Board of Directors
Stephen H. Echsner
E. Andrus Healy
Philip N. Kabler
Dr. Harry Krop
Tiffani G. Lee
D. Ross McCloy, Jr.
The Hon. William A. Van Nortwick, Jr.
Elizabeth L. Bevington - ↑ top
Elizabeth L. Bevington joined the Southern Legal Counsel Board in 2012. She is a Partner in Holland & Knight LLP in the Tallahassee office. She handles a variety of commercial litigation matters, including consumer fraud; deceptive and unfair trade practices; state and local taxation; civil RICO; securities fraud; antitrust; qui tam or false claim actions; real estate litigation and contract disputes. She has handled disputes between competitors and defended numerous class and individual claims by consumers. Representative claims include deceptive and unfair trade practices, qui tam or False Claims Act, intentional interference with contractual relations, breach of non-competition agreements, misleading advertising and litigation surrounding real estate investment and development. Her practice includes work in state and federal courts and experience with arbitration and mediation. S he has handled Florida attorney general investigations involving consumer fraud, civil RICO and antitrust.
Before entering law school, Ms. Bevington worked in the mental health field as an outreach and crisis counselor to foreign populations. From 1985 to 1987, she was a judicial law clerk to The Honorable William Terrell Hodges of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
Ms. Bevington is a former member of the Executive Council of the Public Interest Law Section. Ms. Bevington has also served on the firm's Director's Committee, Fair Employment Practices Committee and the Associate Evaluation Committee, as well as having served as the hiring partner, pro bono partner, and past executive partner for the Tallahassee office.
Bennett H. Brummer- ↑ top
Bennett H. Brummer joined SLC’s Board in 2015. He has dedicated his life to public service, using his legal talent and leadership in service to the poor. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Venezuela and a supervisor at Legal Services of Greater Miami. He dedicated 40 years to the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office, 32 years as the elected public defender. The office employed about 200 lawyers and 200 support staff, and handled about 100,000 cases each year. His colleagues statewide elected him to three terms as president of the Florida Public Defender Association.
Bennett is recognized as an expert in management and leadership. He has been a consultant to a number of governments, law firms, and defender organizations across the United States and Latin America. Bennett serves on the Systems Builders Committee of the National Association for Public Defense.
Bennett was a co-founder of the first Drug Court. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers gave him the Champion of Indigent Defense Award in 2011. In 2008, the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners named the six-story building housing the public defender’s main office in Bennett’s honor. That same year, the American Bar Association and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association selected Bennett and his office as the outstanding public defender’s office in the nation. In 2002, both The Florida Bar's Criminal Law Section and the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Florida presented Bennett with their highest awards.
The Miami Herald has described Bennett Brummer as an "intelligent, cultivated and thoughtful public servant" who sticks up "for those who can't stick up for themselves."
Karen Dyer- ↑ top
Karen Dyer joined the SLC Board in 2016. She is a partner at the law office of Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP in Orlando, Florida. Before joining Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP in 1997, Ms. Dyer was a partner in a small litigation boutique firm based in New York. Ms. Dyer's main practice area is commercial litigation, including complex federal litigation, civil RICO, antitrust and bankruptcy. Ms. Dyer was recently listed for the fourth consecutive year in Lawdragon's 500 Leading Lawyers in America. Ms. Dyer represents various Fortune 500 companies as well as a number of large multi-million dollar independently owned entities.
Ms. Dyer was one of the lead trial lawyers in a qui tam action in federal court in Texas that in 2014 resulted in a jury verdict $663 million judgment for her client. That same year, she was one of the trial lawyers who helped one of the owners of AriZona Iced Tea Company obtain a valuation of approximately $1 billion for his half share. In 2009, Ms. Dyer participated, presented defense witnesses and argued legal points, in the firm's trial victory for Starr International Company against AIG in federal court in New York in a dispute over the ownership of billions of dollars of AIG stock. Ms. Dyer also represented a European based private equity firm in a dispute over the acquisition of a major record company involving approximately $7 billion and represents other European based private equity/venture capital groups in major disputes. Ms. Dyer has, for a number of years, represented a major tobacco company in litigation throughout Florida and has successfully obtained summary judgment for that. She was also involved in a constitutional dispute in Florida over legislative redistricting, and summary judgment in favor of her client was upheld on appeal by the Eleventh Circuit. Ms. Dyer also obtained a temporary injunction, which ultimately resulted in a permanent injunction, enjoining the dissemination of materials depicting the death of a whale trainer at SeaWorld in 2010.
