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Transfer of Circuit Judge Lisa Herndon leaves another opening on the bench in Hernando

Circuit Judge Lisa Herndon worked as a prosecutor in Marion County before her appointment to the bench.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Circuit Judge Lisa Herndon worked as a prosecutor in Marion County before her appointment to the bench.

BROOKSVILLE — Another bench change is on the horizon for Hernando County

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Circuit Judge Lisa Herndon will transfer to Marion County to replace Judge William J. Singbush, who is retiring Jan. 3.

Chief 5th Circuit Judge Don Briggs said the new judge appointed by Gov. Rick Scott will fill Herndon's split role presiding in Hernando and Citrus. The deadline to submit applications to the circuit's Judicial Nominating Commission is Monday, and interviews are scheduled for Dec. 4.

The word of Herndon's reassignment comes a couple of months after news that Hernando Circuit Judge Anthony Tatti will transfer to a Marion seat to replace Circuit Judge Sandra Edwards-Stephens, who retired last week.

Both Tatti and Herndon live in Marion and commute to Brooksville.

In an interview last week, Herndon said she didn't consider asking to transfer when Edwards-Stephens announced her retirement. She decided to seize this second opportunity to work closer to home and cut her two-hour daily commute, but the move will be bittersweet. Before Scott appointed her to the bench in November 2011, Herndon worked as a prosecutor in Marion County for about 14 years and last served as the supervisor over sexual battery cases across the circuit, which also includes Sumter and Lake counties.

"I was reluctant to put in at first because I've worked here for so long and really hate to leave," said Herndon, 49. "I'm going to miss everybody because both Hernando and Citrus are great places."

The two judges' impending moves could cause yet another vacancy on a Hernando County bench.

Among the three candidates recommended by the nominating commission to fill Tatti's seat is Hernando County Judge Donald Scaglione. The other two are private Spring Hill attorneys Thomas R. Eineman and John E. Napolitano.

Edwards-Stephens' retirement was effective Thursday, but Briggs said Tatti, who handles one of Hernando's two felony dockets, won't move until about a week before his replacement is scheduled to start. The same goes for Herndon's replacement.

A spokesman for Scott's office said the governor plans to pick Tatti's replacement by Nov. 26. Briggs noted that the start date for each new judge will probably vary depending on the candidate.

Herndon spends the first three days of each week in Hernando and the last two in Citrus, where she presides over family law cases and a separate docket for domestic violence injunctions. In Hernando, she handles all circuit civil non-jury cases and half of the foreclosure cases.

She said the foreclosure assignment has been a difficult one.

"That has been very sad," she said. "People end up in really bad situations, often times in circumstances that aren't controlled by them."

But presiding over civil cases has also been a helpful experience for a new judge who spent much of her career as a criminal prosecutor.

"The diversity has really allowed me to grow," she said.

She said the shorter commute will allow her to spend more time with husband, Rich Buxman, an assistant state attorney who works as a homicide prosecutor in Lake County, and their four horses.

Tony Marrero can be reached at tmarrero@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1431. Follow @tmarrerotimes on Twitter.

Transfer of Circuit Judge Lisa Herndon leaves another opening on the bench in Hernando 11/01/13 [Last modified: Friday, November 1, 2013 6:28pm]

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