Michael N. Kavouklis, Esquire
There may be a simple explanation as to why Michael N. Kavouklis, as judge, was never overturned on appeal. Why as a prosecutor he won every case which was not overturned on appeal. Why as counsel he was called upon to advise members of the Florida State Cabinet and a string of governmental agencies on those occasions when they really wanted to understand.
Michael N. Kavouklis was a founder and served as the first full-term president of the Florida Conference of County Court Judges in 1974-75 in the beginning of his decade-long stint on the Hillsborough County bench. Known as “Iron Mike” and frequently presiding in Circuit Court, Kavouklis was noted for his no-nonsense approach to the law and proceedings. Although that was usually construed to mean he was tough on criminals and their defense counsel, he was just as demanding of prosecutors and unsympathetic toward either side that appeared in court unprepared or ill-advised. After leaving the bench, Kavouklis became nationally known as an anti-crime activist, the centerpiece of his campaign for Congress in 1984, which resulted in the passage of the Omnibus Crime Bill proposed by President Reagan.
The youngest of six children of Greek immigrant parents, Kavouklis grew up in Tarpon Springs, Fla. Upon the death of his father, Kavouklis began working at various part-time jobs while attending Tarpon Springs Junior High and High School. He attended college wherever he could find a full-time/part-time job, mostly working 40-60 or more hours per week. This included St. Petersburg Junior College, University of Florida and Florida State University, where he received his BS degree in political science. Married at a very young age to Irene, they both worked during his senior year at Florida State University and while attending Stetson University’s College of Law. The unqualified help and support of his wife Irene, whose father passed away when she was only 6 years old and also forced her to work hard herself from a very young age, made Kavouklis’ good fortune and success possible.
Kavouklis began his life of public service as attorney for the Florida Milk Commission before being named Assistant Attorney General of Florida in the civil division by Attorney General Richard W. Ervin. In that post, he served as legal advisor and attorney to members of the then-powerful and diverse State Cabinet and various state and local government agencies. He also served as the Attorney General’s liaison with both the Cabinet and the State Legislature. When Ervin went to the Florida Supreme Court, Kavouklis went with him as his first research assistant. This aspect of his professional life and his relationship with Justice Ervin throughout the years has been extremely meaningful and significant to Kavouklis’ career and personal life.
Returning to the Tampa Bay area, Kavouklis was asked to join the Pinellas-Pasco Sixth Judicial Circuit before being asked to move to Hillsborough’s 13th Judicial Circuit as assistant state attorney. As such, he prosecuted felonies, special cases, most capital cases, as well as conducted grand jury investigations.
A public advocate of hard work, usually involving the better part of a 24-hour day, Kavouklis split the difference between the two circuits by agreeing to serve part-time as the City of Oldsmar’s first municipal judge. He’s also served as attorney for the Hillsborough County legislative delegation.
Again, he was asked to rejoin the Attorney General’s office for a one-year period, where Kavouklis served in the Criminal Appeals Division, supervising and handling all criminal appeals to the Florida Second District Court of Appeal and to the Florida Supreme Court from the Second District.
Rejoining the 13th Circuit, he served as Assistant County Solicitor before being elected to the first of his three successive terms on the Hillsborough County bench and followed that as Hillsborough County Attorney.
He entered private practice in 1984 but has never left public life, battling on the political side for the values he espouses: hard work, family, God and country. That same year, as a candidate for Congress, Kavouklis founded FOCUS ’84, a non-profit organization which took on the Congress and was credited with virtually single-handedly convincing the House of Representatives to join the Senate in the passage of the landmark Omnibus Crime Bill. Just prior to the general election, congressman Newt Gingrich, together with other congressmen, credited Kavouklis with passage of the crime bill.
Today he practices with the Brennan, Holden & Kavouklis, P.A. with his son Chris M. Kavouklis. Michael Kavouklis and Mrs. Kavouklis have two other children, Dr. Nicholas M. Kavouklis and Anastasia Garcia, both of Tampa, and are blessed with 12 grandchildren.
Whatever good fortunes and success he has had, Kavouklis attributes all of it to his parents, his wife Irene, with whom he is one, and his children, grandchildren and America.