Ken Rhoden: Background & Education


Ken Rhoden, Public Defender

“I developed a no-nonsense work ethic early in life when I began working at age 14.  I will work just as hard for you as your attorney.”

Business Experience:
More than 16 Years as a business owner and managing partner.

Family Law Experience:
Over 16 years in Private Practice
Handled cases involving divorce, international divorce, custody, parenting plans, relocation, marital settlement agreements, uncontested divorce, adoption, child support & modification, appeal to Florida Supreme Court, divorces involving military spouses and benefits and more.

Criminal Defense Experience:
12 Years as Assistant Public Defender
16 Years in Private Practice
Handled thousands and tried hundreds of Criminal Cases
Qualified under Florida Supreme Court Rules to try Death Penalty Cases

Other Work Experience:
10 Years as a Carpenter, Mason, and Laborer

My family has been in Florida for many generations.  Southern, conservative country people my parents were tough and no nonsense.  Neither graduated from high school and I am the first in my family to graduate from college.

I was born in Jacksonville, Florida on New Year’s Eve 1957. One of six siblings, we are a close and loving family.  Money was very tight and I started working in a fiberglass shop at 14 years old. Part of any money I earned always went to help take care of my extended family.  At 15 I had my first construction job, building pools. I moved to Brevard County in 1975 and worked in the trades for over 10 years. Eventually I became a skilled carpenter, mason, roofer, rod buster, and heavy equipment operator. I enjoyed the work and can still swing a hammer.

After a few years in construction I started attending Brevard Community College at night. I graduated in 1981 with an Associate of Arts degree. This is the first college degree earned by anyone in my family. That degree was the hardest to obtain and is the one I am most proud of receiving. During those six years I matured from a rough Jacksonville street kid into someone that made my family proud. After earning that AA diploma I knew I could make something of myself.

Now eager for an education I graduated magna cum laude from the University of Central Florida in 1983 and then from Florida State University’s College of Law in 1985. During a summer internship I had my first jury trial working for the State Attorney’s Office in Key West.

In 1986 I began working at the Office of the Public Defender, which covers Brevard and Seminole counties. I worked on thousands of cases in the misdemeanor, juvenile, and felony divisions.

I was responsible for creating and then running the first Early Resolution division in the Public Defender’s office. This program was designed to settle cases quickly and efficiently. Working in every division of the office I got to know the agency from top to bottom.

As one of five attorneys chosen to form the elite Capital Crimes unit I worked exclusively on first-degree murder and capital sexual battery cases. Death penalty litigation is very high stake and complex work. When a person’s life is on the line you must know what you are doing and be dedicated to working hard.

Having done all that could be done at the Public Defender’s office I sought new challenges and in 1998 joined the firm, which is today known as Mario, Gunde, Peters, Rhoden & Kelley, LLC. Our firm concentrates in the areas of criminal and family law. With five attorneys and over 100 years of combined experience we are Brevard’s largest and most experienced criminal and family law firm.

I have been a small business owner in private practice for the last 16 years. My practice includes family law, criminal law and general civil litigation. The work is diverse and I may crunch budget numbers, argue a criminal motion, work on a new marketing concept, and start a divorce trial all in the same day.

Community involvement is important and I volunteer for The Women’s Center, the Florida Supreme Courts’ Justice Teaching program, and have been a scoring judge for mock trial competitions. I work with the AVET Project helping veterans and active duty military.  Speaking to groups at Brevard Community College, Florida Institute of Technology, and the Law Enforcement Academy gives me the opportunity to share my knowledge and experience with those that can benefit. I am active in the Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce and participate in many events with other member businesses and am a member of the Military Affairs Council.  I am also a present or past member of  Brevard County, Seminole County & Florida Bar Associations, Brevard 911, Space Coast Tiger Bay Club,  Melbourne Regional Chamber of East Central Florida, Seminole County Chamber of Commerce, Advent Lutheran Church, and the Rotary Club.