PERSONAL HISTORY: Born August 4, 1941, Pensacola, Florida. Married to Melissa L. Cetti. Four children, thirteen grandchildren.
UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION: Graduated from Pensacola High School, 1959. Undergraduate studies at Pensacola Junior College and Florida State University.
LEGAL EDUCATION AND HONORS: Juris Doctor, magna cum laude, Mercer University, 1965. Editor-in-Chief of Mercer Law Review, 1965 (Executive Editor, 1964). Captain, Appellate Moot Court Team, 1965. Outstanding Senior Award.
AV Preeminent, 5.0-out-of-5 Peer-Review Rating by Martindale Hubbell, since 2009.
AV Peer-Review Rating by Martindale Hubbell, since 1981.
LEGAL EMPLOYMENT AND EXPERIENCE: Practiced in Tampa, Florida, 1965-1970. Re-located practice to Pensacola in 1971. Sole practitioner. Practice consisted chiefly of litigation work, including major emphasis on personal injury, wrongful death and other torts. Trial work was divided between representing plaintiffs and doing defense work for insurance carriers and self-insured parties. Large number of jury trials. Also handled appellate cases, products liability, medical malpractice, construction litigation, family law, estate and probate, and real estate matters.
MEDIATION PRACTICE AND EXPERIENCE: Began mediating cases in 1989. Became Certified Circuit-Civil Mediator in 1991. From 1989 through 2001, mediated part-time in conjunction with law practice. Full-time mediator since 2001. Total number of cases mediated thus far exceeds 4,000. Most of them settled at mediation; many others settled shorty after mediation, partly as a result of progress made during the mediation session.
MEDIATION PHILOSOPHY: A mediator is a neutral third party whose basic function is to assist the parties in reaching an agreement that results in settlement of the case. My approach to mediation is to be pro-active in helping the parties assess their risks accurately and candidly, so that an appropriate settlement can be reached as soon as possible. Invariably, the settlement represents a compromise resolution. I believe it is helpful to confidentially discuss fully with each party, those matters that may be risk factors applying to that party's side of the case. Typically, such risk factors are a primary motivation for the parties being willing to compromise their respective positions in order to reach a settlement. In that regard, I will discuss both legal and factual issues in a manner consistent with the role of a mediator. I try to get the parties themselves intellectually involved in the risk-assessment process so that they can make the most accurate, informed decisions possible with respect to settlement. At all times, my goal is to help provide the parties with the assistance necessary to empower them to "make their own deal" with each other. The underlying philosophy of the mediation process is one of self-determination, and I am mindful that my role is to facilitate that pursuit without pressure or interference in the decision-making process. That being said, I do not impasse a case lightly. As long as progress is being made, I will pursue all reasonable avenues that may lead to settlement. In so doing, my focus isn't always limited to the mediation session itself. Sometimes, it becomes apparent that a case will not settle during the mediation session but may very well settle thereafter if certain steps are taken. When this is the case, I view my role as helping to posture the case favorably for settlement in future negotiations between or among the parties.
ORGANIZATION MEMBERSHIPS: The Florida Bar (1966); State Bar of Georgia (1966); United States District Court, Northern District of Florida; Escambia-Santa Rosa Bar Association; Florida Circuit-Civil Mediator Society; National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals; Phi Delta Phi Legal Fraternity.