Three Florida Supreme Court justices and 15 district court of appeal judges have qualified for merit retention on this year's November election ballot. In the trial courts, there will be 32 contested circuit court contests on the August 14 primary ballot, while 170 circuit judgeships--mostly held by incumbents--were uncontested.
On the county court bench, there are 40 races on the primary ballot, while 116 were elected or reelected without opposition.
Filing information for the merit retention races and the circuit court races was obtained from the Secretary of State's Division of Elections. Information for the county court elections was obtained by examining each county supervisor of elections' website, which may have been incomplete. Any additional or corrected information on these seats should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
No jurisdiction this year came close to Broward County's distinction in 2010 of offering voters contested races in 20 circuit and county judgeships. The largest judicial ballot this year appears to be Miami-Dade County, which has four contested circuit races and eight contested county court races. Broward County will be relatively easy this year for voters who follow judicial races; there are three circuit and four county court contests.
The merit retention campaigns, especially for the Supreme Court justices, are expected to be higher profile this year than recent elections. There are concerns that special interests, including from out-of-state, may organize an anti-retention campaign. At least one website has been created that actively seeks donations to oppose the justices.
In 2010 anti-incumbent sentiments, in some cases associated with the Tea Party movement, was credited with lowering the retention margins for some Supreme Court justices and some DCA judges, especially in the northern part of the state. (See related story on the Bar's merit retention education campaign on page 1.)
On the Supreme Court, Justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara J. Pariente, and Peggy A. Quince all filed their papers for merit retention.
On the First DCA, Simone Marstiller, Stephanie Ray, Ron Swanson, and Brad Thomas filed for retention.
On the Second DCA, Anthony K. Black, Darryl C. Casaneuva, Charles A. Davis, Jr., and Edward C. LaRose filed for retention.
On the Third DCA, Angel A. Cortina, Kevin Emas, Ivan F. Fernandez, Leslie B. Rothenberg, and Richard J. Suarez filed for retention.
On The Fourth DCA, Burton C. Conner and Carole Y. Taylor filed for retention. There are no judges up for retention on the Fifth DCA.
The merit retention vote will be on the November ballot. Contested trial court elections will be decided in the August 14 primary, with any runoffs being on the November ballot.
Here is the filing for circuit court seats:
* In the First Circuit, Judge Terry Ketchel is being challenged by Thomas Murphy in Seat 15. Winning without opposition were John Jay Gontarek, David Rimmer, Marci Levin Goodman, Kelvin Clyde Wells, Mary Polson, Linda L. Nobles, John L. Miller, Gary L. Bergosh, and Ross M. Goodman. All but Polson are incumbents.
* In the Second Circuit, Judge Josefina M. Tamayo is being challenged by Kris Dunn and Barbara Hobbs in Seat 2. George Reynolds, James O. Shelfer, and Terry P. Lewis, all incumbents, were unopposed.
* In the Third Circuit, Andrew J. "Andy" Decker III and Frederick John "Rich" Schutte IV filed for Seat 2 and Angela M. Cancio, Wes Douglas, and Jimmy Prevatt filed for Seat 5. Judge David W. Fina filed unopposed.
* In the Fourth Circuit, Judge Brian J. Davis is being challenged by Melina E. Buncome (Williams), Don Mairs, Greg Messore, and Gerald L. Wilkerson (who filed as a write-in) in Seat 1. Alvin Wellington Barlow and Mark Borello filed in Seat 29 and Judge John Merrett is being challenged by Suzanne Bass in Seat...