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Retired Circuit Judge Hale Stancil has died at age 78

Retired Circuit Judge Hale Stancil has died at age 78
Former Circuit Judge Hale R. Stancil died Thursday (March 21, 2024.) He was 78.

According to John Futch, a fellow judge and friend, Stancil died from a heart attack.

“A sad time,” Futch said by phone on Friday.

Futch said he, Stancil and retired Circuit Judge Ray McNeal attended what used to be Ocala High School, now Forest High School, and graduated in 1964.

Futch said they met once a month and kept in contact with each other throughout the years.

When they were judges in the old courthouse, Futch said, their offices were separated by roughly 20 feet. He said they spent time together, and he considered Stancil both a colleague and a friend. He added Stancil was dedicated to his work and the community.

“He was a fine example of a man and a hard worker,” Futch said.

The judge’s background

Court records show Stancil graduated from the University of Florida in 1968. He got his law degree from Stetson University in 1973. Stancil was a U.S. Marine from 1969 to 1971.

Stancil entered private practice in Ocala, the year he graduated from law school.

A decade after leaving law school, Stancil became a county judge and remained there until late 1993, when he was appointed by the late Gov. Lawton Chiles to be a circuit judge.

Retired Judge Hale Stancil

Retired Judge Hale Stancil

Assuming the bench in early January 1994, Stancil served in all five counties of the 5th Judicial Circuit: Marion, Lake, Sumter, Citrus and Hernando. He also was an author who wrote several articles. Stancil retired from the bench in December 2015.

“I’m heartbroken that we’ve lost Judge Stancil. He was unique and challenging to practice before and some of my best memories in and out of court involved Judge Stancil,” said local defense lawyer David Mengers. “He taught me how to be tough as a lawyer.”

Community involvement

In retirement, Stancil continued to stay active. He was involved with the Ocala Lions Club, Marion-Dunn Lodge #19 F&AM, the First Christian Church, West Central Florida Driver Improvement, Inc., and other groups, agencies and organizations, court documents show.

His service to the community didn’t stop there. Stancil also was involved with the Marion County Bar Association, Florida Bar Association, Conference of County Court Judges and Conference of Circuit Court Judges.

In 2021, Stancil spoke out against a development that was proposed to be very close to a large track of land that had been in his family for decades.

“I have lived on this property all of my life,” Stancil told the zoning board. “My mother came here in 1919 and she grew up on that property. We have a farm that we’ve been operating since 1919. This is right in the middle of it (farm) and would change the character of the neighborhood.”

County commissioners voted 3-2 to deny the development.

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Circuit Judge Lisa Herndon, the administrative judge, said in an email about Stancil’s passing: “I am very sad to hear about the passing of Judge Stancil. Judge Stancil had a long and distinguished career as a judge in the Fifth Circuit for a total of 42 years. He was well respected both as a judge and as a person, and he will be greatly missed.”

Contact Austin L. Miller at

This article originally appeared on Ocala Star-Banner: Retired Circuit Judge Hale R. Stancil has died at age 78

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