Ms. Dyer previously has been involved in representing the former principal owners of a speech and language technology company in district court and bankruptcy proceedings against another speech and language technology company and its former officers, directors, auditors and bankers arising out of a $600 million merger between the two companies. Ms. Dyer also has been involved in representing Tyco and its ADT subsidiary and has worked to successfully defeat certification of two nationwide classes against Tyco/ADT. Additionally, Ms. Dyer has been involved in jury and non-jury trials for companies such as Florida Power & Light and Tyco/ADT, and along with another of the firm's partners, obtained a complete victory for ADT in a bench trial where a former ADT dealer sought a multi-million dollar judgment. Ms. Dyer and others from the firm also represented an independent power producer in action taken against a state utility alleging violations of RICO and various state laws. The settlement resulted in an award in excess of $36 million for the producer. In addition, she was one of two trial lawyers who successfully defended a hospital group against an antitrust action to enjoin that group’s merger with another hospital chain.
Ms. Dyer is a member of other not for profit national entities as well as a member of the University of Florida Board of Trustees. She had previously lectured on topics of class action litigation and federal civil procedure.
William S. Graessle- ↑ top
Attorney William S. Graessle joined SLC’s Board in 2014. He is a third generation University of Florida College of Law lawyer: his grandfather graduated in 1929, and his parents graduated in 1941. He is the most senior board-certified appellate attorney in Jacksonville.
While based in his hometown of Jacksonville for nearly thirty years, Mr. Graessle’s practice reaches state wide: he has represented individuals and businesses, including international businesses and businessmen, in state and federal trial and appellate courts throughout Florida. He has drafted briefs and argued in front of the Florida Supreme Court, Florida’s First, Second, Fourth, and Fifth District Courts of Appeal, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. He has also litigated civil cases throughout Florida, from Pensacola to Miami.
After graduating cum laude from Stetson University, Mr. Graessle earned his law degree from the University of Florida College of Law. He began his career as a law clerk to Justice Raymond Ehrlich of the Florida Supreme Court before returning to his hometown of Jacksonville to practice at Mahoney, Adams & Criser (now McGuireWoods), then Jacksonville’s largest law firm specializing in full service representation of banks and other businesses. When Justice Ehrlich retired from the Florida Supreme Court, Mr. Graessle joined him in January 1992 at the firm of Holland & Knight and became a partner. In 1996, Mr. Graessle founded his own firm specializing in civil appeals and civil litigation of all types. His son Jonathan practices with him.
In addition to being a Florida Bar Board Certified Appellate Specialist, Mr. Graessle’s peers have rated him AV-Preeminent, the highest designation for ethics and knowledge of the profession as designated by Martindale- Hubbell. He is a Master of the Bench of both the Florida Family Law American Inn of Court and the First District Appellate American Inn of Court. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Southern Legal Counsel, a statewide not-for-profit public interest law firm. He regularly participates in the University of Florida College of Law’s appellate programs.
In 1993, Mr. Graessle received the Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Award for his representation of the Guardian ad Litem Program, which represents abandoned, neglected, and abused children in court. In 1995, the Florida Supreme Court appointed Mr. Graessle to serve on the Board of the Florida Bar Foundation, a position he held until 2002.
Timothy D. Haines- ↑ top
Tim D. Haines joined the Southern Legal Counsel Board in 2014. He is a partner in Gray, Ackerman & Haines, P.A., in Ocala. He specializes in real estate and in the representation of commercial lenders, including in foreclosure and collection litigation. He was an initial author of The Florida Bar’sFasTrain- Manual on Mortgage Foreclosures and Alternatives.
Mr. Haines has been active in The Florida Bar serving as the Fifth Circuit’s representative to the Young Lawyers’ Division for two terms, as secretary for the Young Lawyer’s Division for one term, and as a Member of the Fifth Judicial Circuit Grievance Committee.
Mr. Haines was born in Winter Park, Florida, where his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather practiced law. He obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and his law degree from the University of Florida, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the University of Florida Law Review.
Berta E. Hernández-Truyol- ↑ top
Berta E. Hernández-Truyol joined the Southern Legal Counsel Board in January 2013. She is the Levin Mabie & Levin Professor of Law at the University of Florida Levin College of Law where she teaches International Trade and Human Rights, Human Rights and Globalization: Economic Rights, International Law, International Human Rights, Issues of Gender/Race and Latinas/Latinos in the Law, and Employment Discrimination. She received her LL.M. from New York University School of Law, J.D. from Albany Law School of Union University (cum laude), and B.A. from Cornell University.
Ms. Hernández-Truyol’s previous academic positions are: St. Johns University School of Law: Associate and Professor of Law (1991-2000), Director of International Women's Human Rights Project of the Center for Law and Public Policy (1993-1995). University of Wisconsin School of Law: Institute for Legal Studies, Honorary Senior Fellow (1997-99). Georgetown University Law Center: Visiting Professor (1994-95). Brooklyn Law School: Adjunct Professor (1988-91). University of New Mexico School of Law: Assistant and Associate Professor (1983-87). DePaul University School of Law: Assistant Professor (1982-83).
