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Five judges on way to easily keeping seats

JIM ROSS
Published November 3, 2004

Voters sent five judges from the 5th District Court of Appeal a strong message: We want you to stay.

Jacqueline R. Griffin, David A. Monaco, Earle W. Peterson Jr., Winifred J. Sharp and Vincent G. Torpy Jr. cruised toward victory in their merit retention races. In such races, voters decide either to retain appellate judges or remove them from office.

No Florida judge has ever been displaced in a merit retention election.

The court, based in Daytona Beach, hears appeals from circuit courts in these counties: Citrus, Hernando, Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns, Sumter and Volusia. Voters in those counties had a chance to vote on the judges.

Appellate court judges serve six-year terms and are paid a $143,363 annual salary.

Sharp, 68, has been on the court since 1979. Former Gov. Bob Graham appointed her to the bench.

Griffin, 57, and Peterson, 68, have served since 1990, when former Gov. Bob Martinez appointed them.

Monaco, 61, and Torpy, 48, are relative newcomers: They started their service in January 2003, when Gov. Jeb Bush appointed them to the court.

Lawyers who participated in a Florida Bar poll overwhelmingly supported retention of the five judges.

If a judge lost a merit retention election, the governor would appoint a replacement after receiving candidates from a judicial nominating commission.

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