Winning judges make post-election plans
For three attorneys who will become judges, the Aug. 28 primary election marked the end of their campaigning for office and the beginning of their personal and professional preparation to join the bench.
Maureen Horkan, who was elected to the 4th Judicial Circuit bench, began her campaign four months before the election.
“It seemed daunting. When I look at what was accomplished, it’s staggering,” Horkan said.
Being elected judge didn’t seem real, she said, until she had to visit the Duval County Courthouse two days after the primary election to be fitted for her robe.
“Going into the courthouse, my cheeks hurt because my smile was so big.”
In addition to shutting down her private practice and finding other attorneys to represent active clients, Horkan plans to spend time in the courthouse before she takes office.
“I’ve practiced family law for the past five years, so I haven’t been in all the courtrooms. I’ll be observing how the judges conduct court,” she said.
Attorney Kimberly Sadler, a former public defender now in private practice specializing in criminal defense, was elected to the Duval County Court.
She received 64 percent of the vote to defeat La’Rae Hendrix, a family law attorney.
Sadler credited her associates in the profession for her election.
“I think a lot of lawyers stepped up because they know me. I think everything hit at the right time,” she said.
Sadler also will be devoting time before January to helping her clients find other attorneys to represent them.
“I’ve already turned a lot of clients over,” she said the morning after the election. “My colleagues are like my family.”
Assistant Public Defender Michael Bateh also was elected to the Duval County bench. He defeated Gerald Wilkerson by a margin of 61 percent to 39 percent.
“We had a great team,” Bateh said.
He said he and his supporters “walked the county and knocked on thousands of doors.”
“Most of the people I met, the only way I’ll meet them again is if they appear before me in court,” he added.
Bateh took some time off the week after the election, but was back at the public defender’s office after the Labor Day holiday. He’ll no longer be representing clients in court; he’ll be working with other assistant defenders who will be taking over his active cases and mentoring young public defenders.
Horkan, Sadler and Bateh will be sworn into office in January, along with Jacksonville Bar Association President Katie Dearing and former Assistant State Attorney Collins Cooper, who were elected Aug. 28 without opposition to the circuit bench.