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Justice Muñiz, 24 DCA judges on merit retention ballot; 52 circuit, county court races to be decided

Senior Editor News in Photos

Justice Carlos MuñizSupreme Court Justice Carlos Muñiz, and 24 district court of appeal judges will be up for merit retention in the November general election while 52 circuit and county court races will go to voters on the August 18 primary ballot. Another 266 circuit and county judge seats were uncontested.

Filing for Florida’s judicial offices closed on April 24; Muñiz, DCA judges, and circuit court judges file with the Secretary of State while county court candidates file with their local supervisors of elections.

This will be the first time Muñiz, who was appointed to the bench by Gov. Ron DeSantis in January 2019, has appeared on the merit selection ballot. He is the only justice who will be on the ballot, as the other two justices chosen by DeSantis at about the same time, Barbara Lagoa and Robert Luck, have been appointed to the federal bench.

(The 2022 ballot may feature a majority of the justices up for retention. Chief Justice Charles Canady and Justices Jorge Labarga and Ricky Polston are eligible to seek merit retention and DeSantis is expected to shortly name Lagoa and Luck’s replacements, and they will also be up for merit retention that year. Justice Alan Lawson won’t face retention until 2024.)

At the First DCA, Judges Joseph Lewis, Jr., Scott Makar, Rachel Nordby, Tim Osterhaus, Clay Roberts, and Adam S. Tanenbaum filed for merit retention. At the Second DCA, Judges Drew Atkinson, Morris Silberman, Daniel H. Sleet, and Andrea Teves Smith filed. At the Third DCA, Judges Monica Gordo, Eric William Hendon, Fleur Jeannine Lobree, Thomas Logue, and Bronwyn Catherine Miller filed. At the Fourth DCA, Judges Alan O. Forst, Mark W. Klingensmith, and Martha C. Warner filed. At the Fifth DCA, Judges Kerry I. Evander, Jamie Grosshans, John M. Harris, Richard B. Orfinger, Meredith Sasso, and F. Rand Wallis filed.

Voters will be asked to vote up or down on the Muñiz and the DCA judges on the November 3 general election ballot. The trial court contests will appear on the August 18 primary ballot and any runoffs will be resolved in the general election. There are 601 circuit court seats and 324 county judge positions in Florida.

At the circuit court level, 234 seats were up for election, and incumbents sought to return to office in 212, or almost 91 percent, of those. Thirty-four races are contested, including 20 seats held by incumbent judges. Eight open seats drew only one candidate.

By comparison, in 2018, there were 34 contested circuit court races, but only seven involved incumbents. There were 177 uncontested circuit court races.

By circuit, here are the contested and uncontested races:

• In the First Circuit, there were no contested races, and incumbents Judges J. Scott Duncan, W. Joel Boles, Jan Shackelford, Stephen A. Pitre, John F. Simon, Jr., and Jennie Kinsey were elected without opposition.

• In the Second Circuit, Tiffany Baker, Nina Moody, Amanda P. Wall, and Pete Williams are running for open Group 4 seat and in Group 16 incumbent Judge Angela Dempsey is being challenged by Kevin Alvarez. Elected without opposition were incumbent Judges Kevin J. Carroll, John C. Cooper, Stephen S. Everett, and J. Lee Marsh.

• In the Third Circuit, Judges Greg Parker, Mark E. Feagle, and Leandra G. Johnson were elected without opposition.

• In the Fourth Circuit, Michael Kalil was elected unopposed as were Judges James H. Daniel, Lester B. Bass, Michael Kalil, Lance M. Day, Adrian G. Soud, David M. Gooding, Meredith Charbula, Tatiana Radi Salvador, Michael “Mike” Sharrit, Virginia Norton, and Waddell A. Wallace.

• In the Fifth Circuit, in Group 22 Judge George G. Angeliadis is being challenged by Pam Vergara. Elected without opposition were Judges Brian J. Welke, Mary P. Hatcher, R. Gregg Jerald, Richard A. Howard, Danny Ray Mosley, G. Richard Singeltary, Larry Metz, Lisa Herndon, Stacy M. Youmans, Carol A. Falvey, and James R. Baxley.

