County Attorney

Mission Statement

To provide efficient, effective legal representation to the Board of County Commissioners, its agencies, advisory boards and staff based on the preventative law model.


  • Janette S. Knowlton
  • Philip Fairman
  • Marilyn W. Miller
  • Joshua Moye
  • Pooja Patel
  • Janette M. Smith
  • Lori A. Tetreault
  • Cody B. Vaughan-Birch
  • Karen Benak
  • Ceres A. Austria
  • Dawn Anspach
  • Julia Rudden
  • Susan Menges

About Us

The County Attorney is appointed by and reports to the Board of County Commissioners. The County Attorney acts as a legal advisor and representative of the County Commission, County Administrator and county departments.

 According to Charlotte County’s Home Rule Charter “The Office of County Attorney shall be responsible for the representation of county government, the Board of County Commissioners, and all other departments, divisions, regulatory boards, and advisory boards of county government in all legal matters relating to their official responsibilities. The Office of County Attorney shall prosecute and defend all civil actions for and on behalf of county government and shall review all ordinances, resolutions, contracts, bonds and other written instruments.”

The County Attorney’s office does not provide legal advice to citizens, as it can only represent its client, the County of Charlotte, including the Board of County Commissioners, and the departments within the County government.  Citizens may contact the Florida Bar’s Lawyer Referral Service by calling 800.342.8011, online at; or the Florida Rural Legal Services for legal aid at, Punta Gorda 941.505.9007 or Fort Myers 239.334.4554.

The Office of the County Attorney advises county staff on work-related matters. To streamline efforts, the County Attorney reviews and assigns such matters to one or more attorney staff based on the disciplinary nature of the legal inquiry:

 General Counsel

  • Represents the County and employees in all aspects of governmental and administrative law
  • Handles collection claims on County’s behalf
  • Negotiates, drafts, reviews, and oversees execution of all contracts in which the County is a party, as well as represents the County in any associated dispute resolution
  • Provides legal advice to ensure statutory compliance in the development, adoption, and implementation of the County annual budget and Capital Improvement Program, funding of facilities, public housing and county services, and in the adherence to procedural and legal requirements associated with generating County revenues
  • Advises the Board of County Commissioners and staff in matters related to the Florida Statutes and local regulations governing local county government, government in the Sunshine Law, financial disclosures, and Florida Code of Ethics

Employment / Labor Law Counsel

  • Engages in matters pertaining to employment, employee civil rights, personnel policies, union contract administration, collective bargaining agreement negotiations, employment grievances, and disciplinary actions and due process hearings.

 Environmental Law and Utilities Counsel

  • Represents the County in matters related to compliance with local, state and federal environmental laws and regulations, and in its cooperative ventures with other municipalities and governmental entities
  • Assists in issues related to preservation of water, air, wetlands, and county’s natural resources and proper handling and disposal of solid and hazardous waste
  • Advises the Board of County Commissioners and staff in the operation of all water and sewer utilities, and in contract negotiations related to the acquisitions of privately owned utilities
  • Negotiates telecom and cable franchise agreements

 Land Use Counsel

  • Advises the Board of County Commissioners on matters related to the county’s interest in real property and land use, zoning, eminent domain and condemnation proceedings, planning and development regulations and issues, and implementation of the County’s Comprehensive Plan

 Litigation Counsel

  • Handles all general liability claims, torts, and civil actions
  • Prosecutes and defends legal actions by or against the County as directed by the Board of County Commissioners


Contact Information

County Attorney's Office
18500 Murdock Circle, Room #573
Port Charlotte, FL 33948
941.743.1330 [Phone]
941.743.1550 [Fax]

Helpful Links:

Code of Ordinances
Video: Rules of Procedure