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Fate Of Duval Chief Judgeship Rests With Florida Supreme Court

Brian Turner

Many were taken by surprise recently when Duval County Chief Judge Donald Moran announced his resignation — just one day before his term in office expired.The Florida Supreme Court is now being asked to look into Moran’s move. By resigning, Governor Rick Scott can now appoint his replacement and sidestep an election for the open judicial seat.

Local attorney David Trotti had filed to run for the post and he’s arguing that the will of the voters is being thwarted. He joined Melissa Ross for more on his emergency petition before the court.

According to the Florida Times-Union, Moran submitted his resignation to Scott in March, but postdated it to January 2, 2015, the week his term in office expires.

“I believe with this notice that the judgeship I am resigning from should be filled by appointment,” Moran said, in his resignation letter to Scott.

Trotti is calling for an investigation into whether judges are planning their retirements so that their replacements are gubernatorial appointees and not elected.

"I think that needs to be looked at, and a constitutional amendment should be put on the ballot for a change by the people," he said.

Trotti said the case is in a holding pattern, as the state's top court has given no indication of when they may rule on the case.

The T-U reports that Scott's office wants to wait for a ruling on Trotti's petition before asking the 4th District Judicial Nominating Commission to begin looking for a replacement.

If the court decides to reopen the election without another qualifying period, Trotti would be automatically elected, as he is the only candidate who filed to run for the seat before the election was closed.

You can follow Melissa Ross on Twitter @MelissainJax and Patrick Donges @patrickhdonges.

Melissa Ross joined WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. During her career as a television and radio news anchor and reporter, Melissa has won four regional Emmys for news and feature reporting.
Patrick Donges served as WJCT's Digital Content Editor from August 2013 - August 2014.