• In the Sixth Circuit, in Group 28 Evan Frayman and Eva Vergos have qualified and in Group 44 Elizabeth “Liz” Jack and Ashley Ward-Singleton have filed. Elected without opposition were Judges Susan St. John, Alicia Polk, Mary Morrissey Handsel, Pamela A.M. Campbell, Susan G. Barthle, Kimberly Sharpe Byrd, Fred Pollack, Phil Matthey, Shawn Crane, Linda H. Babb, Anthony Rondolino, James R. Steams, Christopher M. LaBruzzo, Daniel D. Diskey, Linda Allan, and George M. Jirotka.

• In the Seventh Circuit, in Group 6 Judge Mike Orfinger is being challenged by Anna Handy; in Group 14 Joan Anthony, Dan Hilbert, and MaryEllen Osterndorf have filed; and in Group. 27 Judge Bryan Robert Rendzio is being challenged by Alicia Washington. Elected without opposition were Judges James R. Clayton, Christopher S. Ferebee, Margaret Warren Hudson, Karen Adams Foxman, Howard Mason Maltz, Kathy Weston, Steven C. Henderson, Sandy Upchurch, Raul A. Zambrano, and Randell H. Rowe III.

• In the Eighth Circuit, Judges Robert Kirk Groeb, Craig C. DeThomasis, Phillip A. Pena, and William E. Davis were elected without opposition.

• In the Ninth Circuit, in Group 1 Rhiannon Arnold and Mikaela Nix are running; in Group 21 Judge Alan Apte is facing Christy C. Collins; in Group 34 Judge Mike Kraynick is facing Amrita Singh; and in Group 39 Vincent Falcone and Mark Van Valkenburgh have qualified. Barbara Leach was elected without opposition as were incumbent Judges John E. Jordan, Chad Alvaro, Denise Beamer, Margaret Schreiber, Heather Higbee, Elaine Barbour, Wayne C. Wooten, Diego M. Madrigal, Kevin B. Weiss, Reginald K. Whitehead, Diana Tennis, Heather Pinder Rodriguez, Keith Carsten, and Alicia L. Latimore.

• In the 10th Circuit, Cassandra L. Denmark and Torea S. Spohr were elected without opposition. Also elected without opposition were incumbent Judges Michelle Pincket, Sharon M. Franklin, Larry Helms, Gerald P. Hill II, Peter F. Estrada, Mark F. Carpanini, and Jalal A. Harb.

• In the 11th Circuit, in Group 55 Olanike “Nike” Adebayo and Joe Perkins have filed; in Group 57 Carmen Cabarga and Roderick “Rod” Vereen have qualified; in Group 65 incumbent Judge Thomas J. Rebull faces Denise Martinez-Scanziani; in Group 67 Judge Mavel Ruiz is opposed by Marcia Giordano Hansen; and in Group 75 Judge Dava J. Runis faces Rosy Anette Aponte. Michele Delancy was elected without opposition, as were incumbent Judges Ivonne Cuesta, Rosa C. Figarola, Angelica D. Zayas, Jose M. Rodriguez, Jorge E. Cueto, Alex Spicola Bokor, Daryl E. Trawick, Migna Sanchez-Llorens, Yvonne Colodny, Tanya J. Brinkley, Laura Anne Stuzin, Peter R. Lopez, Alberto Millian, Spencer Jet Multack, Michelle Alvarez Barakat, Orlando A. Prescott, Stacy Daryl Glick, Dawn Veronica Denaro, Cristina Miranda, Abby Cynamon, Marcia B. Caballero, Martin Zilber, Alan S. Fine, Richard Leslie Hersch, Veronica A. Diaz, Reemberto Diaz, Carlos Manuel Guzman, Spencer Eig, Beatrice “Betty” Avgherino Butchko, and Andrea R. Wolfson.

• In the 12th Circuit, elected without opposition were Judges Gilbert Alexander Smith, Jr., Charles E. Roberts, Kimberly Carlton Bonner, Stephen Matthew Walker, Charles Sniffen, Susan Maulucci, Kevin Bruning, and Edward Nicholas.

