GrayRobinson of counsel Edwin Scales III of Key West has been named to the Third District Court of Appeal, the first judge on the appeals court to come from the Florida Keys for the first time in its history.

Scales is a former Key West city commissioner and is general counsel of the Florida Citrus Commission.

Scales, 47, applied to the bench five times before. This time, he beat five other finalists — Miami-Dade Circuit Judges Jorge E. Cueto, Fleur J. Lobree and Jose M. Rodriguez; John A. Greco, Miami’s chief appellate counsel; and Assistant U.S. Attorney Eduardo I. Sanchez.

He will fill the seat vacated by Angel Cortiñas, who resigned to join the Gunster law firm.

Scales said he was stunned to get the news Friday from Governor Rick Scott.

“I was driving in the car when the phone rang and he said, ‘Hi, Ed. This is Rick Scott,’ ” Scales said. “I thought, ‘Yeah right.’ Fortunately I didn’t wreck my car.”

The 15-year Key West resident said he has always wanted to be an appellate judge.

“I’ve been involved in all three branches of the government extensively,” he said. “There is nothing more dynamic than Florida’s intermediate appellate courts. The importance of what they do cannot be overrated.”

Scales has been the president of Edwin A. Scales III P.A. since 2000 and of counsel with GrayRobinson since 2003. He specializes in commercial and appellate litigation. He is vice chair of the Florida Keys Community College Board and vice chair of the state Ethics Commission. He is a member of The Florida Bar Board of Governors.

He said he will wind down his law practice and rent an apartment in Miami before taking the bench in early 2014.

GrayRobinson president Byrd “Biff” Marshall Jr. said he was sorry to lose Scales but not surprised.

“He’s going to be a terrific addition to the bench,” Marshall said. “He’s a very smart lawyer. I knew this was an aspiration of his for many years.”