By Brad Stager
As the 1993 Florida Strawberry Festival Queen, Plant City native and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s court was more about pageantry than justice.
Since then, Moody has distinguished herself as an attorney, prosecutor and as a judge, presiding over the 13th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida in Hillsborough County as the youngest elected judge in the state at age 31. She became Florida’s 38th attorney general by winning the election in November and was sworn into office last month.
As Florida’s new law enforcement leader, Moody has set an agenda of combating the illegal narcotics trade, human trafficking as well as protecting consumer rights.
In her electoral victory remarks, Moody spoke of the principles she abides by in carrying out her duties as attorney general.
“The preparation for this role really began a long time ago,” said Moody.
“Beginning with my father, a judge, who taught me that the strength and resilience of our society hinges on a fair judicial system. Not only a fair judicial system, but one that is perceived as fair, and I will work towards that end every day as attorney general.”
Moody also credited her mother as an inspiration for earning her law degree while working as a full-time parent, a work-life balancing routine that is familiar to Moody, her husband Justin Duralia (a federal law enforcement agent) and their two sons.
“Thank goodness for my mother who set an example for me that I could do this.”
While Moody is spending her workdays in Tallahassee and elsewhere in the state, her legacy as an advocate for children going through the legal system while she was a circuit judge in Hillsborough County continues, according to attorney Rosemary Armstrong, executive director of Crossroads for Florida Kids, a nonprofit organization providing legal services to children in the foster care system. She credits Moody for an increase in lawyers providing pro bono services to poor people and helping get Crossroads established. She wrote in an email that Floridians can expect the same commitment from Attorney General Moody.
“I have no doubt that Ashley Moody will be an extraordinary Attorney General, who will make Hillsborough County and all of Florida proud that they elected her. Everything she does, she does well!”