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Hillsborough Circuit Judge, Group 34

Circuit Court | Group 34

This race for a rare open seat has drawn three candidates, two of whom run solo legal practices focused on personal injury claims and a third who specializes in construction and business law. One of the candidates, Constance Daniels, has run for a judicial seat before. Robert Bauman and Melissa "Missy" Polo are new names on the ballot. Anna M. Phillips, Times staff writer


Robert Bauman, 54



Constance Daniels, 47



Melissa "Missy" Polo, 45



Experience Early in his career, Bauman spent three years as a public defender in Hillsborough County. Since 1991, he has worked for a private law firm specializing in civil litigation, particularly construction, real estate, foreclosure and bankruptcy law. He is also a certified mediator for the Florida Supreme Court. The local judicial nominating commission has previously nominated him to fill vacant judicial seats, most recently in January. Daniels began her legal career by interning for one year for the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office and then working for one year for the Public Defender's Office. In 1997, she started her own practice, with a focus on criminal defense at the state and federal levels, family law and personal injury law. She has also worked as court-appointed counsel for indigent parents in cases involving termination of parental rights. After law school, Polo worked for four years as a prosecutor with the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office. She left her position in the felony drug division to join a private firm specializing in personal injury law, following that with a stint working in medical malpractice law at another firm. In 2009, she opened her own practice, focusing on personal injury claims and medical malpractice, as well as criminal and foreclosure defense.
Education He earned an undergraduate degree from the University of South Florida and a law degree from the University of Dayton. She earned an associate's degree from Santa Fe Community College, and an undergraduate degree and a law degree from the University of Florida. She earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Florida and a law degree from Loyola University.
Why are you seeking judicial office? "To give back to the community. Since fifth grade, I have wanted to be a judge. When I was recruited by USF for soccer, I fell in love with the Tampa Bay area and made it a mission to give back. I want to continue my mission of giving back to the community and public service at the next level as a circuit court judge in Hillsborough County." "I am seeking judicial office because I am the embodiment of what good judicial temperament means and because I would bring diversity and perspective to the bench. I have the most diverse background personally and professionally. My humble beginnings exposed me to those with meager means who wanted stable lives just as the American Dream promises." "I believe we have the greatest justice system in the world. However, I know it can be better and I believe I can help build a stronger court system through my background, experience, ability and character. I am passionate about the law and my hometown along with being committed to public service and the administration of law."
Describe your community service work "I provide free legal services to family members when needed. I'm a speaker for Lorman Educational Services, National Business Institute and Hillsborough County Bar Association — all stipends earned are paid directly to Bay Area Legal Services." "Participant in the Great-American Teach-In, volunteer as a Teen Court judge, mentor with the Derrick Brooks Girls Rites of Passage Mentoring Program, and volunteer with Derrick Brooks Charities Youth Program Task Force, donor to the Boys & Girls Club of America." "I provide an average of 40 hours a year in pro bono legal services. I have participated in the Teen Court Program, Great American Teach-In and tutored underprivileged youth. I have mentored law students through the Hillsborough Association for Women Lawyers."
How has your legal career prepared you for this job? "I have trial and litigation experience in numerous areas of law at various levels (appellate — federal and state; federal — all three Florida district courts and bankruptcy courts; state courts — county and circuit: criminal, civil, complex business litigation)." "My background as a managing attorney for the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel helped prepare me for judicial office. I oversaw 12 lawyers and four legal assistants and I brought structure to an office with a reputation for dysfunction and inefficiency. Those who I managed believed in my leadership so much that we changed the mind-set of the judiciary and our counterparts." "Advocating for justice has been my full-time focus for the past 18-plus years. My life's work has been in the courthouse working with judges, prosecutors, public defenders, peers, clerks, bailiffs and victims. My legal acumen coupled with my courthouse relationships and community involvement will enable me to run an organized, efficient, respectful and fair courtroom."
Assets Home, car, rental property, bonds Home Home, retirement savings
Liabilities Mortgage, car loan, personal loan Student loans Mortgage
Personal He is married, with one son and three stepsons. For more than 26 years, he coached Jesuit High School's state title-winning soccer team She is engaged and has a son. She is a graduate of Glades Central High School in the city of Belle Glade. She is a third-generation Tampa native and a graduate of Tampa Preparatory School.
Email info@voteconstance melissa@melissapolo


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 34 08/14/14 [Last modified: Thursday, August 14, 2014 5:03pm]
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