Pinellas Midterm Vote with Judges Explained (2023)

Post itNovember 4, 2022|UPDATEDNovember 4, 2022

Pinellas County voters do help decide the fate of 14 judges on Election Day 2022.

Only one of those races features two candidates: the county judge race between Della Cope and Megan Roach. The other 13 are votes to retain the judges. In those races, if a majority of voters vote "yes" for the judge, he gets another six-year term. (Judges eligible for retention were initially given the job by appointment from the government.)

Here's a guide for Pinellas voting judges.

District Judge

A lone district judge fights for voters, bringing Megan Roach with Dell Cope. The winner gets a six-year term in district court, which handles misdemeanor, traffic ticket and small civil cases.

Roach, attorney and member of the Tampa Bay Federal Society;she wrote on her websitethat he is committed to protecting the justice system of Pinellas County. Born and raised in the area, she has been endorsed by Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes, real estate appraiser Mike Twitty and others.

Cope, prosecuting attorney,praises her experience as a spokesman for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Officeon several occasions over the years. He also worked as a prosecutor in the Pinellas-Pasco County District Attorney's Office for ten years. He is supported by House Speaker Chris Sprowles, Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and others.

Related:Three judges face off in the Pinella qualifiers

District Court

Seven judges of the 2nd District Court have the right to vote for withholding. The 16-member court, based in Lakeland and Tampa, hears appeals for residentssix million Floridiansand 14 provinces. It comes under separate jurisdiction from the Florida Supreme Court and sets precedent for a wide variety of legal cases.

Patricia Joan Kelly

Originally nominated by Gov. Jeb Bush in 2001 to serve on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, Kelly is seeking voters to retain her for a fourth term.

Her legal career includes work in public and private practice and shea number of legal commissions and initiatives, including the Innocence Commission - a panel established by Florida Supreme Court Justice Charles Canady to investigatepossible wrongful convictions.

About 78% of Kelly's colleagues at the Florida barvoted in the votethat must be maintained.

Nelly Khouzam

Khouzam was appointed by former Gov. Charlie Crist. He was selected to serve on the appellate court in 2008.

Before being appointed to the bench, he was a commercial judge. There are many listed on her online profileawards and achievements:In 2014, he received the University of Florida Law Alumni Judicial Award.

(Video) Pinellas County still collecting mail-in ballots

According to a Florida Bar survey,86% of Khouzam's colleagues believe soretained - the highest percentage of all 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals judges eligible for retention.

Pinellas Midterm Vote with Judges Explained (1)

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Susan Lambritt

In 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis appointed Labrito to the Circuit Court of Appeals after a decade in private practice.

(Video) Pinellas County accuses state, new election law of 'targeting'

Prior to becoming a judge, he made numerous appearances in Florida appellate courts over the years, handling cases involving commercial real estate, health care, insurance and intellectual property.according to her online bio.

That's what a Florida Bar survey showed70% of respondentsI think Labrit should be kept.

Matt Lucas

Lucas was appointed to several judicial posts by Crist and former Gov. Rick Scott, who selected him to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in 2014.

In a remarkable statement from 2018, Lucas considered it a changeFloridski so-called "stand your basic law"may be applied retroactively to a case processed before the change took effect. This ruling further strengthened the law, making it easier for some defendants to plead self-defense. (Supreme Court laterdecided that "stand your ground" changes cannot be applied retroactively.)

These77% of Florida Bar survey respondents he said Lucas should be taken into custody.

Robert Morris

In 2009, Crist appointed Morris, the current chief judge of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, to serve on the court.

Prior to his appointment to the bench, Morris had a corporate, commercial and real estate practicesays the online resume.He has received two previous retention votes: about 66% of voters approved him in 2010 and 69% approved him in 2016.

A whopping 80% of Morris' colleagues believe he should be detained this time,according to a Florida Bar survey.

