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Boca Raton commercial litigator appointed to circuit bench

A commercial litigation attorney who successfully represented the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s office in a civil rights suit is Palm Beach County’s newest circuit judge, Florida Gov. Rick Scott has announced.

Scott on Tuesday appointed Boca Raton attorney James T. Ferrara, 53, to replace the circuit court vacancy created by retiring Circuit Judge Moses Baker, Jr.

The governor chose Ferrara on his first try for a judicial appointment from a short list of candidates selected last month, including U.S. Assistant Attorney Carolyn Bell, county Magistrate Maxine Williams and Assistant State Attorney Michael Rachel.

Ferrara, a partner with the Boca Raton firm of Shraiberg, Ferrara & Landau, said becoming a judge has been a career goal for much of his nearly three decades as a litigator, but he held off on actively pursuing the opportunity until he finished supporting his two children through college.

“I was pleasantly surprised to get here on my first attempt. It’s very humbling,” Ferrara, reached by phone, said Wednesday.

Ferrara earned an undergraduate degree in 1985 from Furman University in Greenville, S.C., and graduated law school three years later from Samford University in Birmingham, Ala.

He said he spent a large portion of his career defending wrongful death, slip and falls and other similar disputes before switching over to business litigation. Ferrara on Wednesday said he’s litigated through at least two dozen jury trials and about as many bench trials in his 28-year career.

Among his cases, according to his firm’s website, was the successful defense of a widow against the shareholders of her husband’s company. Ferrara also represented the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s office in a civil rights dispute regarding the seizing of items from pawn shops, a case he won.

Ferrara will meet with Chief Circuit Judge Jeffrey Colbath in the coming weeks to determine where he will be assigned and hopes to be on the bench as early as next month.

“I just intend to bring to the bench a desire to treat everyone fairly, and with civility,” Ferrara said of his new position. “I hope I don’t let anyone leave the courtroom thinking that they didn’t get a fair hearing. One side or another may not like my decision, but I want them to leave feeling that I’ve heard and understood every side.”

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