Career Spotlight: Charles “Chuck” Hobbs
Hobbs, who practices in the areas of criminal trial law, appeals, personal injury and wrongful death, was the lead defense attorney behind Florida’s first hazing trial, which was televised last fall on Court TV. Hobbs represented four of five members of the Alpha Xi Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity on trial for allegedly participating in the hazing of a pledge at Florida A&M University.
Three fraternity brothers accused in the case avoided prison by pleading no contest in March to a lesser charge in the beating of a prospective member. Each received probation, including 30 days in a sheriff’s work camp, after entering the pleas to misdemeanor hazing. Prosecutors offered the plea deal only after two mistrials on felony hazing charges. The second jury convicted two other fraternity brothers who were subsequently sentenced to two years in prison. Their cases are currently on appeal.
The Kappa Hazing case is not Hobbs’ first time garnering national media attention. In 2003 Hobbs represented Florida State University’s former star quarterback and now pro-football player Adrian McPherson in his Court TV-televised trial for gambling violations. Hobbs and co-counsel Grady Irvin’s tactics left the jury in that case deadlocked and a mistrial was declared.
But in the midst of flashing cameras, Hobbs says he strives to be a voice for the voiceless, a goal he attributes to the skills he learned at the Levin College of Law and to the professors he learned those skills from.
“Law school helped to sharpen my analytical reasoning ability and oral advocacy skills,” Hobbs said. “I had the pleasure of studying under the late Professor Gerald Bennett, who was widely considered one of the preeminent experts in trial advocacy in the state of Florida. I also had the privilege of studying criminal law under Professor Kenneth Nunn. Professor Nunn also heightened my awareness of the law as a means of social justice through his Race and Race Relations seminar.”
Hobbs started his legal career as an assistant state attorney and worked for several firms, including the Law Offices of Frank Sheffield and Knowles & Randolph. Hobbs has also served as an adjunct professor at Florida A&M University and is a freelance writer whose columns appear in several statewide newspapers. During his tenure in Gainesville Hobbs was an editorial writer for the Independent Florida Alligator.
According to Professor Nunn, Hobbs was a dedicated student who worked hard in and out of the classroom.
“Chuck always had opinions and would speak his mind when he had the opportunity,” Nunn said. “Chuck was very instrumental in the Street Law Program I ran at the time to provide legal information to middle school-aged students in low-income areas of Gainesville. He was very popular with them, and he was very committed to giving back to his community.”
UF Law alumni played a role in his aspirations as well.
“A number of UF law black alumni, including U.S. District Court Judge Stephan P. Mickle (JD 70) and noted trial lawyer W. George Allen (JD 62), inspire me because they have broken barriers,” Hobbs said.
The impact these alumni have had on Hobbs has allowed him to reach for even higher heights in the legal community—so high, in fact, that he may make Florida history again.
“I eventually hope to become the first black elected state attorney in Florida,” Hobbs said. “I am strongly considering running for the same in the 2nd Judicial Circuit upon the retirement of my first boss, the Hon. William Meggs, in 2012.”
Hobbs’ experience with Professor Nunn’s Street Law Program, which led Hobbs to a chance meeting with his wife, Brooke, planted a seed in him that has now grown into a desire to begin his own mentoring program with other young African-American professionals in North Florida’s communities. The program will focus on nurturing, educating, empowering and inspiring young men.
“What I do is not unique,” said Hobbs. “I am just a small component in ensuring the voiceless have a voice.”