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6 Nominees For Nassau County Judge Forwarded To Governor Amidst Lawsuit

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A Broward County judge, two judges from Jacksonville, and three Jacksonville attorneys are among the six candidates being forwarded to Gov. Rick Scott as he chooses a replacement for a retiring Nassau County judge.

That’s after Scott had the Fourth Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission proceed to interview 18 applicantsas he appeals a court ruling that says the replacement must be elected by voters rather than appointed.

The dispute stems from the upcoming retirement of Judge Robert Foster, who is leaving days before his term officially ends, which Scott believes allows him to make an appointment.

Foster was expected to leave office at the end of his term on January 7, 2019. But in April he sent a letter to Scott making his retirement effective December 31, 2018 — four business days ahead of schedule.

Jacksonville attorney David Trotti sued to be able to run for the seat, and Circuit Judge Charles Dodson agreed. Dodson wrote that the “creation of an artificial appointment” had occurred. “The right of our citizens to vote, as specifically provided for in the Constitution with regard to the election of our trial judges, is sacred,” Dodson wrote.

He also said Trotti should be listed on the state Division of Elections website as qualified to run, which he was not as of June 21. Scott’s appeal is proceeding through the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee.

In alphabetical order, here are the nominees selected by the Fourth Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission:

Lester Bass

  • Occupation: Duval County Judge
  • Age:55
  • Admitted to the Florida Bar: 1989
  • Education: Duke University, bachelor’s degree, 1985; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Law School, J.D.,
  • Career: Bass was appointed to the Duval County bench by Gov. Rick Scott in 2014 after 11 years as a general magistrate and civil traffic hearing officer in the 4th Judicial Circuit. He began his legal career as a staff attorney at Jacksonville Area Legal Aid and from 1992 to 1994 was an assistant state attorney in the 4th Judicial Circuit. Bass serves on the boards of directors of the Boy Scouts of America North Florida Council and the Ritz Chamber Players

Michael T. Fackler

  • Occupation: Shareholder at Milam, Howard, Nicandri Gillam & Renner PA
  • Age: 46
  • Admitted to the Florida Bar: 2002
  • Education: Northwestern University, bachelor’s degree in 1993; University of Florida Levin College of Law, J.D., 2002
  • Career: Fackler was a law clerk for U.S. District Judge Harvey Schlesinger for two years after graduating from law school. He joined the McGuireWoods law firm in 2004 and then joined the Milam Howard firm in 2007 as an associate attorney. He became a partner on Jan. 1, 2016. Fackler has a general commercial litigation practice.

Charles M. Greene

  • Occupation: 17th Judicial Circuit Judge
  • Age: 61
  • Admitted to the Florida Bar: 1983
  • Education: Union College, bachelor’s in political science, 1978; Nova Southeastern Law Center, J.D., 1982
  • Career: Greene began his career as an assistant state attorney in Fort Lauderdale and also was in private practice before he was elected to the bench in 1990. His current six-year term expires Jan. 4, 2021. In his application, Greene said he and his wife have been part-time residents of Amelia Island for 27 years. He is an active member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Aviation Branch, where he serves as an aircraft commander.

Robin E. Lanigan

  • Occupation: 4th Judicial Circuit general magistrate and hearing officer
  • Age: 49
  • Admitted to the Florida Bar: 2000
  • Education: University of Tennessee at Knoxville, bachelor of arts, 1992; Florida Coastal School of Law, J.D., 2000
  • Career: While in private practice, Lanigan specialized in family law. Since becoming a magistrate in November 2016, she has conducted more than 1,500 family law hearings. As an adjunct professor at Florida State College at Jacksonville’s paralegal program, she taught family law from 2008 through 2011.

Rhonda Peoples-Waters

  • Occupation: President and owner, Rhonda Peoples-Waters PA
  • Age: 44
  • Admitted to the Florida Bar: 1999
  • Education: Fisk University, bachelor of business administration, 1996; University of Florida Levin College of Law, J.D., 1999
  • Career: Peoples-Waters was an assistant public defender in Jacksonville from 1999 to 2007. She’s now in private practice and specializes in criminal law and also represents plaintiffs in personal injury litigation. Peoples-Waters is a former member of the City of Jacksonville Ethics Commission and was president of the D.W. Perkins Bar Association in 2008-09.

David G. Tucker

  • Occupation: Northeast regional counsel, Department of Children and Families
  • Age: 56
  • Admitted to the Florida Bar: 1987
  • Education: University of Michigan, bachelor’s degree, 1984; University of Florida Levin College of Law, J.D., 1987
  • Career: In addition to being regional counsel for the state Department of Children and Families, Tucker is appointed an informal hearing officer and special hearing officer. He presides over contested adoption reviews, evidentiary hearings and child care licensing issues. He teaches administrative law as an adjunct professor at Florida Coastal School of Law.

Candidate profiles courtesy of our news partner The Jacksonville Daily Record.

Photo used under Creative Commons licsense.

Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP