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Pasco County judge, Group 2: Eva Vergos, Joseph Poblick, Tom Hanlon and Frank Grey

Pasco County Judge | Group 2

With Judge Robert Cole retiring this year, four local attorneys are vying to be his replacement as county court judge. The candidates all tout their experience, temperament and passion for fairness as reasons to vote for them. The race is nonpartisan and a candidate needs to get more than 50 percent of the vote to win in the primary. Otherwise, the two top vote-getters face off in the November election. Erin Sullivan, Times staff writer

Eva Vergos, 35

Assistant state attorney

Joseph Poblick, 37

City and private attorney

Tom Hanlon, 58

Senior assistant public defender

Frank Grey, 57

Private attorney

Nonpartisan Nonpartisan Nonpartisan Nonpartisan
Experience Eva Vergos had an internship with the State Attorney's Office while she was a student at Gulf High School and knew that is what she wanted to do. She began working at the New Port Richey office eight days after her law school graduation. As a lead trial attorney, Vergos supervises younger lawyers and has handled more than 10,000 cases, including murder, drug trafficking, kidnapping and other serious crimes. In recent years, Vergos has specialized in the prosecution of cases involving child victims, such as sexual abuse, neglect and murder. Joseph Poblick is the city attorney for Zephyrhills and Port Richey, as well as a private practice attorney. A Pasco High School graduate, he worked as a reserve deputy in New Orleans while attending law school. Poblick and his wife were victims of Hurricane Katrina, prompting their move back to Florida. In his private practice, Poblick often deals with small claims cases, misdemeanors, landlord/tenant disputes and traffic issues. As a city attorney, he handles code enforcement matters, contracts, employment issues and other issues. Poblick also teaches classes in government ethics and administrative/public law as an adjunct professor for Barry University. Tom Hanlon worked his way through law school in Texas as a bailiff, so he was able to study the judges and attorneys during the day and attend classes at night. "I was lucky," he says. Hanlon, who grew up in Tampa and worked in private practice until Public Defender Bob Dillinger asked him to work for him. "Bob really changed my life," says Hanlon, who oversees the public defender's office in Dade City. He has spent his career working as a defender. The Dade City courthouse "is probably the best place I've ever been," he says. Hanlon also works on his ranch, where he used to raise chickens and now has cows. Growing up, Frank Grey worked a lot of jobs — plant nursery, gas station, garage door installer, lawn mower — but everyone kept telling him he should be a lawyer because of his calm, mediating nature. His comes from a prominent Pasco County real estate family and Grey, a graduate of Gulf High School, has focused much of his private practice on real estate law, as well as code enforcement issues, zoning, land use and landlord/tenant disputes. He has also worked as special magistrate hearing property tax appeals since 1993 and is a certified circuit civil and county court mediator, where he has worked on cases such as small claims, foreclosures, personal injury and homeowner issues.
Education Bachelor's degree from Saint Leo University, law degree from Syracuse University College of Law Bachelor's degree from University of South Florida; law degree from Loyola University School of Law; master's degree in public administration from USF Bachelor's degree from Florida State University; law degree from South Texas College of Law Associate's degree from Pasco-Hernando Community College, bachelor's degree from University of South Florida, law degree from Stetson University College of Law
Why are you
running for judge?
Vergos says she is running because she feels it is the right time for her to do so. "I know firsthand what it takes to be a good judge," Vergos says. "At this point in my life, I want to give that part of myself to the system." "I think things can be done better," Poblick says. He says he has thought about running for judge previously, but decided to seek the post after being the victim of a burglary and seeing the courtroom from the victim's side. Hanlon says he hadn't thought about running until Cole announced his retirement. He admired the way Cole ran his courtroom. "I thought that should be carried on," he says. People encouraged him to be a judge because of his unruffled nature. "For whatever reason, I've come to have the temperament … that would allow me to function in that capacity and serve the public in that capacity," he says, "and do a good job at it and do it well."
Why are you the best candidate? Vergos feels she has the right experience, knowledge and temperament for the job. She says her mission is seeking truth and justice, and she is not afraid of making difficult decisions. "It's about making sure the right thing is done," she says. "I wanted to use my experience to make things better for the community," Poblick says. He wants to give residents the "opportunity to be heard" and "to fairly and evenly apply the law — to make sure it covers everybody." Hanlon says his passion for fairness and equality make him the best candidate, in addition to his experience. "I like helping people," he says. "I don't think there is a better field." Grey says he knows he could be a great judge because he is fair and honest. "I treat people respectfully," he says. "They may not always like the outcome, but at least they felt like they got a fair shake."
Assets Two homes Home, real estate, savings, CD House, portion ownership in ranch Home, investments, savings
Liabilities Mortgages, college loan Mortgages, other loans Mortgage, line of credit Mortgage, loans
Income Salary as assistant state attorney Salary from law office and teaching, income from rental property Salary as senior assistant public defender Salary from law practice
Personal She lives in New Port Richey and has a son who turns 1 in August. Lives in Dade City with wife, Kim, and their twin daughters, who turn 5 in September. Lives in Dade City and is divorced with one adult son. Lives in New Port Richey with his wife, Cheri. They have three children: Two sons and a daughter, Meghan, who died at age 19 in a 2008 car accident.

About the job: County courtrooms are often called the people's court because of the variety of cases heard, such as small claims, misdemeanor criminal cases and traffic offenses. The criminal cases they preside over carry possible sentences of less than one year in jail and the civil cases heard are disputes of $15,000 or less. The six-year-term position could be in Dade City, where Cole presides, or it could be in New Port Richey, depending on any judicial shuffling. The job pays $134,280 a year.

Pasco County judge, Group 2: Eva Vergos, Joseph Poblick, Tom Hanlon and Frank Grey

Pasco County judge, Group 2: Eva Vergos, Joseph Poblick, Tom Hanlon and Frank Grey 07/28/12 [Last modified: Saturday, July 28, 2012 6:20pm]
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