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Fifth District Court of Appeal

Judge Emerson Thompson faces a merit retention election to stay on this court.

By JIM ROS

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 1, 2000


Emerson Thompson has only one opponent in this election: himself.

Thompson sits on the 5th District Court of Appeal. Voters in November will decide whether Thompson should return to the bench for six more years.

In Florida, appellate judges are part of the merit retention system. The governor appoints the judges and the voters are asked every six years whether they want to keep the judges in office. Then-Gov. Lawton Chiles appointed Thompson to serve on the court in 1993 to finish an unexpired term. Thompson stood for merit retention in 1994. Of the people who voted, 66 percent opted to keep Thompson in office. In Citrus County, 65 percent of voters supported Thompson.

A recent poll of Florida Bar members shows that 89 percent of the respondents recommended retaining Thompson.

Among the cases Thompson has reviewed during the past six years is one in which he rebuked Circuit Judge Michael Blackstone for asking witnesses too many questions during trials.

Thompson serves on the Florida Bar Foundation's board of directors, which awards grants and scholarships to groups such as legal aid societies and programs designed to help immigrants or disabled people.

Thompson received a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Florida in 1970 and a law degree from Florida State University in 1973.

He came to the appellate court after serving 13 years as a circuit judge in the 9th Judicial Circuit, which includes Orange and Osceola counties, and four years as a county judge in Orlando.

THE JOB

Judges on the 5th District Court of Appeal hear appeals from the circuit courts in 13 Central Florida counties, including Citrus and Hernando. The court occasionally considers actions from county courts and administrative actions of state government. Judges serve six-year terms and are paid a $138,500 annual salary.

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