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It’s your turn to rate the judges

Bar members to receive merit retention poll

Three Florida Supreme Court justices lead the list of 31 appellate jurists who will be on the merit retention ballot November 8, and in-state members of The Florida Bar soon will be asked their opinions of those up for retention.

Bill Schifino Every two years, Florida’s voters are asked whether the justices and the district courts of appeal judges up for retention deserve another six-year term, and the Bar’s merit retention poll assists the public with the process. Ballots will be mailed August 15, and in-state members in good standing can complete the poll online or return the paper version of the poll by mail. Instructions for voting online will accompany the ballots. The deadline for online voting is 11:59 p.m. EDT, September 6. The paper ballots also must be received no later than September 6.

“We all have a vital interest in attracting and retaining judges with the highest qualifications to ensure that our courts have the confidence and respect of Floridians and the Bar,” said Bar President Bill Schifino, Jr.

The results will be distributed to the news media via a Bar news release on September 9, and will be published in the News.

The Supreme Court justices on the ballot are Chief Justice Jorge Labarga, Charles T. Canady, and Ricky Polston.

DCA judges on the merit retention ballot are:

• First DCA: Ross L. Bilbrey, Susan L. Kelsey, Lori S. Rowe, T. Kent Wetherell, Thomas “Bo” Winokur, and James Wolf.

• Second DCA: John L. Badalamenti, Marva L. Crenshaw, Patricia J. Kelly, Nelly N. Khouzam, Matthew Chrisopher Lucas, Robert James Morris, Stevan T. Northcutt, Samuel Joseph Salario, Jr., Craig C. Villanti, and Douglas A. Wallace.

• Third DCA: Edwin A. Scales III and Linda Ann Wells.

• Fourth DCA: Cory J. Ciklin, Dorian K. Damoorgian, Jonathan D. Gerber, Robert M. Gross, Spencer D. Levine, and Melanie May.

• Fifth DCA: Jay Cohen, James A. Edwards, Brian D. Lambert, and Vincent G. Torpy, Jr.

In 1976, in response to public concern over abuses under the system of contested judicial elections, Florida voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment requiring that the merit retention system be used for all appellate judges.