State Attorney’s Office honors Rookies of the Year
Jennifer Braunstein and Jalisa Curtis, who joined the office in 2020, named “the cream of the crop.”
BySpecial to the Daily Record
| 12:00 a.m. June 2, 2023
The wooden plaque stands 3 feet by 2 feet, contains 43 names and spans 32 years.
It features the names of judges, a future Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, prosecutors and others who have forged their own path in the private sector.
Or, as U.S. District Judge Brian Davis puts it, the list of names on the State Attorney’s Office “Rookie of the Year” plaque contains “the cream of the crop” of the legal community, filled with those “of excellent reputation, stature, and contribution to this community.”
With more than half of the past winners in attendance, the rookie plaque was unveiled May 3 at a ceremony hosted by the office after its annual internal awards event.
Davis, the office’s chief assistant in 1991, credits his boss, former 4th Judicial Circuit State Attorney Harry Shorstein, with the idea of honoring members of a new prosecutorial class.
“If you add recognition and competition, you have a rising tide that is going to make excellence the order of the day,” Davis told the group.
“I did not know it was such a good idea until I saw the list.”
Until recently the list was a bit of a mystery. There was no paper record, no detailed spreadsheet, no catalog of those who previously won “the most sought after and anticipated award we bestow,” according to State Attorney Melissa Nelson.
There were only stories that began with “I remember …” or names mentioned that maybe, possibly, could have been among the past honors.
“We thought it would be a pretty easy project,” Nelson said.
It wasn’t, she told the group. Phone call after phone call, story after story, bit by bit the puzzle started to come together.
Even fruitful conversations had their drawbacks, like the trip down memory lane with Circuit Judge John Guy.
The good news? Guy confirmed he did win the award in 1994.
The bad news? Guy confirmed the plaque he received read “4th Annual” — up until that point, he was thought to have been the initial winner.
Eventually, the oral histories were turned into a written history in the form of the plaque unveiled May 3 along with another distinct disclosure: The latest entries for the prestigious honor.
The 2022 “Rookie of the Year” was awarded to assistant state attorneys Jennifer Braunstein and Jalisa Curtis, both of whom joined the office in the fall of 2020.
Braunstein is a University of Florida Levin College of Law graduate who serves in the Special Prosecution Division.
“I felt incredibly honored to receive this award and be recognized among many past winners who were present,” Braunstein said.
“I am grateful for the opportunities and experiences provided by this office and look forward to what lies ahead in this everlasting pursuit of justice.”
Curtis received her law degree from the Howard University School of Law and serves in the Community Problem Response Unit.
“This award means even more to me being a Jacksonville native,” said Curtis.
“It’s an honor I’ll have the rest of my career and I am humbled to be recognized and officially joining this elite group.”