3 from region apply for high court
By JULIE HAUSERMAN, Times Staff Writer
TALLAHASSEE -- Two mid-Florida appellate judges and a St. Petersburg attorney have applied to fill an upcoming vacancy on the Florida Supreme Court.
Tampa Judge Chris W. Altenbernd, 53, and Lakeland Judge Virginia Maria Hernandez Covington, 46, both of the 2nd District Court of Appeal, have applied for a seat on the high court. The seat will open up Aug. 31 when Justice Major B. Harding retires.
William N. Drake Jr., an assistant city attorney for St. Petersburg, also applied for Harding's seat.
"I think it's something that any lawyer with experience would aspire to," said Drake, who is a Republican.
People from around the state have applied for Harding's seat. This is the first chance in 15 years for a Republican governor to appoint a justice to the high court. Six of the seven current justices were appointed by Democrats.
Altenbernd, an independent, said he also applied for a Supreme Court seat in 1998. That appointment went to Justice Peggy Quince.
"I was on the short list 31/2 years ago, so I think I've got as good a chance as anyone," Altenbernd said Friday.
Covington, a Republican, said she applied because, "I've devoted my entire life to public service and I can think of no greater honor than to continue to serve the public."
The Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission will meet Thursday in Tampa to review the applications and decide which candidates will be interviewed. Interviews are scheduled for June 5-6 in Tampa. The commission then will forward a list of three to six names to the governor. Bush can select a new justice from that list or ask for more nominations.
The other applicants are: Raoul G. Cantero III, 41, a Miami attorney; Robert L. Doyel, 56, a circuit judge from Bartow; O.H. Eaton Jr., 59, a circuit judge from Sanford; Gisela Cardonne Ely, 51, a circuit judge from Miami; Robert M. Evans, 48, a circuit judge from Orlando; Charles M. Harris, 67, a judge with the 5th District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach; Ricky L. Polston, 46, a judge with the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee; Philip J. Padovano, 55, with the 1st District Court of Appeal; Michael P. Reiter, 54, of Tallahassee, a lawyer with the Capital Collateral Regional Counsel, which represents death row inmates; Peter D. Webster, 53, a 1st District Court of Appeal judge; James Robert Wolf, 51, a judge with the 1st District Court of Appeal; Terry Michael Jones, 51, a circuit judge in Pensacola; John O. Williams Jr., 53, a Tallahassee lawyer; Kenneth Wayne Sukhia, 49, a Tallahassee lawyer; Deborah Steinberg Nelson, 48, a circuit judge from Sanford; Albert F. Tellechea, 51, an Orlando lawyer; Kenneth B. Bell, 46, a circuit judge from Pensacola; and Edward Curtis, 61, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer.
-- Times researcher Cathy Wos contributed to this report.
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