Duval County Judge Erin Perry knows her way around a courtroom. From serving as homicide prosecutor and division chief of the State Attorney’s Office to handling crimes against children in the special assault unit and, most recently, to achieving appointment as Duval County Court judge, Perry has continually demonstrated a passion for serving her community.
Perry was the first college graduate on her father’s side of the family. “My family was not at all in the legal community,” she said. “My dad was a contractor, he built houses and did remodeling, and my mom was a stay-at-home mom for most of my childhood but eventually retired as a teacher.”
Perry’s interest in the legal profession first peaked in high school, inspired in part by chief judge and first woman to join the Third Circuit Court of Florida, Leandra G. Johnson. “Judge Leandra Johnson was the mother of a classmate of mine,” she said. “I saw the difference she was making in the law and was inspired by it.”
Perry was hired at the State Attorney’s Office during her final year at the University of Florida law school, a pivotal moment in which she overcame a fear of public speaking.
“I was so shy I just could not possibly fathom having to stand in front of a courtroom and talk,” she said. “I decided that my fear was controlling too much of what I was willing to consider doing with my life so I decided to pick a place where I knew I would get trials.”
Perry excelled during her time at the State Attorney’s Office. She quickly moved from county to circuit court and served a number of roles including assistant state attorney, homicide prosecutor, and division chief. During this time as an active trial attorney, Perry tried more than 65 cases to a jury verdict.
It was after three applications and a lengthy civil practice certification study completed around work and time with her daughter that Perry successfully achieved her position as Duval County Court judge in January 2019, appointed by former Governor Rick Scott.
“I remember getting the call from Governor Scott at 7:50 in the morning,” she said. “It was a wonderful moment.”
Now, Perry is active in the community through the South Jacksonville Rotary and serves on the board of Game-Face 4:13, a nonprofit organization which hosts camps for at-risk youth and inspires them to build confidence.
She is also an active member of Jacksonville Women Lawyers Association where she enjoys the ability to connect with other women through shared experience.
“My advice, not just for women but for anyone who is looking to pursue a career in the legal profession, is do not let your fear stop you from doing what you want to do,” Perry said. “Keep working and do not give up on your goals.”