Mickle Honored for Leadership and Decade of Service on Federal Bench
Stephan P. Mickle (JD 70) pulled into the driveway of his parents’ house as a young man ready to sell his beloved red Chevy Malibu.
Selling this car marked the defining moment when Mickle’s parents realized he was serious about attending law school and no longer wanted to be a social studies teacher, his mother Catherine said. This decision to sell his car undeniably helped pave the way for Mickle’s unprecedented career.
Since then, a decade of service as a U.S. Federal Judge in the Northern District of Florida has been just one of Mickle’s many contributions to the legal system — contributions the Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations honored at the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center on March 28.
The CSRRR celebrated Judge Mickle’s outstanding leadership and service to the community during its spring 2008 lecture series, which brought together many of the university’s most prestigious alumni. Those in attendance included the first black student to receive a UF Law degree, W. George Allen (JD 62), the first black student to graduate from UF Medical School, Dr. Reuben Brigety (MD 70) and President J. Bernard Machen.
“I am very proud to see this day because I always knew that it was in Stephan to be great and to help his fellow man,” Allen said. “He has accomplished so much, but I expected it of him and everyone else did as well. He has not disappointed any of us. In fact, he has lived up to what we expected and more so.”
Mickle is truly a man of firsts who has gained the respect of his peers, co-workers and the legal community for being an outstanding judge. He was the first black student to graduate from UF with a bachelor’s in political science and his wife, Evelyn Moore Mickle, was the first black student to graduate from UF’s nursing school. After being the second black student to graduate from UF law, Mickle joined the UF faculty as an assistant professor while also becoming the first black attorney to establish a law practice in Gainesville, Fla. Mickle was the first black man to receive UF’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1999.
After having his own private law practice for seven years, Mickle became the first black county judge for Alachua County and has been a judge ever since. He served as a judge in Florida’s Eighth Judicial Circuit in 1984 before becoming the first and only black lawyer from the Eighth Judicial Court appointed to the First District Court of Appeals.
“In September of 2009, I will have been a judge for 30 years,” Mickle said at the program. “During that time, I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly, yet every day I go to work and I look for the good in people.”
In 1998, President Clinton nominated Mickle to the federal bench, which the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed.
Mickle has always been a leader and advocate for equal justice but has overcome diversity with honor while climbing the ranks as a judge.
“He is living proof that diversity produces excellence,” said UF Professor Elizabeth Rowe.
Katheryn Russell-Brown, director for the CSRRR, presented a plaque to Judge Mickle as a symbol of his time at UF as a student and educator and to honor him for bearing witness of the changing times at the university since 1962.
“I really appreciate all that the center and law school has done, and it’s the kind of thing I feel humbled by,” said Mickle. “I am thinking to myself that, ‘I did this stuff,’ but it didn’t seem as significant at the time and now I can see what they are talking about.”