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Stetson Law inducts Judge Susan Schaeffer into Hall of Fame


Contact Aaron Reincheld
Communications Specialist
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Gulfport, Fla. – Stetson University College of Law recently inducted Judge Susan F. Schaeffer as the newest member of its Hall of Fame. Judge Schaeffer was inducted during a ceremony following her taking senior status after 22 years on the bench.

“With all of Stetson’s distinguished alumni, I feel especially honored to be chosen early in the process as one of Stetson’s elite,” said Judge Schaeffer.

Judge Schaeffer graduated at the top of her 1971 class at Stetson. During her judicial career, she left an indelible imprint on the justice system in Florida as both a jurist and advocate for the trial court system. As chair of the Trial Court Budget Commission, she helped establish equitable funding of trial courts throughout Florida.

Susan Schaeffer attended elementary school in Canton, Ohio, and moved to St. Petersburg in 1955 before entering the ninth grade at Northeast High School. While in high school, Judge Schaeffer was a first-class athlete at a time when women’s sports were not always a priority.

She earned an associate of arts degree in 1962 from St. Petersburg Junior College. She went on to Florida State University and earned a bachelor’s in accounting in 1964. A gifted student, music and theater helped balance her life. Later in life, as a judge, she found time to lend her talents outside the courtroom to community events and programs.

After graduating from Florida State, she worked as a field agent for the Internal Revenue Service for three years and then began law school at Stetson.

Over the years, Judge Schaeffer established a tradition of firsts.
First in her 1971 Stetson Law graduating class …one of only three female students

  • First female chief assistant public defender in Pinellas County
  • First female criminal defense attorney rated “A” by Martindale Hubbell
  • First judge to receive the St. Petersburg Bar Association’s Judicial Appreciation Award
  • First recipient of the William J. Castagna Award for Judicial Excellence
  • First female chief judge in the 6th Judicial Circuit
  • First chief judge in the 6th Judicial Circuit elected to three consecutive terms

Judge Schaeffer’s work with the Florida Advance Judicial College and the National Judges College achieved yet another first as she created the first widely used judge’s manual on the penalty phase of capital murder trials.

A high-resolution video on Judge Schaeffer’s impressive career is available at: http://gpiis03.law.stetson.edu/media/on-demand/schaeffer_01.asx.