Darrin Phillip Gayles is the first openly gay black man to serve on the United States District Court of the Southern District of Florida. Gayles was nominated by President Barack Obama to the court on February 6, 2014, to a seat vacated by Judge Patricia A. Seitz. Gayles was confirmed by the United States Senate on June 17, 2014.
Gayles was born on December 16, 1966 in Peoria, Illinois, the son of James E. Gayles and Janie Banks Gayles. Gayles has one sibling, whose name is Monica. Gayles was first in his family to graduate from college and the first and only one to attend law school.
Gayles graduated from Howard University in 1990 with a Bachelor degree in Political Science. While attending Howard University Gayles was selected as one of the Patricia Robert Harris Public Affairs Program fellows. Successively, Gayles attended George Washington University of Law and received a Juris Doctoral degree in 1993.
Gayles began his legal career in 1993 as an Assistant State Attorney for Miami-Dade County, serving in this position until 1997. During the years of 1997 through 1999 Gayle served in the United States Department of Justice as an Assistant District Counsel for Immigration and Naturalization. In 1999 Gayles served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, serving in this position until 2004. Gayle was elected and retained in this position in 2006.
After serving in Florida’s Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court for more than ten years, Gayles was appointed to the Miami-Dade County Court of the Eleventh Circuit in 2004 by Jeb Bush, the former Governor of Florida. In December 2010, former Republican Governor Charlie Crist appointed Gayles to serve on the Circuit Court to replace former Judge Ronald M. Friedman. Gayles was sworn in on April 8, 2011 and elected to be retained on the court in 2012, the term would have concluded in January 2019. Gayles served on the Circuit Court until his appointment to the federal court.
Gayles has been engaged in many of South Florida’s legal and civic communities. Presently, Gayles is on the Board of Directors for Spellman-Hoeveler American Inn of Court serving in this position since 2006. Gayles previously has been on Board of Directors for the Peter London Global Dance Theater serving in this position from 2010 to 2012. Gayles has also served as Board of Directors for the George Washington University Law School Alumni Association from 2008 to 2011 and the Advisory Board for Success for Kids, Inc.—South Florida from 2010 to 2011.
Gayles has also been the recipient of many awards including the League of Prosecutors’ 2014 Justice Award. Gayles has been recognized as one of South Florida’s Most Powerful Back Business Leaders of 2013 and the recipient of the George Washington University Black Alumni Association’s 2008 Making an Impact Award. Currently, Gayles lives in Miami Shores, Florida, with his life partner, Raymond Zayas.