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Fox sworn in as State Attorney for the Twentieth Judicial Circuit

By Staff | Jan 16, 2019

Amira Fox walked into Courtroom 1-A in the Lee County Justice Center to a standing ovation Friday afternoon.

Surrounded by her family, friends colleagues and peers, Fox was sworn in as the third ever State Attorney for the Twentieth Judicial Circuit – the first woman to hold the position.

“I’m super excited. I’m ready for it,” Fox said of her new role. “I’ve done this for 29 years, between doing private practice and prosecution. I’ve seen the criminal justice system as a whole, so I feel incredibly well prepared to tackle it. I feel the community support is just so good, and I think that we have a great community and we’re so strong. I think that as the leader of the State Attorneys Office, at least, I’m very excited and overwhelmed by the amount of support so I’m really ready to get going.”

The swearing-in was presided over by Chief Judge of the 20th Judicial Circuit, Michael T. McHugh.

Lee County Tax Collector Larry Hart, as well as the outgoing State Attorney Stephen B. Russell, endorsed Fox to the fullest degree, offering kind words and well wishes.

“I’m so proud,” said Hart. “Amira has worked hard and put in a lot of time and effort. She is a friend of law enforcement, and a friend of this community. I’ve never known for her to take a step back when there is a challenge. She has courage. She has guts. We’re going to move this community forward. There is no better person to lead then Amira Fox.”

“Amira is a person of intellect, character, balance and work ethic,” said Russell. “She was the best, most qualified candidate. She was fully emerged and intricately involved in all aspects of the State Attorneys Office. She epitomizes the core values of the 20th Circuit. Don’t think she can’t be tough when necessary. Amira has a deep respect of the needs for all aspects of the 20th and the five counties it embodies.”

Fox was sworn in by United States District Judge Sheri Polster Chappell, whom she also calls a friend from their time working together under Russell and first 20th Judicial Circuit State Attorney, Joseph P. D’Alessandro.

“I’m honored to swear you in,” Polster Chappell told Fox just before it became official.

So, what will be Fox’s goals as the newest State Attorney for Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties?

“We have the lowest crime rate six years in a row in the state of Florida, but we’re going to make it lower,” Fox said, noting the countless members of law enforcement present. “I think both of our goals (her’s and law enforcement) here in Lee County and throughout the circuit is to make the crime rate even lower, and to be, for all of our citizens, a really safe and good place to live. It’s important to me, and I know it’s important to the sheriff (Carmine Marceno) that we continue to keep our citizens safe. That’s my number one goal.”

Part of keeping the community safe is tackling the opioid epidemic that has not only affected Southwest Florida, but the nation, Fox said.

“One of the first things we’re going to be jointly announcing with some of the other law enforcement partners in the area is a narcotics task force,” said Fox. “We’re going to be going really hard after people who sell opioids. We’re sick and tired of watching people overdose and we’re not going to put up with it anymore. That’s going to be one of our top agenda items. We’ve already got our first meeting set next week, and I’ll be going throughout the circuit to form a task force with all the other sheriffs and law enforcement because we all care about this very much.”

Another topic she feels passionately about is that of mental health.

“We have a mental health epidemic. And all of us in law enforcement tremendously need resources to attack this. It’s imperative we have resources so that we can try to stop it at the root, because the band-aid of sending people to jail who have a mental health issue, is not a very good band-aid. They just get out and keep committing more and more crimes. We’re working very hard on that together. That’s our biggest challenge, is we don’t have enough resources, there’s not enough money being put towards that. So to me, that is the biggest challenge we have – I think throughout the state of Florida and perhaps the United States.”

Fox is humbled to be the first woman to serve as the State Attorney for the 20th Judicial Circuit, something she does not take for granted and is thankful for.

“It’s wonderful,” she said of being the first female in her position. “In my speech I referenced being the first female office head in Collier County, which was one of the most tremendously exciting things about my career. But now to take over as the first female State Attorney – there have been very few female state attorneys in the state of Florida, and I’m the first one here, so it feels really good. It was a long road to get here and I’m so grateful to all of the citizens who have shown their trust in me, and I will not let them down.”

Fox will continue to prosecute on behalf of the state, as she will be the presiding lawyer over the Wisner Desmaret case, the man accused of killing Fort Myers Police Officer Adam Jobbers-Miller in July, as well as a lawyer on the Zombiecon case, where one person was fatally shot and six other injured in 2015.

Sheriff Marceno also shared his thoughts on Fox and what it means to Lee County that she’s in her position.

“What a huge day. The citizens of this county, the law enfacement community, to have State Attorney Fox today is the best day ever,” he said. “Her efforts, her training and experience, is going to take this county, and all the other counties she’s in charge of, to a place we’ve never seen. She’s a true leader, and we could not be more blessed to have her in the position she’s in.”

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj