FLORIDA BAR POLL SHOWS SUPPORT FOR APPELLATE JUDGES IN MERIT RETENTION ELECTIONS
A poll of Florida Bar members regarding the merit retention election of one state Supreme Court justice and 17 appellate court judges indicates support for all to be retained. Results showed recommendations for retention ranging from 92 percent to 66 percent approval. The confidential poll seeks to find whether attorneys who know the most about these jurists believe they should continue in their jobs. The retention election is on the ballot in the Nov. 6 general election.
“It is a vital that we attract and retain appellate court judges and justices with the highest qualifications to ensure that our courts have the confidence and respect of all Floridians,” Florida Bar President Michelle Suskauer said. “The Bar has polled members since 1978, and we are pleased once again to offer this valuable resource for voters.”
On “The Vote’s in Your Court” (http://www.floridabar.org/thevotesinyourcourt) web page, the Bar offers detailed results of this poll and past polls, its “Guide for Florida Voters,” bios of the jurists facing a merit retention vote, and links to more information.
“The poll’s positive results demonstrate again how well Florida’s system for selecting and retaining judges works,” Suskauer said. “Members of The Florida Bar can be proud of the role they play in preserving our system of justice.”
This year’s poll results
A ballot mailed in August to all lawyers residing and practicing in Florida asked whether the incumbent appeals court jurists should be retained. Lawyers taking part in the poll were asked to consider eight attributes: 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 76,529 ballots to in-state members in good standing, and 5,239 lawyers participated. Only responses by lawyers saying they had considerable or limited knowledge of the judges were included in the poll results.
For the Florida Supreme Court, poll results indicate support for retention of:
Alan Lawson by 87 percent.
For the 1st District Court of Appeal, poll results indicate support for retention of:
Harvey Jay by 85 percent.
Stephanie Ray by 86 percent.
Brad Thomas by 79 percent.
Kemmerly Thomas by 80 percent.
Allen Winsor by 80 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:
Anthony K. Black by 90 percent.
Darryl C. Casanueva by 90 percent.
Edward C. LaRose by 90 percent.
Susan H. Rothstein-Youakim by 86 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:
Kevin Emas by 92 percent.
Ivan F. Fernandez by 87 percent.
Norma Shepard Lindsey by 85 percent.
Robert Joshua Luck by 90 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:
Burton C. Conner by 85 percent.
Jeffrey T. Kuntz by 82 percent.
Carole Y. Taylor by 87 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:
Eric Eisnaugle by 66 percent.
The 5th DCA encompasses Brevard, Citrus, Flagler, Hernando, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns, Sumter and Volusia counties. It includes judicial circuits, 5, 7, 9 and 18.
How the system works
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 in the general election may continue in office for another six-year term.
Elections Services Co. (ESC) of Hauppauge, N.Y., conducted the poll for The Florida Bar. Since 1989, ESC has conducted thousands of elections for unions, stockholders, credit unions, membership organizations, universities, and trade and professional organizations. All ballot votes were confidential, with no identification of the voters attached.
Other election resources available
In addition to the merit retention poll results, The Florida Bar has additional resources for educating voters on “The Vote’s in Your Court” web page, including:
The “Guide for Florida Voters” in English and Spanish; bios of all the appellate judges on the ballot this year; and Judicial Candidate Self-Disclosure Statements, which allow trial court judges to put their qualifications and statements about why they want to serve as judges on The Florida Bar website. Here’s how to check out those resources:
- The “Guide for Florida Voters” in English and Spanish. To request copies of the guide, please email [email protected].
- Bios of all the appellate judges on the ballot this year.
- Judicial Candidate Self-Disclosure Statements, which allow trial court judges to put their qualifications and statements about why they want to serve as judges on The Florida Bar website.