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Pinellas-Pasco judges: Times editorial board recommendations
Two career prosecutors versus two candidates with solid civil court experience.
 
The Pinellas County courthouse.
The Pinellas County courthouse. [ Google Earth ]
This article represents the opinion of the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board.
Published July 22, 2020|Updated July 22, 2020

Four candidates are vying to fill two open judge positions in the Pinellas-Pasco circuit. The judges preside over felony criminal cases, estates and juvenile matters, and handle civil disputes involving more than $30,000. Circuit judges are elected to six-year terms and paid $165,509 annually. Judicial races are nonpartisan and open to all voters.

Group 28 — Evan Frayman

Evan Frayman
Evan Frayman [ Courtesy of the Evan Frayman campaign. ]

Evan Frayman’s diversity of experience in and out of the legal arena make him the top choice in this race. A graduate of Dartmouth College and the University of Miami School of Law, he has practiced law for nearly 25 years. Frayman spent much of his career in a civil practice, including labor and employment law, and now works in the Pinellas-Pasco Public Defender’s office. Over his career, he has tried cases in family, civil and criminal court.

“I’m not a career prosecutor, nor a career defense attorney,” he said. “I have a unique perspective that I think would be beneficial.”

Frayman, 49, has an easy, disarming manner that would suit him well on the bench. He’s smart, well-grounded and has the temperament to be consistently fair. He’s unlikely to let the power go to his head. Frayman was president of the Rotary Club in Dunedin and of Temple B’nai Israel, and is the treasurer of the Clearwater Bar Association. He has also been a volunteer mediator for the county’s Office of Human Rights.

Eva Vergos, 43, is an accomplished prosecutor who has worked at the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office since 2001. She supervises a division that handles about 1,100 to 1,300 felony cases and has tried more than 110 cases to verdict, including first-degree murder cases.

Frayman, though, is better rounded and experienced in more areas of the law, an important consideration given that criminal law is only one slice of what goes on in our local courts. The Tampa Bay Times recommends Evan Frayman for Pinellas County Circuit Judge, Group 28.

Group 44 — Ashley Ward-Singleton

Ashley Ward-Singleton
Ashley Ward-Singleton [ Courtesy of the Ashley Ward-Singleton campaign ]

Ashley Ward-Singleton, 36, would be an asset to the local judiciary. What she lacks in jury trial experience, she makes up for with smarts and a solid background in civil law, including insurance, employment and personal injury. She has two bachelor’s degrees from Florida State University and graduated with a law and MBA degree from the Stetson University College of Law in 2010.

Born in St. Petersburg, Ward-Singleton currently works at a law firm that specializes in representing homeowners in insurance disputes. She has also worked for a short time as an adjunct professor at Stetson, a grader for the Florida Board of Bar Examiners and clerked for a federal magistrate judge in Fort Myers.

“I’ve represented plaintiffs, defendants and companies,” she said. “I’m not seeing things through just one lens.”

Elizabeth “Liz” Jack, 51, was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1998, and clerked for a federal judge in Tampa. She has practiced for about 12 years, having taken a mid-career break from the law. Jack has worked exclusively as a prosecutor and is well-versed in criminal law having spent many hours inside a courtroom trying a range of felony cases. She has also scored several high-profile endorsements, including from the Tampa Bay Area Chiefs of Police Association.

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This was a tough decision, but the Tampa Bay Times recommends Ashley Ward-Singleton for Pinellas County Circuit Court Judge, Group 44.

Candidate replies

Candidates not recommended by the editorial board are offered an opportunity to reply. Judicial candidates may send replies of up to 150 words by 5 p.m. July 27 to Editor of Editorials Graham Brink at gbrink@tampabay.com.

Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Times Chairman and CEO Paul Tash, Editor of Editorials Graham Brink, and editorial writers Elizabeth Djinis, John Hill and Jim Verhulst. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news