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Jax Daily Record Friday, May 18, 201810:39 AM EST

Judge denies request to halt judicial nomination process

Commission will proceed as instructed by Gov. Rick Scott.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

The 4th Judicial Circuit Court denied a petition from a Jacksonville attorney seeking to halt the process to select candidates for appointment to replace a judge who is retiring before the end of his term in office.

Attorney David Trotti filed on May 10 a petition for injunctive relief on his motion to prevent the 4th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission from accepting applications, interviewing applicants and then submitting to Gov. Rick Scott candidates to replace Circuit Judge Robert Foster.

Foster notified Scott and 4th Circuit Chief Judge Mark Mahon on April 2 that he is resigning because he has reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 and his last day in office would be Dec. 31, even though his term doesn’t expire until Jan. 14.

On April 23, attorney Patrick Kilbane, chair of the 4th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission, was informed by Scott’s general counsel, Daniel Nordby, that the governor wanted the commission to convene to fill the vacancy created by Foster’s resignation and that the commission submit the names of six nominees by June 22.

Kilbane published on May 1 a public notice stating that the commission was seeking applicants for the vacancy, with a deadline of 5 p.m. May 23.

On May 3, Trotti filed as a candidate for Foster’s Group 6 seat and paid to the state Division of Elections the $5,843.20 qualifying fee.

Trotti on May 7 sent an email to Kilbane with a letter attached requesting the commission cease and desist “until such time that this matter is resolved by the Court.”

Kilbane responded that he had forwarded Trotti’s communication to Nordby, and further that “unless I hear from him otherwise, I plan to proceed with the instructions I’ve received from the Governor.”

Trotti advised Kilbane that he has filed a Complaint for Declaratory Judgment in Leon County. As of Monday that complaint, which names Scott and Secretary of State Ken Detzner, is pending.

Thursday afternoon, 4th Judicial Circuit Judge Waddell Wallace signed an order denying Trotti’s petition, finding that Trotti could not demonstrate that he is likely to prevail on the merits of the case in Leon County.

“Because Petitioner cannot demonstrate that he is likely to succeed on the merits of his claim, Petitioner is not entitled to the requested injunctive relief,” it states.

Kilbane said Friday that based on Wallace’s order, the commission will continue to conduct its business as directed by the governor and that several applications already have been submitted.

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