge Jay P. Cohen

Judge Jay P. Cohen

Judge Cohen

Judge Cohen was appointed to the Fifth District Court of Appeal in January 2008 and served as its chief judge from January 2017 through December 2018. Previously, he spent 18 years as a trial court judge in the Ninth Circuit, serving in virtually every division of the court system and was administrative judge of the appellate, civil, and criminal divisions. Judge Cohen was appointed to the County Court bench in 1990, where he initiated a highly successful volunteer-based mediation program. In 1993, he was appointed to the Circuit Court bench. Before taking the bench, Judge Cohen was a member and vice chair of a Florida Bar Grievance Committee, chair of Fee Arbitration Panels, mediator with Citizens Dispute Settlement, and active participant in the Orange County Bar Association Pro-Bono program. He has also served on The Florida Bar’s Criminal Rules and Criminal Law Section executive committees. Judge Cohen taught frequently for both the Conference of Circuit Court Judges and Advanced Judicial Studies program and speaks at seminars for both The Florida Bar and Orange County Bar Associations. He received both his bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Florida.

Judge James A. Edwards

Judge Edwards

Judge Edwards

Judge Edwards was appointed to the Fifth District Court of Appeal in November 2014. Before joining the court, he worked in private practice focused on civil trial and appellate matters for cases throughout Florida. Judge Edwards is a certified Circuit Civil and Appellate Mediator and a member of American Board of Trial Advocates and the U.S. Virgin Islands Bar. He previously served as a member of The Florida Bar Standing Committee on Professionalism for six years, as chair and member of Orange County Bar Association Professionalism Committee, and as chair and member of Florida Supreme Court’s Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee. Judge Edwards is a recipient of the William Trickle Award for Professionalism and Leadership from Orange County Bar Association and the Jurist of Year Award from Central Florida Chapter of American Board of Trial Advocates. He has presented numerous seminars related to trial and appellate issues, civility, and professionalism. Judge Edwards is a lifelong resident of Central Florida and a lifetime member of the Coastal Conservation Association. Judge Edwards received his bachelor’s degree from Auburn University, and his law degree from the University of Florida, where he was inducted into the Order of the Coif.

Judge Brian D. Lambert

Judge Brian D. Lambert

Judge Lambert

Judge Lambert was appointed to the Fifth District Court of Appeal in 2014. He has served as the Fifth DCA’s chief judge since July 2021. Before joining the appellate court, he spent 14 years as a circuit judge for the Fifth Judicial Circuit. Before that, he was a board-certified civil trial lawyer in private practice, where he earned an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell. He has served as president of the Conference of Florida District Court of Appeal Judges, as a member of The Florida Bar Committee on Standard Jury Instructions in Civil Cases, and as chair and a member of the Fifth Judicial Circuit Grievance Committee. Judge Lambert serves as a mentor to other judges and has previously served his community as a Little League baseball coach. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Michigan University and a law degree from the University of Florida.

Judge Mary Alice Nardella

Judge Nardella

Judge Nardella

Judge Nardella was appointed to the Fifth District Court of Appeal in December 2020. After graduating cum laude from the University of Florida Levin College of Law, Judge Nardella returned to her hometown of Orlando to begin her legal career at a regional litigation firm representing clients in complex commercial cases, coverage disputes, and product liability actions. In 2017, she left to help build a family firm focused on serving businesses and families in Central Florida. She is currently serving as an appointed member of The Florida Bar Pro Bono Services Committee, and she is a member of the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section of the Florida Bar and the Florida Association for Women Lawyers. Judge Nardella received both her bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Florida, where upon graduation she was inducted into the Order of the Barristers and selected as the Outstanding Graduate of her 2008 class.

Judge Dan Traver

Judge Dan Traver

Judge Traver

Judge Traver was appointed to the Fifth District Court of Appeal in 2019. Before that, he served as a circuit judge in the Ninth Judicial Circuit for five years. In that role, he served in the family/domestic violence, criminal felony, and complex business divisions. Judge Traver has been active in statewide court education, teaching other judges about domestic violence hearings as part of the Florida Institute on Interpersonal Violence. Immediately after earning his law degree from Loyola University in Chicago, he clerked for U.S. District Court Judge G. Kendall Sharp. After that, Judge Traver worked as a private practice attorney in Chicago and, later, in Orlando, where he spent nearly a decade practicing complex commercial litigation. Over that time, he progressed from junior associate to equity shareholder. His practice encompassed contract, fraud and real estate disputes, bank litigation and professional malpractice cases. He appeared in state, federal, bankruptcy, and juvenile court. He has previously served as president of Track Shack Foundation, a local charity devoted to youth health and fitness, and as vice president of Dorothy’s Family, a multi-state charity that donated toys and games to children undergoing cancer treatment. Judge Traver is an active member of the Orange County Bar Association, the Central Florida Association for Women Lawyers, and the Robert J. Mansbach Literary Society. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Cornell University.

Judge Carrie Ann Wozniak

Judge Carrie Ann Wozniak

Judge Wozniak

Judge Wozniak was appointed to the Fifth District Court of Appeal in April 2021. She graduated cum laude from Stetson University College of Law, where she was an editor of the Stetson Law Review and an intern with the Florida Supreme Court and the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida. After graduation, Judge Wozniak was the supervising staff attorney and law clerk for Justice Harry Lee Anstead of the Florida Supreme Court. After her clerkship, she returned to Orlando where she practiced in the areas of appeals and complex commercial litigation for a large nationwide law firm. During her tenure, she advanced from associate attorney to equity partner and attained Board Certification by the Florida Bar in Appellate Practice. While in private practice, Judge Wozniak served as vice chair of the Fifth District Court of Appeal Judicial Nominating Commission and as a member of The Florida Bar’s Appellate Practice Section Executive Council, Appellate Rules Committee, and Appellate Practice Board Certification Committee. She also served as chair of The Florida Bar Statewide Advertising Grievance Committee and as chair of the Professionalism and Appellate Practice committees for the Orange County Bar Association. Judge Wozniak was a volunteer judge and legal adviser for the Ninth Judicial Circuit Teen Court. Judge Wozniak was the 2016 recipient of the Orange County Bar Association’s Elizabeth Susan Khoury Guardian ad Litem Award of Excellence. She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and her law degree from Stetson University College of Law, where she was Notes and Comments editor of the Stetson Law.