State Attorney Bernie McCabe, who prosecuted notorious criminals in local history while trying to steer young people away from crime, tempering justice and mercy with an equal hand, died late Friday after a lingering illness.
As the chief prosecutor for the Sixth Judicial Circuit, which includes Pinellas and Pasco counties, McCabe had handled criminal and civil complaints on behalf of the state since his election in 1992, after which he ran unopposed.
Known to be relentlessly tough on crime — “I think if you’re going to be the State Attorney and you’re sworn to uphold the laws of the state of Florida, you’ve got to do all of them,” he said in 2016 — McCabe faced increasing calls in recent years to soften his stance against the death penalty.
But he will also be remembered for having established diversion programs such as the State Attorney Safe Schools Program, the Bad Check Diversion Program, and for incorporating the Child Welfare Legal Services Division into the State Attorney’s office.
Pinellas-Pasco Chief Judge Anthony Rondolino said Saturday he has appointed McCabe’s chief assistant, Bruce Bartlett, as acting State Attorney. Governor Ron DeSantis will likely appoint an interim State Attorney until the job is