Judge, Sarasota County
Erika Quartermaine received the call of a lifetime for an lawyer in late 2013, when Florida Gov. Rick Scott was on the other line.
Scott told Quartermaine she had been appointed to serve as a judge for a vacant seat in Sarasota County. A Sarasota native, Quartermaine beat out more than 30 applicants. “At first I thought it was a prank call,” Quartermaine told the Sarasota Observer, sister paper of the Business Observer, in November 2013. “After I got off the phone, I asked myself, ‘Did that really happen? Is that for real?’”
Now going on two years as a judge, Quartermaine says the position is both fulfilling and challenging. One obstacle is workload. Her cases include misdemeanors and some civil suits, everything from DUIs and domestic violence to landlord-tenant disputes. “There is a large volume of cases,” she says. “Getting through everything and getting people their day in court is the biggest challenge.”
On a more personal level, a regular lesson Quartermaine learns nearly every day on the job is the level of scrutiny is constantly on high. That goes from how nice, or not nice, the courtroom staff is, to her tone when she hands down a decision. “People’s lives are affected by this,” she says, “so they will look at everything you do.”
Not that she’s complaining. Being a judge has long been a career goal, and Quartermaine’s passion comes from helping the community, especially with mental illness and how it’s handled in the judicial system. Says Quartermaine: “I love to solve problems.”
— Mark Gordon
Name: Erika Nikla Quartermaine
City of residence: Sarasota
Twitter handle: I do not engage in social media due to ethical considerations in my role as a judge.
Title: Sarasota County Judge
Years on the Gulf Coast: With the exception of college and law school, my whole life.
Marital status/children: Married with two boys, ages six and nine.
Alma mater: Stetson University and the University of Miami College of Law
Best place to network: Over lunch in a two-three person group.
Coolest work experience: I love what I do. Every day is a new challenge and an amazing experience.
The most important lesson I’ve learned: Never give up.
One website that makes your job easier: Westlaw
One community group you’re most involved with: Inn of Court – it’s a group of lawyers focusing on improving the practice of law
Favorite off-hours activity: waterskiing
Two people, dead or alive, you’d like to have dinner with: My grandmother — she was taken too quickly and I have so many questions for her. Theodore Roosevelt — he lived a life rich with experience and made a positive impact. I hope to do the same.
What you would be doing if you could pick another career: Own a restaurant
Most adventurous thing you’ve ever done: Camping alone in Desolation Canyon, Utah.
What’s at the top of your bucket list: Hike the Appalachian Trail
What new skill would you like to learn: learn Spanish.
Who would play you in a movie about your life: Reese Witherspoon
If I had a magic wand I’d: World peace. More wands. I could go on but instead, I will say that I would use the wand to assist me in my current mission which is to give non-violent mentally ill misdemeanor offenders a way out of jail and the treatment they need.