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Judge seeks quick action on judicial elections

Published July 14, 2006

The chief judge of the Jacksonville judicial circuit has asked the Florida Supreme Court to quicken its pace in deciding a lawsuit that challenges the election of 55 new state judges.

Fourth Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Donald R. Moran Jr. filed a motion asking the court to decide the case quickly so potential judicial candidates can decide whether to spend time and money campaigning for the new seats.

Last week, the panel that nominates judges in Miami-Dade County filed a lawsuit asking that the 55 new spots be filled by appointment by Gov. Jeb Bush rather than by election. The positions were created by the Legislature with directions that they be elected.

But the lawsuit says the state Constitution only empowers the governor to select judges for the newly elected positions. The lawsuit had asked the Florida Supreme Court to decide the issue before qualifying begins on Monday.

The court on Wednesday denied that motion, keeping candidates in limbo about whether they should spend money on an election or sit tight in case the court rules that the governor should appoint the new judges.

"Unfortunately, that order sets a schedule that may created irreparable harm to candidates and potential candidates for the newly created seats," Moran wrote in his motion to the court.

"Additionally, the candidates for the newly created positions will have spent sums totaling thousands if not millions of dollars in qualifying as candidates and campaigning," the motion states. "Thousands of hours of campaign time will be wasted."

Moran suggests that the court rule on the lawsuit before Monday or extend the time for potential candidates to qualify. Qualifying ends July 21.

[Last modified July 14, 2006, 00:40:45]

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