Three Florida law students will receive the Criminal Law Section’s 2023 Student Scholarship Awards during a reception at the Annual Florida Bar Convention this month. Students Haley Kinart and Skyler Jackle of Stetson University College of Law and Victoria Thacker, Florida International University College of Law, will receive $2,500 cash scholarships. The June 22 reception is in The Boca Raton’s Royal Palm Ballroom I and starts at 6:30 PM. All Criminal Law Section members and judges are invited to attend and RSVPs are encouraged.

The annual scholarships are awarded to students who have shown dedication to and interest in the criminal justice system as trial and appellate practitioners. Seven law students applied for the scholarships. The Criminal Law Section Awards Committee selected three applicants to recommend to the section’s executive council for a vote. The Executive Council voted to extend the scholarship to all three nominees.

The section launched the program in 2022. According to 2021–22 Section Chair Jason B. Blank, the goal in creating the scholarships was to find a way for the section “to have a long-lasting impact on the criminal court system.”

“Criminal Law Section members are united by the shared goal of providing a fair, just, and efficient criminal justice system for everyone, and the section’s purpose is to assist all criminal law practitioners in this shared goal,” said 13th Judicial Circuit Judge Samantha L. Ward, the 2022–23 Section Chair. “The awards program is an excellent way to encourage academic achievement, community service, and high standards of ethics and professionalism among law students who are pursuing careers in criminal law.”

Factors in the review process include, but are not limited to, the student’s academic achievement, participation in community service, involvement in litigation skills or advocacy programs, clinical internships, membership on law review or moot court, general excellence in oral and written advocacy, high standards of ethics and professionalism, references from faculty, judges, and/or practitioners, and the submission of a personal essay. Each of the recipients has been involved in numerous campus and legal community leadership roles.

Haley Kinart, Stetson University College of Law. Haley graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2020 from the Honors College at Florida Gulf Coast University with a B.A. Degree in Philosophy. She is a certified legal intern in the 6th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office. After law school, she will work as an Assistant State Attorney in the 13th Judicial Circuit. Her plan is to earn a position as a Special Victims Unit State Attorney and become a career State Attorney to advocate for criminal legal system reform.

Stetson Law Professor Susan D. Rozelle’s nomination for Haley says, “She has worked consistently to advance the criminal law, and because of her intellectual ability, dedication, and concern for the wellbeing of others, she has already made a difference. She will certainly go on to do even more impressive work in the field.”

Skyler Jackle, Stetson University College of Law. Skyler is a 2018 graduate of The University of Georgia with a B.A. Degree in Women’s Studies and Sociology. She is a certified legal intern in a clinic at the 13th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office, assisting her attorney with dispositions, trial prep and motion research. After law school graduation, she will be an Assistant State Attorney in the 13th Judicial Circuit.

Irene M.G. Maslanik, Deputy Chief, Juvenile, 13th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office, is among those who nominated Skyler. “Her academic credentials and success speak for themselves but also reveal her commitment to hard work and her natural intelligence. She is passionate about criminal justice and has the skills to go far in our field.”

Victoria Thacker, Florida International University College of Law. Victoria graduated in 2020 from the University of Central Florida with a B.S. Degree in Political Science. She is a former legal intern for the 5th Judicial Circuit Attorney’s Office and has accepted a full-time, post-graduate position as an Assistant State Attorney in the 15th Judicial Circuit. She plans to gain experience working as a prosecutor and eventually prosecute sex crimes.

FIU College of Law Professor H. Scott Fingerhut, Associate Director of the Trial Advocacy Program, nominated Victoria. “Ms. Thacker is our leader—president and captain of our Trial Team, and a two-time mock trial champion, state and national. … Ms. Thacker is indefatigable:  when we complete she competes. And, importantly, she is the person largely responsible for FIU Law’s achieving a Top 30 national Trial Team ranking, for the very first time.”