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William March: Ashley Moody’s chief deputy and general counsel will be Tampa attorneys

John Guard and Richard Martin are described as highly capable, comparatively non-political appointees.
John Guard (left) and Richard Martin (right) are Tampa-based commercial litigation attorneys who will fill the top posts in the administration of newly-elected Attorney General Ashley Moody.
John Guard (left) and Richard Martin (right) are Tampa-based commercial litigation attorneys who will fill the top posts in the administration of newly-elected Attorney General Ashley Moody.
Published Jan. 30, 2019

Two big-firm, Tampa-based commercial litigation attorneys will fill the top posts in the administration of newly-elected Attorney General Ashley Moody, both described by local sources as highly capable lawyers and comparatively non-political appointees.

John Guard, most recently of the Quarles & Brady firm, will be Moody's chief deputy. Richard Martin, formerly of the Akerman firm, will be her general counsel.

The appointments mean Moody, a Plant City native now from Tampa, is giving her office a strong Tampa flavor and a youthful tone — she, Guard and Martin are all 43.

Guard and Martin are registered Republicans, but neither has been significantly involved in politics, according to them and to local GOP sources.

"They're both lawyer's lawyers, neither one is a political appointee," said Clif Curry, a Moody supporter and east Hillsborough lawyer and GOP activist, who's involved in the state's lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors. Curry said he didn't even know their party registration.

Both have contributed to a mix of Democratic, Republican and non-partisan judicial candidates in past elections, but neither is a large-scale political donor.

Guard, like Moody, is a former federal prosecutor married to federal law officer, an FBI agent. Moody's husband is a DEA agent.

Guard is "a phenomenal lawyer," Rena Frazier, a Democrat and former co-worker who got contributions from Guard when she ran for the state House in 2016.

Guard worked with Moody when both were at the Holland & Knight firm in Tampa early in their careers and was then an assistant U.S. attorney in Jacksonville.

Martin, a Lakeland native, knew Moody as an undergraduate at the University of Florida and on bar committees in Tampa. He volunteered in a program she founded providing free court representation for foster children.

Martin was appointed by the Florida Bar to investigate the high-profile 2013 case of three Tampa lawyers accused of setting up the DUI arrest of a rival lawyer during the Bubba the Love Sponge Clem defamation trial. All three were disbarred.