With the presidential campaign in full swing, most Americans are focused on who will be the next president of the United States.
Before the November election, the August primaries present Florida voters with a decision that might be even more important than the election of the president: the election of local judges.
Why should one be concerned with judicial elections? Because a judge is the most important person you are going to need on one of the worst days of your life.
Neither your member of Congress nor the president can put you in jail, take away your children or order you to pay alimony. But a judge can directly impact your life or that of a family member.
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During divorce, a judge decides how much you have to pay your spouse and how often you get to see your children. In a criminal case, the judge makes sure your rights are protected and, if you are guilty, decides your sentence. In probate cases, a judge decides how much you inherit or who gets your stuff when you die.
You owe it to yourself and your community to be an informed voter and cast an educated vote in the judicial races.
Nearly 30 percent of voters in high-profile elections don’t vote in the judicial contests. The lower turnout magnifies the importance of each vote and makes it critically important that you vote in the judicial races.
One good source of information is the Judicial Candidates’ Voluntary Self-Disclosure Statement on The Florida Bar’s website. You can review the candidates’ history of community service disciplinary records, and where they rank in the judicial polls.
It has been said that we get the government and the leaders that we deserve, not necessarily the best ones. This applies equally to our judges.
Educate yourself and cast a ballot that ensures we elect the people most qualified to serve as judges.
Michael J. Napoleone,
West Palm Beach