NAACP, Northside Coalition Call For Incoming Judge To Resign
Protestors from Jacksonville’s NAACP and the Northside Coalition circled the Duval County Courthouse in their cars with horns blaring on Tuesday, calling for recently elected Circuit Judge Michael Kalil to resign.
The Florida Bar is investigating Kalil, who took over the Fourth Judicial Circuit judgeship in late April after filing to run just a couple of hours before the qualifying deadline. The story was first reported by WJCT News partner The Florida Times-Union.
The same day as the qualifying deadline, incumbent Judge Tyrie Boyer pulled his bid for reelection. The late switch made it too late for anyone else to run, meaning Kalil automatically wins the seat in the election that’s coming up in August.
Clerks at the state Division of Elections timestamped a letter from Boyer, saying he was dropping out of the race, as April 24, the deadline for qualifying. However, the letter was dated for the day before.
Rhonda Peoples-Waters, a Jacksonville attorney, told multiple news outlets she had expressed interest in the seat to Boyer last year. She also said it’s uncommon for judges to face opposition when they run for re-election, so competitive races normally occur only when a judge doesn’t run for re-election or retires.
Instead, Peoples-Waters is running for a Duval County judge seat.
Ben Frazier, president and founder of Jacksonville’s Northside Coalition, said this is an example of the local court system’s quashing diversity among its circuit judges. Peoples-Waters is black. Boyer and Kalil are white.
“Only one black woman is a judge in Duval County and white women are also discriminated against for these judgeships,” Frazier said. “I am hopeful that just maybe, maybe this incident will focus new attention on an old problem. Maybe this incident would have a positive impact on the overall relationship between the races right here in my hometown of Jacksonville, Florida.”
A demonstrator who spoke at the protest, who identified herself as Ms. Pat, said racial diversity should be a requirement among judges.
“When you have a lack of diversity on the bench, and you have black men and women and children stand before them, they can’t empathize or sympathize with that individual,” Pat said. “They can't understand the culture or why that person behaved in the manner in which they behaved because they don't see them as their son, daughter, grandchild.”
The Florida Bar is investigating whether Kalil or Boyer violated any rules.
Pat was also urging people to show up and vote on August 18, when Peoples-Waters and African-American attorney Isaac East are running for county judgeships.
“It is time to dismantle the current legal system we have in place and rebuild it,” Pat said. “It is improper, unethical and unfair. Then and only then will you have a true justice system.”
WJCT News reached out to the offices of Kalil and Boyer for comment. This story will be updated if and when they respond.
Sky Lebron can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @SkylerLebron.