There is only one contested judicial race in the 6th Judicial Circuit covering Pinellas and Pasco counties. Robert Angus Williams and Susan Gardner are in a runoff for the seat being vacated by retiring Circuit Judge Wayne Cobb.
Circuit judges hear felony cases and family law issues as well as civil disputes involving damages of more than $15,000. It is rare that incumbent judges face competitive elections to retain their seats, so it is particularly important to elect the best candidate in races for open seats. Circuit judges are elected to six-year terms in nonpartisan races.
Robert Angus Williams Group 8
Williams, 38, is a land-use and zoning specialist in a Tampa law firm who is running against Gardner, an assistant public defender with the Pinellas-Pasco Public Defender's Office. Gardner, 46, has been described by people who work with her as a good attorney who is always prepared. But her experience is relatively limited.
Williams, who has been practicing for a few more years and has strong credentials, grew up on a small family farm in Lakeland. He says he performed hard, physical work and was imbued with a sense of responsibility. Those who know Williams' work as an attorney say he kept up that ethic in his legal practice. They describe him as a hard worker with intelligence and the kind of compassion that is needed on the bench.
Williams started his legal career in 1995 as an assistant state attorney with Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe. He tried about 30 criminal misdemeanor and felony cases during his time there.
Today, Williams works for Fowler White Boggs Banker, P.A., in Tampa, where he advises clients primarily on zoning, land-use and environmental issues.
Williams says that a judge's paramount concern should be "discharging the duty of the public trust in an efficient and timely manner." He says that being well prepared for the cases that come before him will make his courtroom run smoothly.
Williams' reputation as a diligent and thorough practitioner with a compassionate side, as well as his additional years of legal experience, give him the edge. For Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court Group 8, the Times recommends Robert Angus Williams.
Opportunity to reply
The Times offers candidates not recommended by the editorial board an opportunity to reply. Candidates for circuit judge may submit a response of up to 150 words by 5 p.m. Wednesday to editor of editorials Tim Nickens, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731; by fax, (727) 893-8675; or online at www.tampabay.com/letters.