Five judges on the 2nd District Court of Appeal appeared ready to easily win six-year terms in a merit retention vote, early returns showed Tuesday.
The judges poised to retain their seats in the nonpartisan vote are Charles Canady, Patricia Kelly, Stevan Northcutt, Craig Villanti and Douglas Wallace. In a merit retention vote, the judges faced no opposition.
No judge has ever been voted out of office through the merit retention process.
In a poll by the Florida Bar, lawyers recommended overwhelmingly that all five be retained. Of the lawyers polled, Northcutt received the highest tally with 89 percent recommending his retention and Canady received the lowest with 79 percent voting to recommend his retention.
The 2nd District Court of Appeal is based in Lakeland and includes Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Lee, Manatee, Polk and Sarasota counties. Judges hear criminal and civil appeals from state courts in those counties and earn $143,363 a year.