Judge Paul Damico brings balance and respect to the courtroom
Judge Paul Damico has established a reputation in Palm Beach County as a fair and respectful judge during his 20-year tenure. “There should be respect for everybody working in that courtroom; whether it’s the interpreter, the bailiff, the judge, the clerks, or the lawyers,” Damico stated. “I want there to be respect shown to everyone from everyone.”
These ideals continue to serve Damico and the people of Palm Beach County since his appointment to the bench in 2001. Damico’s distinguished record as a judge and former litigator, stellar community involvement, and commitment to respect in the courtroom are critical components of his retention campaign for Palm Beach County Court Group 9.
Judge Paul Damico’s answer to one question has set the tone for his judicial service in Palm Beach County. “When the Judicial Nominating Commission interviewed me before I was appointed a county court judge, I was asked, ‘How would you distinguish your courtroom?’ There was only one answer. My courtroom control would be based on a high degree of compassion and respect,” he said.
As a judge, Damico has presided over both civil and criminal cases. “I am currently hearing criminal cases and, since 2018, preside over circuit-level domestic violence cases involving stalking, dating violence, and repeat offenders,” he said. Damico said that certifying more judges could mean swifter handling of court cases at both the circuit and county levels. “Additionally, it’s essential to have the state Legislature appropriate funds for these judgeships. The more divisions open to hearing cases, the more quickly these cases will move through the court system.”
Before his judicial appointment, Damico worked as a prosecutor and public defender in Palm Beach County. He is a county native, attended public schools, and earned his law degree from Florida State University. He has two sons: Kyle, an FSU undergraduate student, and Alec, an FSU medical student.
“I specialized in DUI prosecution, worked my way up to general felony prosecution, and handled cases ranging from cocaine possession and sale to drug trafficking to sexual battery cases to first-degree murder,” he said. He became vice chief of the narcotics unit and was board certified by the Florida Bar Association as a criminal trial lawyer.
“I always knew I wanted to be a county court judge. In preparation for that, I left the prosecutor’s office and joined the public defender’s office. My five years at the public defender’s office rounded and balanced me professionally,” Damico said. “I saw the law from an entirely different perspective. I believe a balanced judge is a better judge, and my experience on both sides of the law helped me accomplish that.”
“You get a good feeling when you prosecute somebody who’s committed a heinous crime and victimized another person,” Damico said. “You get that conviction, the criminal is off the streets, and your county is safer. But, it is equally satisfying to have had several cases where I could see the defendant was wrongly accused, prove that in front of a jury and see that person released.”
“The balance of seeing both sides of a court case as a litigator is what makes a better judge,” Damico observed. “It’s imperative to have been a litigator when you judge litigators. Judges should never feel that they completely understand every piece of a case because a good judge is constantly learning and evolving.”
Damico has been an adjunct professor at Barry University since 1991 and sees day-to-day court proceedings as teachable moments for his students. “I refer to my courtroom as a classroom and like to use my teaching experience to help young professionals coming out of law school,” Damico said. “It’s very fulfilling to have these young lawyers try their first case in front of me and then hear five or 10 years later that they have become well-known litigators.”
“I have an affinity toward the elderly and have served as an Alzheimer’s community chair. For the past 30 to 35 years, I have worked with a group of elderly gentlemen who are such great mentors,” Damico said.
“Howard, a member of my group, is 99 years old and was a pilot during World War II. One day, he brought our group a photo album he had during the war. I was astonished; It was like looking at a history book,” Damico said. “He told us about his missions, parachuting out of the plane, and the times they were shot down. I truly understand why those born in the 1920s and 1930s are called the Greatest Generation.”
Wings 4 Women is a global not-for-profit organization that Damico, his wife Jennifer, and their family have supported over the last several years. “Every May, we send teams to three villages in Uganda for two to four weeks to help with medical care, educate the women on birth control, promote schooling, and show them to start businesses,” he said. “The women of Uganda are treated like how women in the U.S. were treated 150 years ago.”
“Wings 4 Women has created businesses for women and their families. $600.00 will buy a woman her own piggery business to support her family,” Damico said. “The organization has also financed bringing running water to one of the villages, and we’re excited to see these Ugandan women pay forward what they have learned to help others.”
The Damicos’ son Alec is in medical school and has worked with Wings 4 Women as a medical volunteer. “The only time some of these villagers get medical treatment is during these visits,” Damico said. “When Jennifer and Alec couldn’t make the trip due to COVID-19, it was like they were missing their vacation. That’s how impactful Wings 4 Women is for our family.”
To learn more about Damico’s campaign, please visit his website.
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