Tim McCourt takes first day on the bench as judge
Former MCSO general counsel was appointed by governor
Judge Timothy McCourt
The newest Fifth Circuit Court Judge Tim McCourt took his first day on the bench in Lake County on Jan. 3 after being appointed to the position last month by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
McCourt previously served as the general counsel for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office since 2019 and was the most recent president of the Marion County Bar Association. Before his time at the sheriff’s office, McCourt served as an assistant state attorney for the Fifth Judicial Circuit for 10 years.
As a judge in Lake County, McCourt will oversee cases related to family law, guardianship, domestic violence injunctions and mental health, he said.
“I knew it would be a way to serve my community,” McCourt said. “My career has been dedicated to public service, and I think that this is a way to give back to the people of the state and of the circuit in kind of a different, maybe more impactful way.”
His appointment fills the vacancy left from the July 15, 2023 retirement of former Circuit Judge Larry Metz.
“I’m definitely excited. I spent some time in Lake County in private practice, so it’ll kind of be like going home again,” McCourt said.
The applicants for the appointment were McCourt, Benjamin Boylston, Joy Goodyear, Charles Helm, Robert Kingsford, Harlan Derek Saltsman, George Singletary II, Christopher Small, Brian Toti and Lisa Yeager.
Out of all the applicants, the judicial nominating committee put the names of McCourt, Goodyear, Helm, Singletary, Toti and Yeager on a short list to recommend to the governor for appointment.
McCourt is not the only recent judicial appointee out of Ocala. Former State Attorney Brad King was appointed to serve as a judge in Marion County for the Fifth Judicial Circuit in September, replacing the retired Judge Richard Singletary. After retiring from the state attorney’s office in 2020, King worked as an Ocala Police Department reserve officer until rejoining the Fifth Circuit this year.
McCourt had also previously applied for the appointment that Circuit Judge Gregg Jerald received in 2018 in addition to the appointment King received. Jerald also served as the general counsel to the MCSO before being appointed to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Judge Jonathan Ohlman.
McCourt said the amount of varied experience he gained while working for the sheriff’s office will provide him background as he steps into this new role.
“As the legal adviser for the sheriff, you deal with a lot of different areas of law—situations that are new and novel all the time,” he said. “And as a judge, my job is going to be to take cases that come before me, figure out what the facts are and apply the law to them.”
In switching from his role as an attorney to serving as a judge, McCourt said he is no stranger to acting as a neutral party.
“I’ve been a prosecutor, I’ve worked (at the sheriff’s office), I’ve been in private practice and had private clients. Switching to the role of a neutral party, to me, it won’t be much different,” he said.
McCourt said he is looking forward to serving in this capacity and grateful for the opportunity to give back.
“I want to do good for the citizens of this circuit, and the people who come before me,” he said. “My goal is to rule on the cases that come before me in an efficient manner, so people can get back to living their lives.”