The 4th Judicial Circuit bench will have two new judges in the coming weeks — one familiar and one new face.
Gov. Rick Scott appointed Duval County Judge Russell Healey and attorney Marianne Lloyd Aho to fill vacancies on the Circuit bench.
Healey, 58, fills the spot left by the passing of Judge Jean Johnson. He has been a Duval County judge since 2002 and has served as an acting circuit judge while presiding over the Michael Dunn murder trial that has garnered national attention.
On Friday, the 1st District Court of Appeal overturned a Healey decision from that trial that barred the media and public to portions of jury selection.
He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida and law degree from the University of Florida.
Healey said Monday he is looking forward to devoting all of his time now to circuit court work.
“I am extremely pleased to have the opportunity to do the circuit work and that the governor called me and appointed me,” Healey said Monday. “I have been doing it (circuit work) part-time for a while now.”
Aho, 49, takes the spot left vacant by the appointment of Brian Davis to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. She began her law career in 1991 after receiving her bachelor’s degree from Rice University and law degree from Florida State University.
Aho on Monday said she was humbled by the opportunity and support shown by Scott and that she would work hard to serve the community in the role.
She said it will take about 60 days to conclude her private practice work and suggested around July 1 could be a target date for her to start.
“There’s quite a bit of transition, closing down 24 years of practice,” she said.
Scott said, “Marianne is an accomplished lawyer with an excellent reputation in Jacksonville’s legal community."
Chief Circuit Judge Donald Moran said he spoke to the new appointments shortly after their selections and that the bench is looking forward to the additions.
“I think all the judges are really excited,” said Moran. “They are both very well thought of … the nominating commission did a great job and the governor couldn’t have gone wrong.”
Both vacancies came within about a week of each other in December, marking the first time in Moran’s recollection two positions were empty at the same time. The abruptness, he said at the time, made it more difficult to compensate caseload, but shortages weren’t expected.
Healey will be able to start in the new role soon, Moran said, while Aho will have to complete or transfer her private practice workload at Marks Gray before coming to bench. Typically, he said, it takes 30-60 days for attorneys selected for judicial vacancies to wrap up their private practice.
“She is very anxious to get started,” Moran said.
Moran said both would probably be assigned to the criminal division.
Davis occupied a Nassau County circuit position, which Moran said likely will be filled by Circuit Judge Suzanne Bass.
With the Healey switch, Scott will have to appoint a new county judge as a replacement.