I was the youngest of ten children and my mother was still pregnant with me when my father left for good. We grew up in a one-bedroom shack in Shawnee, Oklahoma, without electricity, running water, or plumbing. When I was four, our house burned down and destroyed what little we had. Our small town came together and donated enough money for a down payment on a new home. That sort of empathy is sorely lacking on the Polk County Commission which is more responsive to developers than to residents.
I was the first in my family get a college degree. After serving our country in the Navy in Danang, Vietnam, I continued my education with a law degree (JD) from the University of Oklahoma and a master of laws (LLM) and doctorate (SJD) from the University of Wisconsin. I spent nine years as a law school professor at Ole Miss and Mercer before moving to Winter Haven where I met my wife of 3 decades, Chelle. In 1994, I was elected judge in the 10th Judicial Circuit Court where I presided over thousands of family law and domestic violence cases until retiring in 2010.
I’ve spent my life fighting for equality, from integrating youth baseball in Oxford, Mississippi, in the 1970s to marching for civil rights in Cumming, Georgia, in the 80s to establishing court processes for domestic violence victims in the 90s, to exposing the failure to test victims’ rape kits recently. With your support, we can create a county government that works for all of its citizens, not just the privileged few, and ensure that everyone is treated equally under the law regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation.
Governor’s Peace at Home Award
Jurist of the Year, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (Florida Chapter)
Judicial Recognition Award, Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Order of the Coif
Navy Achievement Medal with Combat “V” for service in the Vietnam War