From left to right: Patrick McGee, Doug Baer, Brooke Gasson, Jaclyn Blair, Nicole Saunders, Vironica Brown, Matthew Silverstein, Catherine Ann Lockhart, Karri Becker, Sam Friedman, Beth Shelley, Ashleigh Brooks, Annie Kager, Rachel England, and LaVater Massie-Banks. Not pictured: Connor Larkin.

Aug. 31, 2017

FOURTH CIRCUIT STATE ATTORNEY’S OFFICE ADDS 16 PROSECUTORS

State Attorney Melissa Nelson announces that 16 new Assistant State Attorneys have joined Florida’s Fourth Judicial Circuit. The group of incoming prosecutors has been assigned to County Court, where they will handle criminal misdemeanor prosecutions. They will report to County Court Director John Kalinowski, Senior Division Chief Erin Perry, and Division Chief Katelyn Johnston.

These additions will help handle the vigorous caseload in the three-county circuit. They also represent the first “incoming class” for Nelson’s administration, making it 121 attorneys who work in the office.

“We have worked hard to recruit a class of impressive Assistant State Attorneys. These men and women have demonstrated success in their educational pursuits and share a common desire to serve the people in this community,” said Nelson. “I believe each will be a great fit in the office and I look forward to watching their contributions to our circuit and the justice system.”

Doug Baer was born and raised in Jacksonville and joins the State Attorney’s Office after graduating from the University of Florida Levin College of Law. During his time in law school, he interned for the Honorable Mallory Cooper and Elizabeth Senterfitt, and was a summer intern for former U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw. Baer graduated from Florida State
University with a double major in economics and political science.

Karri Becker graduated from the University of Florida summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in history and cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She then attended The George Washington University Law School, where she graduated with highest honors. She was the articles editor on her school’s Law Review and was an active member of the Mock Trial Skills Board. Afterward, Becker clerked for two federal judges, the Honorable William Quarles Jr. at the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, and the Honorable Robert Scola Jr. at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. She officially joined the office in May.

Jaclyn Blair graduated from the University of Nebraska with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and worked aboard cruise ships before deciding to pursue law. She graduated cum laude from Florida Coastal School of Law, where she served as executive director of the school’s Law Review and president of the Environmental Law Society. Blair’s legal experience includes internships with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida with the Honorable Marcia Morales Howard, the U.S. Air Force JAG Corps, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Ashleigh Brooks studied criminology and anthropology during her undergraduate career at the University of Florida before graduating from Stetson University College of Law. While at Stetson, Brooks served as vice president of the Black Law Students Association and was a member of the school’s No. 1 ranked trial team. Before attending law school, she worked for a personal injury firm in Jacksonville and a civil litigation firm in Fort Lauderdale. Brooks was born and raised in Jacksonville.

Vironica Brown was born and raised in Tallahassee, where she graduated magna cum laude from Florida A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in management and also earned her MBA before pursing law at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. While at UF, she served as a certified legal intern for the State Attorney’s Office for Florida’s Seventeenth Circuit in Fort Lauderdale. Brown also has earned certificates in pro bono service and intellectual property law.

Rachel England was raised in Jacksonville and graduated from the University of South Carolina with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. She graduated magna cum laude from Florida Coastal School of Law. While there, England served as the executive editor of the Florida Coastal Law Review. She also interned for the Honorable Marcia Morales Howard in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Sam Friedman was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, and graduated from the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in criminology/criminal justice. He then graduated cum laude from the University of South Carolina Law School and was inducted into the Order of the Wig and the Robe. Additionally, Friedman was the production editor of the ABA Real Property, Trust, and Estate Law Journal.

Brooke Gasson attended Northeastern University in Boston after growing up in Jacksonville. She spent her first college summer interning at the Fourth Circuit State Attorney’s Office in her hometown. Gasson later graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where she served as the executive technical editor for the Harvard Law and Policy Review. She also spent time in criminal justice clinics working on capital cases with the Capital Defender’s Office in Asheville, N.C., and as a student prosecutor in Boston Municipal Court with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office.

Annie Kager grew up in Tampa before graduating from the University of Florida cum laude with degrees in history and communications. She completed her first year of law school at the University of Illinois before transferring to Florida State University to complete her final two years. While there, she graduated cum laude with a certificate in environmental law and earned a Distinguished Pro Bono award. Before coming to Jacksonville, Kager was employed as a staff attorney in Florida’s Second Judicial Circuit in Tallahassee.

Connor Larkin is a lifelong resident of Jacksonville. He graduated cum laude from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in political science before receiving his law degree from the school’s Levin College of Law. While in law school, Connor was a certified legal intern in the Eighth Judicial Circuit and an extern with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Gainesville and the Seventh Judicial Circuit. Larkin is a member of the Jacksonville Bar Association and is actively involved in its Young Lawyers Division and Criminal Litigation Section. He officially joined the office in March.

Catherine Ann Lockhart grew up in Fernandina Beach and graduated magna cum laude from Florida State University with a bachelor’s degree in political science and religious studies. She remained at FSU for law school, where she was a certified legal intern in the State Attorney’s Office for Florida’s Second Judicial Circuit in Tallahassee. Lockhart is a member of the Chester Bedell Inn of Court.

LaVater Massie-Banks is a first-generation college graduate from Pensacola. She attended Alabama State University, where she graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in English literature. Immediately after receiving her undergraduate degree, Massie-Banks attended Florida A&M University’s College of Law and graduated cum laude. While in law school, she was a junior and senior editor for the school’s Law Review and participated in the NAAC Moot Court Competition.

Patrick McGee is from New Hampshire and earned his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Arizona. During his 22-year military career, he served as a helicopter pilot, air officer, and Marine Attaché, completing overseas tours in Afghanistan, Iraq, Japan, and Georgia. After retiring from active duty in the United States Marine Corps, McGee attended the University of Miami School of Law and graduated magna cum laude. While in law school, McGee was a certified legal intern for the State Attorney’s Office for Florida’s Eleventh Circuit in Miami-Dade.

Nicole Saunders joins the State Attorney’s Office from the private sector, where she worked as a corporate associate for a financial technology services corporation. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Jacksonville University and graduated summa cum laude and her law degree from the University of Florida Levin College of Law. While at UF, Saunders served as a member of the school’s trial team and completed a certified legal internship at the State Attorney’s Office for the Eighth Judicial Circuit. 

Beth Shelley joins the office after serving as an Assistant State Attorney in Florida’s Sixth Circuit in Clearwater. She grew up in Port Charlotte and graduated cum laude from Stetson University with a degree in political science and a Juris Doctor. While in law school, Shelley was a certified legal intern for the State Attorney’s Office for the Sixth and Thirteenth Circuits.

Matthew Silverstein was born and raised in Jacksonville. He earned his law degree from Wake Forest University School of Law after receiving a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University, where he graduated summa cum laude. During his undergraduate career, Silverstein interned in the Homicide and Major Crimes Division of his hometown Fourth Circuit State Attorney’s Office. While in law school he served as an intern for the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s, where he assisted the Domestic Violence Team and acted as a student practitioner for Wake Forest’s Veterans Legal Clinic.

Extended biographies of each are available upon request.