A prominent member of the local judiciary was killed and three other people were injured in a crash in Lakeland on Sunday, police said.
James "Jim" Birkhold, 66, of Lakeland had served as the clerk of the court for the Second District Court of Appeals since 1999. Police say that at 1:40 p.m., he was turning left in his 2014 Lexus ES 350 from Beaker Road onto Harden Boulevard when he was struck in the driver's door by a 2009 Chevy Silverardo pickup truck.
The impact sent the pickup, driven by 24-year-old Kyle T Cooper of Mulberry, off the road into a ditch.
Birkhold was pronounced dead at Lakeland Regional Health. His passenger, 66-year-old Don Lindleg of Blythewood, S.C., was taken to the same hospital with minor injuries.
Cooper and his passenger, 20-year-old Morgan Thomas, also of Mulberry, were taken to the hospital with minor injuries. Thomas is six months pregnant, according to The Ledger of Lakeland, and both she and the baby are doing OK.
Birkhold joined the second District Court of Appeals as a senior staff attorney in 1995 and managed the staff attorneys of that office of the court from 1996 until his appointment as clerk in 1999.
“Jim has been an integral part of the court for many years," Chief Judge Craig C. Villanti said. "Even more, his dedication to and respect for the deputy clerks of the court will long be remembered and missed. His long standing service to the court, the legal community and the public has been extraordinary.”
Birkhold received his B.A. degree from Yale in 1971 and his J.D. degree from Boston University in 1975. He began practicing law that year as a VISTA volunteer and staff attorney with the Prison Project in Gainesville.
From 1978 through 1981, he served as an assistant public defender, first in Jacksonville and then in Bradenton. He was then engaged in private practice, mainly in domestic relations and criminal defense, in Manatee County in the Twelfth Judicial Circuit.
Additional information including arrangements can be found at http://www.2dca.org/.