Judge Mickle’s portrait unveiled in ceremony honoring his life, career
On March 15, leaders of the Northern Florida legal community assembled to celebrate the life and career of the Stephan P. Mickle, the first African-American federal judge of the Northern District of Florida. The reception featured the unveiling of Mickle’s official portrait, painted by Tennesee artist Carl Hess II.
Held at University of Florida President Bernard Machen’s home, the reception celebrated Mickle’s attainment of senior status. He has served as a federal judge for the Northern District of Florida since 1999, working as chief justice from 2009 to 2011. In addition to being the first black federal court judge of Florida’s Northern District, Mickle was also the first African-American to establish a private law practice in Gainesville, the first African-American county judge of Alachua County, the first African-American circuit court judge of the 8th Judicial Circuit, and first African-American 8th circuit court judge to be appointed to the Florida 1st District Court of Appeals.
As distinguished guests assembled around Mickle’s veiled portrait, prominent speakers including Chief United States District Judge of the Northern District of Florida Casey Rogers, North Central Florida Chapter of the Federal Bar Association President Gilbert A. Schaffnit, 8th Judicial Circuit Bar Association President James H. “Mac” McCarty Jr., and UF Law Dean Robert Jerry, gave remarks on Mickle’s life and career. Each speaker celebrated Mickle’s success in the face of racial adversity, his selfless contributions to Florida’s judicial system, and his compassionate practice of law.
“I’m proud to be part of this well-deserved recognition of Federal Judge Stephan Mickle and to see his family and friends be able to share in the recognition of his role in the community,” said Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell.
As Judge Mickle’s closest family members pulled away the cloth covering the portrait, a rendition of “America the Beautiful” performed by Ray Charles swelled over the applause of the audience of family and friends. As the song approached its chorus, audience members spontaneously sang along, celebrating both Mickle’s accomplishments and the country that grew to accept them.
The reception was sponsored by the Federal Bench and Bar Fund for the Northern District of Florida, the North Central Florida Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, the 8th Judicial Circuit Bar Association, and the University of Florida Levin College of Law.