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2nd District Court of Appeal clerk of court dies in Lakeland car crash

James "Jim" Birkhold, the longtime clerk of the 2nd District Court of Appeal, died Sunday in a Lakeland car crash.

The 66-year-old Chicago native joined the DCA as a senior staff attorney in 1995, managing staff attorneys in the office of the court from 1996 to January 1999, according to a news release. He was appointed clerk in 1999.

"Jim has been an integral part of the court for many years," Chief Judge Craig C. Villanti said in a statement. "Even more, his dedication to and respect for the deputy clerks of the court will long be remembered."

Birkhold was involved in a two-vehicle crash around 1:40 p.m. Sunday, according to the Lakeland Ledger. The Ledger quoted Lakeland police saying that Birkhold's 2014 Lexus ES 350 was headed east on Beaker Boulevard. When Birkhold pulled onto Harden Boulevard to attempt a lefthand turn, police told the newspaper, a 2009 Chevy Silverado pickup slammed into the driver's side. Birkhold was later pronounced dead at Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center. Three other people were injured in the crash.

Birkhold also served as a staff attorney with the Prison Project in Gainesville as well as an assistant public defender from 1978 to 1981. He ran a private practice from 1981 to 1993 in Manatee County.