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15 applicants seek Supreme Court seat

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Four appellate judges and four circuit judges are among 15 candidates seeking to replace former Florida Supreme Court Justice Ricky Polston, after a state nominating commission extended an application deadline. The initial deadline was April 3, but the commission extended the deadline to Monday after receiving three applications. Two of the initial applicants — 6th District Court of Appeal Chief Judge Meredith Sasso, and Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Thomas Palermo — are part of the new group of candidates. Tampa lawyer Belinda Gail Quarterman Noah, who initially applied, has dropped out. Three other 6th District Court of Appeal judges — Joshua Mize, Jared Smith and John Stargel — also submitted applications to replace Polston, who left the Supreme Court in March and was named general counsel of the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Also applying for the Supreme Court seat are Thomas McHugh, chief judge in the 20th Judicial Circuit, and Judge Bruce Kyle, who also serves in the Fort Myers-based circuit. In addition, 9th Judicial Circuit Judge Tarlika Nunez-Navarro applied. The Florida Supreme Court Nominating Commission will interview the 15 candidates on May 3 in Orlando, according to a schedule released Tuesday by commission Chairman Fred Karlinsky. Other candidates include Roger Gannam, assistant vice president of legal affairs at Liberty Counsel. In his application, Gannam said he has engaged in “public interest litigation in constitutional religious liberty cases.” Other applicants are Derek J. Angell, an Orlando attorney with the Roper, P.A. firm; Victoria J. Avalon, director of appellate and civil litigation in the 10th Judicial Circuit; Woody Robert Clermont, assistant city attorney for Miami Beach; Autumn M. Miller, a Panama City-based assistant regional counsel for the Regional Civil and Conflict Counsel, 1st Circuit; Bryan Edward Sarabia, an assistant state attorney in the 6th Judicial Circuit; and Spring Hill lawyer Scott Toner. The nominating commission will send a list of recommendations to Gov. Ron DeSantis, who will make the appointment to the seven-member court. The Republican governor has appointed four of the current justices — Chief Justice Carlos Muniz and Justices John Couriel, Jamie Grosshans and Renatha Francis.

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