On Friday the Committee Promoting Judicial Excellence met at Bernini restaurant in Ybor and the following polling officers were selected for the 2015 Tampa Bay judicial survey covering Pinellas, Pasco, and Hillsborough counties.
- Frank de la Grana
- Jose Barreiro
- Nicholas Matassini
- Haydee Oropesa
- Sonny Im
- Donald Simon
The polling officers, who will oversee the integrity of the survey, will each have access to the overall results but will not be privy to how the attorney participants individually rated the judges. The survey is run by an independent company hired by the committee. The names of the participants are kept strictly confidential.
“Assessments by lawyers are relied on in evaluating the professional or personal fitness of persons being considered for election or appointment to judicial office and to public legal offices, such as attorney general, prosecuting attorney, and public defender. Expressing honest and candid opinions on such matters contributes to improving the administration of justice.”
Florida Senator, Jack Latvala, who has acted as a judicial consultant for several candidates, is quoted in a Tampa Bay Times 2010 article explaining how voters elect individuals to these incredibly powerful positions:
“Latvala said many voters don’t actually know anything about the judicial candidates on the ballot, so “probably the single biggest determiner of who wins is how their name sounds.” Women often do better than men, and newspaper editorial recommendations help.”
It is problematic for the “biggest determiner” on how voters select state judges to be how their name sounds or other factors not related to specific qualities bearing on their fitness for the task. Last year the Florida Bar mailed Florida attorneys a merit retention poll. Florida Bar President, Greg Coleman, stated the following regarding participation by attorneys:
“I am proud that Florida lawyers participated in this worthy endeavor to give guidance to voters about the district court of appeal judges on the merit retention ballot this year.”
Any attorney that practices in Pinellas, Pasco, or Hillsborough county is encouraged and invited to participate. The survey is open to all attorneys, private (civil/criminal practice), public defenders/state attorneys, and government attorneys. If you wish to receive a ballot please send your request to email@example.com or call 800-774-9883. The ballots will be going out in March.
Judicial survey results for 2014 can be viewed here.