|Early Voting in Collier County
October 25 – November 3
In this post, I’ll explain what a merit retention vote is, provide some information about the justice/judges who are on our ballot and how to learn more, and how I plan to vote.
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. [Thereafter, they] face the voters in merit retention elections every six years.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.
- Alan Lawson (87 percent) – appointed by Republican Gov. Rick Scott in 2016
- Anthony K. Black (90 percent) – appointed by Republican Gov. Charlie Crist in 2010
- Darryl C. Casanueva (90 percent) – appointed by Democrat Gov. Lawton Chiles in 1998
- Edward C. LaRose (90 percent) – appointed by Republican Gov. Jeb Bush in 2005
- Susan H. Rothstein-Youakim (86 percent) – appointed by Republican Gov. Rick Scott in 2016
Based on those results, I see no reason to oppose retention of any of them.
In addition to reviewing the Bar poll results, I did a Google search on each of the candidates. I found only references of note related to Justice Lawson, facing his first merit retention vote, and Judge LaRose, who has been in his current position since 2005.
At the time of his appointment, the Miami-Herald wrote that Scott “chose a conservative appellate judge” to leave his “mark on a moderate court that has been responsible for some of the sharpest defeats of his political career.” Lawson replaced a “liberal jurist” who had reached the mandatory retirement age of 70.
- “Since his appointment,” according to Florida Today, “Lawson has become known for his narrow view of the highest court’s jurisdiction, meaning it has taken fewer cases. That allowed the rulings of lower courts to stand. He was the only dissenter in a Court of Appeal 2012 decision that allowed a child to have two legally recognized mothers. He wrote that the court’s decision was akin to striking down laws prohibiting same-sex marriage, bigamy, polygamy and incest.” See also Ballotpedia and Orlando Weekly.
- “Judge LaRose has been a supporter of collaborative practice as a private, more humane way to go through divorce and other family law matters… In discussions with Judge LaRose, I have learned that he believes most families should try to resolve issues related to divorce outside of court, and that they should only resort to a judge imposed decision as a last resort.” Family Diplomacy: A Collaborative Law Firm, 7/25/17.
For more information about Florida’s judicial merit retention process, including a Guide for Florida Voters: Answers to Your Questions about Florida Judges, Judicial Elections and Merit Retention and other voter resources, visit The Vote’s In Your Court.