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Florida Bar Likes All Judges, Justices for Retention

September 13, 2016 - 12:30pm

The Florida Bar announced Tuesday the results of a poll of Florida Bar members on the merit retention of three state Supreme Court justices and 28 appellate court judges.

In a written statement, Bar President William J. Schifino indicated overwhelming support for every single judge and justice to be retained, with recommendations ranging from 79 percent to 92 percent. 

The confidential poll seeks to find whether attorneys who know the most about these jurists believe they should continue in their jobs. The retention election is on the ballot in the Nov. 8 general election.
“Every two years since 1978, Florida’s lawyers have taken part in an effort to help voters understand the merit retention process and guide them as they assess the justices and judges whose names appear on the ballot,” Schifino said.

On its webpage “The Vote’s in Your Court”, the Bar offers its “Guide for Florida Voters,” bios of the justices and judges facing a merit retention vote, videos and links to more information.

“The merit retention poll is one more resource, and an important one,” Schifino said. “It tells voters how attorneys who practice before Florida’s appeals courts view the men and women who judge cases and interpret Florida law.”

Schifino added that he was not surprised by the positive results of the poll.

“The judicial nominating commissions that recommend candidates to the governor do an excellent job of finding fair and qualified justices and judges,” he said. “I’m proud of the part members of The Florida Bar play in helping to preserve our system of justice.”
This year’s poll results

For this year’s merit retention poll, a ballot mailed in August to all lawyers residing and practicing in Florida asked whether the incumbent appeals court justices and judges should be retained. Lawyers taking part in the poll were asked to consider eight attributes in making their decisions: 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 74,859 ballots to in-state members in good standing, and 5,967 lawyers participated. Only responses by lawyers indicating considerable or limited knowledge of the justices or judges were included in the poll results.
For the Florida Supreme Court, poll results indicate support for retention of --

  • Charles T. Canady by 84 percent.
  • Jorge Labarga by 91 percent.
  • Ricky L. Polston by 84 percent.

For the 1st District Court of Appeal, poll results indicate support for retention of --

  • Ross Bilbrey by 82 percent.
  • Susan Kelsey by 81 percent.
  • Lori S. Rowe by 79 percent.
  • Kent Wetherell by 82 percent.
  • Bo Winokur by 79 percent.
  • Jim Wolf by 89 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 --

  • John Badalamenti by 87 percent.
  • Marva L. Crenshaw by 87 percent.
  • Patricia J. Kelly by 86 percent.
  • Nelly N. Khouzam by 91 percent.
  • Matt Lucas by 89 percent.
  • Robert Morris by 91 percent.
  • Stevan Travis Northcutt by 92 percent.
  • Samuel Salario, Jr. by 88 percent.
  • Craig C. Villanti by 90 percent.
  • Douglas Alan Wallace by 88 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 --

  • Edwin A. Scales by 91 percent.
  • Linda Ann Wells by 86 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 --

  • Cory J. Ciklin by 89 percent.
  • Dorian K. Damoorgian by 89 percent.
  • Jonathan D. Gerber by 92 percent.
  • Robert M. Gross by 91 percent.
  • Spencer D. Levine by 86 percent.
  • Melanie G. May by 90 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.
For the 5th District Court of Appeal, poll results indicate support for retention of --

  • Jay Cohen by 86 percent.
  • James A. Edwards by 86 percent.
  • Brian Lambert by 83 percent.
  • Vincent G. Torpy, Jr. by 87 percent.

The 5th DCA encompasses Brevard, Citrus, Flagler, Hernando, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns, Sumter and Volusia counties. It includes judicial circuits, 5, 7, 9 and 18.
How the system works

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, in 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.
The poll was conducted for The Florida Bar by Elections Services Co. (ESC) of Ronkonkoma, N.Y., which since 1989 has conducted thousands of elections for unions, stockholders, credit unions, membership organizations, universities, and 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 ensure that each member could vote only one time. All ballot votes are confidential, with no identification of the voters attached. The Florida Bar provides the poll results and educational information as a public service and does not endorse or support the judges on the ballot.


I agree with Susana. I want to know what they believe and what they have done for the communities not their own accomplishments for themselves.

If you believe in Medicinal Marijuana Vote No to Canady and Polston. Going to vote yes on Labarga.

Is Judge Lori S Rowe a republican

4th District Court of Appeals. Looking for Retention Recommendations.

Canady and Polston are anti-women's rights. They as well as Labarga have been endorsed by the Koch brothers which is more than enough reason to vote AGAINST.

If by "anti-women's rights", you are referring to opposition to the mechanical dismembering or chemical incineration of a baby in the womb regardless of developmental stage, then I am 100% behind Canady and Polston. That is solid, ethical reason (amongst others) to vote FOR them, unless one lacks an ounce of a soul!

How we no who is good or who is bad amigos?

Judge Linda Ann Wells from the Third DCA of Florida SHould Not Be Retained. She is the worst Judge I have seen in all my life. Let me explain why, she is 100% pro banks. Thousands of South Florida homeowners have lost their homes to banks using forged promissory notes and mortgages, backdated mortgage assignments, robo signed documents, etc. If you appeal a case and Judge Wells happens to be in the panel the first question she asks is: "Well, is your client, the homeowner, paying his/hers mortgage, are they up to date? You know immediately that she is not going to judge your appeal on the merits of the case but rather she is already pre disposed to rule against you. Judge Linda Wells had the audacity to rule against Florida's five year statute of limitations on mortgage foreclosures, thus, legislating from the bench. What a better example of her total allegiance to the Banksters and pretender lenders. The Florida bar reports that 86% of their member approve of Judge Wells. Either there is a mistake or these lawyers are a bunch of cowards afraid to vote their minds. VOTE NO TO RETAIN LINDA Ann WELLS. The worst judge for South Florida Homeowners and consumers. Unless you are a Banksters, of course.

Thanks for your input.

Florida third district court f appeals Linda Ann Wells SHOUL NOT BE RETAINED. She is extremely impatient when you argue a case before her. She has a bad temperament and comes thru as being arrogant, impolite and loves to rule on behalf of banks and saving institutions. She will almost all the time rule on behalf of banks and when she can't explain her ruling, she simply writes: PER CURIAM, upheld. Personally, I don't think she has what it takes to be a trier of fact, a fair and honest judge. Her biases are just too obvious and she doesn't give a rats assas to what you think f her. I seem to think that she is in bed with the banks, many lawyers in south Florida agree with me but they are afraid to come out and say it openly. The third DCA is corrupted to its core, these judges might as well go and work for the Banks. I am so disgusted with Judge Linda Ann Wells, one day I cried all o The way home since I knew I was within the law and she ruled against me. It was a sad, sad day for me. May GOD serve his justice on these judges who continue to uphold our laws. What better example than the five year statute of limitations on foreclO sure cases. Thanks to Linda Wells, the banks now Have up to 35 years to continue foreclosing on your property until they win. South Florida voters, wake up and give Linda Ann Wells a kick in the butt and out of the third DCA where s he never belong to begin with. May God have mercy on South fla. Homeowners and consumers if this evil judge is retaine. Lord help us.

Thanks for your info.

While i have tried to research the above candidates pertaining to my district and i am aware the Fl. Bar supports them; This says little in terms of their accomplishments in their positions and what they have done to benefits those in the communities they are seeking re-election.

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