The Honorable Judge Thomas M. Gallen has officially retired from his senior judge position with the 12th Judicial Circuit Court, where he presided primarily in Manatee and Sarasota counties. Gallen was a Circuit Court Judge for 18 years and worked as a retired judge, known in Florida as senior judges, for an additional 14 years. In the last 10 years, he primarily presided over foreclosure cases and was the 12th Circuit’s foreclosure expert.
Court Administration recently held a going-away party for Judge Gallen and provided statistics regarding the number of foreclosure cases he presided over as a senior judge. In those 14 years as a senior judge, Gallen worked 1,038 days, which includes 119 days presiding over cases outside of the 12th Circuit – primarily in Pinellas, Hillsborough and at the 2nd District Court of Appeal. In Manatee and Sarasota counties, he presided over an estimated 11,150 foreclosure motions and 5,800 foreclosure final hearings and trials.
As they looked deeper into his career, they realized that Gallen has spent over 48 years of his working career in public service. Gallen was born in Tampa in 1932. He attended the University of Tampa, leaving during the Korean War in order to enlist in the Army Special Forces. He was a member of the inaugural group of Green Berets formed in 1952 and deployed to Bad Tolz, Germany, in 1953, serving until 1955. After leaving the Army, he returned to school and received a B.S. in business administration from Florida State University and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Florida.
Legal career, public service
Gallen was a law partner in Bradenton at the law firm of Miller, Gallen, Kaklis and Venable from 1960 to 1985. During this period, he also served as a member of the Florida Legislature for 12 years, first in the Florida House of Representatives from 1965-1972, then the Florida Senate from 1972-1978, where he served as chairman of the powerful Senate Rules Committee.
During his legislative tenure, he tackled many important state and local issues, including championing legislation that created the Manatee Port Authority, the Tampa Sport Authority that created the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and working successfully to break up the infamous “Pork Chop Gang,” a segregationist-minded group of legislators. In 1985, he was elected to the 12th Judicial Circuit, where he was elected Chief Judge by his colleagues in 1998 and served in that position until his mandatory retirement in 2002.
Current 12th Circuit Chief Judge Charles E. Williams commented, “If a Chief Judge could have a role model, I could not think of a better role model than Judge Thomas Gallen. He served this circuit in that role with dedication and distinction. He understood the qualities of service and leadership, and recognized that leadership often means sacrificing what may be popular in order to do what is right. His judicial leadership helped shape what we are today in terms of the respect our circuit and its judiciary has statewide. He has had a lasting and continuing impact on all of us who were fortunate to call him a colleague.”
Gallen stayed busy in his retirement. In addition to his senior judge work, in 2005 he received the Manatee County Bar Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2013, he was named to the Manatee County Rural Health Services Board of Directors, and last September (2016) he received the George F. Hixon Fellowship Award, the highest award bestowed by Kiwanis for service to the club and the community. He has been a member of Kiwanis for 38 years.
Thomas Gallen has finally retired (for real) and is spending time with his wife Linda Pruitt Gallen, his four children and five grandchildren.
Mary Gallen is a proud daughter of Thomas and Linda Pruitt Gallen.