John H. (Jack) Hickey - ↑ top
John H. (Jack) Hickey joined the Southern Legal Counsel in January 2017. For over 36 years, Mr. Hickey has been trying personal injury and wrongful death cases in the areas of admiralty and maritime, railroad, medical malpractice, product liability, and general liability. He is one of the few attorneys who is double board certified in civil trial and admiralty and maritime by the Florida Bar and is also board-certified as a civil trial lawyer by the National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA).
Mr. Hickey was born and raised in Miami, where he practices law to this day. He began his career at Smathers & Thompson and went on to Hornsby & Whisenand, where he became a partner. In 1988, Mr. Hickey and The Honorable Gary R. Jones founded Hickey & Jones, P.A. In 1999, Judge Jones left and became a Federal Magistrate in the Middle District of Florida, and the firm changed its name to Hickey Law Firm, P.A.
Mr. Hickey is rated A/V by Martindale-Hubbell (the international listing of attorneys, a rating achieved by only 5% of attorneys). He is also listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Emerging Leaders in America. He has been chosen by other lawyers as a “Top Lawyer in South Florida” in the areas of personal injury and maritime in the South Florida Legal Guide (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007); “Legal Elite” in Florida Trend Magazine (top 1.7% of attorneys) (2006, 2007); and SuperLawyer in the area of personal injury in SuperLawyers.com (2006, 2007).
Among his many professional associations and accolades, Mr. Hickey is a Past President of the Dade County Bar Association (2003–2004), a Lifetime Member of the Florida Council of Bar Association Presidents, a Fellow and Lifetime Member of The Florida Bar Foundation, and a Sustaining Member of the American Association for Justice (formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America). Mr. Hickey is a member of The Florida Bar Board of Governors and is the Past Chair of 7 DCBA committees, Past Chair of 3 Florida Bar Committees, has received 17 Certificates of Merit from the DCBA, has received 3 certificates from The Florida Bar, and has received a Certificate of Recognition from the Florida Council of Bar Association Presidents.
Dr. Vivian Hobbs - ↑ top
Dr. Vivian Hobbs has served on Southern Legal Counsel’s Board of Directors since 2004. She is currently an Associate Professor of English and Humanities for the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida A&M University. She graduated from Florida A&M University in 1965 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English. She received her Master of Arts in Classical and Modern Humanities from Florida State University in 1983. She received a Doctorate of Philosophy in Victorian Literature from Florida State University in 1997.
The Florida Supreme Court appointed Dr. Hobbs to The Florida Bar Board of Governors in 2001. She Chaired the BOG's Citizen Forum and participated in the following committees: Discipline Review, Mediation Grievance, Executive Advisory Committee to the President, Chief Justice's Pro Bono Awards, Judicial Qualifying, and Communications Committee. She assisted The Florida Bar in other activities, including presenting to the Florida Legislature on the Bar's behalf. In 2001, she received The Florida Bar Outstanding Service Award.
Since 1981, Dr. Hobbs has worked at Florida A&M University in a variety of instructional and administrative positions. Prior to that, she was an English instructor at a number of educational facilities in Alabama, Florida and Maryland. She taught a variety of subjects including Advanced Placement English, Humanities, English as a Second Language, Talented & Gifted English, British Literature and American Literature.
Barbara Bolton Litten - ↑ top
Barbara Bolton Litten joined the Southern Legal Counsel Board of Directors in 2005 and clerked for SLC while attending law school at the University of Florida. She is a principal in the West Palm Beach office of Squire Sanders (US) L.L.P. and focuses her practice on litigation. She concentrates on complex and multidistrict, products liability, ERISA, and commercial matters and, for the past decade, has primarily defended claims in federal and multidistrict litigation against sellers of prescription medications, over-the-counter products and medical devices. Ms. Litten also counsels both corporate and media clients on libel and privacy defense as well as access to public records and open meetings.
Ms. Litten is a member of The Florida Bar and the bars of the U.S. District Courts for the Northern, Middle and Southern Districts of Florida and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Ms. Litten also is a member of the Federal Bar Association and the Palm Beach County Bar Association, and served as Chair of the Media & Communications Law Committee of The Florida Bar in 2002.
Before becoming a lawyer, Ms. Litten served as executive director of Planned Parenthood Association of Southwest Florida, a non-profit family planning organization providing medical and education services to women, men and families. In addition to her current commitment to SLC, Ms. Litten serves on the Governance Committee of the Board of Directors of Hospice of Palm Beach County.
