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Six still in running for Circuit Court vacancy

Six finalists have been nominated to fill the Circuit Court vacancy left by Monica Sierra's resignation.

The group, chosen from 41 applicants, includes all four county judges: Thomas Barber, Paul Huey, Nick Nazaretian and Cheryl Thomas.

The 13th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission also gave a nod to Richard Weis, a general magistrate who hears family law cases in Tampa, and Herbert Berkowitz, a veteran attorney who has been considered for a judgeship by previous governors.

Gov. Charlie Crist will make the final decision.

Jail panel alarmed

When the Independent Review Commission on Jails met Friday at Jefferson High School, commission members seemed to outnumber students.

It was Good Friday and, as you may have heard, attendance was scarce in many Hillsborough classrooms. High schools had the worst showing.

When a reporter and photographer walked in the front door at Jefferson, they found a cluster of teachers and staff members sitting around a table, bemoaning the lack of students. One of the teachers said she was spending the day making signs in her classroom because no one showed up.

Still, the commission got a little taste of school life.

At the close of the day, the few members of the public who attended got up to speak. That's when the fire alarm went off, blaring as people tried to share their thoughts on the jail.

No breaks on tickets

Speeders and traffic law busters across the state may be getting a pass now that the state has cut funding for the civil traffic hearing officer program.

Hillsborough violators won't be so lucky.

The county has stepped up to cover the program's tab for the next three months, at a cost of approximately $35,000, said court administrator Michael Bridenback.

Traffic hearing officers handle about 70,000 cases a year, allowing County Court judges to spend their time on more serious cases.

State funding for the program went dry March 14. And Bridenback isn't sure it will be restored for the upcoming fiscal year.

"It's essentially a stay of execution," Bridenback said of the county funding. He's appreciative, but "we don't believe it's a county responsibility long-term."

Got a tip? For cops news, contact Abbie VanSickle at or (813) 226-3373. For courts news, contact Colleen Jenkins at or (813) 226-3337.

Six still in running for Circuit Court vacancy 03/25/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 25, 2008 11:06pm]
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