JACKSONVILLE – Melissa Nelson announced last week her re-election campaign as State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit.
In 2016, the citizens of Clay, Duval and Nassau counties overwhelmingly elected Nelson as the State Attorney for Florida’s Fourth Judicial Circuit. She pledged to bring her “tough but fair” approach to the office, while working to restore the public’s faith in the justice system.
“There is more work to be done and I am staying in the fight,” Nelson said. “I will continue to seek innovative tactics to address violent crime and I will continue to seek justice for every victim, every citizen, and every family in our community.”
Nelson’s campaign will be led by political consultant James Blair.
Driven by the goal of deterring those that drive crime in Northeast Florida, Nelson established the Targeted Prosecution Division and tasked it with aggressively prosecuting the most dangerous drivers of violence. She also championed building the Crime Gun Intelligence Center, which leverages technology and interagency collaboration to improve collection, management, and analysis of gun crime evidence.
It has been called a “game-changer” for law enforcement.
“I know I earned their votes in Clay County and now I hope I’ve earned their confidence,” Nelson said. “We have a great team in Clay County working really well with law enforcement and community stakeholders.”
In her first four years, Nelson already has played a leading role in some of the circuit’s biggest cases. She was part of the prosecuting team that convicted child killer Donald James Smith and Donald Davidson, who killed a Middleburg woman and raped her 10-year-old child. Both Smith and Davidson now are on Florida’s Death Row.
Her office worked with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, FBI and local agencies in the discovery of a missing Fleming Island woman, Susan Mauldin. Her body was found last month in a South Georgia landfill and Corey Binderin, a handyman from Fleming Island, has since been charged with her murder.
Nelson also led an effort to reinvent the way law enforcement and prosecutors use ballistics technology as an investigative lead generator. These efforts aim to make our communities safer.
Nelson is committed to the pursuit of justice for all. Nelson established Florida’s first legislatively funded Conviction Integrity Review Unit and has demonstrated a commitment to pursuing intervention strategies focused on preventing youthful offenders from falling into a life of crime. To do this, she formed the Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee to identify and implement results-driven strategies to reduce juvenile recidivism.
Nelson started her career as an Assistant State Attorney in 1997, a role in which she spent 12 years prosecuting cases ranging from misdemeanors to capital homicides.
Recently, Nelson was appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis to the Statewide Task Force on Opioid Drug Abuse. She also serves on the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco, and Explosives National Gun Crime Intelligence Governing Board and the Florida Cold Case Advisory Commission.
A native Floridian, Nelson earned both her undergraduate and law degrees with honors from the University of Florida. She and her husband, Jason, live in Jacksonville with their three children.