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Kelly P. Butz

Distinguished Alumnus May 2017

Kelly P. Butz graduated from Winter Haven High School in 1984. She received an Associate in Arts degree from Polk State in 1985, a bachelor’s from the University of Florida in 1987, and a Juris Doctor degree from Florida State University in 1990. She was admitted to the Florida bar in 1991 and currently serves as a judge in the 10th Judicial Circuit Court. She was appointed to this position by Governor Scott in 2015.

As a respected local option for education, Kelly’s decision to enroll at Polk State after high school was easily made. She still remembers her time at the College fondly. After graduating, Kelly transferred to the University of Florida, earning a bachelor’s degree in three years; she later also earned her law degree in less than three years, graduating with honors.

While in law school, Kelly interned at the Polk County State Attorney’s Office in Bartow. After passing the bar exam, she joined the State Attorney’s office as a prosecutor. Her first assignment was in the domestic violence division. While she worked in many areas, the time she spent within this division was particularly personal, as it provided a tangible opportunity to make a difference in the community.

Kelly left the state attorney’s office in 1998 to join Sharit, Bunn and Chilton Law Firm in Winter Haven, where she handled family law cases. She was named a partner, and was practicing in a variety of legal areas, when the opportunity to apply for a judgeship arose.

Kelly submitted an application for Polk County judge in 2014, and while it was under review by the commission, a circuit judge position also became available; she submitted her application for that position as well. Governor Scott appointed her to the county judge position in late 2014. She had been a county judge for a couple of days when Governor Scott called with the news of her appointment to the Circuit Court bench. She spent her first two years covering criminal cases, and recently moved to hearing cases regarding felony violation of probation.

It is Kelly’s passion for serving the community that prompted a desire to pursue a judgeship. She loves the law, believing there is no better way to serve the people of the State of Florida. Her role is to take each case as it is, to hear the facts of the case, and to follow the law.

Kelly has been involved in many community organizations, including the Junior League of Greater Winter Haven, Girl Scouts, First Presbyterian Church of Winter Haven, Winter Haven Youth Soccer, and Grace Lutheran School. She served on the Board of Directors for Girls Inc. of Winter Haven, Florida Dance Theatre, and Habitat for Humanity. She was also a member of the 10th Judicial Circuit Domestic Violence taskforce and City of Winter Haven Efficiency Review Committee. In 2005, she received the “She Knows Where She’s Going” Award from Girls Inc. of Winter Haven.

Kelly and her husband, George, live in Winter Haven and have two grown children, Will and Paige.