September 7, 2012
A poll of Florida Bar members regarding the retention of three justices and 15 appellate court judges indicates very strong support for all to be retained. The poll seeks to find whether attorneys who know the most about these jurists believe they should continue in their jobs. The retention election is Nov. 6.
Poll results this year show the three Supreme Court justices gaining an average approval rating of 90 percent. The 15 appellate judges on the ballot also received very positive marks, with approval ranging from 76 to 94 percent.
A ballot mailed in August to all lawyers residing and practicing in Florida asked whether the incumbent justices and appeals court judges should be retained or not, and asked that they consider eight attributes in making their decisions. Those attributes are: quality and clarity of judicial opinions; knowledge of the law; integrity; judicial temperament; impartiality; freedom from bias/prejudice; demeanor; and courtesy.
The Bar sent out 68,243 ballots to in-state members in good standing and 7,857 lawyers participated. Only responses by lawyers indicating considerable or limited knowledge of the judges were included in the poll results.
Since the first merit retention election in 1978, The Florida Bar has polled members about the Supreme Court justices and appeals court judges who will be on the November ballot in merit retention elections.
For the Supreme Court, poll results indicate support for retention of:
§ R. Fred Lewis by 92 percent.
§ Barbara J. Pariente by 89 percent.
§ Peggy A. Quince by 90 percent.
For the 1st District Court of Appeal, poll results indicate support for retention of:
§ Simone Marstiller by 85 percent.
§ Stephanie W. Ray by 87 percent.
§ R.V. Swanson by 88 percent.
§ Bradford Lee Thomas by 76 percent.
The 1st DCA covers the counties of Alachua, Baker, Bay, Bradford, Calhoun, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Gulf, Hamilton, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Nassau, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Suwannee, Taylor, Union, Wakulla, Walton and Washington. It includes judicial circuits 1, 2, 3, 4, 8 and 14.
For the 2nd District Court of Appeal, poll results indicate support for retention of:
§ Anthony K. Black by 94 percent.
§ Darryl C. Casanueva by 93 percent.
§ Charles A. Davis Jr. by 92 percent.
§ Edward C. LaRose by 93 percent.
The 2nd DCA covers Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties. It includes judicial circuits 6, 10, 12, 13 and 20.
For the 3rd District Court of Appeal, poll results indicate support for retention of:
§ Angel A. Cortinas by 86 percent.
§ Kevin M. Emas by 93 percent.
§ Ivan F. Fernandez by 91 percent.
§ Leslie B. Rothenberg by 78 percent.
§ Richard J. Suarez by 90 percent.
The 3rd DCA covers Miami-Dade (circuit 11) and Monroe (circuit 16) counties.
For the 4th District Court of Appeal, poll results indicate support for retention of:
§ Burton C. Conner by 91 percent.
§ Carole Y. Taylor by 91 percent.
The 4th DCA covers the counties of Broward, Indian River, Okeechobee, Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Martin. It includes judicial circuits 15, 17 and 19.
There is no 5th District Court of Appeal judge on the ballot this year.
Justices and appeals court judges face the voters in merit retention elections every six years – except after their first appointments. Newly appointed justices and appeals court judges serve an initial term of at least one year and are then subject to the first merit retention reviews of their performances in the next general election.
Only those judges receiving approval from a majority of the voters in the General Election may continue in office for another six-year term. If voters choose not to retain a judge, a vacancy would be created and would be filled through the merit selection process through which the governor would appoint one from three to six nominees submitted by a judicial nominating commission. Terms are staggered so that not all of the appellate judges face the voters in the same election. In total, Florida has seven Supreme Court justices and 61 appeals court judges.
The poll was conducted for The Florida Bar by Elections Services Corp. (ESC) of Ronkonkoma, N.Y., which since 1989 has conducted more than 6,500 elections for unions, stockholders, credit unions, membership organizations, universities, trade and professional organizations. Florida Bar members eligible to vote were given personal identification numbers by ESC which were used only for verification and to insure that each member could only vote one time. All ballot votes are confidential with no identification of the voters attached.
Information on merit selection and retention, answers to frequently asked questions, a video introduced by retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, biographies of the justices and judges and many other educational resources are online at www.floridabar.org/thevotesinyourcourt .
The Florida Bar provides the poll results and educational information as a public service and does not endorse or support the justices or judges on the ballot.