Theresa Jean-Pierre Coy, a Tampa legal ‘giant,’ dies at 41

TAMPA — When Theresa Jean-Pierre Coy joined the protection group that would tackle the high-profile scenario of a white gentleman accused of shooting a Black man in an argument around a parking room, she was taken aback by the particular attacks that arrived her way.

Some known as it shameful that Jean-Pierre Coy, a Black felony defense legal professional, could be component of these types of a case. For her, however, it was not so considerably a make a difference of race, but of making certain that the U.S. Constitution was upheld and justice prevailed.

“You symbolize people not for who they are and what they’ve accomplished,” she told the Tampa Bay Moments in 2019. “But you depict them to make sure that the governing administration is executing their position.”

Jean-Pierre Coy, recognized as a fighter for the legal rights of the accused, died Monday immediately after a recurrent bout with cancer. She was 41.

In a 17-yr legal occupation, she rose to nearby prominence via her zealous advocacy for customers and her prolific neighborhood involvement. She served as president of the George Edgecomb Bar Affiliation and on the Tampa Mayor’s African American Advisory Council, among many other boards and community teams. Broadly noticed as a increasing star, she’d confided to pals her intention to operate for political office environment.

“We’ve lost a huge,” said U.S. District Choose Mary Scriven.

Attorney Theresa Jean-Pierre Coy and defendant Michael Drejka speak during a break in his 2019 trial.
Legal professional Theresa Jean-Pierre Coy and defendant Michael Drejka speak all through a break in his 2019 demo. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times ]

A daughter of a Haitian-American family members, Jean-Pierre Coy was born in Rochester, N.Y., but used considerably of her childhood in Brooklyn. Expanding up, she formulated an interest in legislation by watching Television demonstrates about the lawful process. She instructed people she would be a lawyer, and preferred to apply “mergers and acquisitions,” she recalled in a 2019 job interview with the Tampa Minority Enterprise Advancement Corp.

“I experienced no clue what that intended,” she reported. “But it sounded definitely good and it impressed every person.”

She moved to Florida when she was midway as a result of substantial university. She afterwards attended Florida A&M College, in which she double-majored in political science and public administration. She earned a regulation degree in 2004 at Stetson University Higher education of Regulation. It was there that she met her partner, Travis Coy.

The pair would work opposite sides of the courtroom, he as a prosecutor for the Hillsborough Condition Attorney’s Place of work, she as a defense attorney.

She commenced her profession in the Pinellas-Pasco Public Defender’s Workplace. In 2010, she opened her individual agency.

“She took on issues that may possibly not have been well-liked,” mentioned fellow protection attorney Grady Irvin, a good friend and mentor. “But she considered in our Constitution and that everyone was entitled to the right of counsel, regardless of situation or their place in existence.”

Stay on top of what’s happening in Tampa

Continue to be on best of what is happening in Tampa

Subscribe to our absolutely free Tampa Instances newsletter

You’ll get a roundup of the greatest Tampa neighborhood news 2 times a week.

You are all signed up!

Want far more of our no cost, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Check out all your possibilities

She introduced a own perspective to her consumers, possessing a brother who served time in jail. She informed pals she fought for her clients the same way she fought for her brother.

Joseline Jean-Louis Hardrick, an associate professor at the Hillsborough campus of Western Michigan University’s Cooley Regulation College, recalled as a young attorney looking at Jean-Pierre Coy as a helpful deal with amid the bustling Pinellas County courthouse. They became near buddies.

“I assume sometimes, as lawyers, we get started out with these beliefs and we get cynical really quickly,” Jean-Louis Hardrick stated. “She hardly ever bought burned out or cynical. She thought in the beliefs of persons needing illustration.”

Jean-Pierre Coy experienced spoken brazenly about her well being and hardships. She endured 6 miscarriages right before she and her spouse experienced a son, Thaddeus. Not long soon after providing birth, she was identified with cancer. She underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment method at Moffitt Cancer Middle.

Attorney Theresa Jean-Pierre Coy is seen in a family snapshot with her son, Thaddeus. She continued to serve as president of the George Edgecomb Bar Association while undergoing cancer treatment.
Lawyer Theresa Jean-Pierre Coy is noticed in a family snapshot with her son, Thaddeus. She ongoing to serve as president of the George Edgecomb Bar Affiliation although going through cancer therapy.

Her struggles brought new this means to a nickname: “Tenacious Theresa.”

When the Pinellas County scenario of Michael Drejka, the parking good deal shooter, drew nationwide headlines in 2018, Jean-Pierre Coy volunteered to be part of the defense workforce to help easy more than a situation that had come to be enmeshed in controversy.

Protection law firm Bryant Camareno, who shared an workplace making with Jean-Pierre Coy, claimed they agreed to deliver her on for her legal skills. Her participation brought criticism from people representing the family members of the sufferer, Markeis McGlockton.

During trial, there were being nameless threats, Camareno recalled. Jean-Pierre Coy remained publicly unrattled. Her target all alongside was to be certain fairness and because of process.

“It was a lawful problem,” Camareno reported. “She beloved that obstacle.”

Defendant Michael Drejka talks with his attorney, Theresa Jean-Pierre Coy, during his 2019 trial.
Defendant Michael Drejka talks with his attorney, Theresa Jean-Pierre Coy, for the duration of his 2019 trial. [ SCOTT KEELER | TIMES | Tampa Bay Times ]

In January, Jean-Pierre Coy joined the business of Hillsborough Point out Legal professional Andrew Warren to guide the conviction evaluate unit, which examines shut situations in which defendants declare to have been wrongfully convicted.

“Theresa’s joyful spirit, infectious chuckle, passion for advocacy and courage all over her fight with cancer influenced us all,” her family members wrote in a statement posted to Fb. “Theresa was also a beacon of light-weight in this earth that will hardly ever truly go out as extensive as every of us select up her mantle and continue on her function of reworking the life of the downtrodden in the course of our neighborhood.”