Trailblazing jurist Stephan Mickle dies

Judge Mickle 3
Judge Mickle 3

Tributes have poured in for groundbreaking retired Judge Stephan P. Mickle Sr., who died this week at age 76.

Mickle was one of the first seven African American students to enroll at UF in 1962 and the first to graduate. He later became the first African American to serve as county judge in Alachua County; as a circuit court judge on Florida’s Eighth Judicial Circuit; and as U.S. District Court judge for the Northern District of Florida—eventually becoming chief justice.

“Mickle was known as a mild-mannered, humble and deliberate man who often attributed his accomplishments to chance,” according to a UF press release, which noted the university recognized Mickle with a distinguished alumnus award in 1999.

In a tweet this week UF President Kent Fuchs mourned the loss of one of the school’s “most exceptional graduates.”

“Federal Judge Stephan P. Mickle was a man of great integrity, determination and courage,” Fuchs wrote. “May his achievements as a pioneering Black student, lawyer and judge serve as a model to all who wish to live a life of consequence.”

Last October, UF’s Levin College of Law—from which Mickle earned a law degree in 1970—unveiled a portrait of Mickle to honor his life.

“Judge Mickle was a pioneer and a legal giant who paved the way for many to follow,” tweeted Laura Rosenbury, dean of the Levin College of Law.

The North Central Florida Chapter of the Federal Bar Association offered its condolences to the Mickle’s family and remembered him as an active legal advocate.

“Judge Mickle worked tirelessly to support our local chapter by volunteering his services on numerous occasions in seminars and functions put on by the NCFC/FBA,” an association release said.

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