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Anna M. Phillips, Times Staff Writer

Anna M. Phillips

Anna M. Phillips writes about legal affairs and criminal justice in Tampa and Hillsborough County. Before joining the Times in 2012, she covered the New York City public schools for the New York Times and for the education news website Chalkbeat New York (formerly GothamSchools).

Phone: (813) 226-3354


Twitter: @annamphillips

  1. Hillsborough Circuit Judge | Group 3, Robin Fernandez Fuson v. Carl Hinson


    Hillsborough Circuit Judge | Group 3

    This race for an open seat will decide whether Robin Fernandez Fuson or Carl Hinson replaces Circuit Judge Manuel A. Lopez, who is retiring. Both candidates have run for office before — Fuson for Hillsborough State Attorney, and Hinson for judge — and both are in private practice. Fuson focuses on criminal defense and Hinson has devoted his career to personal injury law. ...

  2. Hillsborough Circuit Judge | Group 24, Isabel Cissy Boza Sevelin v. Gary Dolgin v. Melissa Polo v. Lanell Williams-Yulee


    Hillsborough Circuit Judge | Group 24

    This race for an open seat has drawn four candidates to replace retiring Circuit Judge William Fuente. Three of the candidates — Gary Dolgin, Melissa Polo, and Lanell Williams-Yulee — have run for judge before and the fourth, Isabel "Cissy" Boza Sevelin, is a newcomer to Hillsborough politics. All of them are sole practitioners.

    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....

    Gary Dolgin, 2016 candidate for Hillsborough County Circuit Judge, Group 24
  3. Florida Supreme Court opens the door for new hearings for juvenile killers


    The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that juvenile killers serving lengthy sentences tantamount to life in prison must have their cases reconsidered by a judge, even if they are eligible for parole.

    The opinion could dramatically expand the number of juvenile offenders who must be resentenced, granting a second chance for release to potentially hundreds of people who committed murder in their youth. It's unclear how broadly the decision would be applied to juveniles serving similar sentences...

  4. Hillsborough state attorney candidate proposes more public meetings


    TAMPA — Hillsborough state attorney candidate Andrew Warren, who is running against incumbent State Attorney Mark Ober, issued a press release Tuesday morning outlining several proposals to make the county's top prosecutor more visible.

    "The job of the State Attorney requires not just managing the office of prosecutors but also engaging with the community to prevent and reduce crime," he said in a written statement. "This is a simple step to improve relations between the office and the community."...

    Andrew Warren, 39, is the first candidate to challenge Ober in a general election since 2000.
  5. Wave of bathroom bills has Florida's transgender community worried it's next


    ST. PETERSBURG - On a recent trip to the hair salon, Shannon McGuire had more than style on her mind.

    She had been wearing her hair in an angled bob, a style her hairdresser pronounced "tired," and suggested she replace with a pixie cut.

    "At that moment, going through my head was: If I get my hair cut that short, the number of people who call me a guy is going to triple immediately," McGuire, 33, said as she leaned into a circle of transgender women like herself....

  6. Warren's campaign says he raised $50,000 in first month


    TAMPA — Andrew H. Warren, a Democrat running for Hillsborough County State Attorney, jumped into the race last month to a wealth a skepticism about his chances against long-time incumbent Mark Ober.

    On Tuesday, Warren's campaign announced he has raised nearly $52,000 since the beginning of January from more than 150 contributors. He still has a ways to go before catching up to his opponent. Ober, who began accepting campaign donations in October, has raised just over $120,000 so far....

  7. Pinellas County hires longtime Bill Young aide, Harry Glenn, as lobbyist


     In the aftermath of Congressman C.W. Bill Young’s death, Pinellas County has hired a lobbyist to give it the voice in Washington it lost last fall with the passage of Florida’s longest-serving congressman.

    “Bill told us many times: you don’t need a lobbyist, you don’t need to spend money on that, you have me,” said Commissioner Susan Latvala, remembering the many times the congressman urged commissioners to “pick up the phone and call me.”...

