Patricia Strowbridge, appointed a trial-court judge by Gov. Rick Scott just last year, has become the third applicant for the upcoming vacancy on the Florida Supreme Court.
Her application was received over the weekend, said Jason Unger, chair of the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission, on Monday morning.
Strowbridge, with a long background in adoption and family law, was named last March to the 9th Judicial Circuit. She sits on the family law bench in the Osceola County Courthouse, according to her official webpage.
The 55-year-old joins Orlando civil-trial defense attorney Dan Gerber and 5th District appellate chief judge C. Alan Lawson as the initial applicants for the seat now held by Justice James E.C. Perry.
Republican Scott will name Perry’s replacement, making it his first opportunity to pick a state Supreme Court justice.
Perry, 72, had announced his retirement effective Dec. 30. He joined the court in March 2009, having been appointed by then-Gov. Charlie Crist. Perry and Peggy A. Quince are currently the only black members of the seven-justice court.
Before Scott appointed her to the state judiciary, Strowbridge had been legal services director for A Chosen Child, Inc. since 2014 and was its executive director from 1999-2014, according to a governor’s office press release.
She had previously lost an election for circuit judge to Diana Tennis in 2014.
Strowbridge, a mother of five, was married to Bob Wattles, another 9th Circuit judge, who died of cancer in 2010.
They adopted their oldest daughter as a 12-year-old out of the child-protection system, according to an interview she gave the Orlando Political Observer in 2014.
“I have discernment that allows me to recognize when someone has a frustration boil over that simply requires someone to ‘hear’ them, versus someone that engages in power dynamics that are dangerous to others around them,” she told the website. “Many times, emotions can be diffused simply by respectfully listening to what the person is trying to say.”
Strowbridge also had been the owner of the Adoption, Surrogacy and Family Law Firm, P.A. since 1989, it said. She served on the board of directors of the Florida Adoption Council since 2002.
She has an undergraduate degree from Michigan State University and a law degree from Georgetown University.
“Patricia has demonstrated true dedication during her more than two decades of working with Florida families,” Scott said in a statement upon her appointment. “I know she will use her experience to continue serving families honorably.”
The nominating commission is scheduled to interview finalists Nov. 28 and submit six recommended replacements to Scott by Dec. 13.