Perhaps he gets better after the delivery

By Abbie VanSickle and Colleen Jenkins, Times Staff Writers
Published March 1, 2008

James Russell Godwin, 41, went to jail Tuesday, accused by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office of aggravated battery on a pregnant female.

He wore a T-shirt in his booking photo.

It read: "World's Best Dad."

Is it the gavel?

A whopping 41 lawyers have applied for departed judge Monica Sierra's spot on the circuit bench.

The group includes five assistant state attorneys and four county judges.

Two lawyers - Elton Gissendanner and Samantha Ward - threw their names in the ring, despite having already signaled plans to run for a judgeship this year. Obviously, they realized it would be much cheaper to get appointed instead.

Other notables include private attorneys Herb Berkowitz and Leland Baldwin.

A respected lawyer and seemingly perpetual judicial candidate, Berkowitz has been considered multiple times by more than one governor.

Baldwin left the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office to run for circuit judge in 2000 but lost to Robert A. Foster Jr. She handled high-profile cases, including a conviction of three teens accused of pulling up a stop sign and causing a fatal wreck. But that case was overturned by an appeals court that said Baldwin's closing argument "poisoned" the verdict.

The applicants will interview March 24 with the 13th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission.

Maybe he's rebelling

Hillsborough Judge Walter "Buzzy" Heinrich decides daily who should be granted bail after their arrests and who should stay in jail.

Down in Broward County, another judge has decided Heinrich's son should be one of those people who stays behind bars.

Justin Phillip Heinrich, 23, was charged two years ago with eight drug trafficking and possession offenses, including trafficking in methamphetamine. He is set to be sentenced in March.

On Jan. 28, a judge ordered him incarcerated on those charges without bail. The Broward State Attorney's Office won't explain why because it's a pending case.

Justin Heinrich also is the grandson of a former Hillsborough County sheriff.

Heinrich the judge didn't return a request for comment.

She's way overdue

Last week in Hillsborough Circuit Judge Daniel Perry's courtroom, a female defendant said she was 18 months pregnant.

"That baby's going to come out walking," Perry said.

The defendant quickly clarified. She meant 18 weeks.

Got a tip? For cops news, contact Abbie VanSickle at vansickle@sptimes.com or 813 226-3373. For courts news, contact Colleen Jenkins at cjenkins@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3337.