  8. Seeing an opportunity, Peter Nehr re-enters Pinellas commission race


    The race for the District 4 County Commission seat is beginning to feel like a weird magic act, where people appear on stage and then disappear just as quickly.

    More than a year ago, former State Rep. Peter Nehr filed to run for the North Pinellas commission seat after losing his re-election bid to Democrat Carl Zimmerman. A few months later, he dropped out of the race, declining to say why....

  9. Brian Aungst Jr. announces he will not seek commission seat


    Though many expected him to run, Brian Aungst Jr., son of the former Clearwater mayor, will not be a candidate for the North Pinellas seat on the county commission this Nov.

    It seemed almost inevitable that Aungst, a 29-year-old lawyer with the firm Macfarlane Ferguson & McMullen in Clearwater, and the local GOP’s legal counsel, would run. And as recently as Tuesday night, Republican leaders were suggesting he would be in the running for the District 4 seat....

  10. Pro-Greenlight group steps out into the campaign finance sunlight


    ST. PETERSBURG – Out of an otherwise typical transit debate last night came a bit of news: the pro-transit campaign Yes for Greenlight is suddenly embracing financial transparency.

    Started last month, the private campaign that's supporting a transit tax referendum this Nov., began collecting donations using a 501c4, a designation that allowed it to raise funds while hiding the identity of its donors. It was an unusual step for what’s essentially a group of local boosters for a local ballot issue and a departure from the way the pro-transit Hillsborough group went about its fundraising back in 2010....

  11. Brickfield bows out of Pinellas Commission race


    Whatever appeal the Pinellas County Commission District 4 race held for Neil Brickfield, it's long gone.

    The former commissioner, who lost his bid for re-election in 2012 and had filed to run again this Nov., announced on his Facebook page on Wednesday that he's withdrawn his candidacy. Brickfield was one of seven Republicans in the race and was one of the most well known to voters, but his 2012 defeat is only recent history, as is his vote to halt fluoridation of the county's drinking water, which he later said he regretted....

  12. Dunedin mayor plans to seek commission seat


    It appears the only thing standing between Dunedin Mayor Dave Eggers and announcing his plans to run for a Pinellas Commission seat is time. A few days, at most.

    In a brief interview on Tuesday, Eggers said he's "very definitely, seriously considering running" and "I really plan to announce that in the next couple of days."

    Eggers, 56, a Republican, would make the eleventh candidate to run for the District 4 seat, which has been held since 2000 by Commissioner Susan Latvala. Her decision to retire from the board, creating a rare open commission seat, has already attracted a boatload of candidates, some of whom have never run for office before while others, like Neil Brickfield, a former Republican Pinellas commissioner who lost a re-election bid in 2012, have experience in politics....

  13. Pinellas advocates launch campaign to get voters to approve mass transit tax


    CLEARWATER — Rallying supporters, transit advocates launched a campaign on Friday to pass a 1-cent sales tax increase in Pinellas that would pay for a massive overhaul of the county's transportation system.

    "This is vitally important," Pinellas County commissioner Ken Welch said, speaking before a room packed with elected officials, business leaders, political consultants, and activists, many of whom wore green pins that declared only "Yes." ...

    Ronnie Duncan, chairman of the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority, talks about the “Greenlight Yes” campaign on Friday in Clearwater.
  14. Lauralee Westine, sheriff's wife, may seek Pinellas Commission seat


    The list of potential candidates thinking about running for Susan Latvala's county commission seat just keeps getting longer.

    Today you can add the name Lauralee Westine to the mix.

    Westine, 42, is a lawyer and the wife of Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. Though she’s never run for office before, the East Lake Republican said she’s followed local politics and issues for years. When she heard earlier this week that Latvala was planning to retire, she immediately began to contemplate a run....

  15. Transit advocates to launch "Greenlight YES" campaign next week


    Pinellas transit advocates have been wondering lately when the pro-referendum campaign will get going. In December, it was going to be January. And now that January is almost over, it’s going to be February.

    With nine months to go before the question goes before voters, a date has officially be set. The campaign to convince voters to support a referendum that would increase the county's sales tax to pay for expanded bus service and light rail is scheduled to launch on Feb. 7....