Michael Morris for Orange County Judge

A Message from Mike

This is Michael Morris, candidate for County Judge in Orange County Court. Although judicial candidates can’t give positions on issues, I wanted to share my background and life experience with you so you can understand my values and experiences.

Early Years & Education

I grew up in a military family – my father was in the Air Force and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. Growing up in the military means moving a lot – and we lived in many places all over the U.S. and abroad, including Okinawa, Japan, Illinois, Texas, Arizona and Georgia. Moving a lot wasn’t easy, but starting over in a new place every few years, I learned to adapt to new situations – neighborhoods, schools, and friends.

As a child, I had severe asthma, which added to these challenges. Due to the severity of my condition, I lived for two years at the Asthmatic Children’s Foundation in North Miami Beach. Ultimately, sports proved a way to help improve my condition, and I joined swim teams starting at age 11 and continuing through high school. I went from barely being able to swim across the pool when I started to competing in swim meets and playing water polo in high school.

Once I left high school and started college at Northwestern University, I faced a new challenge – despite coming from a very religious and conservative background, I realized I was gay and elected to be honest with those around me rather than hide who I was. With that burden lifted, I was able to focus fully on my career goals. Always interested in the law, I went on to Loyola Law School, where, I managed to juggle working full-time with school, and was even elected President of the Student Bar Association by my peers.

Pursuing My Passion

I returned to my father’s home state of Florida in 1997 and settled in Orlando in 1999, working first for the Department of Children & Families. At the time, I was the only DCF attorney in the county at the time, so I wore a lot of hats! I left DCF to work in private practice.

During these years I have worked for a firm in Orlando, and later returned to government practice working for the Florida Department of Health. During the time I decided to hang out my shingle and practice on my own, and since that time, I have represented children and families in Central Florida in the areas of family law, bankruptcy, and civil litigation.

While in private practice, I’ve continued my work with those who could not afford me as their personal attorney, volunteered through the Orange County Bar’s Legal Aid Program, looking after the best interests of children caught up in court cases. In 2014, I received a “Pro Bono Champion Award of Excellence” for my efforts on behalf of the less fortunate, and in 2021, I received the “Guardian of Justice” award from Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida for my work.

Serving the Community

Beyond my formal work representing the less-well-off, I also have served as a volunteer judge in several mock trial competitions for high school and college students – hopefully developing the next generation of lawyers. I have spoken at events held by many private organizations, bar associations and legal aid groups. I have joined and been a part of many community organizations, including several Florida Bar Sections and the Central Florida Family Law American Inn of Court. But, of all the work I’ve done in over 20 years of practice, nothing makes me happier or provides more professional satisfaction than being a part of the finalizing adoptions in the local area for families.

Looking Toward the Future

The challenges I faced growing up, I believe, have helped me better understand the challenges my clients face, and how to be open to finding the right way for each of them to face and overcome those challenges. It has also helped me be flexible in my own life and law practice. When the COVID pandemic hit, I was an early adapter of the new technologies and had my first video consultation with a client on March 26, 2020. I am comfortable with video hearings where appropriate – and believe that when used properly they can both save clients time and money and allow the courts to operate more efficiently.

As a judge, I would bring all of my life and legal experience to the bench. My hope is that I would be not just a judge who is knowledgeable about the law, but also one that is fair, empathetic, and always respectful to the people who appear before me.

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Election Date: August 23rd, 2022

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