Public Defender Matt Shirk announced the annual award winners from the Office of the Fourth Judicial Circuit Public Defender.
The recipients come from the Clay, Duval and Nassau county offices. They are:
• Trial Lawyer of the Year, 2011 – Assistant Public Defender Nate Carter.
Carter has served as assistant public defender in the Fourth Judicial Circuit Duval County Office for five years. He is division chief for Felony Courtrooms E and G. During 2011 he appeared with the defense in nine trials, five of which he earned his client a “not guilty” verdict.
• Exemplary Trial Team of the Year, 2011 – The State of Florida vs. Nicholas Highsmith.
In the April 2011 trial, the accused faced four felony charges, including the attempted murder of a homeless woman in Jacksonville Beach. The defense team convinced the jury that their client was not guilty of rape and attempted murder. He was found guilty of a battery count and a lesser charge on a burglary count. The defense team consisted of lead attorney, Assistant Public Defender Al Perkins, second-chair attorney, Assistant Public Defender Senovia Portis, and investigator Greg Strickland.
• Clay County Employee of the Year – Sheila Pickman.
Sheila Pickman serves the Clay County Office of the Public Defender as legal assistant/receptionist, a position she has held since July 2010.
• Duval County Employee of the Year – Barbara Henry.
A legal assistant handling both a homicide and appellate caseload, Barbara Henry has been with the Duval County Office of the Public Defender since July 2007. Before that, she served in a similar role at the State Attorney Office.
• Nassau County Employee of the Year – Joann Fullwood.
In October 1992, Joann Fullwood joined the Nassau County Office of the Public Defender. She has served as a legal assistant handling duties for the small law office.