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Jax Daily Record Monday, Nov. 3, 200812:00 PM EST

Fourth Judicial Circuit Judges receive assignments

Four new judges preparing for 2009 start
by: Joe Wilhelm Jr.

by Joe Wilhelm Jr.

Staff Writer

The new year will welcome a host of new assignments for local judges.

Court assignments were recently released for the Fourth Judicial Circuit by Chief Judge Donald Moran, who had to fill positions vacated by retiring judges and decide on courts for four new judges.

“Experience, seniority and preferences are taken into consideration when making assignments,” said Moran. “We also have a local rule that if a judge is within three years of retirement he can stay in the division they are in.”

Sitting judges submit their top three preferences to the chief judge every year and those preferences are used to fill the circuit’s roster.

The Civil Division consists of eight judges. Judges who will serve in that division in 2009 include returning Judges Peter Fryefield, Fred Tygart, Hal Taylor and Lance Day. Newly assigned to the division are Judges Jean Johnson, Jack Schemer, Hugh Carithers and Waddell Wallace.

“I’m looking forward to returning to my roots and interacting with the Bar,” said Wallace, who was an attorney with Smith Hulsey before taking the bench. “I practiced as a civil attorney, so its good to get back to where I began.”

Wallace moved over from the Juvenile Division along with Schemer. Carithers served in the Criminal Division and Johnson was in the family division. Judge Tygart is the administrative judge of the division.

Circuit Court Judges Aaron Bowden, Bernard Nachman and Charles Mitchell are retiring at the end of 2008 while Judge A.C. Soud retired late last year.

The Criminal Division will consist of Judges Mark Mahon, Michael Weatherby, Linda McCallum, Mallory Cooper, David Gooding, Page Haddock, Elizabeth Senterfitt and Charles Arnold.

Judge Gooding moved over from the Juvenile Division, but other judges were happy to stay right where they were.

“I requested not to go back to civil court,” said Arnold, while speaking at the Pajcic Professionalism Seminar. “I’ve only heard my judicial assistant, Linda Davis, complain about one thing. She told me (referring to civil court), ‘I get to talk on the phone all day with people who don’t like each other.’”

Weatherby will serve as the administrative judge.

Judge Peter Dearing remains in the Probate Division in 2009.

The Family Division will be presided over by Judges McRae Mathis, Karen Cole, Adrian Soud, David Wiggins, Gregg McCaulie, Brad Stetson and Virginia Norton. Soud and Norton were recently elected to the bench.

“I’m learning a lot right now,” said Norton. “I’m excited for that first day.”

The four judges in the Juvenile Division for 2009 are John Merrett, Henry Davis, Jim Daniel and Jeff Morrow.

“I’ve got a lot to learn,” said Daniel. “I’m excited to be a part of the Juvenile Division.”

Wiggins will serve as the administrative judge.

Moran decided to assign the new judges to family and juvenile court for the experience they will receive.

“They are a good starting point,” said Moran. “They will see a variety of cases, both civil and criminal.”

The Fourth Judicial Circuit includes Duval, Clay and Nassau Counties and judges are also assigned to courts in Clay and Nassau Counties. Judge John Skinner will move from the Civil Division to Clay County where he will join Judges William Wilkes, Mack Crenshaw Jr. and Daniel Wilensky. Wilkes is the administrative judge.

Judges Rover Foster and Brian Davis serve Nassau County, with Foster serving as the administrative judge.

The Duval County Judges are Emmet Ferguson, Roberto Arias, Brent Shore, Russell Healey, John Moran, James Ruth, Tyrie Boyer, Charles Cofer, Pauline Drake, Eleni Derke, Sharon Tanner, Harold Arnold, Kevin Blazs, Gary Flower, Ronald Higbee, Angela Cox and Dawn Hudson. Higbee will serve as the administrative judge.

Clay County Judges are Timothy Collins and Richard Townsend, and Judge Granville Burgess serves Nassau County.

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