Gov. DeSantis picks Bradenton lawyer to fill new judgeship

The Manatee County clerk’s general counsel has been appointed by the governor to fill the newest seat on the 12th Judicial Circuit Court.

Matthew Whyte was among three judicial appointments announced by Gov. Ron DeSantis in a news release on Tuesday afternoon.

“I am honored to be appointed to the circuit court by Governor DeSantis. I appreciate his confidence, and that of the 12th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission, and I look forward to working hard every day to earn the confidence and trust of the people of Manatee, Sarasota, and DeSoto county,” Whyte told the Bradenton Herald. “I am deeply grateful to everyone that has helped me over the years to learn and grow as a person and a lawyer, and I am humbled to join the bench of the 12th Judicial Circuit, which I consider one of the best in Florida.”

The position is a new seat that was created legislation signed into law by DeSantis last June.

Whyte, who has been the clerk and comptroller’s general counsel since 2017, was one of eight applicants interviewed by the 12th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission before he was recommended to the governor.

“This has been a professional goal since I became a lawyer,’ Whyte said. “I think its the one of the pinnacles of service that a lawyer can give back to his community.”

Matthew Whyte Provided photo

Before taking the job of general counsel for the clerk and comptroller’s office, Whyte was a partner with Kirk and Pinkerton P.A where he specialized in criminal defense, personal injury law and civil litigation.

Whyte, 48, has been married to his wife Tina for 23 years. The couple share a home in Northwest Bradenton and have three children, two who currently attend State College of Florida and a third who attends a local middle school. His wife’s family are longtime residents of Bradenton and have owned and run Demetrios’ Pizza House since 1976.

Born in Ashland, Ky., Whyte grew up in Troy, Ohio. When he later got accepted to the University of Central Florida, Whyte decided that although snow was pretty to look at, he had had enough of cold winters and his move to Florida was permanent. After getting his bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida, he went earned his law degree at Stetson University.

Jessica De Leon has been covering crime, courts and law enforcement for the Bradenton Herald since 2013. She has won numerous awards for her coverage including the Florida Press Club’s Lucy Morgan Award for In-Depth Reporting in 2016 for her coverage into the death of 11-year-old Janiya Thomas.