It was standing-room only as newly-elected State Attorney Jack Cambell was sworn into office last Friday, January 6th at the Leon County Courthouse.
Teeming with dignitaries, law enforcement officers of many ranks, attorneys, family, friends, and members of the clergy, Courtroom F was packed to see a member of their own community given the administration of oath as State Attorney by the Honorable James C. Hankinson, Circuit Judge, Second Judicial Circuit.
Joining Campbell and holding the bible was his wife, Krista. Their two children, Colton and Carsyn Campbell led the Pledge of Allegiance after the Call to Order in the Court was administered by Deputy Leon County Bailiff Stephen Williams. The Honorable Jonathan Sjostrom commanded the Opening of the Court and Father Eric Dudley, Rector of St. Peter's Anglican Church gave the invocation at the ceremony that was deeply felt by those in attendance.
Among the notables in the audience were Representative Gwen Graham, former Tallahassee Police Chief and City Manager Tom Coe, former Wakulla County Sheriff David Harvey, Wakulla County Sheriff Jerrod Miller, former Florida Supreme Court Justice Major Harding, Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo, Leon County Commissioner Bryan DeLoge, Florida Senator Bill Montford, Leon County Manager Vince Long, retiring Assistant State Attorney Rick Combs and many other State Attorney Office staff, family, friends, church members and courthouse employees.
Former Leon County Sheriff Eddie Boone addressed Jack Campbell personally at times during his talk about life between the Boones and Campbells over five decades. Boone said he had known Jack since he was born, and that the Boones' sons went to school together at Holy Comforter, Cobb Middle School and Leon High where they played football together. Eddie Boone described his own first campaign for office where he saw Campbell wearing a shirt and Eddie Boone cap. Campbell still has that cap, he said.
"Jack is very smart - he had leadership potential that showed he was also a team player while playing football at St. John's Episcopal's church league. In a game of the church league versus the city league, Jack took a rim ball and flew back to the other end and shot a 3-pointer; we (church) won the game 4-3," said Boone.
After graduating from Leon High, Jack Campbell went into preparatory classes to prepare for an orthopedic doctorate in sports medicine. Jack had an epiphany, said Boone, after he tried to save a man who had been hit by a drunk driver. He wasn't successful. Campbell realized, he said, that medicine would never make things completely right, and decided to go to law school as a better way to help people. "Jack went to work for State Attorney Willy Meggs for 16 years which prepared him for what's here today," Boone said. "The people of the 2nd Circuit did a good job in electing Jack Campbell," he added.
Sheriff Boone offered some words of encouragement after citing a list of States Attorney who had come before him, including the Honorable William Hopkins who sat in the seat in 1947 and whose desk Jack inherits: "When you move into the State Attorney's office it is a big responsibility. Make sure you surround yourself with good, honest people. There will be times you're struggling. Talk to that desk. It has 70 years of wisdom. Ask yourself, 'How would those states attorney who came before handle this?'
"Always search for the truth. You're going to be a strong state attorney," said Boone. Referring to Campbell's late father, Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell, Boone said: "There's nothing more that would make him the proudest of where you are today."
Also giving remarks were the Honorable Christopher Canova, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida and lifelong friend Emory Mayfield.
U.S. Attorney Canova: Jack Campbell interned with him when Canova had 200 cases on his desk. Jack offered to help. "He was like a sponge. He strategized. He wanted to know how to do this job and do it right. He did a great job at his first trial, one of the best first cases I've ever seen. He developed that talent and used it for his community. He sets a goal and is not intimidated; he's relentless and is prepared," said Canova. "He takes challenges on with vigor. He talks to all involved before making a decision. He's fair. He considers the circumstances and he's passionate. It's not about cases, it's about people. He cares. You want Jack Campbell in your corner."
Lifelong friend Emory Mayfield, Market President of Hancock Bank: Mayfield said Jack is devoted to his family. "One of the worst-kept secrets in Leon County was that Jack wanted to be State Attorney. He had a vision of what he wanted to become. When I asked him what if he didn't get it, he said, 'there is no Plan B. This is what I was meant to do.' His focus now is shifting to make his vision a reality. He knows what he's fighting for and why. Jack has the experience to make things calm," said Mayfield, who gave Jack some advice as well: "Respect the office by remembering the past, while keeping an eye on the future."
"For 16 years, I've been blessed as an Assistant State Attorney. I set my compass at justice above all things; I started a voyage of justice," Campbell said. "I wish my dad was here. I stand before you as a humble servant. There's too much violence in this world. I know as a community, surrounded by good people, together as a society, we'll do it together," he said in thanking all who helped elect him to the seat of State Attorney for the 2nd Judicial Circuit.