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:
Paul D. Eichner
John Robert Howes
Total votes cast: 95,364
November General Election result:
Paul D. Eichner
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.