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New circuit judge gets right to work

Appointed by the governor, Carol Falvey takes the oath as her family watches. "We knew she'd make it. She always does well," her mother says.

By ABBIE VANSICKLE
Published November 3, 2005


INVERNESS - Carol Falvey's family, co-workers and judicial assistant will have to get used to her new title.

As of Wednesday morning, it wasn't just "Carol" anymore: It was "Judge Falvey."

Falvey, 45, was sworn into office as a circuit judge at 8:30 a.m. by Circuit Judge Patricia Thomas in Courtroom D at the Citrus County Courthouse. About 20 courthouse employees joined Falvey and her family for the ceremony.

Thomas helped Falvey into her long, black robe and handed her a wooden gavel.

"We are exceedingly proud to have our newest circuit judge in Carol Falvey," Thomas said.

Falvey's parents, Raymond and Mary Lou Coxon, who spend the winter in Dunnellon, sat at the front of the gallery, watching their daughter make the switch from lawyer to judge.

"We're so proud, so proud," said Mrs. Coxon.

The Coxons weren't a bit surprised when Falvey was appointed to the bench by Gov. Jeb Bush.

"We knew she'd make it," said Mrs. Coxon. "She always does well."

Falvey, who has practiced law in Ocala since receiving her law degree in 1986 from the University of Florida, didn't get much time to settle into her office.

She had only three weeks notice to close down her practice in Ocala and hand off all of her cases, several of which were pending in state and federal court. She and her assistant, Mori Campea, spent Tuesday unpacking and settling into her chambers.

She was on the bench by 1:30 p.m., presiding over juvenile delinquency hearings.

She's scheduled to attend a judicial training school in the winter, but she said it's not only procedural knowledge that makes a good judge.

"I think the life experience that you have may account for more than your legal experience, in some ways," she said Wednesday morning.

That afternoon, she showed she meant what she said.

During a juvenile hearing, a distraught woman urged Falvey not to follow the state's recommended punishment for the woman's son.

"I'm a mother, too," Falvey said.

Falvey, who has two children, told the woman she wasn't going to deviate from the state's recommendation, but she said she understood the woman's pain.

"I understand the agony that your family must be going through," she said.

After she finished the docket, Falvey reflected on her rookie day. How did she feel?

"Good," she said and quickly added. "Relieved. I enjoyed it."

Taking the oath meant a lot to her, she said. Twenty years ago, she took an oath to uphold the Constitution as a lawyer. It felt wonderful to renew that oath as a judge.

Abbie VanSickle can be reached at 860-7312 or vansickle@sptimes.com