Stevan Travis Northcutt

Northcutt, a former journalist, was appointed to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals by former Gov. Lawton Chilesin command since 1997. This is his fifth retention vote.

Northcutt received some praise from LGBTQ rights advocates for a 2000 ruling that found biasagainst a homosexual woman in a lower court custody order. Christian conservatives with the group Family First Action suggestagainst its maintenance.

Northcutt is popular among his peers: 85% of respondents to a Florida Bar poll believe he should be retained.

John K Stargel

Stargel, a former Republican member of the Florida House of Representatives, was appointed by DeSantis to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in 2020.

(Video) Pinellas County leaders to vote on expanding CARES financial assistance programs

Prior to his time on the Court of Appeals, he was a circuit judge and member of the Florida Constitutional Revision Commission. Stargel also caused some controversy earlier this year for a dissent he wrote in which he found that a 17-year-old high school student had not proven thatquite ripeto abort without parental consent.

About 64% of Stargel's colleagues in Florida BarI think it should be preserved— the lowest percentage of all 2nd Court of Appeals judges eligible for retention.

Craig C. Villanti

Villanti was appointed to his current position by Bush in 2003.

Villanti, a former Eagle Scout, once started a program "providing weekly pro bono services to Pasco County's needy seniors,"says the online resume. In his three retention votes, Villanti never received less than 66% of voter support.

Some81% of Florida Bar survey respondentshe said Vilandi should be detained.

Supreme Court of Florida

Five of Florida's seven Supreme Court justices must vote conservative this year. The Florida Supreme Court is the highest court in Florida: it decides on state constitutional issues, and its decisions apply to everyone in Florida. The court is likely to decide the fate of Florida's abortion restrictions soon, as well as a number of other pressing issues.

Charles T. Canady

a CanadianChrist in 2008, is a three-time Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court. During his time on the bench, he saw an unprecedented wave of conservatism sweep through the highest levels of Florida's legal world.

Prior to serving on the bench, he served three terms as a Republican US Representative and General Counsel to Jeb Bush. (Crist, now a Democrat, said he regretted Canada's nominationdue to some of his decisions.)

In a survey of members of the Florida Bar,73% eggs from Canadian datesmust be maintained.

John D Couriel

In 2020, DeSantis selected Couriel to serve on the state Supreme Court. A first-generation American whoseParents left Cuba in the 1960sCouriel, 44, is one of several new conservative justices appointed by DeSantis in recent years.

Prior to the nomination, Couriel ran twice unsuccessfully for the Florida Legislature, including a narrow lossDemocrat Daisy Baez 2016race for the state house. As a lawyer he worked in the public and private sector. He was an Assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and then an attorney at the international firm of Kobre & Kim LLP.

I found the Florida bar63% of voting members saidCuriel must be guarded.

Jamie Grosshans

(Video) How to get a free ride to the polls in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties

Grosshans is another DeSantis decision from the Florida Supreme Court. Chosen in 2020 after years of working on manyconservative Christian legal causes.

In 2018, Scott selected Grosshans to serve on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. She also served as an adjunct professor at Valencia College and a district attorney in the Ninth District of Florida.

Some59% of Florida Bar survey respondentssaid Groshan should be detained — the lowest percentage of Supreme Court justices to be detained.

Jorge Labarga

Labarga, was born in Cuba in 1952 and immigrated Unpleasant USA, at age 11, Christ appointed him to the Supreme Court in 2008. He entered the fifth decade of a legal career that began in West Palm Beachpublic defense office.

Labarga was appointed to serve on the 15th circuit court in 1996 by Chiles, a Democrat. He built a reputation assomething averagein a court dominated by conservatives, who have voted against the majority in several high-profile cases – including arepealed the Hillsborough County transit tax;.

A Florida Bar poll found that 85% of respondents said Labarga should be retained -the highest percentagejudges of the Supreme Court for detention.

Ricky Polston

Polston, the son of a Panhandle farmer, was appointed to the Supreme Court by Crist in 2008.

