The Florida Bar


September 17, 2010
Susannah Lyle,
The Florida Bar
(850) 561-5666

Every other year since 1978, The Florida Bar has polled its members about the Supreme Court justices and appeals court judges who will be on the biennial November general election ballot in merit retention elections. The poll questions seek to find whether attorneys who know the most about these jurists believe they should continue in their jobs.

This year, as in years past, the vote in favor of retaining the Supreme Court justices was overwhelmingly positive -- with the four justices on the ballot gaining an average approval rating of 86 percent.

Rankings for the 27 appellate judges serving in the five District Courts of Appeal had a wider range of approval. Still the majority received very positive marks, with 23 of the judges receiving rankings ranging from 82 to 93 percent.

A ballot mailed in August to all lawyers residing and practicing in Florida asked respondents whether the incumbent justices and appeals court judges should be retained or not and asked that they consider eight attributes in making their decisions. Those attributes are: quality and clarity of judicial opinions; knowledge of the law; integrity; judicial temperament; impartiality; freedom from bias/prejudice; demeanor; and courtesy.

The Bar sent out a total of 64,621 ballots and a total of 5,302 lawyers participated. Only responses by lawyers indicating considerable or limited knowledge of the judges were included in the poll results.

For the Supreme Court, poll results indicate support for retention of:
Charles T. Canady by 86 percent.
Jorge Labarga by 88 percent.
James E.C. Perry by 85 percent.
Ricky L. Polston by 85 percent.

For the 1st District Court of Appeal, poll results indicate support for retention of:
Nikki Ann Clark by 85 percent.
Paul M. Hawkes by 56 percent.
Charles J. Kahn Jr. by 71 percent.
Phil Padovano by 92 percent.
Lori S. Rowe by 75 percent.
Kent Wetherell by 79 percent.
Jim Wolf by 84 percent.

The 1st DCA covers the counties of Alachua, Baker, Bay, Bradford, Calhoun, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Gulf, Hamilton, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Nassau, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Suwannee, Taylor, Union, Wakulla, Walton and Washington. It includes judicial circuits, 1, 2, 3, 4, 8 and 14.

For the 2nd District Court of Appeal, poll results indicate support for retention of:
Marva L. Crenshaw by 86 percent.
Patricia Kelly by 88 percent.
Nelly N. Khouzam by 91 percent.
Robert Morris by 92 percent.
Stevan T. Northcutt by 93 percent.
Craig C. Villanti by 90 percent.
Douglas A. Wallace by 90 percent.

The 2nd DCA covers Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties. It includes judicial circuits 6, 10, 12, 13 and 20.

For the 3rd District Court of Appeal, poll results indicate support for retention of:
Frank A. Shepherd by 82 percent.
Linda Ann Wells by 87 percent.

The 3rd DCA covers Miami-Dade (circuit 11) and Monroe (circuit 16) counties.

For the 4th District Court of Appeal, poll results indicate support for retention of:
Cory J. Ciklin by 87 percent.
Dorian K. Damoorgian by 88 percent.
Jonathan D. Gerber by 91 percent.
Robert M. Gross by 91 percent.
Spencer D. Levine by 83 percent.
Melanie G. May by 89 percent.

The 4th DCA covers the counties of Broward, Indian River, Okeechobee, Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Martin. It includes judicial circuits 15, 17 and 19.

For the 5th District Court of Appeal, poll results indicate support for retention of:
Jay Cohen by 87 percent.
Jacqueline R. Griffin by 90 percent.
Bruce W. Jacobus by 90 percent.
David A. Monaco by 90 percent.
Vincent G. Torpy Jr. by 88 percent.

The 5th DCA covers the counties of Brevard, Citrus, Flagler, Hernando, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Putnam, St. Johns, Seminole, Sumter and Volusia. It includes judicial circuits 5, 7, 9 and 18.

Justices and appeals court judges face the voters in merit retention elections every six years – except after their first appointments. Newly appointed justices and appeals court judges serve an initial term of at least one year and are then subject to the first merit retention reviews of their performances in the next general election.

Only those judges receiving approval from a majority of the voters may continue in office for another six-year term. If voters choose not to retain a judge, a vacancy would be created and would be filled through the merit selection process through which the governor would appoint one from the three to six nominees submitted by the respective judicial nominating commission.

Terms for justices and appeals court judges are staggered so that not all of them face the voters in the same election. In total, Florida has seven Supreme Court justices and 61 appeals court judges.

Biographies and photos of the Supreme Court justices and DCA judges, answers to frequently asked questions about merit retention and a copy of the poll results are on The Florida Bar's website at The Florida Bar provides the poll results, biographical information and FAQ as a public service.

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EDITORS: Please note The Florida Bar is not an association and "Association" is not part of our name. Proper reference is "The Florida Bar." Local bar organizations are properly termed "associations."

[Revised: 06-23-2011]