Supreme Court Justice Alan Lawson and 17 district court of appeal judges have qualified for merit retention on the November 2018 general election ballot. On the trial court side, 177 circuit judges have been elected or reelected without opposition, while voters will decide another 34 contests. In the county courts, 105 were elected or reelected without opposition and there are 42 contested races.
Trial court contests will appear on the August 28 primary ballot and any runoffs will be decided in the November 6 general election.
Lawson, appointed by outgoing Gov. Rick Scott in January 2017 to replace retired Justice James E.C. Perry, will be making his first appearance on the retention ballot. In Florida, Supreme Court justices and district court of appeal judges appear on the merit retention ballot after being appointed by the governor, and then every six years thereafter.
Trial court judges are appointed by the governor if the vacancy occurs in the middle of a six-year term, but otherwise are elected by the voters. Under the Florida Constitution, voters in a circuit can go to merit retention for judges up for reelection, but none have taken that option.
The Florida Bar will work to educate and inform voters about judicial candidates and judicial retention and election process. The Bar will publish a lawyer poll and a brief biography for all appellate jurists appearing on the ballot. Trial court judicial candidates are encouraged to fill out the Bar's voluntary self-disclosure statement, which like the appellate poll and biography, will be published online.
The Bar also will, in conjunction with supervisors of elections and the League of Women Voters, print and distribute the Guide for Florida Voters, which educates voters about what judges do, judicial elections, and the merit retention system for appellate judges.
The DCA judges up for retention are:
* In the First DC A, Harvey Jay, Stephanie Ray, Brad Thomas, Kemmerly Thomas, and Allen Winsor.
* In the Second DCA, Anthony K. Black, Darryl C. Casanueva, Edward C. LaRose, and Susan H. Rothstein-Youakim.
* In the Third DCA, Kevin Emas, Ivan F. Fernandez, Nonna Shepard Lindsey, and Robert Joshua Luck.
* In the Fourth DCA, Burton C. Conner, Jeffrey T. Kuntz, and Carole Y. Taylor.
* In the Fifth DCA, Eric Eisnaugle.
Sixteen of the 20 circuits have contested races; the 16th Circuit had no trial judges up for reelection. Voters will decide between the candidates in the August 28 primary and any runoffs will be on the November 6 general election ballot.
As is usual for the trial courts, very few incumbent judges were challenged and most of the 177 unopposed circuit court candidates are incumbents. In the 34 contested races, only seven involve incumbent judges.
Contested circuit court races include:
* In the Second Circuit, Lisa Barclay Fountain, David Frank, and D. Christine Thurman in Seat 12.
* In the Fourth Circuit, Maureen T. Horkan and Charles McBumey in Seat 18.
* In the Fifth Circuit, Don Barbee, Jr., and Edward C. Spaight in Seat 4.
* In the Sixth Circuit, Dustin Anderson, Dave Ellis, and Roxanne Fixsen in Seat 4; Claudia Elizabeth Blackwell and incumbent Christine Helinger in Seat 9; Doneene D. Loar and Donald McBath in Seat 36; incumbent Thomas H. "Tommy" Minkoff, and Mike Trentalange in Seat 40; and Evan Frayman and Rebecca Hamilton in Seat 45.
* In the Seventh Circuit, Linda L. Gaustad, Sebrina L. Slack, and Ryan Will in Seat 15.
* In the Eighth Circuit, David Robertson, Julie...