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Jax Daily Record Monday, May 1, 200612:00 PM EST

Bush taps Blazs for bench

by: Mike Sharkey

by Mike Sharkey

Staff Writer

It took two tries, but Kevin Blazs is the newest County Court Judge in the Fourth Judicial Circuit. Blazs — a partner in the firm Gobelman Love Gavin Blazs & Wasilenko — was notified on Thursday afternoon personally by Gov. Jeb Bush.

“I was pleasantly surprised. It’s not every day that you get a call from the governor. He called about 4 p.m. yesterday (Thursday),” said Blazs. “We talked a little, he congratulated me and said he would be announcing it shortly.”

Blazs will take over the seat left vacant went Mallory Cooper was promoted to a vacancy on the Circuit Court bench. Blazs said he hasn’t been told when he will report to the Fourth Circuit, but will begin the process of weaning himself off of cases.

“I have not been told the timeframe, but I have cases in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals next week,” he said. “Life goes on and as a partner in a firm, I have clients that will stay with the firm. I will only take on new clients if someone in the firm can pick up the slack.”

Blazs said his partners in the firm have been supportive of him throughout the months-long process — 10 original applicants applied for the spot on the bench and two months ago the Judicial Nominating Committee sent six names to Bush for consideration — and even more supportive now that he got the appointment.

“I have been very well supported by my partners. Without speaking for them, I think they are reluctant to see me go, but they are happy to see me get the opportunity,” said Blazs. “I have spent 16 years doing this and I have loved every minute of it. I will miss the people I work with and I am looking forward to the new challenge. It will be interesting to say the least.”

Chief Judge Don Moran said Blazs will spend the first few months sitting in with experienced judges and working with a mentor. He’ll also be exposed to several different areas of the Fourth Circuit.

“The first couple of weeks he will sit with other judges which is a good idea in County Court because they go through so many different things,” said Moran. “Kevin will be assigned a mentor — either Judge Charles Cofer or Judge Roberto Arias.

“He (Blazs) will be assigned to J-1 first, which is first appearances. Then civil court, traffic court and criminal court. He will learn how the system works and how to set up his calendar.”

Moran said Arias or Cofer will work with Blazs as long as necessary in an effort to get him comfortable with the job and the courtroom.

“They will not tell him how to rule,” said Moran, adding that Bush will actually determine when Blazs starts. “The governor will contact him and let him know when his commission will start.

“Then, we’ll get him on board and show him the ropes. We are excited about having him.”

Blazs said his initial interest in serving on the bench came from a desire to see how another facet of the law worked.

“I was interested in playing a different role in the process,” said Blazs. “I enjoy being an advocate and I have liked my clients. In this role you seek the truth, play fair and do right.”

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