• In the 13th Circuit, in Group 9 Kelly Ayers and John Schifino filed; in Group 19 incumbent Judge Michael J. Scionta faces Ashley Ivanov; in Group 30 Danny Alvarez and Helene Daniel are on the ballot; in Group 31 Scott Bonavita, Gary Dolgin, and Greg Green have filed; and in Group 39 incumbent Judge Steven Scott Stephens is being challenged by Wendy Joy DePaul. Lindsay Alvarez and Lyann Goudie were elected without opposition. Also elected without opposition were Judges Caroline Tesche Arkin, Samantha Ward, Michael Williams, Catherine M. Catlin, Barbara Twine-Thomas, Rex Martin Barbas, Lawrence M. Lefler, Laura Ward, Lisa Denise Campbell, Vivian T. Corvo, Nick Nazaretian, Katherine G. Essrig, Robert Bauman, Michelle Sisco, Christopher Sabella, and Thomas N. Palermo.

• In the 14th Circuit, incumbent Judges James Jefferson Goodman, Jr., and Dustin Stephenson were reelected without opposition.

• In the 15th Circuit, in Group 16 Judge Jeffrey Gillen is being challenged by Henry Quinn Johnson and in Group 30 Judge Jaimie Goodman faces Adam Myron and Caryn Siperstein. Elected without opposition were incumbent Judges Rosemarie Scher, Gerard Joseph Curley, Jr., Gregory M. Keyser, James E. Nutt, Carolyn Ruth Bell, Glenn D. Kelley, Samantha Schosberg Feuer, Karen Miller, and Charles E. Burton.

• In the 16th Circuit, incumbent Judges Mark Jones, Luis M. Garcia, and Bonnie J. Helms were elected without opposition.

• In the 17th Circuit, in Group 16 Judge Dennis Daniel Bailey faces Abbe Sheila Rifkin Logan and George Odom, Jr.; in Group 18 Judge Patti Englander Henning is being challenged by Kristin Weisberg Padowitz; in Group 27 Judge Frank David Ledee faces Meredith Chaiken-Weiss and Mathew Isaac Destry; in Group 30 Judge Dale C. Cohen is being challenged by Ian Richards; and in Group 50 Judge Vegina “Gina” Hawkins faces Linda A. Alley. Elected without opposition were Judges Bernard Isaac “Bernie” Bober, Michael J. Orlando, Jeffrey Richard Levenson, Stacey Schulman, N. Hunter Davis, John Bowman, Elizabeth Anne Scherer, Charles Michael Greene, Andrew “Andy” Siegel, John J. Murphy, Peter Holden, Tarlika Navarro, Michael G. Kaplan, Martin J. Bidwill, Jack B. Tuter, Jr., and Mily R. Powell.

• In the 18th Circuit, in Group 15 Judge Tesha Scolaro Ballou faces A. Michael Bross; in Group 18 Steve Henderson and Michael Peacock have filed; in Group 21 Donna M. Goerner faces Marc Jones; and in Group 25 Sam Bookhardt and Oscar A. Hotusing are on the ballot. Curt Jacobus was elected without opposition, as were incumbent Judges Melanie Chase, Robert Alan Segal, Donna L. McIntosh, John D. Galluzo, George T. Paulk, Susan Stacy, and Nancy Maloney.

• In the 19th Circuit, in Group 11 Judge Victoria L. Griffin is being challenged by Louis “Lou” Larsen. Elected without opposition were incumbent Judges Michael C. Heisey, Michael J. Linn, Steven J. Levin, Laurie E. Buchanan, Cynthia L. Cox, William L. Robey, Dan L. Vaughn, Sr., Lawrence Michael Mirman, and Elizabeth A. Metzger.

• In the 20th Circuit, elected without opposition were incumbent Judges Mary C. Evans, Hugh D. Hayes, Donald Herbert Mason, Scott H. Cupp, Amy Hawthorne, John Carlin, and Michael T. McHugh.

Information on county judge races was compiled from the Office of the State Courts Administrator and by visiting county supervisor of election websites, and it’s possible not all websites were up to date. If any corrections are needed, please email [email protected].

There were 84 total races listed, with 17 of those being contested. Eleven of the contested races involved incumbent judges. In 2018, where were 42 county judge races were contested and 105 were elected without opposition.

Here are the filings as compiled from the supervisors of elections websites:

• Alachua County: Judge Kristine Van Vorst was unopposed.

• Bay County: In Group 1, Judge Timothy Campbell and Hoot Crawford have filed. Judge Joe Grammer filed unopposed.

• Brevard County: Judges Michelle Vitt Baker and Benjamin Garagozlo were unopposed.