CPA and Adjunct Professor of Law at Florida State University College of Lawhe also served as Prime Ministeron the field from 2012-2014. (Crist, now a Democrat, said he regretted running Polstondue to some of his decisions.)

But Polston's colleagues seem to approve: 74% of Florida Bar survey respondentshe said it should be kept.

• • •

Tampa Bay Times election coverage

GUIDE FOR VOTERS:See who's on your ballot and where they stand on the issues.

TAX FREEDOMS, FATE OF THE COMMISSION: See which measures are on the November ballot here.

SUPERIOR Preservation? Florida voters will decide whether to retain 5 of the state's 7 Supreme Court justices.

We work hard to bring you the latest Florida election news. This effort requires a lot of resources to collect and update. If you haven't signed up yet, consider purchasing a print or digital subscription.FromClick heremake a donation to the Tampa Bay Times Journalism Fund.

(Video) Election 2016: More Than 450,000 People Vote in Pinellas County


Do you vote on judges in Florida? ›

Why am I being asked to vote on judges? A. Florida law requires Florida Supreme Court justices and appeals court judges to be placed on the ballot in nonpartisan elections every six years so voters can determine whether they should remain on their courts for another six-year term.

How are Florida District Court judges elected? ›

Additionally, Florida Supreme Court justices and District Courts of Appeal judges are appointed by the governor and then run in merit retention elections to stay in office.

Who is judge Jay Cohen? ›

Cohen. Judge Cohen was appointed to the Fifth District Court of Appeal in January 2008 and served as its Chief Judge from January 2017 through December 2018. Previously he had spent eighteen years as a trial court judge in the Ninth Circuit (Orange and Osceola Counties).

Who appointed judge Northcutt in Florida? ›

Governor Lawton Chiles, Jr., appointed Judge Northcutt to the Second District for a term beginning January 6, 1997. The voters of the district retained him in office in the general elections of 1998, 2004, 2010, and 2016. Judge Northcutt was the Second District's chief judge from July 2007 through June 2009.

Can a judge overrule a jury in Florida? ›

Jury verdicts are statements of the community. Therefore they are given great respect. Furthermore in a criminal case, a judge cannot overturn a verdict of not guilty as that would violate a defendant's 5th amendment right. To overturn a guilty verdict there must be clear evidence that offers reasonable doubt.

How do Justices vote on cases? ›

In accordance with Supreme Court protocol, the most junior Justice casts the first vote, followed by the others in ascending order of seniority. The Chief Justice may cast the final vote or abstain. For purposes of this simulation it is acceptable if there is a tie.

Who appoints District Court judges in Florida? ›

The Florida Court System

County and circuit court judges are elected. District court judges and Supreme Court justices are appointed by the Governor. However, when a judicial vacancy occurs on a county or circuit court, the Governor appoints a successor.

How are judges assigned to cases in Florida? ›

Answer: The court randomly assigns a district and magistrate judge to each case, using an automated case-management system.

Are local judges elected or appointed? ›

Membership, qualifications

Superior court judges serve six-year terms and are elected by county voters on a nonpartisan ballot at a general election. Vacancies are filled through appointment by the Governor.

Who appointed judge Mary Nardella in Florida? ›

Judge Mary Alice “Molly” Nardella joined the Fifth District Court of Appeal in January 2021, after being appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis. Judge Nardella was born and raised in Orlando, Florida.

Who appointed judge Joel Cohen? ›

Lawrence K. Marks, Chief Administrative Judge of the State of New York. Prior to this, Justice Cohen was appointed to the New York State Court of Claims by Governor Andrew Cuomo during that same year.

Who was the judge at Eagles court? ›

But it went further than that. Veterans Stadium was also outfitted with a courtroom, where Judge Seamus Patrick McCaffery and volunteer judges would be ready on game days to handle fans who were detained by security. The fans were taken to Eagles Court, where they would sit in a holding cell and wait for sentencing.

