18th Circuit Judge, Group 25
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.
The race for 18th Circuit Judge, Group 25 has two lawyers competing for the seat. There is no incumbent defending this seat.
- Video: Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board Interview with Both Candidates (29:47)
- Video: Palm Bay Live Interview with Attorneys Sam Bookhardt and Oscar Hotusing (48:30)
- Q&A: Vote411 Voter Guide
- Video: Group Forum, 18th Circuit Candidates, League of Women Voters Seminole County (90:00)
Sam Bookhardt - Winner (71%)
Sam Bookhardt is a criminal defense and civil lawyer in Titusville, with experience as an assistant prosecutor. He has worked for a large law firm, before starting his own successful firm. He is a former President of the Brevard County Bar Association. He was in the U.S. Army before attending law school.
Oscar Hotusing is a defense and civil lawyer in Melbourne, with experience in the prosecutor's office. In 2006 he was appointed as a judge in Brevard County, but lost re-election in 2008. He was also a Captain in the US Army JAG CORP. He had two reprimands from the state Supreme Court. In a 2010 campaign, he implied he was a sitting judge through photos and by not clarifying he was no longer a judge in interviews, among other issues. In a 2014 campaign, he inaccurately completed paperwork and broke rules regarding judicial candidate impartiality. He dismissed both reprimands, saying he felt he did nothing wrong.
- Q&A: One Senior Place
- Reprimand PDF: Public reprimand by the State Supreme Court | December 2016 (The radio show portion informs on his views as a judge.)
- Video: 2014 Interview, SpaceCoastDaily.com (1:55)
- Reprimand PDF: Report Resulting in Reprimand | August 2013