Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Changes in Latitude

We have seen a progression of retirements from the OJCC recently. It has made the last few months both interesting an a bit stressful. I cannot remember the last time we had such turnover. In February, Judge Laura Roesch retired from Panama City; in March, Judge Shelley Punancy in West Palm Beach; April arrived and saw the departure of Judge Kathy Sturgis in Ft. Myers. The end of April brought the departure of Judge Robert McAliley in Port St. Lucie. Finally (we hope), May brought the departure of Judge Timothy Basquill in West Palm Beach. 

I have written about Judge Roesch's departure. Her friends threw a great going-away party in Panama City, which was well attended and a great time. I was privileged to be invited.  

Judge Punancy is a graduate of Barry University and the Nova University School of Law. She started her career as a nurse, however, after studying in New York. She was on the Dean's List at Nova and participated on the National Moot Court Competition Team. She practiced workers' compensation law for fourteen years before Governor Bush appointed her to the bench in March 2000. She presided over almost 1,000 final hearings during her sixteen year tenure.

Judge Sturgis earned her Bachelor of Arts from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, and her law degree from Stetson University College of Law. She received awards in Real Property and Civil Procedure.  For ten years, she served as the state mediator in Ft. Myers District, and was appointed Judge in 2006 by Governor Bush. She presided over more than 200 trials during her ten year tenure. 

Judge McAliley is a native Floridian, and Army veteran. He earned a Bachelor's degree from the University of South Florida and a law degree from the University of Florida. Judge McAliley was Phi Beta Kappa and Dean's List. He practiced law for about 25 years in the West Palm Beach area before being appointed to the bench in December 1997 by Governor Chiles. Judge McAliley presided over almost 1,000 trials during his almost twenty year tenure. 

Judge Basquill served in the U.S. Army, after graduating from the Loyola University of the South with a Bachelor's in psychology. After leaving the Army, he attended South Texas College of Law in Houston, graduating in 1983. He was on the Dean's List and won several awards. After practicing almost ten years in Texas, he relocated to West Palm Beach and practiced there for almost 15 years before he was appointed to the bench by Governor Bush. He presided over almost 750 trials during his almost 13 year tenure. 

So, almost 60 years of judicial experience has departed in March, April and May. The total this year is almost 75 years. Not to mention the many years of both practice and life experience. Collectively and individually these represent great loss to the OJCC and the people of Florida whom we serve. Each had personality and vitality. Each brought a little something to the job that made her or him unique. I will miss them all and know that this sentiment is shared. I wish I had more pictures, but I did receive this one from Judge Basquill's retirement party. And, it includes all three WPB Judges!

Godspeed all! I hope nothing but the best for each of you, where ever your paths lead. 

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