Over 28 Years of Legal and Judicial Experience
Judge Ketchel has served as Circuit Judge in Okaloosa County since January 2, 2007, following his election in November, 2006. Since that time Judge Ketchel has worked in all the circuit court dockets, including felony adult criminal, civil, family law, dependency, domestic violence injunctions, juvenile delinquency and probate. Judge Ketchel has handled over 10,000 cases and conducted more than 500 trials, including a capital felony murder trial, a complex white collar fraud criminal trial, numerous family and domestic violence injunction trials, and child abuse trials including complex termination of parental rights trials. He is also certified to handle death penalty cases which requires separate judicial training only after gaining sufficient criminal trial experience.
Judge Ketchel is proud to have worked to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the family courts by organizing the first Unified Family Court in Okaloosa County. The Unified Family Court utilizes the one judge, one family concept to better serve the families in Circuit Court and better manage the limited resources of the judiciary.
Judge Ketchel also developed a Model Dependency Court in North Okaloosa County to institute best practices to deal with the child abuse, abandonment and neglect cases more effectively. Judge Ketchel has also initiated an innovative truancy pilot program in conjunction with the school system in order to more effectively combat the problem of truancy which often leads to dropouts and juvenile crime.
Prior to his election as a Circuit Judge in 2006, Judge Ketchel served for 19 years as the managing partner in a Fort Walton Beach law firm specializing in complex commercial litigation. Judge Ketchel handled thousands of cases and practiced in all of the courts in the First Judicial Circuit of Northwest Florida. For the last ten years in private practice, Judge Ketchel specialized in construction and contract disputes on federal facilities, and was lead counsel in trials throughout the Southeastern United States.
Following his graduation from the University of Florida School of Law, Judge Ketchel worked in Washington, D.C., as the Legislative Director for a ranking member on the powerful Ways and Means Committee. After spending four years working on Capitol Hill, Judge Ketchel opened a Washington D.C. branch office for a Florida based law firm, serving as the senior attorney for that office. During his time in Washington, Judge Ketchel was blessed to meet his wife, Carolyn Newcomer and they married in 1983. After the birth of their first child, Micah, the couple decided to return to Terry’s roots in Florida to raise their family in 1987.