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Thursday, October 22, 2020

Orlando Weekly Voting Guide 2020: Here are the judges on your Orange County ballot

Posted By on Thu, Oct 22, 2020 at 3:23 PM

click to enlarge Vote NO on retaining Justice Carlos G. Muñiz. - IMAGE VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • image via Wikimedia Commons
  • Vote NO on retaining Justice Carlos G. Muñiz.

The one question we are guaranteed to get most around this time of year is: "How should I vote on these judges?" Judge retention seems to be the most mystifying aspect of the ballot, and members of the court are notoriously tight-lipped, so unless a justice breaks very bad – like Kids for Cash-level bad – you probably won't hear anything to help you decide.



That's where the Florida Bar Merit Retention Poll comes in — you can use their resulting scores almost like a scholastic grade scale (90–100% is an A, 80–89% is a B, 70–79% is a C, 60–70% is a D, and 59% or lower is an F). Of course, how much stock you put in lawyers' opinions is your own business.


Justice of the Supreme Court

There are six Florida Supreme Court justices, each serving staggered six-year terms, with a mandatory retirement age of 75. Justices don't face opponents on the ballot, but are retained or dumped by voters. There is only one justice on your November ballot, and whew, he's a doozy.

Shall Justice Carlos G. Muñiz of the Supreme Court be retained in office?

NO

Muñiz, age 51, was appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis on Jan. 22, 2019. Before that he was former Attorney General Pam Bondi's chief of staff. After Bondi took $25,00 from Donald Trump, Muñiz defended the office's decision not to investigate Trump University. On the 2020 Florida Bar Merit Retention Poll, only 63 percent of in-state Bar members with "considerable knowledge" of Muñiz feel he should be retained. Orlando Sentinel's Scott Maxwell delivered a massive takedown of Muñiz on Oct. 4, and it's worth a read.

Fifth District Court of Appeal

None of these judges have done anything to merit strong opposition this year, so vote any way you like; they'll almost certainly all be retained. Below are their 2020 Florida Bar Merit Retention Poll results, taken in August among respondents with "considerable knowledge" of each judge.


Shall Judge Kerry I. Evander of the Fifth District Court of Appeal be retained in office?
Appointed by Jeb Bush in 2006
In-state Bar members with "considerable knowledge" voting to retain: 86 percent

Shall Judge Jamie Grosshans of the Fifth District Court of Appeal be retained in office?
Appointed by Rick Scott on Sept. 14, 2020
Bar members with "considerable knowledge" voting to retain: 66 percent (tied for lowest among the 5th Circuit)

Despite her low score in the Florida Bar Merit Retention Poll, Gov. DeSantis chose to appoint Judge Grosshans to the Florida Supreme Court in September.

Shall Judge John M. Harris of the Fifth District Court of Appeal be retained in office?
Appointed by Rick Scott July 27, 2018
Bar members with "considerable knowledge" voting to retain: 81 percent

Shall Judge Richard B. Orfinger of the Fifth District Court of Appeal be retained in office?
Appointed by Jeb Bush in 2000
Bar members with "considerable knowledge" voting to retain: 87 percent (the highest of the 5th Circuit)

Shall Judge Meredith Sasso of the Fifth District Court of Appeal be retained in office?
Appointed by Rick Scott on Jan. 7, 2019
Bar members with "considerable knowledge" voting to retain: 66 percent (tied for lowest among the 5th Circuit)

Shall Judge F. Rand Wallis of the Fifth District Court of Appeal be retained in office?
Appointed by Rick Scott on May 29, 2013
Bar members with "considerable knowledge" voting to retain: 82 percent


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