Who appointed Judge Craig Villanti Florida? ›

After an initial one-year assignment in Pinellas County, he served in Pasco County until his appointment to the Second District Court of Appeal in February 2003 by Governor Jeb Bush.

Who is the judge was appointed by Trump? ›

United States Supreme Court
#JusticeEnded service
1Neil GorsuchIncumbent
2Brett KavanaughIncumbent
3Amy Coney BarrettIncumbent

Who was the judge appointed by Obama? ›

Elena Kagan nomination

On May 10, 2010, Obama nominated Elena Kagan, the Solicitor General of the United States, to replace retiring Associate Justice John Paul Stevens. Solicitor General Elena Kagan was confirmed by the Senate by a 63–37 vote.

Can you request a different judge in Florida? ›

The short answer is “yes” if you are asking for the right reasons. Asking a judge to remove him or herself from a case is called a “recusal.”

Can a judge overturn a life sentence in Florida? ›

Currently, Florida's death penalty statute allows judges to override death sentences and give life terms, but does not let them override life sentences in favor of death.

Can a judge give the death penalty? ›

The death penalty can only be imposed on defendants convicted of capital offenses – such as murder, treason, genocide, or the killing or kidnapping of a Congressman, the President, or a Supreme Court justice. Unlike other punishments, a jury must decide whether to impose the death penalty.

What is the rule of 4? ›

The “rule of four” is the Supreme Court's practice of granting a petition for review only if there are at least four votes to do so. The rule is an unwritten internal one; it is not dictated by any law or the Constitution.

Who can overturn a Supreme Court decision? ›

Court can declare a law unconstitutional; allowing Congress to override Supreme Court decisions; imposing new judicial ethics rules for Justices; and expanding transparency through means such as allowing video recordings of Supreme Court proceedings.

How many justices need to agree to make a decision? ›

According to these rules, four of the nine Justices must vote to accept a case. Five of the nine Justices must vote in order to grant a stay, e.g., a stay of execution in a death penalty case.

Who oversees judges in Florida? ›

Created in 1966 by amendment of the Florida Constitution, the Judicial Qualifications Commission ("JQC") is an independent state agency tasked with investigating allegations of misconduct and disability by all judges within the state of Florida.

Who determines the number of judges in Florida? ›

The Constitution provides that a circuit court shall be established to serve each judicial circuit established by the Legislature, of which there are twenty. Within each circuit, there may be any number of judges, depending upon the population and caseload of the particular area.

How long is the term for a judge in Florida? ›

The commission submits a list of three to six nominees to the governor, and the governor must then appoint a judge from the list. Newly appointed judges serve for at least one year, after which they appear in a yes-no retention election held during the next general election. If retained, judges serve six-year terms.

Can a judge dismiss a case Florida? ›

Many people have their cases dismissed during the pretrial phase. That dismissal may not necessarily be from a judge, rather it's a Nolle Prosse (State's Dismissal). There are certain instances when a judge can throw out a case.

How long does a judge have to make a decision in Florida? ›

Jury cases — 18 months (filing to final disposition) Non-jury cases — 12 months (filing to final disposition) Small claims — 95 days (filing to final disposition) (C) Domestic Relations. Uncontested — 90 days (filing to final disposition) Contested — 180 days (filing to final disposition) (D) Probate.

How long does a judge have to make a ruling in Florida? ›

while any cause before the judge remains pending and undetermined for 90 days after it has been submitted for decision." For several reasons, however, this does not mean that a decision is guaranteed to issue on or before the 90th day after submission.

Do people vote for local judges? ›

Superior court judges serve six-year terms and are elected by county voters on a nonpartisan ballot at a general election during even-numbered years. Vacancies occurring during those terms—due to retirements, deaths, or other departures—are filled through appointment by the Governor.

Why are judges appointed instead of elected? ›

Judges and Justices serve no fixed term — they serve until their death, retirement, or conviction by the Senate. By design, this insulates them from the temporary passions of the public, and allows them to apply the law with only justice in mind, and not electoral or political concerns.

