Every year, the Florida Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (FLABOTA) awards deserving judges with the Jurist of the Year Award. Recipients are selected based on their demonstration of “a commitment to preserving and improving the jury trial system” and other requirements. Hillsborough Chief Judge Ronald Ficarrotta was presented with the award in late July, making him the second judge from the Hillsborough County circuit to receive such an honor.
The American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) was founded in 1958 as an organization dedicated to defending the American civil justice system. The Florida Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates was founded many years later in 1992, as one of four regional chapters that carries out the programs promoted by ABOTA. More than anything else, FLABOTA seeks to educate Florida citizens about the history and value of the right to trial by jury, encourage the standards of integrity, honor, ethics, civility, and courtesy in the legal profession, and preserve the quality and independence of the judiciary.
When Judge Ficarrotta was presented with the Jurist of the Year Award at FLABOTA’s annual conference in Orlando, he called it “very humbling.” Ficarrotta has served as a Hillsborough County judge since he was appointed by Governor Lawton Chiles in 1994. Five years later, Governor Jeb Bush appointed him to the circuit bench. His career as a judge has presented Ficarrotta with the privilege to preside over the county criminal law, family law, domestic violence, and felony divisions.
Today, as a chief judge of the 13th Judicial Circuit, Ficarrotta assigns judges to their respective divisions and represents their judiciary at the local and state level. His accomplishments met all five standards required for Jurist of the Year, including a commitment to preserving and improving the jury trial system and a consistent ability to apply the rules of law evenhandedly. Congratulations to Judge Ficarrotta, whose hard work will continue to improve and strengthen Florida’s judiciary.