TAMPA — Mary Scriven, a federal magistrate in Tampa and a well-known figure in the Tampa Bay area's legal community, has been nominated for a U.S. district judgeship, the White House announced Thursday evening.
If her appointment is confirmed by the Senate, the promotion would be the latest accomplishment for Scriven, who in 1997 became the first black woman to be a federal magistrate in the Middle District of Florida.
A federal magistrate's duties include conducting initial appearances and setting bail for federal criminal defendants. They also may preside over civil trials with the consent of all parties. In contrast, federal district judges preside over criminal trials as well as civil cases. They are also appointed for life at annual salaries of $168,500.
Scriven, 45, is to replace retiring U.S. Judge Patricia C. Fawsett, who serves in Orlando. It was not immediately clear whether Scriven will serve in Orlando.
She has four children with her husband, lawyer Lansing Scriven. After graduating from Florida State University's law school in 1987, she worked at the Carlton Fields firm in Tampa and taught courses at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport.
As a magistrate, Scriven has been involved in several high-profile cases in recent years, including the opening of a controversial bikini bar in Valrico; a case linking a Tampa valet parking company to the Gambino crime family; and a bribery case against retired Army Col. Tom Spellissy at MacDill Air Force Base.
Lawyers who have appeared in Scriven's courtroom sang her praises Thursday.
"She's a person of real character and strength," said Eddie Suarez. "Those are important qualities when you're a judge because at times you may need to make unpopular decisions."
Mike Brassfield can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3435.