Steven Selph
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Hon. Steven Selph Neutral
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Steven Selph

My Prior Experience

My legal career began in 1978 as an Assistant State Attorney in the Tenth Circuit where most of my time was spent working in the branch offices in Highlands and Hardee Counties where I got to perform all aspects of that office from criminal intake to prosecuting felony, misdemeanor and juvenile cases, handling grand jury proceedings, child support enforcement and managing the offices. In 1982 I joined Harris, Barrett, Mann & Dew in St. Petersburg where I had the good fortune to be able to litigate a wide range of cases from commercial, construction law, collections, and outdoor advertising, to products liability, personal injury, wrongful death and some criminal defense. During that time I developed a preference for working with long-standing clients and, in furtherance of that preference, in 1988 I accepted a position with the Polk County Attorney’s Office where I gained extensive experience in the areas of eminent domain, sovereign immunity, personal injury, wrongful death, land use, ad valorem taxation, ordinance drafting and other aspects of local government law. In 1993 I was invited to join the law firm of Boswell, Stidham, Conner, Wilson & Brewer to serve as full-time general counsel to The School Board of Polk County. During that time the Boswell firm merged with Lane, Trohn, Clarke, Bertrand, Vreeland & Jacobsen, P.A. As the School Board’s attorney I remained involved in various tort claims and expanded my experience in the areas of civil rights, labor law, student discipline, construction litigation and bid disputes. In 1998 I was appointed by Governor Lawton Chiles to the Polk County Court where I served from May 1, 1998 until my election without opposition to the Circuit Court in 2006. I was re-elected without opposition in 2012 and 2018 and retired on March 31,2021. A majority of my tenure as a judge was spent in the civil and family divisions. The wide range of experience that I gained during my 20 years as an attorney served me well during the 23 years I served on the bench.

I believe that this same knowledge and experience gained over those 43 years enables me to be a fair, impartial and effective mediator. 

Why I Choose to Mediate

During my career as an attorney I had the privilege of litigating with and against excellent lawyers and appeared before excellent jurists. During my judicial career I was privileged to have many excellent attorneys appear before me. What I perceived to be the best outcomes in many cases were those where the lawyers, parties and the court maintained their ability to remain reasonable, objective and practical. I saw some cases where those positive traits were missing and where individual litigants experienced unnecessary stress and spent much, if not all, of their life savings trying to achieve unreachable goals and casting aside reason, logic and objectivity. I presided over thousands of cases and enjoyed my judicial career immensely and struggled with my decision to retire. One of the main reasons I decided to take that step was the opportunity it afforded me to devote my time and energy to help litigants apply those principals of reasonableness, objectivity and practicality to their cases in the hope that they can achieve fair and suitable resolutions. Although I will no longer be using my experience gained over these many years to make rulings on issues of law or findings of fact, I hope to put those same skills to use to help lawyers and their clients reach amicable settlements.

Education and Past Experience

  • Class of 1972, Lakeland High School
  • B.A. in Business Administration from University of South Florida, December, 1974
  • J.D. cum laude from Stetson University College of Law, May,1978
  • Admitted to The Florida Bar, September, 1978
  • Assistant State Attorney, Tenth Circuit (with extensive time spent in Highlands and Hardee offices), June,1978 to July, 1982
  • Associate with Harris, Barrett, Mann & Dew, St. Petersburg, Florida, (primary emphasis in civil litigation), July, 1982 to April, 1988
  • Assistant County Attorney, Polk County, (primary emphasis in land use and eminent domain litigation), April, 1988 to April, 1993
  • General Counsel, The School Board of Polk County, Florida, April, 1993 to April, 1998
  • County Court Judge, Polk County, May,1998 to January, 2007 (extensive time spent in County Civil and Pro Se Family)
  • Circuit Court Judge, Tenth Judicial Circuit of Florida, January, 2007 until retirement on March 31, 2021 (extensive time spent in Circuit Civil and Family)
  • Application for Florida Supreme Court certification as Circuit Civil Mediator is pending

Membership and Affiliations 

  • The Florida Bar since September 18, 1978
  • Admitted to practice in the Federal District Court for the Middle District of Florida
  • Florida Prosecutors’ Association
  • St. Petersburg Bar Association
  • Southeastern Electric Exchange Claims Committee
  • Florida Defense Lawyers’ Association
  • Sunshine City Jaycees
  • St, Petersburg Opera Association, Inc., Board of Directors
  • Tampa Bay Community Symphony Inc, Board of Directors
  • First United Methodist church, St. Petersburg, Pastor-Parish Relations Committee
  • Lakeland Bar Association
  • Tampa Bay Master Chorale
  • Citrus Center Kiwanis Club
  • Florida School Board Attorneys’ Association, Board of Directors
  • College Heights United Methodist Church, Chairman of Board of Trustees
  • Florida Conference of County Court Judges
  • Florida Conference of Circuit Court Judges