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Court Skills for the Federal Practitioner: Opening Statements and Closing Arguments

Don’t just practice in the mirror; try it out in a real courtroom with all the bells and whistles. This is your chance to test it, try it, or discuss it without a judge or jury in the room…but in one of the very rooms where it needs to happen!

Approved for Florida Bar CLE Credit:  1 General, 1 Criminal Appellate, 1 Criminal Trial, 1 Juvenile Law.

The main instructor is Thomas N. Palermo. He has served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida for the last eleven years. Palermo serves as the District Opioid Coordinator and a Reviewer in the Violent Crime and Narcotics Section. He previously served as a Senior Litigation Counsel, in the Economic Crimes Section, and the Organized Crime Section. Palermo was a state prosecutor and a federal judicial law clerk for a U.S. Magistrate Judge. Palermo got his LL.M. at King’s College London in Bank & Finance, his law degree from FSU College of Law, and his undergraduate degree from American University. Over the course of his career, Palermo has tried more than fifty cases to verdict.

For Opening Statements and Closing Arguments: Joseph H. Varner III is a partner in Holland & Knight’s Tampa office. He is the Practice Group Leader for the Tampa Litigation group and he serves on the firm’s Directors Committee. Mr. Varner is an experienced and accomplished trial lawyer and has focused on civil trial practice in Florida for his entire career. He is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, has been named one of the Top 10 lawyers in Florida by Florida Super Lawyers, and has been Board Certified In Civil Trial Law for more than 20 years. Mr. Varner has received much other recognition for his professional accomplishments, including Chambers USA, The Best Lawyers In America, and the Florida Trend Legal Elite Hall of Fame. Mr. Varner is also the recipient of the Hillsborough County Bar Association’s Michael Fogarty Memorial In The Trenches Award for excellence in civil litigation. Mr. Varner is experienced in complex commercial litigation, business torts, securities litigation, professional negligence, and personal injury and wrongful death litigation. Mr. Varner has obtained significant jury verdicts and settlements in commercial and personal injury litigation and has conducted numerous jury trials in state and federal court. Mr. Varner has held numerous positions of bar leadership, including President of the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Federal Bar Association and President of the J. Clifford Cheatwood American Inn of Court. He has also been appointed to several positions of service to the courts, including chair of the Middle District of Florida Local Rules Advisory Committee, the Merit Selection Panel for U.S. Magistrates, the Civil Justice Reform Act Advisory Group for the Middle District of Florida, and Special Counsel for the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission.

Complimentary Registration.  Please email:  Tammy Wright at

If you have any questions, please contact Thomas Palermo at (813) 274-6142 or Lani Fraser at (850) 561-5707.

Please Note: this is a rare opportunity to use a real District Judge’s courtroom to improve courtroom skills. Do not interrupt any proceedings if you arrive early and be prepared to be out of the courtroom promptly by 1:00pm. Our thanks to U.S. District Judge Charlene Honeywell, a member of The Florida Bar Federal Court Practice Committee, for making this opportunity available to us.

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Sam M. Gibbons U.S. Courthouse, Courtroom 13A - 801 N. Florida Avenue, Tampa
May 9, 2018
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
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