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CANDIDATE REPLIES

The St. Petersburg Times offers candidates not recommended by its editorial board an opportunity to reply in print. Here are two of those replies.Charles Cope, candidate for judge of the Circuit Court, Group 35

What truly differentiates the candidates for Circuit Court judge for Group 35 is the extent of their experience. Charles Cope singularly offers this quality together with impressive references and academic credentials. As an assistant state attorney, he proved his administrative abilities to serve larger case loads than any attorney in private practice would face. As a successful civil and defense litigator, Charles Cope is widely recognized among his peers. For the past 16 years, the demand for his skills has made the practice of law a full-time endeavor for Charles Cope.

This fact alone distinguishes Charles Cope as the most qualified candidate for this post.

Charles Cope began his legal career admirably, serving the people of Pinellas and Pasco counties as an assistant state attorney. After a successful decade of private practice, this election offers the unique opportunity to return the talents of Charles Cope to public service.

Florence Foster, candidate for judge of the Circuit Court, Group 30

Florence Foster has very special experience and qualifications which make her a distinguished candidate.

She is a former attorney clerk for Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich. In the legal community, it is well known that federal law clerks are the best and brightest. For one year, Florence researched every type of case, many involving extremely complex issues and millions of dollars, and drafted orders for the judge.

Florence Foster is a national merit scholar, and graduated with honors from the University of Missouri. She was given a full academic scholarship to begin Stetson Law School. Florence has interned in the Pinellas state attorney's office and has served as an assistant public defender. For the last three years, she has specialized in family law, juvenile matters, criminal law, and appeals, both federal and state. My wife is an experienced trial attorney, having tried dozens of jury trials and countless bench trials. Florence Foster incorporates not only knowledge and intelligence, but also worldly experience.

I have practiced law for 15 years and am constantly impressed by my wife's insight into cases, the law and judicial behavior. One should never equate quality with years. When selecting a judge, one should look to substance, quality of experience, intelligence, proven ability, willingness to work and sincerity.

Admittedly, you may say that I have a bias in favor of my wife and partner _ no more so than the partners of any other judicial candidates, who best know their work. Florence is the hardest worker I have ever met. I can assure you that Florence Foster as judge will bring the highest qualities _ including integrity, intelligence, writing ability and a thorough knowledge of the law _ to Group 30, which will probably be a family law position.

_ Robert A. Foster Jr., Esq.

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