Woman with dark hair, blue top

As the Chair of this esteemed Section, it is my honor and privilege to serve alongside an incredible group of legal professionals dedicated to the advancement of criminal law in our great state. Our Section is a vibrant community of attorneys, judges, and academics who share a common commitment to justice, advocacy, and the continual improvement of our criminal justice system.

This year, we are focusing on several key initiatives that aim to enhance the practice of criminal law and support our members:

  1. Continuing Legal Education (CLE): We are expanding our CLE offerings to ensure that our members have access to the latest developments in criminal law. Our programs are designed to provide practical insights and advanced knowledge, helping attorneys at all stages of their careers to excel in their practices.
  2. Legislative Advocacy: Our Section is actively engaged in tracking criminal justice legislation and advocating for legislation that promote fairness, equity, and justice.
  3. Networking and Community: We are committed to fostering a strong sense of community among our members. Through events, forums, and online platforms, we provide opportunities for networking, mentorship, and collaboration. Our goal is to create a supportive environment where members can share experiences and resources.
  4. Diversity and Inclusion: We believe that a diverse and inclusive legal community strengthens our profession and our justice system. Our Section is dedicated to promoting diversity in all its forms and ensuring that all voices are heard and valued.
  5. Resources and Support: We aim to equip our members with the tools and resources they need to succeed. From CLEs and case law updates, and professional support, we are here to help you navigate the complexities of criminal law.

I encourage you to get involved with our Section by renewing your membership, attending events, joining a committee, or sponsorship of CLE(s). Your participation is vital to our success and the betterment of our legal community.

Thank you for your commitment to criminal law and for being a part of our Section. Together, we can make a meaningful difference in the pursuit of justice.


Patricia Dawson, Esquire
2024-2025 Chair, Florida Bar Criminal Law Section


The Criminal Law Section of the Florida Bar is the only organization for state and federal trial and appellate criminal justice lawyers, judges, and academics. Members of the Section are united by their shared goal of providing a fair, just, and efficient criminal justice system for everyone. The purpose of the Section is to assist all criminal law practitioners in this shared goal. The Section provides its members continuing legal education (CLE), federal and state case law updates, up to date information about important criminal law legislation, and opportunities to interact with others who work to assure criminal justice.


1. Supports a comprehensive review of Florida’s entire death penalty process by all branches of government.

2. Supports Federal HR 3407, National Center for the Right to Counsel Act, which would provide additional federal money to public defense organizations in Florida.

3. Legislation of Interest to the Criminal Law Section

Previous Criminal Law Section Chairs

2023 Hon. Samantha Ward
2022 Jason B. Blank
Warren W. Lindsey
2020 Jennifer M. Zedalis
O. David Barksdale
Martin P. McDonnell
Joel M. Silvershein
2016 Hon. Angelica D. Zayas
2015 David B. Rothman
2014 Susan O. Hugentugler
2013 H. Scott Fingerhut
2012 Hon. Lisa M. Porter
2011 Sheryl J. Lowenthal
2010 Carolyn M. Snurkowski
2009 Larry D. Murrell, Jr.
2008 Ann E. Finnell
2007 Les Hess

2006 Hon. Phyllis D. Kotey
Paul H. Zacks
Melanie A. Hines
Prof. Steven Everhart
2002 Hon. DeDee S. Costello
2001 Harvey Sepler
2000 George E. Tragos
1999 Michael R. Band
1998 Hon. Claire K. Luten
1997 Anthony C. Musto
1996 Doug Duncan
1995 Benedict P. Kuehne
1994 Barry E. Krischer
1993 Phillip Maniatty
1992 Hon. John D. Moxley, Jr.

1991 William P. White, III
Michael Salnick
John F. Yetter
1988 Jon Sale
1987 Abe Laeser
1986 Hon. Stan Morris
1985 Michael Van Zamft
1984 Hon. Marvin Mounts
1983 Gerald T. Bennett
1982 Meredith J. Cohen
1981 Ira Dubitsky
1980 Joseph D’Alessandro
1979 Louis O. Frost, Jr.
1978 Ronald K. Cacciatore
1977 Hon. Benjamin M. Tench