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Two races for judge in the 13th Judicial Circuit, which encompasses Hillsborough County, were not decided in the primary and appear on the Nov. 4 general election ballot. Circuit judges hear felony and family law cases and civil disputes involving damages of more than $15,000. Circuit judges are elected to six-year terms and paid $142,178 per year. The races are nonpartisan and open to all county voters.

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Barbara Twine Thomas

Group 8

Barbara Twine Thomas' varied legal experience and commitment to community and professional service make her ideal for Circuit Court judge.

Thomas' more than 30-year career has included significant work in both civil and criminal law. She has worked for employers that range from Legal Aid in Jacksonville to a utilities company in the Virgin Islands. Thomas also has been an assistant county attorney for Hillsborough County and has served as counsel for the city of Tampa. Now in private practice, Thomas handles mostly civil cases.

Thomas, 62, also has a significant community service portfolio that includes stints as past president of the Hillsborough Association for Women Lawyers and the Hillsborough County Bar Foundation.

Carl C. Hinson, 54, is a Tampa native with deep local ties. He has built a 27-year career in civil law, primarily in personal injury work. He is a past president of the Tampa Bay Trial Lawyers Association.

Both candidates run their own law practices and see opportunities to create efficiencies in courtroom management. But Thomas' broad experience sets her apart. She has twice been nominated by her peers for a judicial appointment and mounted an unsuccessful run for judge in 2012. She remains an excellent choice.

For Hillsborough Circuit Court Group 8, the Tampa Bay Times recommends Barbara Twine Thomas.

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Robert Bauman

Group 34

Robert Bauman and Melissa Polo each have the legal experience and demeanor to capably manage a courtroom. Bauman, though, has more depth and is widely recognized by his peers to be up to the job.

Bauman, 54, is a civil litigator who specializes in construction, real estate and bankruptcy law. He spent three years as a public defender early in his career. Polo, 45, is a former prosecutor who owns her own practice, focusing on personal injury and medical negligence cases. Both are longtime residents who are active in the community and who exude the professionalism expected on the bench.

Bauman, though, has particularly distinguished himself in the legal field, earning a top rating by his peers for excellence and ethics. The local judicial nominating commission has sent Bauman's name to the governor repeatedly in recent years for appointment to fill vacant judicial seats. That vote of confidence speaks to his readiness.

For Hillsborough Circuit Court Group 34, the Tampa Bay Times recommends Robert Bauman.