A former private practice attorney and general counsel at the Jacksonville Port Authority, Circuit Judge Gil Feltel was appointed to the bench April 20, 2020.
What inspired you to become a lawyer?
I am not sure I would characterize that choice as a product of “inspiration.” I enjoyed the subject and found it challenging, which led me to think I might succeed as an attorney.
Who inspires you?
I have been thinking a lot about how COVID-19 has impacted perspectives. Everyone has been touched, some much more than others. As the pandemic has ebbed and surged, I find myself admiring people who confidently look ahead with hope and expect a better future.
How do you relate your undergraduate degree to your practice on the bench?
Political science looks at our system of government under the Constitution. My actions as a judge are circumscribed by the Constitution and the laws formed thereunder. So, one is about how the laws are made, and the other is about enforcing the law.
What community service have you pursued and why?
At different times I have served as a 4th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission commissioner, a Florida Bar grievance committee member, a youth baseball coach, a youth volunteer at church, a Bible study leader and a short-term missionary. I have also helped with Habitat for Humanity projects and served with the Salvation Army in a variety of capacities. For each, I thought the cause was worthwhile, and I enjoyed the people I worked with.
Do you currently serve on any JBA committee?
I am a member of the Judicial Relations Committee. In years past, I chaired that committee and also served as the chair of the Practicing with Professionalism Section.
What is your favorite book?
The Bible, although if I am honest, I more often only read a collection of psalms and proverbs. For historical fiction, “A Land Remembered” by Patrick Smith is hard to beat.
Do you have any special talents?
I enjoy hunting, and I have received good reviews on some of the wild game meals I cook.
If you weren’t a judge what do you think you’d be?
Something entrepreneurial. As a lawyer, I worked in a variety of interesting industries, but I think I would like to try to build something from the ground up.
Have you traveled anywhere exotic?
Short-term mission trips to Eleuthera, India and the Philippines.
If you could meet someone from history, who would it be and why?
Abraham Lincoln. I have read a number of biographies and see him as the quintessential American story.
What’s your favorite food?
Any barbecue, with a preference for North Carolina style. If you haven’t tried Haywood Smokehouse in Dillsboro or Woodlands in Blowing Rock, you should.
What’s your favorite holiday?
Easter for the subject matter, Thanksgiving for the food.
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