Smiling man in business attire

It is my privilege to serve as the 2023-2024 Chair of the Criminal Law Section.  Serving on the Section’s Executive Council has given me the opportunity to collaborate with the finest criminal practitioners in the State of Florida.  It was an honor to be elected Chair by this incredible group of professionals.

I joined the Executive Council because I saw a group of lawyers with different roles in the criminal justice system working together to make the practice of criminal law better for everyone involved.  The mix of state and federal prosecutors, public and private defense attorneys, law professors, and members of the state and federal judiciary allows the Section to speak to any issue facing the criminal justice system.  When the Section speaks on an issue, it is with the goal of providing a consensus voice to that issue.

As a criminal litigator, I have practiced across the State of Florida.  While the issues that face different regions may differ, certain issues are consistent.  The criminal justice system must be fair and consistent from Pensacola to Key West.  A fully funded court system staffed with highly trained prosecutors and defense attorneys is necessary to make that happen.  Every year, the Criminal Law Section supports necessary funding initiatives to achieve that goal.  Every year, the Criminal Law Section produces top-tier continuing legal educational opportunities for criminal law practitioners.  Every year, the Criminal Law Section provides valuable insight into issues before the courts, the legislature, and the Florida Bar.  All of that is done with the goal of ensuring Florida’s criminal justice system is fair to all parties involved.

This year, I challenge our Section membership to engage with the Executive Council.  Come to a meeting, join a committee, or lend your expertise to one of our CLE programs.  Your participation makes us better, and I look forward to seeing you at one of our events.

Joe Spataro
2023-2024 Criminal Law Section Chair


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