Which judges are usually appointed? ›

Supreme Court justices, court of appeals judges, and district court judges are nominated by the President and confirmed by the United States Senate, as stated in the Constitution.

Who appoints magistrate judges in Florida? ›

Magistrate Judges are selected by the district judges upon recommendation by a Merit Selection Panel. They are then appointed to serve for a period of eight years after which they may request consideration for reappointment.

Is judge Robert Morris a Republican? ›

Political aspirations

Shanley, who had 36%, and Morris, whose 70,000 votes represented more than 20% of the primary votes. As a resident of Texas, Morris ran for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in both 1964 and 1970, being defeated both times by George Herbert Walker Bush, a Massachusetts native.

Who appointed Susan Kelsey to the Florida Supreme Court? ›

Judge Kelsey applied five times for the position, sometimes never emerging from the judicial nominating commission process, before Governor Scott finally appointed her in April 2015.

Is judge Cohen a Republican? ›

She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Southwestern Law School. Cohen fills the vacancy created by the elevation of Judge Sunshine Sykes to the federal bench. She is a Democrat.

Who appointed Therese Stewart judge? ›

Presiding Justice Stewart was appointed to the First Appellate District in June 2014 by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. She was appointed presiding justice of Division Two by Governor Gavin Newsom and confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments in November 2022.

Who appointed judge Groban? ›

Groban was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown (D) in 2018 to succeed former Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar. The California Commission on Judicial Appointments confirmed Groban's nomination on December 21, 2018.

Who was the judge in Veterans Stadium? ›

Honorable Seamus P. McCaffery

Is there a judge and jail in the Eagles Stadium? ›

They installed a jail and judge at the old Eagles Stadium (Veterans Field) after a game against the 49ers in 1997. The Eagles were losing, and a fan pulled out a flare gun and fired it across the stadium at 49ers fans. Judge Seamus McCaffery presided over the ad hoc court at the stadium for years.

Who is the head of the Eagles? ›

Nicholas John Sirianni (born June 15, 1981) is an American football coach who is the head coach for the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League (NFL).

Who appointed judge Ross Bilbrey? ›

Ross L. Bilbrey was appointed to the First District Court of Appeal on December 23, 2014, by Governor Rick Scott and took office January 6, 2015. Previously he was a circuit court judge for the Florida First Judicial Circuit. He took the circuit bench in July 2012 following his appointment by Governor Rick Scott.

Who appointed judge Bobby Long? ›

Judge Robert “Bobby” E. Long, Jr., was appointed to the First District Court of Appeal on June 10th, 2020, by Governor Ron DeSantis. Prior to joining the Court of Appeal, Judge Long served as a trial court judge on Florida's Second Judicial Circuit Court.

Who appointed judge Ricky Polston in Florida? ›

Ricky Polston is a justice on the Florida Supreme Court. He was appointed to the court on October 2, 2008, by Governor Charlie Crist. Polston was retained by voters on November 2, 2010, and again on November 8, 2016. His current term expires in 2023.

Which president appointed the most Supreme Court justices? ›

George Washington holds the record for most Supreme Court nominations, with 14 nominations (12 of which were confirmed). Four presidents—William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Andrew Johnson, and Jimmy Carter—did not make any nominations, as there were no vacancies while they were in office.

Which Supreme Court justices are liberal? ›

  • Most liberal: Sonia Sotomayor (-3.959)
  • Stephen Breyer (-1.901)
  • Elena Kagan (-1.508)
  • John Roberts (0.506)
  • Brett Kavanaugh (0.548)
  • Amy Coney Barrett (1.011)
  • Neil Gorsuch (1.11)
  • Samuel Alito (2.162)
Jun 24, 2022

What is the average age of appointed judges? ›

The average age of new appointees to full-time magistrate judge positions was 50 years. The average age of new appointees to part-time magistrate judge positions was 61 years. New full-time appointees on average had 23 years of bar membership; new part-time magistrate judges on average had 34 years of bar membership.

