Hillsborough Judicial Candidate Recommendations

July 29. 2020

By: Chris Ingram

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. – Knowing for whom to vote in judicial races is one of the most difficult things to do in Florida because of the judicial canons which regulate what those candidates can and cannot say about themselves, their views, or their opponents. Candidates are primarily limited to informing voters of their qualifications but are expected to do so in an honest and ethical manner. Judicial candidates are not permitted to promote their political persuasion or anything else of an ideological nature.

That doesn’t mean all candidates strictly follow the judicial canons, as I have previously reported on the manipulative and misleading claims of two candidates in Hillsborough County, Gary Dolgin and Monique Scott.

RELATED: For a list of Ingram’s party Primary and school board recommendations, click here.

As a service to readers, I solicited the input of several Tampa attorneys who I greatly respect for input on all the judicial candidates in Hillsborough County. Those attorneys are: Adam Bantner, Anthony Garcia, Chris Griffin, Gil Singer, and Michael Isaak. I asked each lawyer to review the list and provide feedback on the candidates.

I should also note, that in making these recommendations, I tallied the votes of the attorneys who chimed in their opinions, but in no way are the recommendations unanimous, and ultimately, the recommendations are mine. My input from the attorneys was to help make a more informed recommendation for you, the reader. It is worth noting that even among attorneys, several of them passed on passing judgment in some of the races because they simply did not know enough about those running.

Here are my recommendations:

County Court Judge, Grp. 7: Rick Silverman or Bill Yanger

The legal community I consulted with was split between Rick Silverman and Bill Yanger. Of Bill Yanger, one lawyer who said he was supporting him, said, “Bill had a good temperament and will follow the law.” Another who is supporting Scott said, “Very experienced in court, and a good attorney.” And another lawyer who was almost equally split between the two, said, “Silverman is a good choice. Good temperament and good instincts and will follow the law.” He said of Yanger, “[He is] the best of the field. Qualified, great temperament, smart, empathetic, will follow the law.”

For info about Group 7 candidate Monique Scott, click here.

Primary for Florida 13th Circuit Court

Group 3: Greg Green

One of the lawyers I surveyed was Adam Bantner, who ran for judge against Greg Green two years ago. Here is what Bantner said of Green today: “I ran against Greg in 2018. He’s very capable, highly qualified, and deserves to be on the bench.”  Another lawyer I spoke with said, “Greg Green will be a good judge and is the only viable candidate in this race.”

For info about one of Green’s opponent’s Gary Dolgin, click here.

Group 9: John Schifino

Support for John Schifino was nearly unanimous among those lawyers I surveyed. One attorney said, “There is no lawyer in any of the contested races that is equal to him in terms of knowledge and skill. He’s just that good!” Another stated, “[He is] intelligent, thoughtful, and balanced with high moral standards. Will make a great judge.”

Group 19: Michael Scionti  

Lawyers I spoke with also nearly unanimously like incumbent judge, Michael Scionti. “I have no idea why he is being challenged. He is fantastic on the Veterans Court bench and Juvenile Delinquency Court bench,” one lawyer said. That same lawyer said nice comments about his opponent, concluding, “I just wish she were in a different race.”

Group 30: Helene Daniel

Attorneys I surveyed all had nice things to say about Helene Daniel and her opponent Danny Alvarez. But when it came down to choosing one over the other, the votes favored Helene Daniel by a wide margin. This one is particularly tough for me, as I personally know Danny, and he is a likeable fellow.

Group 39: Scott Stephens

By a 3:1 margin, lawyers I surveyed preferred Scott Stephens over his opponent. “I have appeared before Judge Stephens countless times and have always known him to be well prepared and fair-minded.  Judge Stephens knows the law, and applies it with great intelligence,” one lawyer said. Another attorney who said he recommends Stephens and another who does not, both expressed concerns about Judge Stephens’ temperament.

Chris Ingram is a Tampa communications, political, and media consultant. Follow him on Twitter at @IrreverentView or send him an e-mail to chris@tampafp.com

Publishers Note: While The Free Press will always be free for our readers, and ad-supported, we are asking our loyal readers to consider a monthly donation of $3 to maintain our local journalism and help us grow, as we ramp up ad sales locally.

You can click here to support us.

We thank you all for your consideration and supporting local journalism.


Login To Facebook From Your Browser To Leave A Comment

Comments are closed.