• Broward County: Allison Gilman and Casey Mills filed in Group 22; Judge Phoebee R. Francois and Jacob E. Segal filed in Group 27; Roseanna Bronhard, Sean William Conway, and Natasha DePrimo filed in Group 31. Unopposed were Judges Steven Peter DeLuca, Ellen A. Feld, and Natasha DePrimo.

• Collier County: Judges Robert L. Crown and Janeice Martin were unopposed.

• Columbia County: Sara Carter was unopposed.

• Dixie County: Judge Jennifer Jones Johnson was unopposed.

• Duval County: Isaac East and Judge Scott Mitchell filed in Group 1 and Rhonda Peoples Waters and Judge Erin Perry filed in Group 6. Unopposed were Judges Mose L. Floyd and Gary P. Flower.

• Escambia County: Judge Charles Young filed unopposed.

• Hardee County: Judge Darrell R. Hill and Richard K. Sullivan filed for Group 1.

• Hernando County: Judge Kurt E. Hitzemann was unopposed.

• Highlands County: Judge Anthony L. Ritenour was unopposed.

• Hillsborough County: Nancy L. Jacobs, Monique Scott, Richey “Rick” Silverman, and Bill Yanger filed in Group 7. Unopposed were Judges Cynthia S. Oster, John N. Conrad, Margaret Rebecca Taylor, and Jessica G. Costello.

• Lake County: Judge Cary Frank Rada, Judge Jason J. Nimeth, and Carla Pepperman were unopposed.

• Lee County: Judges Howard Andrew Swett and Josephine M. Gagliardi were unopposed.

• Leon County: Judge Nina Ashenafi-Richardson was unopposed.

• Manatee County: Melissa Gould, Connie Mederos Jacobs, Christopher M. Pratt, and Kristy Zinna have filed for Group 4. Judges Renee I. Inman and Heather Doyle were unopposed.

• Martin County: Judges Jennifer Alexandra Alcorta Waters and Kathleen Hill Roberts were unopposed.

• Miami-Dade County: Judge Joseph J. Mansfield and Miguel “Mike” Mirabal filed in Group 9 and Judge Christine Bandin and Shaun Spector qualified in Group 24. Judges Donald James “DJ” Cannava, Jr., Raul Antonio Cuervo, Stephanie R. Silver, Luis Perez-Medina, Betty Capote-Erben, Elijah A. Levitt, Natalie Moore, Victoria Ferrer, and Gordon Charles Murray, Sr., were unopposed.

• Monroe County: Judge Mark Wilson was unopposed.

• Nassau County: Jenny Higginbotham Barrett, Jan Carver, John Joseph Cascone, and Harrison Wesley Poole have filed in Group 1.

• Okaloosa County: Judge Angela D. Mason was unopposed.

• Orange County: Judges Fay Allen, Jeanette Dejuras Bigney, Tina Caraballo, Brian Duckworth, and Carly Wish were unopposed.

• Osceola County: Judge Stefania Jancewicz was unopposed.

• Palm Beach: Jaianna Seaborne and Judge Debra Moses Stephens have filed in Group 12. Judges Reginald R. Corlew, Paige Gillman, and Robert Panse were unopposed.

• Pasco County: Joseph F. Justice and Catie J. Mansfield filed in Group 5.

• Pinellas County: Judges Edwin B. Jagger, James V. Pierce, Robert Dittmer, and John Carassas were unopposed.

• Polk County: Judges Lori Winstead, David E. Stanney, Jr., and Hope M. Pattey were unopposed.

• Putnam County: Judge Elizabeth “Libby” Morris was unopposed.

• Santa Rosa County: Judge Tony Giraud was unopposed.

• Sarasota County: Judges David Denkin and Dana Marie Moss were unopposed.

• Seminole County: Judge John Woodard III and Gregory T. Wallace filed in Group 1 and Wayne Culver and Jessica Damoth filed in Group 6.

• St. Lucie County: Judges Jeffrey Walton Hendriks and Kathryn Nelson were unopposed.

• Union County: Judges Mitchell Bishop filed unopposed.

• Volusia County: Nora H. Hall and Judge Chris Miller filed in Group 6. Judges Judith “Judy” D. Campbell, David Cromartie, David Foxman, and Angela Dempsey were unopposed.

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