Which judge was appointed by Biden? ›

Supreme Court of the United States
#JusticeConfirmation date
1Ketanji Brown JacksonApril 7, 2022

How many justices did George W Bush appoint? ›

In total Bush appointed 327 Article III federal judges, including 2 Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States (including one Chief Justice), 62 judges to the United States Courts of Appeals, 261 judges to the United States district courts and 2 judges to the United States Court of International Trade.

How many judges did each president appoint? ›

Judicial appointments by president
All judicial appointments
PresidentSupreme Court justicesDistrict judges
Harry S. Truman4102
Dwight D. Eisenhower5131
John F. Kennedy2102
45 more rows

Does the US vote for judges? ›

Partisan elections are held to select most or all judges in 13 States and for some judges in an additional 8 States. Nonpartisan elections are held to select most or all judges in 17 States and for some judges in an additional 3 States. One-half of the States hold elections for State supreme court judges.

Does the Senate vote for judges? ›

Supreme Court justices, court of appeals judges, and district court judges are nominated by the President and confirmed by the United States Senate, as stated in the Constitution.

Who votes for the judge? ›

Superior court judges serve six-year terms and are elected by county voters on a nonpartisan ballot at a general election during even-numbered years. Vacancies occurring during those terms—due to retirements, deaths, or other departures—are filled through appointment by the Governor.

Do voters have the right to remove judges? ›

Federal judges can only be removed through impeachment by the House of Representatives and conviction in the Senate. Judges and Justices serve no fixed term — they serve until their death, retirement, or conviction by the Senate.

How many judges have to vote yes for a case to be heard in the U.S. Supreme Court? ›

The justices have full discretion over whether to review the ruling, formally known as granting the petition for certiorari — or granting cert, for short. Four justices must vote to grant cert for the Supreme Court to hear the case. Thousands of cert petitions are filed each term, and the vast majority are denied.

Do judges serve for life? ›

Supreme Court Nominations

The Supreme Court is the Nation's highest court. Eight Associate Justices and one Chief Justice comprise the membership of the Court. Like all Federal judges, Supreme Court Justices serve lifetime appointments on the Court, in accordance with Article III of the United States Constitution.

What 3 methods are used to select state judges? ›

The State Court System
  • election,
  • appointment for a given number of years,
  • appointment for life, and.
  • combinations of these methods, e.g., appointment followed by election.

Are local judges appointed for life? ›

The district courts are served by Article III federal judges, who are appointed for life during good behavior. They are usually first recommended by senators (or members of the House, occasionally).

How many Senate votes are needed to confirm a federal judge? ›

Full Senate. Once the committee reports out the nomination, it is put before the full Senate for final consideration. A simple majority vote is required to confirm or to reject a nominee. Historically, such rejections are relatively uncommon.

How does Congress approve judges? ›

The president has the power to nominate the justices and appointments are made with the advice and consent of the Senate. You can search for Supreme Court cases on Findlaw . Interested in related materials?

What is the blue slip rule for judges? ›

In the Senate, a blue slip is an opinion written by a senator from the state where a federal judicial nominee resides. Both senators from a nominee's state are sent a blue slip in which they may submit a favorable or unfavorable opinion of a nominee. They may also choose not to return a blue slip.


1. Man charged in Pinellas County land scheme asks for reduced bond
(ABC Action News)
2. 4 school board seats up for election in Pinellas County
(ABC Action News)
3. Judge says Pinellas County Sheriff's detective lied to get a search warrant
(10 Tampa Bay)
4. Pinellas County School Board 2022 Candidates Forum
(St. Petersburg College)
5. PollWorker Training 2014
(Pinellas County)
6. Board of County Commissioners Regular Meeting 12-13-22
(Pinellas County Meetings)


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