St. Johns County Judge Lauren Blocker in Newly Created Position
Legal careers run in the family for the judge Lauren Blocker, whom Governor Ron DeSantis appointed to serve as the newly created Third County Judge.
Her father, who died when she was a baby, practiced law. Her grandfather too, who left a legacy in his career as an honest and hardworking man, she said.
âHe really inspired me toâ¦ work hard, to make a difference,â she said.
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Blocker showed a photo of her grandfather speaking to The Record Thursday in her office at the St. Johns County Courthouse, where she still puts her things away. She also showed her father’s briefcase, a gift from her uncle when she graduated from Florida Coast School of Law – she was the top of her class of 466 students and she was chosen to speak at an induction ceremony for newly admitted attorneys to receive the highest mark at the Florida Bar, according to her candidacy for the post judge.
Blocker, 37, has lived in St. Johns County for about 10 years. She is married to St. Johns County Commission Chairman Jeremiah Blocker, who is also a lawyer and serves in the National Guard. They have two children.
On Monday, Blocker officially begins working at the courthouse. Blocker’s hiring came after local officials successfully advocated for the addition of the new county judge seat in St. Johns County; the objective is to help the court to cope with the demands of population growth.
New St. Johns County Judge to Help Lighten Workload Burden
The Judicial Appointments Commission of the 7th Judicial Circuit submitted six candidates to DeSantis. The other candidates were:
- Craig Atack, a deputy public defender in St. Johns County
- Denise Mensh, general magistrate of the 7th judicial circuit
- JoAnna Pang, Tax Lawyer for the IRS in Jacksonville
- Benjamin Rich, Deputy Director of the State Attorney for the St. Johns County State Attorney’s Office
- Alyssa Shorstein, lawyer and partner at the Shorstein and Lee law firm in St. Johns County. She deals with criminal, civil, family, probate and bankruptcy matters.
In his candidacy for the post of judge, Blocker wrote:
âMy vision of law growing up was a set of basic rules and principles applicable to everyone in society. Each individual is equal, regardless of their origin. It is essential that everyone who appears in court has confidence in the ability to receive fair and impartial treatment.
As a county judge, Blocker will share a civil and criminal workload with two other county judges: Charles Tinlin and Alexander Christine Jr.
Tinlin said Blocker is essential in St. Johns County to help with the workload.
“She’s going to be a nice addition to the bench. She’s a very smart lawyer. I know she will do a great job,” Tinlin said.
County judges typically deal with misdemeanor criminal cases as well as traffic citations, animal control issues, and municipal ordinance violations; small claims under $ 8,000 and civil actions under $ 30,000, Blocker said.
This is the first time that St. Johns County has had a new County Judge since the 1970s, even though the area has experienced significant population growth.
The population of St. Johns County increased 43% from 2010 to 2020, according to the US Census Bureau. The 2020 census counted 273,425 people in St. Johns County, an increase of 83,386 since the 2010 census.
The county is part of the 7th Judicial Circuit Court, which also includes the counties of Flagler, Putnam and Volusia.
Circuit judges are based in several courthouses in the region. In St. Johns County, four circuit judges and two county court judges served at the county courthouse. County judges work in their county, but circuit judges can serve where they are needed in the circuit.
St. Johns County Court Clerk Brandon Patty said the county court system was under stress and was seeing “unacceptable delays” in people accessing the court system. He and others argued for a third county judge post.
The addition came through state law signed by DeSantis. He announced Blocker’s appointment in September.
A diversified course
Blocker worked as a corporate legal advisor for Fidelity Information Services in Jacksonville from September 2018, until she left on October 1, she said. His position involved working on contract negotiations and disputes, according to his candidacy.
Prior to that, among other roles, she served as law clerk to U.S. District Judge Carol Mirando, U.S. District Judge Patricia D. Barksdale, and U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard, according to the DeSantis office. .
âWorking for all of these judges, it was very inspiring for me to see how much of an impact you can have on people’s lives by being this fair and impartial arbiter of the law,â she said.
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Part of what motivated Blocker to apply for the county court job was to have that direct impact on people, she said.
Her other experiences include serving on the Fifth District Court of Appeal Judicial Appointments Commission, the St. Johns Women Lawyers Association and the Jacksonville Women Lawyers Association.
Community involvement is also important to her, she said.
Its community service includes the Rotary Club, the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Advisory Council and the Board of Directors of the First Coast Cultural Center. She provided free legal advice to the Ponte Vedra Beach Cultural Center and to a national association of assistance dogs. She has volunteered for St. Johns County Legal Aid.
âI’m going to work hard for the community, andâ¦ I’m going to be fair, and I’m going to do my best to stay involved in the community,â she said.