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Commission Prepares List Of Candidates For Governor To Fill Duval Court Vacancy

Abukar Adan
The 4th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission interview a candidate Wednesday

The 4th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) is reviewing applications for a vacancy on the Duval County Court.

At the Duval County Courthouse Wednesday, the nine member commission interviewed 15 candidates vying to succeed Judge Meredith Charbula, who was appointed last month to the circuit court by Governor Ron DeSantis.

JNC chair Patrick Kilbane said his team is considering a variety of factors

“We’re looking for somebody who’s got a great demeanor. Somebody that we feel confident when the public interacts with the judge, they’ll be treated fairly and respectively. Somebody who’s intelligent. Somebody who’s got breadth of experience and somebody who will have fidelity to the law,” he said.   

The candidates for the judgeship are required to be Duval County residents, registered to vote, and a member of The Florida Bar for at least the last 5 years.

The commissioners asked each candidate a series of personalized questions for 15 minutes.

Among the questions asked is what the candidates thought about the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling against Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, who sued after DeSantis suspended Israel for his handling of the shootings at Stoneman Douglas High School.  

“It’s a way of asking candidates about their judicial philosophy without directly coming at it and saying ‘hey did you read this, did you follow the reasoning - what do you think,’” said Kilbane.

Kilbane said people often criticize the process as being political

“There’s two ways to become a judge: by appointment or an election. And the last time I checked an election is a very political process, too.”

He said he prefers the judges to be picked through an appointment because it’s a more thorough process.

In addition to the interviews, each candidate was vetted by a commissioner. They reviewed applications and contacted personal and professional contacts.

“This process is designed to get the very best candidates to be judges,” he said.

JNC is sending six candidates, which he must choose from. The governor has 60 days to make the appointment.  They are:

  • Michael T. Fackler
  • W. Bradley Russell, Jr.
  • R. Anthony Salem
  • Julie K. Taylor
  • David G. Tucker
  • Rhonda D. Peoples-Waters