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Butterworth's new job: Broward judge

By JULIE HAUSERMAN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 25, 2003


TALLAHASSEE -- Two months after he lost a bid for the state Senate, Bob Butterworth is changing his title from general to "your honor."

One of the state's best-known Democrats, the former state attorney general is taking a job as a senior judge in Broward County, where he will hear cases in various courts. Senior judges typically fill in for absent judges or help with overcrowded calendars. The Florida Supreme Court approved the appointment Dec. 11.

"Have gavel, will travel," joked Butterworth, 60, who has served in public jobs for three decades, including as a Broward judge from 1974 to 1978.

He'll make $300 a day when he's on the bench, on top of the $7,500 a month he gets in state retirement.

Butterworth will not practice law. "If I was going into private practice, I'd probably be able to charge $300 to $400 a hour," said Butterworth, who developed a national reputation as a consumer advocate after winning an $11.3-billion tobacco settlement. "I like public service. I always liked the bench. It took me 20-some odd years to get back to it."

Former President Bill Clinton twice asked Butterworth to consider a federal judgeship, but Butterworth declined. Former Gov. Lawton Chiles also recommended him for the state Supreme Court.

Butterworth flirted with a run for governor several times. Term limits forced him out of the attorney general's job in November, and he pulled a political surprise: He rang for Senate. He was considered the favorite: a top elected Democrat running in a Florida Democratic stronghold, a man with great name recognition and a spotless public record.

But Florida Republicans poured money and energy into the contest, making it last year's most expensive state Senate race. He lost to Republican Jeff Atwater, a 44-year-old who had served in the House since 2000.

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