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Catherine L. Combee

May 2014 Distinguished Alumnus

combee_pr_0006color (2)Catherine L. Combee grew up in Winter Haven, the oldest of four and the only daughter. She graduated from Winter Haven High School in 1971, and received her Polk State Associate in Arts degree in 1973. Afterwards, she attended the University of South Florida, obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Technology, a Master of Arts in Microbiology, a Doctoral degree in Medical Sciences, and a Master of Business Administration degree. She also earned her Juris Doctorate from the Stetson University College of Law.
Since 2013, Combee has served as Circuit Court Judge for the Tenth Judicial Circuit, which covers Polk, Hardee, and Highlands counties.

Combee began her career in the healthcare field, starting as a technical director at Laboratory Corporation of America, Inc., working her way up to Associate Vice President. She also served as Vice President of Customer Services at American Medical Laboratories, Inc. She ended her career in healthcare as chief operating officer of Columbia Central Florida Laboratory Services, Inc. in 1997.

Through these career experiences, Combee’s interest in law emerged, as she often worked with company attorneys. She enjoyed the challenge of finding solutions to achieve goals while adhering to the prescribed rules, and the creativity and freedom of being a problem solver. She worked in California and Virginia, and pondered the possibility of a second career. She eventually relocated back to Polk County to be closer to her aging parents, and embarked on her quest to become an attorney.

After graduating from law school in 2000 at the age of 45, Combee worked for the Office of the State Attorney as a prosecutor before deciding to open her own private law practice. She focused primarily on family law, with some criminal and dependency cases.

A love of the courtroom prompted her desire to run for office, and in August 2012 she was elected to a six-year term as a Circuit Court judge. She was sworn in on January 15, 2013 and is currently hearing criminal cases.

Judge Combee loves the law and finds her career as a judge to be both challenging and rewarding. She enjoys working with the public and views her work as a way of giving back to her community.