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Personnel note: Debra Henley out at FJA, Paul Jess in

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Debra Henley left her job as executive director of the Florida Justice Association last month and is temporarily being replaced by her deputy, Paul Jess, according to a Tuesday press release.

Jess, Paul

Jess, who was called a “veteran association executive and attorney,” is now interim executive director, the release said.

The news comes just a couple of months after rumblings about Henley’s leaving the state’s trial lawyers organization were reported in SUNBURN.

At the time, FJA spokesman Ryan Banfill declined comment about any change in personnel.

Now, Florida Justice Association President Jimmy Gustafson is calling Jess “an outstanding leader who has a deep understanding of the important issues facing civil justice in Florida.”

Jess, a U.S. Navy veteran, has been with the association for 28 years, serving as deputy executive director and general counsel, according to the release.

“In addition to his years of legislative and political experience, Paul brings many more years of leadership and management experience to the table,” Gustafson said in his statement.

“He is committed to growing our membership, increasing our technological capabilities and improving our communications and fund development, including further development of our charitable foundation and its endowment.”

Gustafson did not provide a reason for Henley’s leaving, but said the group was “grateful to Debra, and we personally and professionally wish her the best in her future endeavors.” She became executive director in 2010.

“No other staffing changes are expected,” the release added.

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at [email protected]

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