Peg O'Connor - ↑ top
Peg O’Connor joined the Southern Legal Counsel Board in 2013. Born and raised in Queens, New York, Ms. O’Connor did her undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Florida, earning bachelor’s, master’s and law degrees. She has served both the state and federal courts as a law clerk/staff attorney, first working for the judges of the Eighth Judicial Circuit on criminal, appellate, and post-conviction matters, including some death penalty work, and later clerking for United States District Court Judge Stephan P. Mickle. She entered private practice in 2007 with former judge Larry Turner and concentrates on complex criminal defense, appellate, and professional licensing/tenure law. She is licensed to practice in all Florida state courts; the Northern and Middle Districts of Florida; and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Ms. O’Connor is currently the treasurer of the North Central Florida Chapter of the Federal Bar Association and sits on the board of directors of the Gainesville Area Women’s Network.
Robert A. Rush- ↑ top
Robert A. Rush joined the Southern Legal Counsel Board in 2011. He is a partner with Rush & Glassman in Gainesville. He has been a trial lawyer in Gainesville since 1985, having graduated from the University of Florida College of Law with high honors. He is Board Certified in Criminal Trial Law and in Civil Trial Law, and has been designated an expert in those fields by The Florida Supreme Court. He is one of only four lawyers in the state, out of over 90,000, that are Board Certified in both Criminal and Civil Trial Law. His law practice handles civil rights, personal injury and criminal defense. He previously sat on The Florida Bar Board of Governors, and is a Past President of The Volunteer Center of Alachua County, where he served on its Board for ten years.
Tom Scarritt- ↑ top
Tom Scarritt joined the Southern Legal Counsel Board in January 2013. Mr. Scarritt is the President and Senior Trial Attorney with Scarritt Law Group, P.A. Scarritt Law Group was founded by Mr. Scarritt, a Board-Certified civil trial lawyer. The firm represents individuals, municipalities, and companies in all aspects of civil trial work including personal injury and wrongful death, medical negligence, product liability, insurance law, constitutional law, and business torts. Mr. Scarritt has handled numerous multi-million dollar cases for both plaintiff and defendant in the above areas.
Mr. Scarritt received his J.D. from Florida State University College of Law where he graduated with honors; served as staff editor of the Florida State University Law Review; was appointed Chief Justice of the Student Supreme Court; and served as a student intern to the Honorable William Stafford, U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Florida. He was awarded a Rotary Foundation International Fellowship to study law and political science at the University of Grenoble, France. He is A-V rated by Martindale-Hubbell and Board-Certified in Civil Trial Law by both The Florida Bar and the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He has taught and lectured extensively on all aspects of civil trial work. Mr. Scarritt was honored to serve as President of the Tampa Bay Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), one of the most prestigious trial lawyers' organization in the country, consisting evenly of plaintiff and defense lawyers, and has served as Commissioner on the Florida Commission on Ethics, including one year as Chair. He has served as Chair of The Florida Bar Trial Lawyers Section Executive Council, representing over 8,000 trial lawyers throughout the state, and argued on their behalf before the Florida Supreme Court regarding wholesale reforms of the jury trial system. Mr. Scarritt has published numerous articles concerning all aspects of civil trial work, and has participated in civil trials and arbitrations throughout Florida and the country, including a commercial product liability arbitration that was in trial for in excess of one year in New York City.
Robert F. Spohrer - ↑ top
Robert Spohrer joined the Southern Legal Counsel Board in 2010. He served as Chair from 2014-2016. He is the senior partner in the firm of Spohrer & Dodd, P.L., a 10-lawyer firm in Jacksonville, Florida. Mr. Spohrer's areas of practice include complex civil litigation involving product liability, professional negligence, aviation crash cases, commercial trucking litigation, and other types of complex civil litigation. He is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Civil Trial and Aviation Law.
Mr. Spohrer received his undergraduate and juris doctorate degrees from St. Louis University and was admitted to The Florida Bar in 1974. He is also permitted to practice before the U.S Supreme Court, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the Northern, Middle and Southern Districts of the U.S. District Courts in Florida, and all Florida state courts. He is a Diplomate with the American Board of Trial Advocates ("ABOTA"), former Chair of the Executive Council of the Trial lawyers Section of The Florida Bar, and serves on the Middle District of Florida's Ethics Commission.
Mr. Spohrer is a member of the elite Inner Circle of Advocates (100 top trial lawyers in the United States), has been named one of the Best Lawyers in America, featured in Florida's Legal Elite by Florida Trend, and is a Florida Super Lawyer. Mr. Spohrer is an adjunct professor of law at Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville and has previously served as the school's mock trial coach. In addition to his professional associations, Mr. Spohrer's volunteer opportunities include his current position as Chairman of the Board for HandsOn Jacksonville, and a fundraising member and former Treasurer for the North Florida Council of the Boy Scouts.