Another elected Judge bites the dust (Florida Circuit Judge)

Florida Circuit Judge Merrilee Erlich of the Florida 17th Judicial Circuit, Group (seat) 21, stationed in Broward County, was essentially told by the Chief Judge of the Circuit not to return to work after a very disturbing incident where she berated a disabled woman, who died 3 days laters. Erlich already had her retirement date set as June 30, so the Chief Judge simply used his administrative discretion to suspend her through her retirement date.

Erlich was elected to the bench in 2008.
August Primary result:
Percent Votes
Merrilee Ehrlich
39.74% 37,894
Paul D. Eichner
33.30% 31,755
John Robert Howes
26.97% 25,715
Total votes cast: 95,364

November General Election result:
Percent Votes
Merrilee Ehrlich
56.30% 268,753
Paul D. Eichner
43.70% 208,618
Total votes cast: 477,371

Low profile judicial races generally show a decided advantage to the first named person on the ballot, which, of course, was Erlich. Most likely, she was elected for no other reason than her name was alphabetically before the other candidates.

Florida has a long ballot and often people simply, “Christmas Tree” the judicial races.

Florida uses merit selection for its appellate judicial offices. Non-partisan elections are used for trial level judicial offices. While non-partisan elections are far better than partisan races, they still make the unwarranted assumption that the general public is either qualified or interested in choosing its judiciary.

In this case, a person reached the bench who lacks the temperament to hold a judicial office.

Unfortunately, the Florida Judicial Revision Commission did not pursue an amendment to convert Florida to merit selection for all judicial offices.

1 Like

More than being elected, she was a woman. No woman and very few men have the temperament to be a judge.

man, if that’s true think about how crazy that is.

It is a common pattern. If you look at low profile judicial races and low profile party primary races, you will almost always notice a skew to the first listed candidate.

NOT a good way to select judges. :slight_smile:

Thankfully, there IS a way around this in Florida and ironically, it will occur for the immediate replacement of Erlich.

When a Florida trial judge dies, retires or resigns mid term, there is no special election held. Rather, merit selection is used and the selected judge holds office until the next regularly scheduled election for that seat, which will be in 2020. Because incumbent judges are very rarely challenged, this provides a method of avoiding judicial elections to the greatest extent possible.

1 Like

Read up on that whole ordeal and did background on the judge. She had an illustrious career. I think something snapped in her mind. It looks to be for the best she was asked to step down.

So terribly sad for the lady that passed away.

That’s hilarious

Sandra Day o,Connor