Historical Overview

Of the twenty judicial circuits in Florida today, the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit (Brevard and Seminole Counties) isA picture of a map with Brevard and Seminole counties highlighted. the eighth largest in population. The Eighteenth Circuit was created in 1967 by action of the Florida Legislature. Brevard and Seminole Counties were previously part of the Ninth Judicial Circuit. Florida constitutional provisions require that for multi-county circuits to exist, the counties must be contiguous; however, the common boundary shared by the two counties which comprise the Eighteenth Circuit is barely a point on the map.

Brevard County, seventy-two-plus miles long, fronts the Atlantic Ocean for its full length.  Business and industry in Brevard County make up a significant part of the economy, along with agriculture. The many communities along the coast also provide a good basis for a vibrant tourism business.

Seminole County, at the time of the creation of the Eighteenth Circuit, had less than half the population of Brevard. Agriculture was the primary business. Today, the population of Seminole County is gaining on that of Brevard. Business and industry in Seminole County is booming. The growth potential from proximity to Disney World and the other tourist attractions is being realized.

In 1967, the lack of a common political history between the two counties, the lack of a common economic base, and the population dominance of Brevard County contributed to the difficulties in the development of a cohesive prosecution policy in the early years of the State Attorney’s Office. Also, the Brevard County court structure was different from that of Seminole County. Brevard County had a Court of Record which had criminal jurisdiction over cases ranging from traffic infractions to second degree murder. The Court of Record had its own prosecutor, called the County Solicitor. This left the State Attorney in Brevard County with criminal jurisdiction over capital cases of first degree murder and rape. Seminole County’s court structure for criminal cases consisted of a Circuit Court and County Judges' Court. The State Attorney had criminal jurisdiction over all felony cases which were tried in Circuit Court.

Several additional factors contributed to the challenge of developing a truly unified circuit State Attorney’s Office. While there was a sizable staff in the State Attorney’s Office in Seminole County, the State Attorney’s Office in Brevard County had only one secretary. Both State Attorney’s Offices were funded by the State of Florida, and the County Solicitor’s Office in Brevard County was funded by county government. In 1973 when the statewide uniform trial court structure became effective, under Article V, Florida Constitution, County Solicitor personnel were absorbed by the State Attorney’s Office.

A picture of Dominick J. Salfi, appointed by Gov. Kirk in 1967.  At the time the circuit was created in 1967, Governor Claude Kirk, a republican, appointed a Seminole County attorney, republican Dominick J. Salfi, as the first State Attorney for the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit. Mr. Salfi served until 1968 when Abbott Herring was elected as State Attorney.
A picture of Abbott Herring, served from 1968 to 1976.

Mr. Abott Herring, a resident of Brevard County and later Seminole County, served as the circuit’s State Attorney for two four-year terms, being defeated in 1976 by democrat Douglas Cheshire.

A picture of Douglas Cheshire, served from 1976 to 1984.

Mr. Douglas Cheshire, who resided in Brevard County, served as State Attorney for two terms before being defeated in 1984 by republican Norman R. Wolfinger.

A picture of Norman R. Wolfinger, served since 1984. Mr. Norman R. Wolfinger was re-elected without opposition in 1988, re-elected in 1992 by 70% of the vote, and subsequently re-elected without opposition until he retired on January 7, 2013, serving seven full terms. Born in Pennsylvannia, Mr. Wolfinger served in the Viet Nam War before moving to Brevard and devoting 39 years of his life to public service.
Mr. Phil Archer was elected in 2012 and took office for his first term on January 8, 2013. Mr. Archer, a life-long resident of Brevard County, had already dedicated 28 years to protecting the citizens of Brevard and Seminole counties in his position as an Assistant State Attorney in the 18th Judicial Circuit. A picture of Norman R. Wolfinger, served since 1984.

Prior to the time the office of the County Solicitor was abolished in 1973, Brevard’s State Attorney facilities were two small rooms on the fifth floor of theA picture of the Titusville, Brevard County, office. Titusville Courthouse. As late as 1975, all prosecutors were located in Titusville, traveling for trials to the branch courthouses in Rockledge and Melbourne, which were each staffed by one secretary. In the late 1970’s and mid 1980’s, the branch offices expanded first to include assigned misdemeanor attorneys and then felony attorneys, so that each part of the county had full service for trials. In February 1988, the Titusville Courthouse was closed by court order due to asbestos problems. Virtually without notice, the State Attorney had to A picture of the Viera, Brevard County, office.move the entire Titusville office to an old telephone company building on Garden Street, where the office was located until modular buildings were assembled at the Parkway Government Complex at the corner of South Street and Park Avenue in Titusville. In August 1996, the Titusville felony and misdemeanor divisions were moved back into the renovated Titusville Courthouse which was renamed the Brevard County A  picture of the Melbourne, Brevard County, office.Government Complex North, and the remainder of the Titusville office stayed at the Parkway complex until December 1, 1997. On that date, the staff from the Titusville Parkway Complex, staff from the Cocoa office, and the felony, juvenile, and most misdemeanor staff from the Melbourne office, moved to the Brevard County Government Center in Viera. In June 1998, the Melbourne Branch Courthouse on Nieman Avenue was remodeled and the remaining two misdemeanor divisions from the Melbourne office moved to that location.

In SeminoA picture of the Sanford, Seminole County, office.le County, the State Attorney’s office was located in the courthouse in Sanford until 1980, when they moved to the Courthouse Annex building. In October 1985, the need for office space outgrew the courthouse annex building and the office was moved to a remodeled, four-story downtown building at the corner of First Street and Park Avenue (one block from the courthouse). This building was erected in 1922 andA picture of the Sanford Juvenile, Seminole County, office. was originally known as the Brumley-Puleston Building. It subsequently became the site of the Roumillat & Anderson Drug Store on May 5, 1923. In 1989, the Juvenile Division was moved to the Juvenile Justice Center on Bush Boulevard, located next to the Detention Center. In October 2004, the State Attorney's Office moved into the Criminal Justice Center on Bush Boulevard.

From the 1960’s beginning as a small, polarized bi-county agency, the Office of the State Attorney, Eighteenth Judicial Circuit, has grown into a cohesive, effective, efficient prosecution team of over 250 attorneys and staff members exhibiting the highest esprit de corps, professional competency, and preparedness to face the challenges of the present and the future. Along with a cadre of dedicated citizen volunteers, the Office of the State Attorney has been recognized as a prosecutor’s office that strives for and achieves excellence in its service to the community. For that we can all take pride.  

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