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Circuit Judge, Group 2

Circuit Judge | Group 2

Three candidates are competing for the nonpartisan Sixth Circuit Group 2 vacancy. The winner will replace departing Judge Raymond Gross. If no candidate gets a majority, one will be eliminated and the remaining two will face off in November.

Ken Lark, 55

Private attorney

Alicia Polk, 36

Private attorney

Alan Scott Rosenthal, 43

Private attorney

Experience Lark worked for many years in the health care field, where he saw mentally ill and abused people on a regular basis. In his law practice, he does guardianship and probate litigation, medical malpractice and health law. He is a certified family mediator. Polk worked for the State Attorney's Office as a certified legal intern and then as an attorney for about a year in 2003. From there, she went into private practice, where she concentrates on family, civil and criminal defense law. She is a certified family mediator but her certification lapsed in July. Rosenthal has worked in criminal, civil, probate, dependency, personal injury, foreclosure defense and bankruptcy law. He has been practicing law for more than 16 years.
InvolvementLark is a board member for the Community Law Program and a board member of Bayfront Health St. Petersburg's Institutional Review Board, where he oversees medical studies. He's a member of the Executive Committee of the St. Petersburg Bar Association. He's the executive director and president-elect of the Barney Masterson Inn of Court. Polk volunteers with the Heritage Arts Center Association of Pasco County. She organized the "Touch-a-Truck" fundraiser to help raise funds for Academy at the Farm and Relay For Life for the American Cancer Society. She's a member of the Fatality Review Board of Pasco County and a member of the domestic violence and sexual assault task force. Rosenthal is a member of the St. Petersburg Bar Association and the American Bar Association. He's on the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office Advisory Board. He's also involved with the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Florida, a philanthropic organization. He holds a fourth-degree black belt in tae kwon do.
What makes you the best candidate in this race? I'm the only candidate who has experience conducting evidentiary hearings (over 100) and making fair and impartial decisions. Also, I am the only candidate with mediation experience (over 200 mediations).I believe that I am the most qualified candidate because of my diverse legal background and my courtroom experience.I believe my years of experience as a trial lawyer and having had the ability to practice in multiple areas of the law gives me a solid foundation to make the transition from attorney to judge.
Can you describe your community service?I spent many years as an EMT/paramedic. Also, I have spent nearly nine years on the Bayfront Medical Center's IRB where I volunteered my time reviewing and approving medical studies. I have been on the board for the Community Law Program helping provide free legal aid to those who cannot afford it. I have volunteered at LawFest and at Homeless Court. I have volunteered with the St. Petersburg Housing Authority. I organized three homeowner mortgage foreclosure forums that were held at the St. Petersburg Coliseum.I volunteer as a guardian ad litem in Pasco County for the parents who can't afford to have a GAL. I serve on the Heritage Arts Center Association board and I am a co-producer of Spotlight on Talent. I am a certified speaker for the Community Campaign Against Human Trafficking and am a member of the task force. I am the president of Parent Teacher Organization for Academy at the Farm Charter School.I'm active in a multitude of fraternal and charitable organizations including Temple Beth El, the Shriners, the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Florida, the Order of the Eastern Star and the Cub/Boy Scout programs. I raise money for multiple charities including the Shriners Hospitals (orthopedic and burn centers), heart research through the Masonic Medical Research Laboratories and the Masonic Child Identification program.
How has your legal experience prepared you for the circuit judge position? I have been involved for many years on our volunteer bars and on Barney Masterson Inn of Court. The other candidates have not participated in the legal community. I believe judges have to participate with the legal community if they expect to earn their respect. My jury trial experience involved complex cases involving expert testimony. I have litigated and settled multiparty large injury cases.If you aren't prepared to do the unpleasant duties of a judge, such as send a young adult to life in prison, terminate parental rights, leave children in a home that you don't believe is the best place for them but that passes legal muster, or make decisions regarding people's livelihood, being a circuit judge is not the job for you. I have argued both sides of each of those positions and I am prepared to make those decisions in a competent, fair and impartial manner.I have practiced in every area of the law that I could be assigned to as a circuit court judge. With that said, no one can possibly know everything, but I believe my time as an attorney has given me the experience necessary to make the transition from attorney to circuit court judge. Additionally, my experience as a small-business owner, my community service and philanthropy, as well as my diverse background have prepared me to preside as a circuit court judge.
PersonalKen Lark lives in Pinellas County with his wife, Lynette, whom he married about five years ago. In his free time, he enjoys reading or working on home improvement projects.Alicia Polk lives in Zephyrhills with her husband, Dan Guanio, and their two young sons Connor and Aiden. She was born in Dade City.Alan Rosenthal has been married to his wife, Katherine, for 18 years. They have two children together, Kailyn and Jacob. He is an instructor at his son's karate school and an avid musician.

About the job: Circuit judges hear felony cases, probate and family law issues as well as civil disputes involving damages of more than $15,000. They serve six-year terms and are paid $142,178 a year.

Circuit Judge, Group 2 08/14/14 [Last modified: Thursday, August 14, 2014 6:08pm]
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