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Porter will face judge with limited felony case history

By Times Staff Writer
Published August 31, 2005

A retired U.S. Army colonel, Hillsborough Circuit Judge Emmett Lamar Battles, 54, began hearing felony cases in April.

He was assigned to general civil cases from May 2004 to April 2005, and for two years before that, Battles presided over juvenile delinquency cases. He was appointed to the bench in 2002.

Now, he will be the one to sentence Jennifer Porter in October and decide whether the dance teacher should spend up to three years in prison. Porter accepted a deal to plead guilty Tuesday to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident in which two children were killed.

Before becoming a judge, Battles served as assistant general counsel for the Florida Department of Transportation's District 7 office, which oversees Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties.

As a judge, one of Battles' more publicized cases involved Orkin pest control. Battles was the one to grant class action status in the case in December 2004, allowing tens of thousands of Floridians to join a 1999 lawsuit that accused the pest control giant of deceiving customers that treatments had been made.

In January, Battles upheld the County Commission's decision to approve a 950-student elementary school on the northwest corner of Gunn Highway and N Mobley Road. The Keystone Civic Association had objected to the school's location.

Times researcher Angie Drobnic Holan contributed to this report.

[Last modified August 31, 2005, 01:21:25]

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