by Joe Wilhelm Jr.
The legal community welcomed two new judges to the Jacksonville District Compensation Claims Court Wednesday with a reception at Florida Coastal School of Law.
The reception was hosted by the Friends of 440 Scholarship Fund and The Jacksonville Bar Association. The guests of honor were Judges Ray Holley and Ralph Humphries. Both began their four-year terms during the final days of 2010.
Both judges recognized the qualified group of applicants for the two seats vacated by Judges Stephen L. Rosen and Neal P. Pitts., and both said they were honored to be chosen to serve the public.
“It is an exciting adventure, a chance for public service at its highest function,” said Holley.
“I am enjoying it so much, from the standpoint of giving back to the community,” he said.
Humphries acknowledged the standard that has been set in the district by the previous judges.
“We are trying to emulate and follow in the footsteps of two very qualified judges in Stephen Rosen and Neal Pitts. And we are glad that they will still be accessible when we need guidance,” he said.
The Florida Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims is responsible for adjudicating disputes over workers’ compensation benefits.
There are 17 district offices in Florida, with Jacksonville being one of them. The local district office serves Baker, Bradford, Clay, Duval, Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns and Union counties.
Each judge of Compensation Claims is appointed by the governor for a four-year term, based upon the recommendation of the Statewide Judicial Nominating Commission.
Holley is a Jacksonville native and earned his bachelor’s and law degrees from Stetson University.
After earning his undergraduate degree in 1991, he worked as a legislative assistant to Ander Crenshaw, then a state senator and now a U.S. congressman.
Holley later managed two political campaigns before earning a Master of Public Administration from the University of North Florida and his law degree from the Stetson University College of Law in 1997.
His legal career included practice as an assistant state attorney and private practice in Florida and Georgia workers’ compensation and automobile and premises liability.
Holley is a member of the E. Robert Williams Inn of Court, an organization consisting exclusively of workers’ compensation practitioners, and a past president and current director of the Friends of 440 Scholarship Fund.
Humphries is a double Gator, earning both his undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Florida.
He has been practicing law in Jacksonville since he was admitted to The Florida Bar in 1977. His practice areas began to focus on insurance defense in 1984, which included medical malpractice defense, personal injury litigation and workers’ compensation, where he has represented injured workers as well as employers and carriers.
From 1993-2009, Humphries was senior partner of his own firm and also practiced in a partnership of professional associations with Schutt, Humphries & Becker and its progeny.
In 2010, Humphries joined the firm of Boyd & Jenerette as a partner practicing exclusively workers’ compensation defense.
He has been a longtime member of the Jacksonville Association of Defense Counsel, where he was treasurer, vice president and president. Humphries was a charter member of the E. Robert Williams Inn of Court.