J. Leonard Fleet

Attorney J. Leonard Fleet

J. Leonard Fleet

Mediation | Criminal Defense

How may I help you?

Areas of Practice

  • Criminal Law
  • Professional Liability
  • Family Law
  • Appellate Proceedings
  • Mediation
  • Arbitration
  • Special Master
  • Windstorm Claims
  • Private Trials

Bar and Court Admission

  • All Florida Courts
  • United States District Court Southern District of Florida.
  • 5th Circuit and 11th Circuit Federal Court of Appeal.
  • The District of Columbia Court Appeal.
  • United States Supreme Court.


  • Juris Doctorate, University of Florida, 1959
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, University of Florida, 1956
  • Master of Judicial Studies, University of Nevada-Reno, 1994
  • Advanced mediator training, The Strauss Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University School of Law.

Professional Associations

  • The Florida Bar
  • Broward County Bar Association
  • Orange County Bar Association

J. Leonard Fleet was elected to Circuit Court, Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, without opposition, in 1982. Robed January 1983. He presided over complex, multi-party cases in Criminal, Family and General Civil Divisions. His work was centered upon the fields of criminal law civil rights litigation during his 23 years as a trial attorney.

Mr. Fleet personally wrote his appellate briefs in State and Federal Courts of Appeal. He personally argued all cases in which appellate work was required in order to achieve maximum justice for his clients. The appellate decisions in several of his cases resulted in major changes in Florida Law, some drawing national attention. Mr. Fleet was one of the three main leaders of the negotiations which brought local and national truck strikes to successful conclusions in 1972 and 1973. In his capacity as a Circuit Court Judge, he presided over numerous complex matters including, but not limited to, cemetery desecration and citrus canker infestation of fruit trees. He has had extensive judicial and practical experience with products’ liability, professional malpractice, windstorm claims, construction disputes and class action litigation. While on the Bench, his writings and lectures regarding a wide variety of educational issues, trial procedures and courtroom professionalism generated appearances on a number of television programs.

Mr. Fleet’s Master of Judicial Studies thesis dealt with the constitutional issues of the Sixth Amendment Confrontation Clause when utilizing videotaped testimony in lieu of a victim’s personal appearance in the courtroom. His innovative methods in trial protocol and some of his decisions have been featured in national print media and on nationally televised news programs.

Mr. Fleet has served as Special Master for Circuit Court Judges in Broward and Indian River Counties. He has served as arbitrator, mediator and as a privately retained judge in a major medical malpractice case. While on the Bench Mr. Fleet served as an Associate Judge for the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Palm Beach County. Prior to retirement from the Bench in December 2005, Mr. Fleet was trained and certified as an ADR neutral. After leaving the Bench on December 31, 2005 he became associated with the outstanding firm of neutrals known as Upchurch, White, Watson and Max. In 2007 Mr. Fleet created Fleet Dispute Resolution, operating out of Vero Beach, Florida until transferring his residence to South Carolina. In addition to his memberships in traditional legal associations, Mr. Fleet has been active in a variety of charitable and religious organizations.

Mr. Fleet has served as Adjunct Professor of Legal Ethics at Nova Southeastern College of Law. At Lynn University in Boca Raton, Judge Fleet served as Adjunct Professor for Civil Rights, Civil Liberties in the Undergraduate Program and in the Master of Police Administration program.

Mr. Fleet presented training lectures for local and state organizations:

1987- Judicial Discretion in the Use of Videotaped Testimony

1988- Confrontation: Hearsay & Child Abuse

2003- Electronic Discovery

He served as:

President of two B’nai B’rith Chapters

Chairman of the Advisory Board of Directors for the Adam Walsh Resource Center

Member of Board of Directors of Broward County Chapter of the American Red Cross

Board Member of Broward County Easter Seal Society

Board Member of Theatre for the Deaf

Board Member of River Hills Lions Club (South Carolina)

President of River Hills/Lake Wylie Lions Club (the largest Lions Club in North and South Carolina)


Trained as: Mediator (not presently certified). Arbitrator. Umpire

1983-12/31/2005 Circuit Court Judge, 17th Judicial    Circuit 

1970-1971-Broward County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association

Founder and Charter President

1985- Distinguished Service Award, Broward County Chapter of American Red Cross

1987- National Judicial Award, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

1991- President of Adam Walsh Child Resource center Advisory Board

1994- Harry Gulkin Award, Broward County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (Lifetime Achievement in Constitutional Law Advocacy)

2002- Judge of the Year, American Board of Trial Advocates

2004- Judge of the Year, President’s Award, Broward County Bar Association

2006- Antidefamation League Public Service Award

2008-Florida Justice Association Judicial Achievement Award

2014-2015 – First Vice President River Hills/Lake Wylie Lions Club (South Carolina)

2015-2016- President River Hills/Lake Wylie Lions Club




Coronavirus plus the necessity of quarantine has caused unusual congestion throughout our judicial system. An unpleasant side effect of this congestion is inordinate delay in obtaining court time for lengthy hearings and trials. Judges and their staffs in the Ninth Judicial Circuit are working hard to catch up, but the volume of new cases filed every day tends to frustrate their best efforts. This situation confronts every trial attorney with the risk of losing witnesses, incurring additional investigative costs, and consoling clients unhappy with the delay in achieving just resolution of their claims. Of equal importance is the inevitable delay in your receiving fees so necessary for maintaining staff and general office facilities as mandated by the Florida Bar.

Florida Statute 44.104 allows litigators and clients the opportunity to utilize the skills of both practicing attorneys and retired Judges. Except for the few limitations set forth in F.S. 44.104(14), the private trial procedure is virtually unlimited in scope. The designated private judge has almost all the powers of a Circuit Court Judge and the final judgment is fully enforceable.

In a private hearing/trial, due to the dramatically reduced caseload, the judge’s day is fully available to the parties, thus making it more likely the issues can be dealt with quickly thereby allowing the parties to focus their energy towards reaching a final resolution more quickly. Swift resolution will probably reduce the cost of the litigation, savings which will, more likely than not, outweigh the expense of retaining the services of a private judge. Utilization of our private judges avoids the inordinate congestion at the Courthouse, achieves greater privacy, reduces the chance of losing witnesses, and incurring unnecessary fees for expert witnesses. Of equal, if not greater, importance is reducing the possibility of contracting the dreaded novel coronavirus!


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