tampabay.com

Hillsborough's first woman judge to retire

By Times Staff Writer
Published January 8, 2008


TAMPA

After 23 years on the bench, Hillsborough Circuit Judge Barbara Fleischer said Monday she will retire at the end of the year.

With two other judges facing mandatory retirement because of their age, there are now three open seats for prospective candidates.

Twenty-nine circuit judges and five county judges are up for election this year.

Fleischer, 65, said it's "the right time" to try other things. She was the first woman elected judge in Hillsborough County. She won a county judgeship in 1985, then a circuit spot in 1991.

Circuit Judges Frank Gomez and J. Rogers Padgett also will retire at year's end.

CLEARWATER

Florida Bar honors Pinellas-Pasco judge

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Michael F. Andrews, 44, won the Florida Bar's "Distinguished Judicial Service Award" on Monday.

Every year Andrews brings fellow African-American judges and dozens of at-risk youths together for a day of plain talk and encouragement. In the sessions, he aims to get the black teenagers acquainted with the legal system. He also hopes the young men will see positive role models in the black men on the panel who found ways to overcome their own disadvantages and become judges.

Since 2004, the Bar has recognized just one judge from around the state each year for his or her pro-bono work in the community.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Exploring the lives of the mermaids

With The Little Mermaid opening on Broadway this week, the New York Times ventured to Weeki Wachee Springs to get a look at the real thing, including a mermaid slumber party and late-night boating excursion.

Here is an excerpt from the story published Sunday:

The night sky was spotted with shooting stars. The white glow of a new Wal-Mart store emanated in the distance. Ms. Holliday pulled up to a small island and started a campfire. ...

It was around midnight when they headed back. There was some dissension in the ranks about who was to blame for running out of alcohol. At the dock they restocked with tequila, beer and vodka before heading to a neighbor's BB-gun range, decorated with black lights and neon paint.

"Everyone thinks mermaids are girly girls," Ms. Connolly said, cocking her gun and firing at empty beer cans. She hit every target.