Steve Berlin, a local litigator and former career Army officer, will be the next judge on the Pinellas County Court, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday.
Berlin, 44, has been a litigator at the Tampa office of Rumberger, Kirk and Caldwell since 2017. He specializes in product liability, insurance coverage and casualty litigation with a focus on technology and working with the defense contracting community, according to the firm’s website. Before that, he spent 20 years as an Army officer.
County judges preside over the majority of non-jury trials in Florida. Cases that come before them include misdemeanor crimes, civil claims of less than $15,000 and traffic offenses. They serve six-year terms.
Berlin will fill a vacancy opened by the resignation of Judge Donald Horrox.
Berlin’s father served in the Vietnam War and his mother is Vietnamese, according to the firm’s website. He grew up in St. Petersburg and studied at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., before completing a tour as a field artillery officer. Afterward, he studied law at the University of Florida and became an officer in the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps.
Over 20 years, he held many roles, serving in Iraq and at posts including MacDill Air Force Base, Fort Bragg, N.C., and Fort Knox, Ky. He was a member of the Army’s first Special Victim Prosecutors, focused on sexual and family violence; in-house counsel at U.S. Special Operations and Central Commands; an Army legal adviser in Iraq; and staff judge advocate for the Combined Joint Interagency Task Force-Syria.