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I’ve always known I wanted to be a Lawyer. With parents who were incarcerated and having a family separated through the legal system, I became interested in the law and strove to become someone who could defend those in their most trying times.
An Indian River County native, I graduated from Sebastian River High School and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Indian River State College. While completing my undergraduate, I devoted my research efforts to highlighting the disparities in legal aid to those incarcerated in our State’s prison system. Concurrently, I worked with the Treasure Coast Food Bank, developing programs to ensure food and supplies reached our thousands of low-income families on the Treasure Coast. With a passion for public service in and out of the Courtroom, I then attended Rutgers and concentrated on nonprofit and criminal law.
At the age of 22, I graduated from Rutgers School of law. I taught legal rights in the Juvenile Detention Centers in New Jersey and offered pro bono legal aid to non-profit start up companies in the Greater Philadelphia region. I also worked with the Federal Prisoner Reentry Program in Camden, New Jersey. My passion is clear, and I have now returned to the Treasure Coast to utilize my passion and unique experiences to best serve my hometown in the areas of Criminal, Family and Dependency law as the Associate Trial Attorney here at The Chesnutt Law Firm.
Since Law School, Mr. Popa has been involved in various roles of advocacy for families, including mentoring foster children and representing them as Attorney ad Litem. His experience in civil law is heavily focused on dependency and family law issues. Mr. Popa has worked with attorneys and service providers in matters of juvenile dependency, delinquency, Marchman and Baker Acts, paternity, custody, child support and arrears, divorce, injunctions, civil commitment, and adoption. He has experience in multiple aspects of dependency proceedings, including representing parents, children, and Children’s Legal Services.
Mr. Popa worked as a prosecutor for Children’s Legal Services and the Department of Children and Families, including involvement in dependency cases for the 19th Circuit (Martin County, St. Lucie County, Okeechobee County, and Indian River County). These types of cases required him to be in court every day, arguing motions and legal precedent to further the protective services for children and utilize the safeguards for their rights under Florida law. Mr. Popa has extensive experience in motion hearings, evidentiary hearings, and trial practice and procedure.
In addition to family law, Mr. Popa also has experience in administrative hearings concerning social security, SSI, benefits, Medicaid and Medicare claims, replevin proceedings, mediation, and foreclosure defense. He does not expect to limit himself in future practice and welcomes the opportunity to further develop through exposure to other areas of law.
Mr. Popa has had the privilege to volunteer with the Father-Child resource Center in Martin County to promote, establish, and maintain parental rights for the indigent, also extending to involvement with Healthy Start, United for Families, and the Boy Scouts of America.
Office Manager/Criminal and Dependency Paralegal
Legal Assistant to Joanna Garcia
Legal Assistant/Paralegal to Susan Chesnutt
Paralegal to Katlin Sanders
Paralegal to James Popa
Rebekah Harrison (Holmes)