Submitted by Teresa J. “Teri” Sopp
Nassau County will have its first woman judge in May when Circuit Court Judge Suzanne Bass takes over Judge Brian Davis’ position at the historic downtown courthouse. Bass, 61, was elected as a Fourth Judicial Circuit Judge (Clay, Duval and Nassau Counties) in 2012; she has served on the felony bench in Jacksonville since taking the bench in January 2013.
Bass requested the assignment after Judge Davis was appointed to serve as a Federal District Court judge for the Middle District of Florida. “I have a place in my heart for small towns in North Florida,” said Judge Bass, a native of Live Oak. “My very first jury trial as a lawyer was in the historic Madison County Courthouse over in Madison.”
Bass will begin presiding over civil litigation, family law and probate cases in the historic courthouse in May. She will also handle domestic violence cases and juvenile criminal court at the Yulee Courthouse Annex one day a week.
Prior to her successful run for Circuit Court, Judge Bass was in the private practice of law in Jacksonville for twenty years, handling family law, personal injury cases, criminal matters and general civil litigation. She is a graduate of Emory University and the University of Richmond College of Law. Bass’ first job out of law school was as an Assistant Public Defender in the Third Judicial Circuit, working for the legendary Milo Thomas. She was then an Assistant State Attorney—working for yet another legend, Ed Austin– in Jacksonville before leaving to establish her own firm in the early 1990’s. As a lawyer, Judge Bass tried many jury and non-jury trials; since she has served on the felony bench in Jacksonville, she has presided over at least one jury trial per week.
Judge Bass is looking forward to working in a small town again. “I want to become invested in this community, and look forward to meeting the citizens of Nassau County,” said Bass, who is also an avid outdoors woman. “My husband and I have enjoyed fishing and boating here for years, and we look forward to spending more time here.” Long-time Fernandina Beach Attorney Dan McCranie said the members of the bar are looking forward to working in Judge Bass’ Courtroom, and “stand ready to take her fishing when she wants to go!”
Judge Bass grew up in Live Oak, Florida; her father was the long-time large-animal veterinarian there, and her mother was a school teacher who was elected Superintendent of Schools in the 1960’s. She is married to Fred Parker, an engineer at Vistakon; they have a daughter, Helen who attends Florida State University. Judge Bass also has two stepsons, Jeremy, who lives in New York; and Jacob, who serves in the United States Air Force in South Carolina.
“I’m still pinching myself to make sure I am really coming to Nassau County,” Judge Bass said with a smile.
Editor’s Note: Teri Sopp is a graduate of Florida State University College of Law with a Juris Doctorate (1978), Attorney Sopp has also attended several trial practice colleges and continuing education programs. Sopp served as an Adjunct Professor at the Florida Coastal School of Law and as a Professor at the American Institute of Paralegal Studies. We thank Teri for her contribution to the Fernandina Observer.
April 18, 2014 11:58 a.m.