Hillsborough voters will elect three county judges on Aug. 14. County court judges hear misdemeanors, traffic cases and small claims. The races are nonpartisan and open to all voters countywide.
Ann Ober Hillsborough County Court Group 3
Hillsborough County Judge Ann Ober brought a rich, balanced work history to the bench when she was first elected in 1996, and she has continued to serve her community in a commendable way.
Ober, 55, worked as a state prosecutor and public defender and in private practice before being elected to the county bench. She has overseen a wide range of cases, from civil, traffic and criminal court to a specialized division handling domestic violence. Her varied trial experience before becoming a judge has helped her manage the big caseload of county court. She has also helped better the region through her volunteer work with child protection and social service agencies and with the Hillsborough school system.
Tampa attorney John Grant is also a former state prosecutor. The 43-year-old, now in private practice, complains that Ober does not administer her docket in a timely manner — a dated claim that is blown out of proportion. He does not make a compelling argument to oust a sitting judge who has a solid record and a reputation as fair.
Ober understands how the judicial system affects real people, and her experience enables her to deal evenhandedly with litigants.
For Hillsborough County Judge Group 3, the Tampa Bay Times recommends Ann Ober.
Frances Maria Perrone Hillsborough County Court Group 4
Frances Maria Perrone is the most qualified newcomer to run for Hillsborough judge this year.
Perrone, 38, is a former state prosecutor who has handled a range of cases during her seven years in private practice. Her work as a prosecutor and defense attorney balance her perspective, and she is widely admired for her work ethic and demeanor.
Barbara Jean Twine, 59, is a former attorney for Hillsborough County government and is in private practice. She is personable and familiar with the range of cases that come to county court, and her no-nonsense approach would be an asset in managing a heavy caseload.
Lanell Williams-Yulee, 47, is a former prosecutor and public defender who now handles criminal defense and family law in private practice. She seems attuned to the special attention that some litigants in county court need.
Perrone's well-rounded legal and business experience set her apart, and the Tampa native has a long and admirable record of community service. For Hillsborough County Judge Group 4, the Tampa Bay Times recommends Frances Maria Perrone.
Matt Lucas Hillsborough County Court Group 12
Since being appointed to the county bench two years ago, Matt Lucas has been described by his colleagues as "a star" who is willing to help out with any type of case. This is high praise, and it speaks to the value in keeping him as a judge.
Lucas, 38, practiced civil and appellate law before assuming his seat on the bench. His background in handling complex litigation has served him well in managing county court. Lucas brings a keen intellect and energy level to handle a heavy caseload. His confidence and easy manner also help to ease the tensions in a courtroom setting.
Nancy Jacobs, 51, is a former state prosecutor. As a solo practitioner, she handles criminal defense, civil and estate work. But Jacobs is experienced in all areas of the law that come before county court. Her life experience and community involvement give her a sense of realism that would serve the circuit well.
But Lucas is already doing a fine job by all accounts. He is working on technology issues to enable electronic filings to the court, and he has stepped forward to mentor new judges. Lucas also is active in civic life. He takes his job seriously and in a short period of time has improved the judiciary's professional image.
For Hillsborough County Judge Group 12, the Tampa Bay Times recommends Matt Lucas.