By: Duval County Judge Michael Bateh

Who or what inspired you to become a lawyer?

My brother Abraham Bateh encouraged me to become a lawyer.

When I was young, I was interested in the judicial process. During the summer months when I worked with my brother, I accompanied him to the courthouse many times and watched the proceedings.

From visiting the various courtrooms and listening to the arguments of the attorneys to getting the case files from the clerk’s office to write the document (something I did in the old courthouse), I was fascinated.

Although my father hoped his last child would follow in his footsteps and become a pharmacist, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in law. I think he likes the way things turned out.

Who or what inspires you?

Many people have inspired me over the years, but it had to start with my parents. My dad worked two jobs at the family grocery store and as a pharmacist at Pic N’ Save to support our family. My mother raised four children and worked in a grocery store with my father, his two brothers and their wives.

My parents taught me that hard work is just the beginning. To be truly successful, you must give back to the community and treat everyone with respect and dignity. They taught me to always do the right thing because it is the right thing to do.

How do you relate your undergraduate degree to your experience at the bench?

I have a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing and economics.

Studying business administration taught me to pay attention to the details in order to understand the big picture. It helps me deal with the complexities of the many civil and criminal cases that come before me on a daily basis.

What community service have you done and why?

Community service is an important part of my life. When we were young, my father and mother instilled in us the idea of ​​giving back.

Even though my father worked two jobs, he volunteered his time and encouraged us to do the same.

I spend my time with El Bethel Church of God, Pastor Bishop Lorenzo Hall, Northeast Florida Catering, Sulzbacher, Duval County Board of Election Supervisor and mentor/judge for many high school students and mock trials.

Do you currently serve on any committees at JBA?

I serve on the Judicial Relations, Mentoring and Professionalism Committees, as well as the Ribo Young Lawyers and Leaders.

Through the Florida Conference of District Court Judges, I serve on the Administration and Governance, Awards and Labor, Civil Rules/Small Claims, Industrial Relations, and Traffic Rules Committees. Recently, I was elected at the conference as the Deputy Chief Justice of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

What is your favorite book?

I have a few: The Man in the Arena: Selected Writings of Theodore Roosevelt and The Tree by Coach John Wooden with Steve Jamison. I read Wooden many years ago and now I have the pleasure of reading it with my son.

Do you have a special talent?

In my previous life, I used to swim. My best and strongest strokes were the butterfly and breaststroke.

I started swimming at age 6 and swam all the way through college. Unfortunately, I ruptured a disc in my back during the race, which ended my swimming career.

If you weren’t a judge, what do you think you would be?

I think it will still be a career in the legal profession. Maybe more fieldwork.

Have you ever traveled anywhere exotic?


If you could meet anyone from history, who would it be and why?

Although not a celebrity in the traditional sense, I remember my grandfather, Abraham S. I want to meet Bateh.

His teachings and experiences became the foundation of our family and established our moral code and strong character.

He passed away before his eldest grandson was born.

What is your favorite food?

Italian food.

What is your favorite holiday?

My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. Eating several meals a day, watching sports on TV, relaxing and not being judged, when else is it okay?

Really, this holiday is about giving back. When I was little, my family cooked and served Thanksgiving dinner (along with others) to the less fortunate around town.

Now I can carry on the same tradition that I started with my family at the Holy Church of God in Greater El Bethel with my mother and father, Bishop Lorenzo Hall.

It is heartwarming and encouraging to see how much a small church can give back to our community.

Duval County Judge Michael Bateh joined the bench on January 7, 2019.