MELBOURNE -- Cristina Sanchez, president of the Brevard County Association for Women Lawyers, won a three-way race for circuit judge in Seminole and Brevard counties. Since no one won more than 50 percent, Sanchez and Stephen Henderson will face off in a run-off election Nov. 8.
Sanchez, a 39-year-old solo practitioner from Viera and president of the Brevard County Bar Association - YLD, as well as treasurer of the Brevard Bar Foundation, earned 45 percent of the vote, outpacing two other candidates for the open seat. Trailing her was Henderson, 48, a former assistant public defender now in private practice in Melbourne, with 33 percent of the vote, and Robert Moletteire with 21 percent.
“Christina has represented thousands of clients in civil and criminal cases and has been lead counsel in over 50 jury trials,” her campaign website said.
She also was appointed by the Florida Bar to serve on the code and rules of evidence committee and was the recipient of the William F. Blews pro bono service award. She also has been awarded the U.S. Department of Defense’s ESGR patriot award and in the Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyers in Central Florida by the National Trial Lawyers Association.
Sanchez's father was a Cuban immigrant and Bay of Pigs War veteran who raised her and her siblings along the central Florida coast across the Indian River from the Kennedy Space Center. After graduating from Titusville High School, she attended Florida Southern College, Stetson University’s College of Law, The University of Pittsburgh Law School, the William and Mary School of Law, and various international and business law programs across Europe and central America.
“Christina is an accomplished trial attorney focusing her practice in the areas of civil litigation, criminal defense and family law,” her website bio said. “Prior to forming Sanchez Law Firm P.A., she acquired extensive trial experience at the 18th Judicial Circuit Public Defenders Office, defending the indigent in the Sanford, Titusville and Viera offices. Thereafter, Christina worked with GrayRobinson P.A., in their civil litigation department, where her practice focused primarily on corporate defense, insurance defense and civil trials.”
Sanchez has been endorsed by the Palm Bay Chief of Police, the Brevard County Professional Firefighters and the Brevard County Sheriff. Her opponent Steve Henderson explained that he has extensive trial and courtroom experience, as well as life experiences.
“Those experiences allow Steve to better understand and relate to the citizens that may appear before him if he is elected,” his website bio said.
Henderson also described his teenage years in Japan and his early career in international trade while living in Seattle, where he eventually attended the University of Seattle Law School.
Prior to Seattle, he spent his childhood in Cocoa Beach, where his mother still sells real estate, then studied economics at the University of California, Los Angeles. After passing the Florida Bar in 2003, Henderson returned to Brevard County from Seattle to join the public defender’s office, where he worked as a public defender for the 18th Judicial Circuit for more than six years.
His endorsements include the Florida Puerto Rican/Hispanic minority empowerment committee, the Melbourne Fire Fighters Association and the Brevard County Medical Society.