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Capitol Bureau

Florida’s ballot is consumed by re-election

By Staff Reports

With the election next week, it is important to remember we are not just voting for the president. On the Florida ballot, there are seven judges running for re-election.

Carlos G. Muñiz is running for retention merit for the Florida Supreme Court. Muñiz was appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in Jan. 2019.

Before his time on the Florida Supreme Court, Muñiz had served as a general counsel to the U.S. Department of Education in 2018 and deputy attorney general and chief of staff for the Florida attorney general’s office from 2011 to 2014 under Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Muñiz was also on the list of possible candidates for the U.S. Supreme Court that was curated by President Trump.

According to a poll conducted by the Florida Bar in 2020, 71 percent of respondents believe that Muñiz should be reappointed.

The Florida first district court of appeal has six incumbent judges on the ballot, each running for re-election.

The first district court of appeal is in Tallahassee. The court listens to cases that were already decided by a lower court, but if a party is not happy with the first outcome, they are able to appeal to a higher court in hopes for a different ruling.

With a lengthy list of names, first time voter Jameela Anderson has found the ballot to be a bit overwhelming.

“It makes me want to read more about politics, especially at the judicial level. It was a lot to take in,” Anderson said.

Scott Makar, one of the first district court candidates, was appointed to the bench in 2012 by Gov. Jeb Bush. Previously, Makar served as the solicitor general of Florida, assistant general counsel for the city of Jacksonville, and was an associate and capital partner for Holland and Knight LLP.

John Lewis Jr. was appointed to his position on the Florida first district court of appeal by Bush in 2001.

Lewis served many different roles in the judicial system before he became a judge, such as assistant public defender in the second judicial circuit, assistant attorney general in the Florida Attorney general’s office, and Bureau Chief of the employment litigation and civil litigation section, just to name a few.

With 19 years on the court so far, Lewis has been met with honorable praise through the years and maintained his merit retention.

According to a poll conducted by the Florida Bar in 2020, 84 percent of respondents believe that Lewis should be re-electedand ranks the highest among the first district court of appeals judges on the ballot.

Rachel E. Nordby is a newcomer on the court. She was appointed by DeSantis in 2019.

After graduating from Florida State College of law, she clerked for Judge Bradford L. Thomas, who served in the first district court of appeals at the time.

Before her appointment to the supreme court, Nordby was a partner at the law firm of Shutts & Bowen LLP in Tallahassee. She has also served as the senior deputy solicitor general in the office of the attorney general under Attorney General Bondi.

According to a poll conducted by the Florida Bar in 2020, 71 percent of respondents believe that Nordby should be re-elected.

Tori Smith, a recent Florida A&M University graduate currently studying to obtain her J.D. from Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge is hopeful for Nordby’s future on the court.

“Nordby shows some promise as a good judge that is looking to serve the legal system, and the people that are seeking justice from the system due to her experience as an appellate attorney that tried cases on the appellate level such as the first district court of appeals. I feel like time will tell that Nordby is actually a good fit for an appeal judge in this district court of appeals,” Smith said.

Adam S. Tanenbaum was appointed in 2019 by DeSantis to the bench of the first district court of appeal.

Before his appointment, Tanenbaum provided legal guidance to the Florida Department of State, and most notably Florida House of Representatives.

Timothy D. Osterhaus was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott in 2013.

Osterhaus served as the solicitor general of Florida, deputy solicitor general, worked in a private practice and served as a law clerk for U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Ryskamp before being appointed.

Clayton Roberts was appointed in 2007 by Gov. Charlie Crist to serve on the court.

Before his time on the bench, Roberts served as deputy attorney general, director of Florida’s division of elections, and a council attorney for the Florida House of Representatives.

With election day fast approaching, Leon county voters will have to wait and see if the high court of the state and capitol city district appeal court will remain as is or experiences a shift.