Rhonda Peoples Waters
Duval County Court Judge, Fourth Judicial Circuit
Judge-Elect Rhonda Peoples Waters was the first Black female elected to the bench in our 4th Judicial Circuit. She will take office in January 2021 and will preside over a Duval County Court. She has tried over 75 non-jury and jury trials in her career. She was the lead trial counsel in more than half of those cases. She has been licensed to practice law by the Supreme Court of Florida since 1999, after graduating from the University of Florida School of Law where she studied under an academic scholarship.
Rhonda began her career at the Public Defender’s Office in Jacksonville, Florida. Rhonda has handled thousands of cases covering misdemeanors and felonies. Rhonda finished her career at the Public Defender’s Office after seven years and after serving as the Division Chief of each Repeat Offender Divisions in Duval County. Rhonda, as lead counsel, has handled almost every type of criminal case imaginable ranging from petit theft cases to murder cases. Rhonda was promoted several times during her tenure at the office. Her reviews exemplified her hard-work and professional ethics.
In 2007, Rhonda joined private practice with a small firm practicing Criminal Law and Personal Injury Law. She participated in civil litigation such as mediations and depositions. She has successfully litigated many large figure personal injury cases on behalf of her clients.
With the experience of public service practice and private practice, in 2008 Rhonda opened Rhonda Peoples-Waters P.A. Her firm specializes in civil and criminal litigation. Rhonda’s practice experience is very diverse and wide-ranging. Rhonda has handled business contract matters, residential and commercial evictions, divorces, child custody, probate, forfeiture, car accidents, slip and falls, homeowner associations disputes, injunctions, juvenile, and most all other criminal and civil cases. Rhonda has also repeatedly practiced in federal court.
As a small business owner for over 11 years, Rhonda has learned valuable lessons beyond the practice of law such as time and employee management, successful customer service, and professional skills to deal with all types of people and circumstances. In addition, Rhonda has served as a legal analyst for News4Jax and other local stations for several years. Her legal advice and opinions are valued and trusted throughout the community. Rhonda’s service to the community is well-demonstrated through her leadership roles as a City of Jacksonville Ethic Commissioner, Past President of Daniel Webster Perkins Bar Association, Past PTA President, Past President of the Jacksonville Area Legal Aid Board of Directors, and Chair of the Florida Bar Grievance Committee.
Rhonda’s heart for service and hard work ethic is a generational inheritance. Rhonda’s maternal grandfather (Coley Chestnut) and fraternal grandfather (James Peoples, Sr.) both served in World War II. Coley Chestnut was awarded a Purple Heart. Rhonda’s father, Ronald Peoples, served in the United States Navy and was stationed at Mayport. Rhonda’s father and mother are retired educators from the school system.
Rhonda has submitted application to the Fourth Judicial Circuit Nominating Commission for appointment to the judicial bench 16 times. Specifically, in October 2009 (Circuit Court), April 2011 (Circuit Court), August 2011 (County Court), January 2014 (two seats in Circuit Court), June 2014 (County Court), February 2015 (County Court), September 2015 (Circuit Court), February 2016 (County Court), July 2017 (County Court), May 2018 (Circuit Court), December 2018 (County Court), April 2019 (County Court), January 2020 (Circuit Court), February 2020 (County Court), and March 2020 (Circuit Court).
After the thorough review of the Judicial Nominating Commission, an extensive background check and substantial peer and judicial review, Rhonda’s name was sent up to the Governor’s office 13 times for a judicial appointment. Rhonda’s perseverance and outstanding qualifications will undoubtedly make her election to the bench an asset to this community.
Rhonda is a proud graduate of Fisk University. Rhonda is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and First Baptist Church of Oakland. Rhonda is the proud mother of Jasmine Waters, who attends Florida A&M University.