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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

A tussle over a judicial vacancy

Gov. Charlie Crist wants the Supreme Court to advise him on whether a sudden vacancy on the county court bench in Tallahassee should be filled by appointment or election. The case pits Crist against the local election supervisor, Ion Sancho, who says th epost should be filled by election and filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to clarify the situation.

Here's what happened: Leon County Judge Tim Harley announced last week he would not run again for health reasons, and he announced his decision in the middle of the five-day qualifying period (April 28-May 2), effective midnight April 30. The local judicial nominating commission immediately said it would accept applications for the post -- with the goal of forwarding least three finalists to Crist. At the same time, Sancho accepted qualifying papers from three lawyers who want to run for the vacancy.

In a five-page letter to Chief Justice Fred Lewis, Crist wrote: "A rule preventing interim appointment to fill such vacancies would result in surprise last-minute contests that would be skewed in favor of a small pool of members of the Bar possessing inside information and those with the wherewithal to mobilize for a campaign very, very quickly."

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 10:56am]


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