Gov. DeSantis appoints seven judges including Ashley Moody’s brother, James Moody III

james moody background
The Moody siblings come from a line of judges at the state and federal levels.

For the Moodys, law is a family business.

Hillsborough County Judge James S. Moody III, brother of Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody, is among the legal minds Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed to court positions Thursday.

Moody will be a judge on the 13th Judicial Circuit Court, taking on a position left vacant since Judge Carl C. Hinson died in December. It’s also a position previously held by his father, Senior District Judge for the U.S. Middle District of Florida, James S. Moody Jr.

DeSantis appointed Moody to the Hillsborough County Court in 2019, a year after he lost a bid for Hillsborough County 13th Circuit Court. Previously, he served as lawyer at Jayson Farthing Skafidas & Wright for 10 years.

Like his sister and his father, Moody is a two-time Gator, with undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Florida. His grandfather, namesake and fellow University of Florida Law School graduate — Judge James S. Moody Sr. — was a state Representative and later a Hillsborough Circuit Court Judge. All four of them are also Plant City natives.

DeSantis issued six other judicial appointments Thursday, including three other appointments to the state’s circuit courts.

Escambia County Judge Amy Brodersen, of Pensacola, will serve on the 1st Judicial Circuit Court. Brodersen, an appointee of former Gov. Rick Scott, fills the vacancy created when Judge Thomas V. Dannheisser stepped down in November.

Lawyer and former Marine Darren Shull, of Tequesta, will serve on the 15th Judicial Circuit Court. He fills the vacancy created when Judge Joseph Marx retired in January.

Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Francis Viamontes, of Plantation, will serve on the 17th Judicial Circuit Court. He fills the vacancy created when Judge Mily Rodriguez Powell resigned in February.

At the county court level, DeSantis appointed Catalina Avalos, Lauren Burke and James Sherman.

Avalos, a lawyer from Pembroke Pines, is returning to the Broward County Court after a previous four-year stint on the bench. She fills the vacancy DeSantis created when he appointed Judge Natasha DePrimo to the 17th Judicial Circuit Court in December.

Burke, Assistant State Attorney for the 15th Judicial Circuit, will serve on the Palm Beach County Court. The Delray Beach resident fills the vacancy created when Judge Mark T. Eissey retired in January.

Sherman, a Royal Palm Beach and senior attorney for the South Florida Water Management District since 2018, will join Burke on the Palm Beach County Court. He fills the vacancy created when Judge Leonard Hanser retired in February.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


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