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Hillsborough Circuit Judge, Group 20

Circuit Court | Group 20

The two candidates for this open seat have no experience in politics, but they have names that may resonate with voters in the legal community. Karen Stanley has years of experience practicing criminal law with the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office, and Laura Ward, the daughter of a retired Hillsborough Circuit Court judge, has a background in civil law. This is a nonpartisan election. Anna M. Phillips, Times staff writer


Karen Stanley, 58



Laura Ward, 34



Experience Stanley has spent most of her career as a prosecutor in the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office. She began there in 1989, working her way from traffic cases to the sex crimes unit, up to the title of chief assistant state attorney. In that role, she supervised more than 200 lawyers and support personnel. In her career, she has litigated thousands of cases, including first-degree murder cases. She has some experience with civil litigation. After law school, Ward clerked for Judge Charles Wilson of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeal. In 2005, she took a job at the law firm DLA Piper, where she has worked for nearly a decade. Ward specializes in complex commercial law, primarily in contract and franchise litigation. She has also handled product liability and insurance cases. She is the daughter of retired Hillsborough Circuit Judge Ed Ward.
Education She has an undergraduate degree from the University of South Florida and a law degree from Stetson University College of Law. She has an undergraduate degree from Davidson College in North Carolina and a law degree from the University of Michigan Law School.
Why are you seeking judicial office? "Over the years, I have worked very hard to achieve my goal of becoming a circuit court judge. My reputation for being hardworking, trustworthy, respectful and fair in my personal life and my legal career has rewarded me with the respect of the judiciary, fellow Bar members, law enforcement, and community leaders. If elected, I will carry with me these same ethical characteristics to the bench." "Serving as a judge in Hillsborough County has been something to which I have always aspired. My dad, retired Judge Ed Ward, served on the bench here for nearly 20 years. From a young age, I had the opportunity to go to court with him and to observe the process. I understood the key role that a judge plays in our community and society early in life and decided that was the type of public service I wanted to pursue."
Describe your community service work "I am a board member for Tampa Crossroads, an organization offering treatment, housing, employment, veteran-specific services and support to thousands in our community. I have volunteered for Meals on Wheels and I also participated as a counselor for years at a weeklong, sleep-away summer camp for children who have survived a burn injury." "I am the director of the Legal Services Clinic at James A. Haley Veterans Hospital. The clinic is held bimonthly and serves 40 to 50 veterans. Additionally, I have volunteered at Bay Area Legal Services' Domestic Violence Intake Clinic and Family Forms Clinic. I was recently honored by the Florida Bar as the recipient of the 2014 Young Lawyers Pro Bono Service Award."
How has your legal career prepared you for this job? "I have 24 years of substantive courtroom experience and the demeanor, intelligence and temperament that all lawyers hope to encounter in a presiding judge when they walk into a courtroom to resolve or try a case." "I have experience with a broad range of cases. Throughout my practice, I have handled wide-ranging commercial litigation and I have had significant appellate practice. I have pushed myself through my education and my work to attain the necessary skills and qualifications to serve the people of Hillsborough County."
Assets Home, retirement accounts Home, car, retirement account
Liabilities Mortgage, car loan Mortgage, car loan
Personal She is a fifth-generation Tampa native and a graduate of Leto High School. She graduated from the Academy of Holy Names High School. She is married and has two daughters.


About the job: Circuit judges are elected on a nonpartisan basis to a six-year term. They preside over criminal and civil cases in Hillsborough County, handling felonies, such as murder and robbery, as well as divorces, juvenile cases, probate and guardianship, and lawsuits alleging damages in excess of $15,000. The job pays $146,079.96 a year.

Hillsborough Circuit Judge, Group 20 08/14/14 [Last modified: Thursday, August 14, 2014 5:04pm]
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