Sarasota County Judge Erika Quartermaine and Ed Brodsky, state attorney for the 12th Judicial Circuit, caught the teaching bug years ago, so it was no surprise that when Manatee County Judge Doug Henderson retired last year from a teaching post at USF Sarasota-Manatee, the two would answer the call to take on the part-time position.
Brodsky began at USFSM last fall. Quartermaine started in January. The two aren’t sure they’ll match the judge’s longevity – Henderson held the adjunct position for close to 30 years – but they’re no rookies when it comes to the legal profession, and they bring that wealth of experience into the classroom.
“Ed taught at several of my classes and did a terrific job,” said Henderson, who still serves as a judge in downtown Bradenton. “And to have a sitting judge there, along with a state attorney, that’s always impressive for the students.”
Brodsky taught “Introduction to Courts” last fall and plans to return next fall to teach the course again. Quartermaine teaches “Substantive Criminal Law.” She’s wrapping up the spring semester and hopes to return as well.
Both said they enjoy the once-weekly sessions, and the criminology program is delighted to welcome them. Having the two seasoned legal professionals adds realism and context to classroom lectures.
“It is an honor for us to have both of these esteemed professionals teaching in our criminology program,” said Sandra Stone, PhD, chair of USFSM’s Social Sciences Department. “The students benefit from their experience and expertise, as they are able to make the course content lively and relevant.
“Many of our students aspire to pursue careers in law, so in addition to gaining the necessary academic foundation, they are also able to make a personal connection with leaders in the field in their own community, which opens possibilities for future networking opportunities,” she said. “They are valuable additions to our faculty, and we look forward to their continued involvement in the future.”
Both instructors have long, distinguished legal careers.
A life-long prosecutor, Brodsky has been trying cases almost since the day he graduated in 1992 from the Shepard Broad College of Law at Nova Southeastern University Law School in Davie.
He was admitted to the Florida Bar that same spring, and after a stint at Florida’s 17th Judicial Circuit in Broward County, he ended up at the 12th Circuit working for Earl Moreland, who served as the chief prosecutor in Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto for close to 25 years.
A novice attorney at the time, Brodsky worked his way up the ranks, prosecuting DUIs and misdemeanors before joining the Felony Division to contend with murderers, rapists and child predators. He excelled at the high-profile cases, transitioning to felony division chief and then chief assistant state attorney before ending up in the state attorney’s role in 2013 after Moreland retired.
The region’s top lawman overseeing dozens of lawyers and staff in four offices, Brodsky’s job is mostly supervisory, keeping tabs on numerous cases under his watch, but occasionally he’ll step into the courtroom to prosecute a case.
Quartermaine juggles an equally hectic schedule. One day might find her at an all-day trial, while the next day she’s helping steer low-level offenders toward treatment programs and other resources. On the bench, she oversees a healthy mix of civil and criminal cases, mostly misdemeanors.
Quartermaine received her law degree from the University of Miami in 2003 and worked in various legal settings – as a court counsel, in private practice and at the prosecutor’s office under Moreland and Brodsky – before beating out dozens of other job candidates to land the judge’s position in the 12th Judicial Circuit Court in South Sarasota in 2013.
Both say they’ve long wanted to teach at USFSM, but with Judge Henderson on the job no openings were available. When they learned last year the judge was retiring from the classroom, they inquired about the post. In the end, both were brought aboard to offer a perspective of two established legal veterans. Many of the program’s students hope to pursue law school or work in law enforcement.
“Teaching is something I have always wanted to do. It’s something I tried to do 10 years ago, but I had had a baby and it wasn’t the right time,” said Quartermaine, a Sarasota native and graduate of Pine View School for the Gifted in Osprey.
“I enjoy the classroom discussions, and I can see the students are really thinking about serious issues happening in the world,” she said. “I enjoy hearing their opinions, and I must say that I am very hopeful about these students. They’re really bright and interested in learning.”
Brodsky said he enjoys the sessions as well. He said teaching takes him back to when he was a student – he majored in criminology at USF – and, later, as a young attorney. Now that he’s a seasoned professional, he said, he hopes to inspire others to pursue legal careers.
“Being able to pass this knowledge onto others is a privilege,” he said.
The three-hour classes make for a long day, capping what already are long days, but the classes move quickly once they engage with their students. The best part? Bringing their on-the-job knowledge to the discussion.
“My college education was primarily comprised of lectures by people in academia,” Quartermaine said. “I feel that I have this opportunity to contribute now because I work in the world where these legal concepts play out every day.
“It’s interesting to talk about people’s rights and crime,” she said. “However, relating these concepts to events happening every day in court gives students a clearer sense of what these concepts are really all about.”
“For me,” said Brodsky, “I enjoy the discussions about legal concepts from an abstract view, but it’s also nice to talk about real-life situations and bring that into context with what they’re learning. It makes the issue real to them, and I think the students get a kick out of it.”
For more about USF Sarasota-Manatee’s criminology program, visit sar.flywheelsites.com/academics/programs-and-majors/undergraduate/criminology/index.aspx.