J. Michael Hunter

Alternative Dispute Resolution Expert J. Michael Hunter

Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator
Qualified Arbitrator

Why I Choose to Mediate

Over the past 30-plus years, I have either served as a trial attorney, trial judge, or mediator. My experience tells me that most of the time judges and juries get it right. But we all know of a percentage of cases in which you look at the verdict and question: “How in the world did they come up with this?”

Mediations take those odd-ball verdicts out of play. It’s the last chance that the parties have to resolve the case under their terms. I have always believed that the best mediation agreement is one in which neither party is 100% satisfied with it, but both parties can live with it. Finally, mediation is cost-effective and can be resolved in a more timely manner.


I worked full-time while attending undergraduate school at the University of Central Florida and graduated in 1975. I also worked full-time and received a Master’s Degree from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, in 1980.

In 1981, I accepted a position as Assistant Professor at Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights, Kentucky. While teaching full-time, I completed law school at Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University in June of 1986. After receiving tenure and a promotion to an Associate Professor, I made the unusual move of leaving the university and returned to Florida to practice law.

I got my feet wet trying jury trials for the State Attorney’s Office of the Tenth Judicial Circuit. In 1988, I went into private practice doing both defense and plaintiff litigation. In 1994, I was elected County Judge in Polk County, Florida, and in February of 1998, I was appointed to the Circuit Court by the late Governor Lawton Chiles.

During my years on the bench, I served in each division of the Circuit and was Administrative Judge in each of the various divisions. I retired from the bench in 2013 and immediately began my new career in mediations and arbitrations.

Memberships and Affiliations

  • Lakeland Bar Association
  • Polk County Trial Lawyers Association
  • Former member of Florida Circuit Court Conference
  • Former chairman of Tenth Judicial Circuit Grievance Committee
  • Admitted to practice before the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida
  • Former board member of Alliance for Independence


  • 2-Party Mediation: $175.00 per party per hour (2-hour minimum)
  • 3-Party Mediation: $145.00 per party per hour (2-hour minimum)
  • 4-Party Mediation: $125.00 per party per hour (2-hour minimum)
  • CFMG charges a $95.00 administration fee per party

Judge Hunter does not travel outside of Polk County. He will be available beginning Nov. 1, 2018.