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My name is Melissa Vickers and I am running for Public Defender of the Ninth Judicial Circuit for Orange and Osceola County. I have worked in virtually every capacity at the Public Defender’s Office over a 21 year time span, including as Chief Assistant. There is not anyone that possesses a deeper understanding of the office’s operations, the people that comprise the team, and the solemn oath we are sworn to uphold than myself.

Being elected, on August 20th, as only the fifth person to hold this office, since its inception in 1963, and the first woman makes me the generational leader our community needs now, and I respectfully ask for your vote.

As a Florida native and Central Florida resident for the past 23 years I bring with me deep and committed ties to this community we proudly call home.  It is where I chose to raise my family and plant my legal career because I fundamentally believe we must know our neighbors to understand their needs from the inside out, not the other way around.

With immense pride and humility I can count in the hundreds the number of attorneys I have mentored, sharing my knowledge and experience with them, as they began their own legal careers as Public Defenders.  Many have shared how valuable those experiences were to them right here with their personal endorsement of my campaign.  Others, from community organizations, Judges and elected officials also share their support and why now, at this time, I am the leader the Public Defender’s office needs.

Right now we have many marginalized citizens in our community who cannot afford an attorney as they navigate the mental health and criminal justice systems.  It is the Public Defender’s Office, sworn to represent people and defend their rights, that needs leadership that is bold, assured and most of all committed to protecting the rights called into jeopardy every day. I am that leader, devoted to seeking justice for everyone deserving representation regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and culture. Your vote for me is a vote for justice and inclusivity.

Melissa is one of only 406 attorneys in the State of Florida (representing .005% of all attorneys in Florida) Board Certified in Criminal Trial Law. The Board Certification status officially allows Melissa to be referred to as an expert in her field, which Melissa certainly is. The Florida Bar states “Board certification recognizes attorneys’ special knowledge, skills and proficiency in various areas of law and professionalism and ethics in practice.” Becoming a Board Certified Criminal Attorney shows both dedication and determination as one must pass an exam, undergo a peer review, produce an extensive writing sample, and show proof of a minimum of 25 trials at the time of certification.

Melissa has been Board Certified since 2006. The clients, community, and attorneys within the 9th Judicial Circuit deserve and warrant an accomplished and dedicated leader.

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