Judge Jay P. Cohen
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois
Hometown: Orlando, Florida
Judge Cohen was appointed to the Fifth District Court of Appeal in January 2008 and served as its Chief Judge from January 2017 through December 2018. Previously he had spent eighteen years as a trial court judge in the Ninth Circuit (Orange and Osceola Counties). In that time, Judge Cohen served in virtually every division of the court system and was administrative judge of the appellate, civil, and criminal divisions.
Judge Cohen graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1974, and a Juris Doctor degree in 1978. Judge Cohen participated in the honors program as an undergraduate and both taught and supervised the teaching of legal research and writing while in law school.
Beginning his career in Sarasota County, Judge Cohen moved to Orlando in 1980 where he prosecuted for two years. In 1982 he entered private practice. Judge Cohen handled the defense of criminal cases, juvenile dependency, as well as domestic relations, before branching out into personal injury.
Appointed to the County Court bench in 1990 by Governor Martinez, Judge Cohen served in the traffic, criminal, and civil divisions, initiating a highly successful volunteer-based mediation program. In 1993, Judge Cohen was appointed to the Circuit Court bench by Governor Chiles. Judge Cohen was assigned to the domestic relations, juvenile, criminal, and civil divisions in both Orange and Osceola counties. Judge Cohen was appointed to the appellate court by Governor Crist.
Before taking the bench, Judge Cohen was a member and vice chair of a Florida Bar Grievance Committee, chair of Fee Arbitration Panels, mediator with Citizens Dispute Settlement, and active participant in the Orange County Bar Association Pro-Bono program. In 1990, Judge Cohen was given the Award of Excellence by that association for outstanding community service.
Judge Cohen served on the Florida Bar Criminal Rules Committee from 2002-2008 and was vice chair from 2005-2008. He was a member of the Florida Bar Criminal Law Section Executive Committee from 2006-2008. He also served on the Florida Supreme Court FCTC Privacy and Court Records Report Implementation Workgroup.
Active in his community, Judge Cohen has participated in many civic and charitable endeavors such as Kiwanis, Greater Orlando Chamber of Commerce Drug Free Task Force, Downtown Orlando Partnership, University of Florida Gator Boosters, and Habitat for Humanity.
Judge Cohen taught frequently for both the Conference of Circuit Court Judges and Advanced Judicial Studies program and speaks at seminars for both the Florida and Orange County Bar Associations. Topics have ranged from evidence, sentencing, and legislative and rule updates, as well as various topics related to appellate practice.
Judge Cohen was a member of the American Inn of Court from 1995-2000, serving as President from 1997-1998. He was a member of the Central Florida Woman Lawyers Association for approximately 20 years.
He has published articles on County Court Mediation, The Standard of Review in Cases Involving Improper Prosecutorial Comment, Criminal Law for the Bridge the Gap Manual as well as materials for numerous course teachings. Since joining the appellate court, he has authored over 750 opinions.