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DeSantis appoints Kevin Tynan, Judge Catalina Avalos to 17th Judicial Circuit openings

Gov. Ron DeSantis has appointed former School Board member Kevin Tynan and Judge Catalina Avalos to fill two vacancies in the 17th Judicial Circuit in Broward County.

Tynan will step into the role that was left open when Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer, who presided over the trial of the gunman who murdered 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in 2018, resigned earlier this year.

Avalos, who has served as a county judge since 2022, will fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Circuit Judge Dale Cohen, the governor’s office said in a news release announcing the appointments Friday.

Both Tynan and Avalos are Pembroke Pines residents.

Avalos previously served as county judge in Broward from 2005 to 2009 before becoming director at Tripp Scott, P.A. that year. DeSantis had previously appointed Avalos to the county bench in April 2022 to fill the vacancy created when Judge Natasha DePrimo was elevated.

Avalos earned a bachelor’s degree from Florida International University, and, according to her Florida Bar profile, her law degree from Nova Southeastern University in 1996. Avalos previously worked as an assistant state attorney in Broward County prosecuting firearms cases, sexual battery cases and second-degree murders, according to a bio published in the South Florida Sun Sentinel while she was the law firm’s director.

Judge Catalina M. Avalos is shown on Aug. 21, 2014. (South Florida Sun Sentinel file photo)
Cristobal Herrera Ulashkevich, Sun Sentinel
Judge Catalina M. Avalos is shown on Aug. 21, 2014. (South Florida Sun Sentinel file photo)

Former Gov. Jeb Bush first appointed Avalos to the bench in 2005. At the time, the governor’s office said she was the first-known Colombian-born judge in the country. She lost the 2008 election to Ian Richards.

In a question-and-answer page published on the Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division website, Avalos, then director of the law firm, discussed her loss in 2008 in response to a question about her greatest challenge she has faced.

“Having been a prosecutor and a judge for over 12 years, I was comfortable in my environment until I lost the election in 2008. At that point, I had to decide whether to go back to that which I knew or start in private practice as an associate,” she wrote.

Tynan has been a partner of Richardson & Tynan PLC in Tamarac since 2001, the governor’s office said, and was previously an associate of Entin, Margules & Della Fera P.A. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Barry University, and according to his Florida Bar profile, his law degree from NSU in 1987. His practice areas include election, campaign and political and professional liability.

Kevin Tynan
Kevin Tynan in an undated file photo. (File)

Tynan had previously applied for the vacancy created when Circuit Court Judge Patti Henning retired in March 2023, according to a news release from the 17th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission. He was one of six applicants nominated to DeSantis by the commission in May. DeSantis appointed Jessica Marra to the opening.

In 2011, then-Gov. Rick Scott appointed Tynan to the Judicial Nominating Commission. He was a member of the South Broward Hospital District board from 2002 to 2010.

Tynan was most recently sworn in as a Broward School Board member last year, a position he held before. Former Gov. Charlie Crist previously appointed him to the board in 2009. He lost a 2010 election for the seat.

His most recent appointment to the School Board in 2022 was temporary, a seat he held only until the November general election. Tynan was one of four appointed to the board to fill vacancies created after DeSantis removed Patricia Good, Donna Korn, Laurie Rich Levinson and Ann Murray after a grand jury report recommended their removal.

Tynan held leadership positions in the Broward County Republican Party for a decade before becoming the chairman in 2002. He announced in 2004 he would not run for re-election. He had also previously run for Pembroke Pines commissioner.

Information from the Sun Sentinel archives was used in this report. 

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