After growing up in Knoxville, Tennessee, Joe attended (naturally) the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, receiving his BS degree in 1970. He enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving from 1971 through Honorable Discharge in 1974, then returned to UT for a Master’s Degree awarded in 1976. After employment through Texas A&M University, he attended Stetson University College of Law in St. Petersburg, from which he was awarded a Juris Doctor Degree. He has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1980.
As an attorney, Joe was employed as Assistant State Attorney for the Sixth Judicial Circuit, then went into private practice, with most of his practice involving some aspect of Family Law. He was employed in St. Petersburg by Harris, Barrett, Mann, and Dew, later by Earle and Earle.
In 1992, after the Florida Supreme Court mandated that circuits of certain sizes re-vamp their family court structure, Joe was appointed as one of the two original General Masters (now called “General Magistrates”) for the new Family Law Division in Pinellas County following a thorough evaluation process by a joint committee of the St. Petersburg and Clearwater Bar Associations and by Judges assigned to the Division. He served as Master/Magistrate in the Family Law Division from 1992 until retirement in 2015, presiding over thousands of proceedings in most areas of family law, including divorce, custody, child support, domestic violence, modifications, relocation, enforcement, name changes, etc.
Joe’s professional experience has provided a comprehensive background for mediation. As a family law attorney, he gained much insight into the effect of litigation upon clients. He understands the attorney/client. After serving as Magistrate, Joe understands even better the dynamics of litigation and the court processes, as well as the impact judicial decisions, have upon the litigants. This experience is very beneficial for assisting the parties through the mediation process.