Gov. DeSantis appoints Lorelie Brannan as Baker County Judge

Lorelie Papel Brannan ART
Brannan fills the vacancy created when former Baker County Judge Joseph M. Williams retired last year.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has appointed Lorelie Brannan to fill a vacancy on the Baker County Court.

Brannan, of Macclenny, has served as an Assistant State Attorney in the 8th Judicial Circuit since 2008. Her husband is Republican Rep. Chuck Brannan, a retired law enforcement officer who has served in the House since 2018.

Before joining the State Attorney’s Office for the 8th Judicial Circuit, she held the same role in the 4th Judicial Circuit. The 8th Judicial Circuit covers Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Gilchrist, Levy and Union counties, while the 4th Judicial Circuit covers Clay, Duval and Nassau counties.

Brannan was born in Italy into a military family but grew up in Jacksonville.

She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and later her law degree from Loyola University New Orleans School of Law in 2007. She has been a member of the Florida Bar since 2007.

“I am very excited about it. I think I can definitely use the skills I’ve gained as a prosecutor to transition to the bench and really represent Baker County,” Brannan said in an interview with Florida Politics.

Brannan fills the vacancy created when former Baker County Judge Joseph M. Williams retired at the end of last year, completing nearly three decades on the bench. During his time on the bench, Williams’ County Court colleagues elected him president of the Conference of County Court Judges of Florida and their representative on the Judicial Qualifications Commission.

“I look forward (to) the next phase of my service to the people of Baker County and the State of Florida,” Williams wrote in his resignation letter to DeSantis in December. “To that end, I offer my assistance to you if ever needed as you continue to lead and serve.”

Brannan will be the sole County Judge for Baker County, which has a population of 28,000 as of the 2020 census.

DeSantis selected Brannan over two other finalists selected by the 8th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission. Brannan beat out Jacksonville attorney Ronald J. Davis II and Julie C. Johnson, a lawyer in the Public Defender’s Office for the 8th Judicial Circuit. Brannan interviewed for the judgeship in late March.

Chuck Brannan served in House leadership this term as Chair of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Subcommittee. He was a prime co-sponsor of DeSantis’ law enforcement recruitment package (HB 3), which includes a $5,000 bonus for new officers. DeSantis signed that bill into law last month.

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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