Florida lawyers rate jurists facing retention vote
A poll of Florida Bar members regarding the merit retention election of one state Supreme Court justice and 24 appellate court judges indicates support for all to be retained.
Results showed recommendations for retention ranging from 90 percent to 71 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 November 3 general election.
“The Florida Bar offers the merit retention poll to voters to help them assess jurists on the ballot,” said Florida Bar President Dori Foster-Morales. “While voters may be familiar with the circuit and county court judges and judicial candidates in their area, the work of these appeals judges is generally not as well known. So we ask Florida Bar members who know them best to give their opinion.”
Florida law requires Florida Supreme Court justices and appeals court judges to be placed on the ballot in nonpartisan elections within the first year of appointment and then every six years for voters to determine whether they should remain on their courts.
Frequently asked questions about merit retention, the biographies of the judges who will be on the ballot, and these poll results are available at www.floridabar.org in The Vote’s in YOUR COURT section linked from the home page. A voter guide posted there also includes FAQs on trial court elections and voluntarily submitted self-disclosure statements of those in run-offs on November’s ballot.
For this poll, a ballot was mailed in August to all lawyers residing and practicing in Florida asking 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 78,405 ballots to in-state members in good standing; 3,626 lawyers participated. Only responses by lawyers saying they had considerable or limited knowledge of the judges are included in the poll results.
For the Florida Supreme Court, poll results indicate support for retention of:
• Carlos G. Muñiz by 71%.
For the First District Court of Appeal, poll results indicate support for retention of:
• Joseph Lewis, Jr., by 84%.
• Scott Makar by 80%.
• Rachel Nordby by 71%.
• Tim Osterhaus by 76%.
• Clay Roberts by 80%.
• Adam S. Tanenbaum by 74%.
The First 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 the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Eighth, and 14th circuits.
For the Second District Court of Appeal, poll results indicate support for retention of:
• Drew Atkinson by 76%.
• Morris Silberman by 90%.
• Daniel H. Sleet by 85%.
• Andrea Teves Smith by 82%.
The Second DCA covers Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, and Sarasota counties. It includes the Sixth, 10th, 12th, 13th, and 20th circuits.
For the Third District Court of Appeal, poll results indicate support for retention of:
• Monica Gordo by 78%.
• Eric William Hendon by 80%.
• Fleur Jeannine Lobree by 79%.
• Thomas Logue by 85%.
• Bronwyn Catherine Miller by 83%.
The Third DCA covers Miami-Dade (11th Circuit) and Monroe (16th Circuit).
For the Fourth District Court of Appeal, poll results indicate support for retention of:
• Alan O. Forst by 78%.
• Mark W. Klingensmith by 79%.
• Martha C. Warner by 89%.
The Fourth DCA covers the counties of Broward, Indian River, Okeechobee, Palm Beach, St. Lucie, and Martin. It includes the 15th, 17th, and 19th circuits.
For the Fifth District Court of Appeal, poll results indicate support for retention of:
• Kerry I. Evander by 86%.
• Jamie Grosshans by 72% (Note: Judge Grosshans will appear on the ballot for the Fifth DCA, but she has been appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to serve on the Florida Supreme Court).
• John M. Harris by 81%.
• Richard B. Orfinger by 86%.
• Meredith Sasso by 73%.
• F. Rand Wallis by 81%.
The Fifth DCA encompasses Brevard, Citrus, Flagler, Hernando, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns, Sumter, and Volusia counties. It includes the Fifth, Seventh, Ninth, and 18th circuits.
Elections Services Co. 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.