My family moved to Maitland, FL from Louisville, KY back in 1978, only a few months shy of my 2nd birthday. I had the privilege of attending Lake Sybelia and Dommerich Elementary Schools, Maitland Middle, and Edgewater High School. For people like me, who grew up in the Orlando area in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, we remember an idyllic upbringing in a small town, mostly surrounded by orange groves. It was a place where neighbors knew each other by name, kids rode bikes with their friends on great adventures, and we all enjoyed the smell of the Merita bread factory on I-4 or shared a delicious meal at Ronnie’s Delicatessen. My parents lived in that same house in Maitland Groves for 43 years.
A THRIVING CAREER
After high school, I earned an undergraduate degree in advertising at Boston University, a law degree from Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco, and then practiced commercial litigation in New York City for seven years. Ultimately, I returned home in 2014 to spend time with family, get out of the cold, and live at the slower pace that I knew Orlando offered. After passing the Florida Bar Exam, I was lucky enough to be hired as an Assistant State Attorney for Orange County by the Honorable Jeffrey Ashton (continuing to work for Aramis Ayala thereafter). I have been fascinated by criminal law and being a trial attorney from my first days in law school. Over the course of three years, I was able to help my community by convicting those who broke our laws and collective trust, from misdemeanors to crimes punishable by up to life in prison. I sought to protect my family, friends and neighbors from those that intended to do our community harm, and it was the honor of my life. For the past five years, I have run a private law firm exclusively practicing criminal defense in over a dozen counties throughout central Florida. That experience has further developed my legal skills and provided insight into how other State Attorney’s Offices handle public safety.
Justice for Victims. Public Safety. Law & Order
LEGAL TRAINING OF LAW ENFORCEMENT
If I am elected State Attorney for the Ninth Judicial Circuit, my top priority will be to establish a close relationship with law enforcement. When I began my criminal law career as a prosecutor, the majority of my colleagues had worked under former State Attorney and Sheriff Lawson Lamar, of whom I heard nothing but praise, both from other prosecutors and the law enforcement officers we worked with. I would like to recapture and expand upon that relationship, as the State Attorney’s Office and law enforcement are two sides of the same coin. Both must be working in partnership, and with full cooperation, in order for our streets and neighborhoods to remain safe. I plan on dramatically increasing the frequency and scope of training programs within the State Attorney’s Office and will invite any law enforcement officer to join those trainings. As a society, we ask Sheriff’s Deputies, Police Officers and State Troopers to be the first responders when called for help. We do so with the expectation that they will analyze the scene to determine if a crime has been committed and collect evidence required to prove the case in court, yet, they are not lawyers. Without the proper legal training, this is unfair to those of us that call for help and unfair to the first responders themselves.
STOP THE JAILHOUSE REVOLVING DOOR
The State Attorney’s Office should take a leadership role in teaching the law to law enforcement officers. With an expanded understanding of both the statutes and case law, the strong cases will get stronger and unnecessary arrests will decrease. Prosecutors will speak to law enforcement directly when a case is not filed on, or dropped, and will explain specifically why the evidence was not sufficient to prove the crime at trial. Again, a close relationship and active communication is key. Lastly, when a person is convicted of committing a repeated or violent crime, I will instruct my Assistant State Attorneys to pursue a sentence that is appropriate and punitive based on the facts of the case and that person’s criminal history. I intend to do everything I can to stop the revolving jailhouse doors that let repeat and violent offenders back out on our streets too soon.