18th Circuit Judge, Group 15
Circuit court judges are elected in the General by voters and serve 6 year terms. At the end of each term they run for the seat again. If they run unopposed, they win the election automatically. If a vacancy is created between elections, they are appointed by the Governor.
They oversee criminal and civil cases. This includes felonies, family law, civil cases above $30,000, probate, mental health, and some appeals.
Judicial candidates must be impartial. They are not allowed to run on a platform or declare a party affiliation.
While circuit judges are meant to be elected, sometimes a vacancy is created from a judge leaving their position or a new position being created. There is a Judicial Nominating Commission for the each of the circuit courts. The Commission includes 9 members. 5 are directly appointed by the Governor. The other 4 are also appointed by the Governor, but from a list of 3 nominees provided by the Florida Bar. If the Governor doesn’t like the list, he can request a new one until he finds a nominee he likes.
In the race for 18th Circuit Judge, Group 15 Circuit Judge Tesha Scolaro Ballou is being challenged by Melbourne attorney Michael Bross.
- Video: Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board Interview with Both Candidates (29:10)
- Q&A: Vote411 Voter Guide
- Video: Group Forum, 18th Circuit Candidates, League of Women Voters Seminole County (90:00)
Tesha Scolaro Ballou (Incumbent) - Winner (63%)
Tesha Scolaro Ballou was appointed to this seat in 2019 by Governor Ron DeSantis. She notes she has a great deal of experience, not only as a lawyer but as a judge. As a lawyer, she worked as an assistant district attorney and for an insurance company. She has dealt in criminal, civil and administrative matters. She also held a "quasi-judicial" role in administrative hearings. Directly before her appointment, she was General Magistrate for Seminole County. She feels it is important for judges to understand the stress and life impact of a court appearance. As a judge, she is friendly and explains the proceedings to litigants. She also wants them to feel heard. There was a controversy with her appointment process, but I have found no reports that she was involved in the irregularities.
- Video and Q&A: Candidate Tesha Scolaro Ballou Interview for ESR Hob Nob | Oviedo Winter Springs Regional Chamber of Commerce (Video 18:04)
- Article: Gov. DeSantis crosses line to appoint conservative judge | Sun Sentinel | June 2019
- Q&A: One Senior Place
A. Michael Bross
As a lawyer, Michael Bross has experience in both criminal and civil cases. Because he loves the law, he has participated in many courtroom cases and has appealed many cases, federal and civil. As judge, he would set reasonable bonds and ensure litigants understand proceedings. Early on, he had 3 active years in the US Army as a Military Intelligence Analyst. He was reprimanded in 1997 for not appearing in court. He says was because snowed in and unable to return to Florida in time. In 1998 he was disciplined by the state Supreme Court for bookkeeping irregularities. He has regrets that while paying out money to clients, his accounting records weren't as orderly as the state would expect.
- Q&A: One Senior Place
Cases in the News
- Appellate court backs up child killer's claim she received ineffective counsel | Florida Today | August 2019
- Attorney Bross reaches out to help people get back on their feet amid opioid crisis | Brevard Business News | April 2018
- Bar metes out discipline; Leinster suspended | Orlando Business Journal | October 1998