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Prosecutors fail in bids to move up to the bench // PASCO-PINELLAS CIRCUIT JUDGES

Pinellas and Pasco counties gained two new circuit court judges Tuesday night while sending two veteran prosecutors back to their jobs.

Lauren Laughlin, 46, staff counsel for the 6th Judicial Circuit's probate division, swamped Assistant State Attorney Nicholas F. Mooney in the Group 1 race to replace retiring Judge Owen Allbritton.

In the Group 6 race, St. Petersburg family practice lawyer Marion Fleming, 57, apparently defeated Assistant State Attorney Shawn Crane, 36.

With more than 90 percent of precincts reporting, Fleming continued to hold a solid lead in her bid to replace retiring Judge Fred L. Bryson.

On the campaign trail, both Mooney and Crane touted their experience with jury trials, in contrast to their opponents. But Fleming, who worked a few years as a prosecutor before entering private practice, stressed the variety of her experience. Fleming also rarely failed to note that she raised three children and is the wife of an Episcopal minister.

Laughlin campaigned on the depth of her experience in the probate division, which handles Baker Act commitments, guardianship cases and will disputes.

"I've been in court in enough trials over he last seven years, I can call the balls and strikes," she said.

Their victories also paralleled the successes of other female lawyers, who have won more than their share of Pinellas and Pasco judgeships during the past four years.

Fleming and Laughlin will take office in January, along with Walt Logan and Mark Shames, who won circuit court seats in the September primary.

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