When the Florida Legislature created the 20th Judicial Circuit, Governor Claude Kirk appointed Joseph P. D’Alessandro to serve as its first State Attorney in 1969. The circuit encompasses Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee Counties and covers over 5,400 square miles – making it the largest geographic circuit in the state. As of 2017, the population of the circuit stood over 1.2 million residents.
The Office of the State Attorney is the primary “public” prosecuting agency in the circuit. It represents the State of Florida and its residents in the County and Circuit Courts throughout the five counties. The elected State Attorney serves as the chief prosecutor. Working in conjunction with all local law enforcement agencies, the office reviews all arrests to determine legal sufficiency and files formal charges against those accused of crimes as supported by the law and the evidence. Assistant State Attorneys serve at the direction of the State Attorney and appear in the criminal courts on behalf of the citizens.
Mr. D’Alessandro served as State Attorney for 33 years. His successor, Stephen B. Russell, was elected in September 2002 and assumed office in January 2003 upon Mr. D’Alessandro’s retirement. Mr. Russell served as the circuit’s second State Attorney for 16 years, running unopposed for re-election on three separate occasions. He retired in December 2018.
Amira D. Fox becomes the third State Attorney and the first female State Attorney in the history of the circuit. Amira leads an office which has grown to over 120 Assistant State Attorneys, a total staff of approximately 300 employees and an annual operating budget estimated at $26.9 million.