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    Two women appointed to state appeals court


    © St. Petersburg Times,
    published September 15, 2001

    TAMPA -- Gov. Jeb Bush appointed two women Friday to the 2nd District Court of Appeal.

    Federal prosecutor Virginia M. Covington, 46, and lawyer Patricia Kelly, 44, were named by Bush to join the state appeals court, which reviews cases from 14 counties including Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco.

    The appointments mean the 14-member court will have the most women in its history. Until the appointments Friday, the court had one woman on it. Only two women have ever served there in its 44-year history.

    Covington, whose mother left Cuba in 1953, speaks fluent Spanish and has volunteered legal work for the Hispanic Needs and Services Council.

    Chief of the asset forfeiture section at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tampa, Covington also has lectured internationally on the subject. When she took over the section in 1989, she decided to pursue asset forfeiture as a criminal matter, rather than trying to seize assets through civil procedures.

    "It really had never been done that way," said Gregory Kehoe, who worked with Covington at the U.S. Attorney's Office. "Now everyone takes it for granted."

    Covington, who has worked as a federal prosecutor since 1983, said she considered her appointment "an incredible honor."

    "It's a wonderful feeling," she said.

    Kelly, a lawyer in private practice who specializes in appellate law, said she was excited about her appointment. Kelly worked at the court as a staff attorney between 1989 and 1993.

    "I am going to work hard to do a good job," Kelly said. "I am determined to do a good job."

    Covington replaces former Judge David Patterson; Kelly will take the seat held by Judge Edward Threadgill.

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