Gov. Rick Scott will have a choice of four candidates to fill a county court judicial vacancy in Nassau County after the 4th Circuit Judicial Nominating Comission completed interviews Thursday of 11 applicants.
Attorneys Steven Fahlgren of Hilliard, David Hallman of Yulee, Wesley Poole of Fernandina Beach and Thomas Townsend Jr. of Yulee were the commission's recommended candidates after the interviews.
Each applicant was scheduled for a 20-minute interview in the grand jury room of the Nassau County Judicial Annex in Yulee.
Commission Chair Chip Bachara said the interview process was different from previous judicial vacancies.
"This is a unique position. The candidate not only has to have the technical skills, but they will also be the face of the judiciary in the area," he said.
"Judge Burgess did a great job of filling that role, making himself available to speak at lunches, meetings or dinners — usually four nights a week," said Bachara. "We want to know if they are ready to take on that responsibility."
Fahlgren was admitted to The Florida Bar in 1994 and is the attorney for the Town of Hilliard.
Hallman was admitted to The Florida Bar in 1989 and is the attorney for Nassau County.
Poole was admitted to the Bar in 1974 and has served as the attorney for the City of Fernandina Beach and is now in private practice.
Townsend was admitted to the Bar in 2002 and is an assistant public defender in the Nassau County Office of the 4th Circuit Public Defender.
"The county courts are sometimes referred to as 'the people's courts,' probably because a large part of the courts' work involves voluminous citizen disputes, such as traffic offenses, less serious criminal matters (misdemeanors), and relatively small monetary disputes," according to the Florida State Courts' website.
"This may be the most difficult position this JNC has had to fill since my involvement nearly two years ago. Fortunately, we found four of the 11 applicants to be highly qualified for the position," said Bachara.
The commission can select three to six applicants to recommend to the governor and the commission chooses the applicants on personal attributes, competency and experience and judicial capabilities.
Scott has up to 60 days after the nominations have been certified to make an appointment.