Judge Kenneth R. Lester, Jr. (retired)

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Seminole County Judge, Group 5

Seminole County

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This candidate is a member of the Federalist Society.

Kenneth Lester, Jr. was a Circuit Court judge between 1996 and 2021, when he retired. He was elected with 63.8% of the vote. He was automatically re-elected multiple times, because he was not challenged in an election.

Before he was elected to the Circuit bench, he had 16 years of experience as an attorney in private practice. He worked at law firms in civil and criminal law for 10 years, and for the remaining 6 years he was a solo practitioner.

Before becoming a judge, he also co-owned businesses, such as American Superwash Centers and Florida I.V. Care. From 1971 to 1977 he was in the U.S. Navy and is a combat veteran from the Vietnam War.

He is able to run for office again because the retirement age has been extended.

He was the the second of four judges to preside over the George Zimmerman murder trial (2012). Zimmerman's attorney filed a motion to remove Judge Lester. He did not step down. In a 2-1 decision, the Appeal court granted the motion to remove Judge Lester, saying it was close but Zimmerman's allegations were enough to remove Lester.

In Season 28, Episode 29: "The Verdict" (2015) of 48 Hours about the case of Anita Smithey, archive footage of Judge Lester appears.

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* Appointed instead of running for election because of a vacancy between election cycles.

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