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COURT OF APPEAL: 5TH DISTRICT

Five appellate judges appear on the ballot as part of Florida's merit retention system. The governor appoints lawyers to the bench, and in six-year increments voters are asked whether they want to keep the judges in office.

The judges on the ballot this year:

- Kerry I. Evander, 52, joined the court in July 2006. This is his first retention vote. He previously served as a judge in the 18th Judicial Circuit from 1993 to 2006.

- C. Alan Lawson, 47, was appointed in 2006 after spending three years on the 9th Judicial Circuit Court. This is his first retention vote.

- Richard B. Orfinger, 56, came to the court in 2000 after spending nine years on the 7th Judicial Circuit bench.

- William David Palmer, 56, is currently the chief justice (term ends June 30, 2009). He joined the bench in 2000 from private practice.

- Thomas D. Sawaya, 56, rose to the appellate ranks in February 2000 after serving for 10 years as a judge in the 5th Judicial Circuit. He served as chief judge from 2003 to 2005.

The Florida Bar members strongly recommended all justices be retained. If voters don't retain a judge, the vacancy is filled through the merit selection process, in which the governor will appoint one of three to six nominees submitted by the respective judicial nominating commission.

About the job: Judges on the 5th District Court of Appeal hear appeals from the circuit courts in 13 Central Florida counties, including Citrus and Hernando. Judges serve six-year terms and have a $153,120 annual salary.

Up next:THE WINNERS

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