18th Circuit Public Defender Republican Primary Candidates

Name: Ken Rhoden

Age: 54

City of Residence: Merritt Island

Occupation, Managing Partner, Mario, Gunde Peters, Rhoden & Kelley.

Website:  Ken Rhoden


Brevard Community College, AA 1981; University of Central Florida, BA 1983; Florida State University, JD 1985


I was raised in poverty by a southern, conservative family and had my first steady job at 14 years old working in a fiberglass shop. I worked 10 years in construction and am a skilled carpenter, mason, roofer, rod-buster, and heavy equipment operator. I carry that straight ahead, no nonsense working mans attitude still today.

I worked my way through BCC, UCF and FSU law school and began working for the Brevard County Public Defender’s Office in 1986, spending 12 years in that office. At the Office I handled thousands of cases and had hundreds of trials. I was chosen as one of five attorneys for the elite Capital Crimes division where we tried only death penalty and capital sexual battery cases. The last 14 years I have been a managing partner and owner with Brevard County’s largest criminal and family law firm. I have performed every function required to run a business from personnel, formulating budgets, marketing in print and online, and operations. I have also tried hundreds of family law cases and have civil trial experience. I handle appeals including a successful appeal the Florida Supreme Court that changed the law in Florida. I have practiced throughout Florida and have seen many successful programs that could be instituted in Brevard and Seminole Counties.

I have been a paid lecturer on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. I speak as a volunteer in local public and privates schools including Cambridge Elementary, BCC, Florida Institute of Technology, and been a scoring judge for moot court competitions. I volunteer for the AVET Project helping active duty and veteran military, The Women’s Center, Brevard Neighborhood Development Coalition, my church, The Military Affairs Council, Indialantic Rotary Club, and am a Board Member, North Brevard Republican Club, I am a member of the Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Brevard Republican Executive Committee, the Republican Men’s Club, Space Coast Tiger Bay Club, and the NRA. I am pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment
and support of term limits.

What makes you the best candidate in 300 words or less?

My wide range of experience and vision for reform of the Office make me by far the most qualified candidate. The Office represents about 75% of all criminal defendants. This is too high and is mostly due to the current policy of the Office charging defendants the lowest amount allowed by law - $50/misdemeanor, $100/felony. I will end the entitlement attitude and charge clients the actual cost of government services. This will encourage many to use private attorneys bringing overall costs way down. Brevard County if fourth worst of Florida’s 67 counties for jail inmates awaiting disposition of their cases. If we simply meet the state average, taxpayers would save approximately $15,000,000/year. The situation is so bad the
County Commission has intervened to pick up the Public Defender slack.

In the last few weeks of this campaign my opponent has begun to outright lie stating I have been a lifelong democrat or that he has cut the budget. These are both lies. While I am a North Brevard Republican Club board member and worked to elect Republicans Attorney General Pam Bondi and CFO Jeff Atwater, my opponent was a registered Democrat when he assumed his current position. My opponent pushes liberal policies like: lobbying in 2011 to increase funding for the Office by 50%, suing Brevard County for more office space and charging defendants the least amount allowed by law. My opponent has tried only one jury trial in the last 19 years, has no budget experience, has no internet or computer experience and even admits the position he has held for 19 years should be eliminated. My opponent has proposed NO budget cuts. The only budget reductions in the Office were those imposed by the legislature. 

Name:  Blaise Trettis

Age: 50

City of Residence:  Cocoa Beach

Occupation:  Attorney



Bachelor of Science in business administration, with honors, University of Florida, 1984;   Juris Doctor, Stetson University College of Law, 1987.


     I have been a lawyer for 24 years and all of those 24 years I have been a criminal defense attorney.  I have been an assistant public defender for 21 years in Brevard and Seminole Counties and in private practice for 3 years.  For the last 19 years I have been the executive assistant public defender for Brevard and Seminole Counties.  In this position I have been second-in-command at the office and have been the chief administrative attorney for the office.  I have done almost all of the hiring of attorneys for the past 19 years and have hired almost 300 attorneys during that time.  I represent the Public Defender office before all agencies involved with the criminal justice system such as the Brevard County Sheriff's Office, Circuit and County Judges,  the Clerk of Court, all municipal police departments, the Department of Juvenile Justice, Dept. of Probation and Parole, and Brevard County government.   

     I have taken about 40 cases to jury trial including the most serious cases such as first degree murder.  I have tried about 60 non-jury trials.  I have argued 4 cases before the Florida Supreme Court and have argued about a dozen othe appeals before the Fifth District Court of Appeal.  I am respected by my colleagues in the legal profession, having been awarded the 2012 Brevard County Bar Association professionalism award for government lawyer.  I  routinely go into the jail to try to get inmates released to the supervision of the Brevard County Veterans' Treatment Court and the Brevard County Mental Health Court.  

     I have a good record of community service.  I serve on the Board of Directors of  the Brevard Achievement Center, which is a large non-profit organization based in Rockledge which provides employment, vocational training, and day programs to adults with developmental disabilities such as Down's syndrome.  I serve on the North/Central Brevard County Salvation Army Advisory Board.  I serve on the advisory board of the Florida Assertive Community Treatment Team, which is an organization that provides intensive supervision of 100 people with serious mental illness who live in Brevard County.  I am on the City of Cocoa Beach Landscape Committee and I am a member of the Rockledge Rotary Club.

What makes you the best candidate in 300 words or less?

     My  almost two decades of experience in the Public Defender's office as second-in-command and my proven track record as a budget cutter make me the best candidate.  Under my leadership, the taxpayer funded budget has been cut to the level that it was in 2003.  The Brevard/Seminole Public Defender office has the lowest taxpayer funded budget in the State of Florida in comparison to its State Attorney counterpart. If the Brevard/Seminole Public Defender office was funded at just the state average level then the budget would be 3.6 million dollars more - which would be an increase almost 50% from its current funding.  The office also leads the state in its collection of attorneys' fees from clients.  Of the 20 Public Defender offices in the state, the office is 10th in population but the office is 3rd in its collection of attorneys' fees.  The fees collected total 1.9 million dollars per year, which funds 23% of the entire budget.  In all but the most serious cases,  such as death penalty cases, the attorneys' fees ordered by the court actually exceed the cost of the attorney's representation. 

    This being a partisan race, I am the only candidate who has an excellent record of being a registered Republican.  I have been a registered Republican for 25 years of my adult life.  My opponent is a lifelong Democrat who did not switch parties until after the 2010 election, which means he has never even voted as a Republican in a general election. My opponent  did vote in the 2004 and 2008 DEMOCRATIC presidential primary elections, which begs this question to my opponent:  " Did you vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama  in 2008?"  Despite my opponent's claim of being a conservative, his actions and record speak louder than his words.

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