Circuit Judge | Group 3
Incumbent Sandy K. Kautz has drawn three challengers to the nonpartisan seat she has held since 2008. Although generally well-regarded by colleagues and peers, Kautz drew some fire recently from the Judicial Qualifications Commission when it was alleged she tried to use her influence in a family matter before the court. The commission's recommendation that she be publicly reprimanded has yet to be acted upon by the Supreme Court. If no one receives more than 50 percent of the primary vote in the August primary election, the top two finishers will face each other in November.
|Denise A. Dymond Lyn, 47 Private practice attorney||Mary Hatcher, 53 Private practice attorney||Sandy K. Kautz, 59 Circuit judge||Bo Samargya, 47 Private practice attorney|
|Experience||A New Jersey native and a 28-year resident of Florida, Lyn served in the Air Force for five years after high school. She also worked in real estate sales, and kept that job while earning a bachelor's degree in business administration from Troy University. Upon receiving her law degree from the University of Florida in 1997, she went to work for a private firm before opening her own practice in Inverness in 2001. She has also represented several public entities in Citrus County. She has twice run unsuccessfully for judge, losing in 2008 to incumbent Sandy Kautz and in 2010 to Robert W. Hodges.||A Wildwood resident, Hatcher earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Tampa in 1984 and received her law degree from Stetson University College of Law in 1987. She has had a private practice in Bushnell since 1999. In addition to numerous pro bono activities, she serves on the board of Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida and is involved with the Central Florida Safe-T-Team. Additionally, Hatcher volunteers with Metropolitan Ministries.||Born in Palm Beach County, Kautz as a single mother worked various jobs while attending school. She graduated from the police academy, then earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Florida and a law degree from Stetson University in 1997 at age 42. After graduating from law school, she went to work as an assistant state attorney in the 5th Judicial Circuit, handling a variety of domestic and felony cases. She has been a circuit judge since 2008.||An Ocala resident, Samargya served in the Army and studied business and human resources at the University of Central Florida before earning a law degree at Okalahoma City University. Both a former prosecutor and former assistant public defender, he is currently managing partner at Robitaille & Samargya in Ocala, where about half of his practice is related to criminal defense work. In addition, he serves as a volunteer teen court judge in Marion County.|
|Legal background||In private practice her entire career, Lyn handles general litigation. As a contract attorney for governments such as the city of Inverness and the Citrus County property appraiser, she helps write ordinances and interprets state law. She has participated in numerous nonjury trials.||Hatcher's early career included serving as the staff attorney for the 6th Circuit Court judges in Dade City, offering behind-the-scenes experience researching judicial rulings. She estimates that about 70 percent of her private practice caseload is in family law.||After her stint as assistant state attorney, Kautz decided to jump into the 2006 race for circuit judge, but was outspent by $200,000 by her opponent, Edward L. Scott. Two years later, in a race for the seat being vacated by retiring judge Barbara Gurrola, she won handily against her opponent, Denise Dymond Lyn.||A former prosecutor and assistant public defender, Samargya has run unsuccessfully for Citrus County judge and for 5th Judicial Circuit public defender.|
|Philosophy||"I believe in working hard at any given task and appreciate the rewards of seeing a job or project completed," Lyn said. "Every issue before a circuit judge is important. I'm confident I can make a well-informed decision and apply the law appropriately."||"My tenacity and work ethic make me a quick study," Hatcher said. "My role would not be that of an advocate, nor would I 'make' the law. It is incumbent upon the judge to know the law and apply it to the best of their ability."||"My experience has been that you must have respect for the law, not just know the law," Kautz said. "The families that come before you often consider the judge to be their best and sometimes last hope of getting a fair shake."||"The decisions you make as a judge are very important to the lives that are impacted by them," Samargya said. "I would like to think that my years of practicing criminal and civil law have given me the insight to do the job and do it well."|
|Assets||Home, business, IRA||Home, vacant land, promissory note, health savings account||Home, property||Home, property, college savings account|
|Liabilities||Mortgage and loans||Auto loan, personal loan||Mortgage, student loan, personal loan||Mortgage, loans|
|Source of income||Law practice||Law practice||Circuit judge salary||Law practice|
Private practice attorney
Private practice attorney
Private practice attorney
About the job: The 5th Judicial Circuit encompasses Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Sumter and Marion counties. The judge elected to Group 3 is typically based in Citrus. Circuit judges handle juvenile justice, family law, felony cases and civil disputes involving more than $15,000. Judges are elected on a nonpartisan basis to six-year terms and are paid $146,080 annually.