USF alumnus runs for county judge

As a student, Victor Veschio’s experience with abuse cases compelled him to study law, hoping to help the community. Now he’s running for county judge for the same purpose.

At 21, Veschio spent his days working and his nights attending classes at Hillsborough Community College, he said. He became one of the state’s first and youngest guardians ad litem in 1985, representing children in abuse and neglect cases. Seeing the good that he could be do inspired him to study law, he said.

“I found my love for law,” he said. “It had an enormous impact.”

After completing his associate’s degree at HCC, he enrolled at USF, majoring in criminal justice. It was there, he said, that professors allowed him to research the history of child abuse cases and build upon his experiences as a guardian ad litem. Among his professors was. Christine S. Sellers of the criminology department, who was particularly helpful, he said.

“She was interested in allowing me to expand my interest,” he said.

While earning his degree he worked for Nixon and Associates, a law firm. He graduated from USF in 1994.

In 1995, Veschio began attending Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Mich. One of the paramount experiences of his two-and-a-half years there was his clerkship. Working under Judge David A. Hoort, with whom he had a shared philosophy on child abuse, Veschio noticed a lack of representation for victims of abuse in Michigan. The clerkship allowed him to help coordinate a Domestic Violence Unit to enable shelters, law enforcement and lawyers to better communicate, he said.

Graduating cum laude, Veschio returned to Florida in 1998 and was admitted to the state bar. Coming home to Tampa, he worked at creditors’ rights law for Nixon and Associates, the law firm on which he had he cut his teeth.

He also volunteered for the Hillsborough County Court Clerk’s Domestic Violence division, where he gave legal advice and set up restraining orders, he said. Veschio was awarded the Hillsborough Attorney Volunteer Effort Award in 2001 for working with the division for more than five years.

Now Veschio has an opportunity to further help the community in domestic abuse cases, he said, by becoming judge. In recent years the county has made efforts to improve communication between circuit and county courts so the two “don’t step on each other’s toes” when making decisions in family cases, he said. Also, a recommendation has been given by the Family Court Steering Committee to allow judges who desire to preside over such cases to do so.

“I’m not running to further a political career,” he said. “I’ve come to a point in my life where it’s time to give back to the community.”

Veschio advises those going in to law to find an area they feel passionate and talk to their professors so they might help to expand knowledge in that field. Also, he said, go into law for the right reasons. He has seen people study law and struggle because “deep down it wasn’t what they wanted to do.”

“Once you find what you want to do, don’t let anything get in your way,” he said.