For Ed Scales, it was a long time coming.
Although Gov. Rick Scott appointed him to the Third District Court of Appeal on Oct. 18 and he took office late last year, Friday saw the Keys celebrate Scales' appointment to the appellate bench -- the first-ever Monroe County resident to serve on the panel that hears appeals from Monroe and Miami-Dade counties.
Friday at the Freeman Justice Center in Key West, Chief Judge Frank Shepherd, Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Ricky Polston and a slew of others welcomed Scales to office.
Scales has a long history of involvement in the legal community and elsewhere, so the Keys should be proud that, after half a dozen times applying, he finally made it to the Third District. With his appointment, the Third District judges will convene for the first time ever in Key West on June 6.
When appointed, Scales had his own law practice, and was of-counsel to the large GrayRobinson firm. He also was general counsel to the Florida Citrus Commission and sat on the state Commission on Ethics.
Scales, a University of Florida graduate and proud Gator athletics booster, previously was a shareholder in the Lakeland law firm of Lane, Trohn, Bertrand & Vreeland, P.A. But he made his mark in Key West.
Along with his time on the Commission on Ethics (2011 through 2013), Monroe County attorneys elected Scales to The Florida Bar's Board of Governors. He served on the Bar's Executive Committee for three years and chaired the Bar's Legislation Committee and Citizen's Forum.
In 2006, then-Gov. Jeb Bush appointed him to the Florida Keys Community College board of trustees. He was reappointed by Charlie Crist and Rick Scott.
Scales also served, from 2000 to 2005, on the Federal Judicial Nominating Commission for South Florida. In 2009, Crist appointed him to the Keys' Judicial Nominating Commission. Scott reappointed him in 2012.
He is also a former Key West city commissioner and former member of the Monroe County Tourist Development Council. If that's not enough, in 1988, then-Gov. Bob Martinez named Scales to the Florida Board of Regents (1987 to 1988). In 1988, UF named him its outstanding male graduate and inducted him into the university's hall of fame.
Among those celebrating with him Friday in Key West were former Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon, his UF roommate, who shared stories about Scales from their days as kids in Lakeland.
Friday was as much about the Keys as it was about Scales. It illustrates that despite our small population, the mainland has nothing on us producing outstanding leaders. Ed Scales is just the latest, and we're proud he can say he's from Monroe County (his Alabama birth notwithstanding).