Gov. DeSantis appoints Paetra Brownlee to 6th DCA

Paetra Brownlee. copy
She fills a vacancy created by Jay Cohen's retirement.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has appointed Circuit Judge Paetra Brownlee to the 6th District Court of Appeal in Lakeland.

Brownlee, a Winter Park judge, was previously appointed by DeSantis to the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court, where she has served since 2020.

Before that point, Brownlee served as a partner at The Brownlee Law Firm in Orlando. Her husband, Michael Brownlee, still runs the private practice, which specializes in appellate cases.

Judge Brownlee received her bachelor’s degree from Emory University and her Juris Doctor from the Florida State University College of Law.

Brownlee fills a judicial vacancy triggered by the departure of Appellate Judge Jay Cohen, who announced in May he was leaving the bench. Cohen served for 14 years on the 5th District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach before DeSantis reassigned him in January, according to the Lakeland Ledger.

The 6th DCA was created by the Legislature last year and came online in January. It launched while operating in an office building in Lakeland, while also renting space in Orlando.

Lawmakers in 2022 passed a plan to move circuits that cover Duval and Nassau counties from the 1st DCA to the 5th DCA and create a new 6th DCA, which stretches from Orange County in Central Florida down to Southwest Florida, covering Lee and Collier counties.

The change was made to offset the workload of the appellate courts, which have seen a rise in the average annual cases from 10,000 in 1979, the last time a new appellate court was created, to 20,000 today.

Of note, DeSantis recently appointed Meredith Sasso, one of the original judges assigned to the 6th DCA, as a Florida Supreme Court Justice.

Brownlee takes office immediately. She joins seven other sitting judges on the 6th DCA. Dan Traver serves as the Chief Judge. Other judges include Joshua Mize, Mary Alice Nardella, Jared Smith, John Stargel, Keith White and Carrie Ann Wozniak.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • My Take

    July 13, 2023 at 5:32 pm

    I wonder what is wrong with her?

    • Dont Say FLA

      July 14, 2023 at 7:47 am

      I wonder what her husband does. And I say “husband” because there ain’t no way Rhonda would appoint a gay. Whatever her husband does, I wonder if he will resign like Mr Sasso did?

Comments are closed.


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