Former judge Slaton, who died Sunday, is recalled for his passion for children

Tegan Slaton held the gamut of job titles in Key West's legal community.

A resident since 1990, Slaton was a traffic magistrate, public defender, Family Court mediator, hearings officer, special magistrate and, lastly, a Monroe County Circuit Court Judge.

He died Sunday at age 58.

"He was really part of Old Key West. Everybody knew him, everybody liked him," Key Largo attorney Jack Bridges said.

Bridges and Key West attorney Bonnie Helms ran against Slaton in 2014. Slaton came in third in the primary and was eliminated. Helms ended up defeating Bridges in the general election.

At the time, Slaton was battling health problems and took an indefinite medical leave from the bench before being replaced. The leave was precipitated by two instances in which he had to be removed from the bench in the middle of hearing cases due to his health.

Those who knew him best pointed out his passion for children.

Circuit Court Judge Mark Jones met Slaton when he was an intern from law school. Slaton graduated from Nova Southeastern University's Shepard Broad Law Center in 1990. He was admitted to The Florida Bar a year later.

Jones said he was "especially motivated" to protect children.

"He always tried to keep the picture of the children in dependency cases as part of the file," Jones said. 

Slaton handled a lot of Family Court cases and understood them well, according to Alexsa Leto, who runs the county's Guardian Ad Litem program, in which volunteers represent children in Family Court cases.

"We all need help once in a while, and I think he got that," Leto said. "He was about the children; he understood parents could find themselves in difficult conditions. He took that into court."

Retired Circuit Court Judge Richard Payne agreed.

"He was a lawyer in front of me for years. A lot of matters were men not paying child support; we would go through and try to get payments," said Payne, now a Key West city commissioner. "It's a sad thing that he got too sick to continue."

Slaton loved bocce ball and Jones said he also enjoyed the water. Leto described him as having the ability to lift one's spirits when around him.

"He was just a good person to be around, usually funny," she said. 

Slaton is survived by his wife, Public Defender Rosemary Enright. Funeral arrangements weren't available Tuesday.