Federal Judge Stephan Mickle Passes Torch to New Generation at Fall 2004 Graduation
In more than three decades of practicing law, U.S. District Court Judge Stephan Mickle developed a habit of breaking down barriers — and a reputation as one of Florida’s legal legends.
Mickle handed down the legacy to a new generation Dec. 17, placing the hood on his daughter Stephanie Mickle during the Levin College of Law’s commencement ceremony.
“It was a very special moment,” Mickle said. “I’ve been teaching at UF on and off for 30 years, but I never thought I’d deliver the commencement speech at my daughter’s graduation from law school.”
Judge Mickle delivered the keynote address at the ceremony, which drew a crowd of more than 1,200. A total of 158 students – 149 JD recipients and nine law master’s recipients – graduated.
Mickle, who was raised in Gainesville, was one of only seven black students to integrate UF’s undergraduate programs when he transferred into the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in 1962. In 1965, he became the first African-American to earn a degree – a B.A. in political science – from a UF undergraduate program. After graduating from the UF law school in 1970, Mickle became the first African-American to practice law in Alachua County and began working as an adjunct professor at the UF College of Law.
Mickle went on to be appointed county judge in 1979, then 8th Judicial Circuit judge in 1984. In 1992, he became the first judge from Gainesville – black or white – to sit on Florida’s First District Court of Appeal.
In 1998, Mickle was recommended and unanimously approved for a federal judgeship in Florida’s Northern District.
Judge Mickle said his daughter rarely expressed an interest in the legal profession until a few years ago, when she “came home for the holidays and suddenly announced that she wanted to go to law school.”
“That’s true,” Stephanie Mickle said. “Before deciding to pursue a legal career, I was more interested in business. I have always had a passion for public policy and a law degree seemed like a great way to strengthen my skills.”
Stephanie Mickle already has built an impressive record of accomplishment, earning a bachelor’s degree from Smith and a master’s degree from Harvard before coming to UF. She served as co-editor of The Docket, was active in BLSA, Trial Team and ATLA — where she received the Ira Leesfield Scholarship – and earned a Book Award in Trial Practice. She has accepted a position in the litigation department of Akerman Senterfitt & Eidson, P.A. in Tallahassee.
The event was featured the next day on the front page of the Local/State Section of The Gainesville Sun. The article quoted Assistant Dean for Students Richard Ludwick.
Ludwick told the newspaper the ceremony symbolized “a sense of accomplishment.
“They’re some of the most talented people in Florida,” said Ludwick, referring to the recent graduates. “They will be the next contributors to our state and nation. This is a time of family.”