Hon. Perry A. Little
Washington, February 24, 2020
Madam Speaker, I rise today to honor a jurist who has served our Tampa neighbors for decades – and continues his dedication to this day. Through his work spanning more than 40 years and as the second African American appointed to the bench in Hillsborough County, which is the longest tenure for an African American judge in the county’s history, Judge Perry A. Little has helped shape our community forever. Judge Little is husband to Sonjia Latson Little and father of three: Matthew (Nandie), Marissa and Josie. He is also the proud grandfather of four girls, Reigan, Ivy, Gabrielle and Eden, and a member of Beulah Baptist Church.
Judge Little was born and educated in Georgia. He received his undergraduate degree from Morehouse College and his law degree from Emory University. After completing law school, he took a position at a legal clinic where he could have a larger community impact over a federal position he was offered in Washington, D.C.
At a time when windows and doors were just beginning to open for African Americans in the legal profession, Judge Little was appointed to the bench in Hillsborough County in 1977 by Governor Rubin Askew, where he presided for more than 12 years. He was the second African American in the county’s history to be appointed, standing on the shoulders of Judge George Edgecomb, who only served three years as a county judge due to illness, but set the highest of standards for his colleagues to follow. The 1970s were a transformative time for communities as desegregation orders blanketed the nation while raising the profile of diversity at all levels of government. With the vital role our courts play in our democracy, economy and daily lives, a more diverse judiciary brings greater confidence in our justice system and is an important step toward a more just and equal America. In 1993, Governor Lawton Chiles appointed Judge Little to the Circuit Court where he served in the Juvenile and Circuit Civil Divisions until his retirement in 2007.
Much of Judge Little’s Circuit experience was dedicated to positively impacting the lives of juveniles and young adults through his legal decisions, who he continues to serve as an inspiration. Judge Little retired to care for his aging father in Georgia but continues to lend his judicial expertise as a Senior Judge for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, and assists other judges to ensure each case is given the time and care it deserves. He has been recognized for his extensive commitment to service through various awards, including the 2018 Distinguished Leadership Award from the Black Law Students Association at WMU-Cooley Law School’s Tampa Bay campus.
Madam Speaker, on behalf of the Tampa Bay community, it gives me immense pride to honor a great public servant this Black History Month. Judge Little is a man faithful to his family and community, and is unparalleled in service to his neighbors.