From the Bench: Duval County Judge Michael Bateh

The former competitive swimmer joined the bench in January 2019.

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  • | 12:20 a.m. February 2, 2023
Duval County Judge Michael Bateh
Duval County Judge Michael Bateh
  • The Bar Bulletin
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Who or what inspired you to become a lawyer?

My brother, Abraham Bateh, inspired me to become a lawyer.

At a young age, I became fascinated with the judicial process. While working with my brother during the summer months, I accompanied him on many occasions to the courthouse and witnessed the process in action.

From visiting the different courtrooms and listening to the attorneys’ arguments, to retrieving a case file from the Office of the Clerk of Court (something you did at the old courthouse) to record a document, I was hooked.

Although my father was hopeful that his last child would follow in his footsteps and become a pharmacist, I knew I wanted to be involved in the legal profession. I believe he would be okay with how things worked out.  

Who or what inspires you?

Many people have inspired me over the years, but it would have to start with my parents. My father worked two jobs in the family grocery store and as a pharmacist at Pic N’ Save to support our family. My mother raised four children and worked in the grocery store alongside my father, his two brothers and their wives.

My parents taught me that working hard is just the beginning. To be a true success, you must give back to the community and treat everyone with dignity and respect. They also taught me to always do the right thing because it is the right thing to do.

How do you relate your undergraduate degree to your practice on the bench?

I received my undergraduate degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing and economics.

Studying business administration taught me to focus on the details to understand the larger picture. This helps when dealing with the complexity of the many civil and criminal cases that come before me on a daily basis.

What community service have you pursued and why?

Community service is an important part of my life. At a young age, my father and mother instilled in us the idea of giving back.

Although my father worked two jobs, he always volunteered his time and encouraged us to do the same.

I volunteer my time with El Bethel Divine Holiness Church, pastor Bishop Lorenzo Hall, Feeding Northeast Florida, Sulzbacher, Duval County Canvassing Board member for the Duval County Supervisor of Elections and as a mentor/judge to many high school students and mock trial competitions.

Do you currently serve on the JBA in any committee?

I serve on the Judicial Relations, Mentoring and Professionalism committees as well as the Ribault Young Lawyers and Leaders.

Through the Conference of County Court Judges of Florida, I serve on the Administrative and Management, Awards and Merit, Civil Rules/Small Claims, Professional Relations and Traffic Rules committees. Recently, I was elected as the 5th District Court of Appeal vice president for the conference.

What is your favorite book?

I have a few: “The Man in the Arena: Selected Writings of Theodore Roosevelt” and “Wooden” by Coach John Wooden with Steve Jamison. I read Wooden many years ago and now, I am excited to read it with my son.

Do you have any special talents?

In a former life, I was a competitive swimmer. My best and most powerful strokes were butterfly and breaststroke.

I began swimming when I was 6 years old and swam until college. Unfortunately, I ruptured a disc in my back during a race and that ended my career in swimming.

If you weren’t a judge, what do you think you’d be?

I believe it would still be a career in the legal profession. Maybe more fieldwork.

Have you traveled anywhere exotic?


If you could meet someone from history, who would it be and why?

Although not someone famous in the traditional sense, I would love to meet my grandfather, Abraham S. Bateh.

His teachings and experience became the foundation of our family and solidified our moral code and strong character.

He passed away months before his oldest grandchild was born.

What’s your favorite food?

Italian food.

What’s your favorite holiday?

My favorite holiday by far is Thanksgiving. When else can it be OK to eat multiple times a day, watch sports on TV, lounge around and no one judges you?

Seriously, this holiday is about giving back. When I was younger, my family would cook and serve (along with many others) Thanksgiving dinner to less fortunate individuals from around the city.

Now I am able to continue that tradition my mother and father started with my own family at The Greater El Bethel Divine Holiness Church along with Bishop Lorenzo Hall.

 It is so warming to the heart and encouraging to see how a small church gives back so much to our community.

Duval County Judge Michael Bateh joined the bench Jan. 7, 2019.