Judge picked for Alvarez vacancy
By LINDA GIBSON
© St. Petersburg Times,
TAMPA -- Hillsborough County Court Judge Frank A. Gomez has been chosen to fill the Circuit Court vacancy that will occur July 1 when Judge Dennis Alvarez steps down.
Gomez, 60, practiced law for 20 years before being elected to the county bench in 1994. He has presided over a domestic violence division, and worked in the criminal division, traffic court and most recently in the civil division.
Gomez was born in Tampa and served in the Navy and worked as a firefighter for 10 years before going into law. He received an undergraduate degree in 1972 from the University of South Florida and a law degree in 1974 from Florida State University.
"This is a lifelong dream," he said Thursday. "It's the greatest feeling in the world."
He said he expects he'll be assigned to preside over juvenile dependency cases. He would decide whether to remove children from their parents and put them into foster care. In some cases, he would decide whether to terminate parental rights.
Gomez will be one of 49 circuit judges in Hillsborough. They are paid $130,000 a year. They handle felony cases such as murder and robbery, as well as divorces, juvenile cases, probate and guardianship and lawsuits for more than $15,000 in damages. Each serves a term of six years.
Gomez said he was asked before his interview with Gov. Jeb Bush whether he had any skeletons in his closet. He answered that he drives his wife, who also works in the courthouse, to work every morning and drives home with her each night.
"There's not a chance in hell that I'm going to get in trouble," he said.
-- Linda Gibson can be reached at (813) 226-3382 or at email@example.com.
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