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Jax Daily Record Monday, May 27, 201905:20 AM EST

6 nominated for Duval court vacancy

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Governor has 60 days from May 8 to appoint one of the nominees.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

The 4th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission on May 8 sent six Duval County Court nominees to Gov. Ron  DeSantis for consideration to replace recently appointed Circuit Judge Meredith Charbula. They will be interviewed in Tallahassee by the governor’s staff. DeSantis has 60 days from May 8 to appoint one of the nominees to the Duval County Court.

Michael Fackler

Michael Fackler

Shareholder at Milam Howard Nicandri Gillam & Renner

Age: 47

A graduate of the University of Florida Levin College of Law, Fackler was admitted to The Florida Bar in 2002.

He’s a general commercial litigation practitioner and joined Milam Howard in 2007. Fackler became a shareholder at the firm in 2016.

Born in Atlanta, his family moved to Jacksonville when he was 11 years old. After graduating from St. Johns Country Day School, Fackler attended college at Northwestern University and returned to Jacksonville after graduating from law school at the University of Florida.

Since March 2017, Fackler has applied for five 4th Circuit and Duval County judicial vacancies.

“I don’t dislike the process. I think about why I want to be a judge each time and I think I’d be very good at this job,” Fackler said in his interview.

Rhonda Peoples-Waters

Rhonda Peoples-Waters

President and owner of Rhonda Peoples-Waters PA

Age: 45

Peoples-Waters graduated from the University of Florida Levin College of Law and was admitted to The Florida Bar in 1999.

She practices criminal defense law including armed robbery, domestic battery, DUI, manslaughter and first-degree murder. Her personal injury law experience includes motor vehicle accidents and slip-and-fall cases.

In her application, Peoples-Waters indicated she has taken more than 50 jury trials to a verdict.

This is the 11th time Peoples-Waters has applied for a 4th Circuit or Duval County judicial vacancy.

“I believe I am qualified for both and I believe the county court will be my path to the circuit court,” she said in her interview.

W. Bradley Russell Jr.

W. Bradley Russell Jr.

Associate attorney at Foley & Lardner

Age: 38

A graduate of William & Mary Law School, Russell was admitted to The Florida Bar in 2006 and to the Tennessee Bar in 2018.

He was a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., from August 2008 until January 2015 when he joined Foley & Lardner.

Russell was nominated May 8 after his first application for appointment to the bench. Asked in his interview if he or his family would have any concern over the reduction in compensation, compared to being in private practice, that would occur if he is appointed county judge, Russell said that even though he has a wife and four young children, “This is something we can do. I am called to public service.”

“I want to have an effect on the lives of people and their perception of the justice system,” he said.

R. Anthony Salem

R. Anthony Salem

Assistant general counsel for the city of Jacksonville

Age: 34

Salem graduated from Stetson University College of Law. He was admitted to The Florida Bar in 2010.

A former assistant state attorney and private practice lawyer who represented personal injury defendants, Salem joined the city’s Office of General Counsel in 2017.

As a city lawyer, he works in the employment litigation practice section, representing the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Jacksonville Transportation Authority, JEA and Duval County School Board.

Salem said in his interview that he is “drawn to the courtroom and its impact on people.”

A first-time applicant, Salem said he views appointment to the county court as a step toward the circuit bench.

“Sometimes, you have to walk before you run,” he said.

Julie Taylor

Julie Taylor

General counsel for the 4th Judicial Circuit

Age: 48

A graduate of Samford University Cumberland School of Law, Taylor was admitted to The Florida Bar in 1996.

As court counsel. Taylor assists circuit and county court judges in Clay, Duval and Nassau counties with the administration of court-related functions, such as human resources, contracts and programs that are conducted within the court system.

She is a former assistant state attorney and assistant public defender and said in her interview that experience gives her the background to be a county court judge.

“County court deals with people from all walks of life. I’ve done that all my career,” Taylor said.

This is the fifth time since 2005 she has applied for a judicial vacancy.

David Tucker

David Tucker

Regional counsel for the Florida Department of Children and Families Northeast Region

Age: 56

Tucker graduated from the University of Florida Levin College of Law and was admitted to The Florida Bar in 1987.

He also applied for judicial vacancies in March 2017,  May and December 2018 and February 2019.

Tucker is a designated hearing officer and has presided over about 30 cases involving child and foster care licensure and adoption applicants who challenge review committee decisions. He sometimes heard cases argued by people who did not have an attorney and represented themselves.

“As an officer of the court, part of my obligation is to make sure it’s a meaningful hearing. When the hearing is over, they know they got their day in court,” Tucker said in his interview.

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