14th Judicial Circuit to receive two new judges

BAY COUNTY – For the first time since 1973, the 14th Judicial Circuit is appointing two new judges at the same time.

Last month, Governor Ron DeSantis approved funding for two new circuit judgeships.

“This is a huge development and a positive development for the 14th Circuit,” said Chief Judge Christopher Patterson.

The local judicial nominating committee, chaired by Waylon Graham, is now tasked with finding qualified candidates.

“That committee will make recommendations to the Governor and then he will make a final determination of who he wants to appoint,” said Patterson, noting that he expects those judges to be selected and ready to serve by early 2022.

“We’re gonna have them in different courthouses because sadly were still very cramped for space here in Bay County,” Patterson said.

The lack of space in Bay County’s courthouse is due to Hurricane Michael. But Patterson says having additional circuit judges will help them on their road to recovery.

“We need to work down the Hurricane Michael claims cases so civil cases and we also need to address the backlog of criminal cases that are here,” he said.

Patterson expects it to take two to three years to work through the backlog, which fortunately coincides with the new additions.

“We typically rotate our assignments every 2-3 years, we have a very targeted approach,” he said.

These appointments will bring the total number of circuit judges in the 14th Circuit from 11 to 13.

The 14th Judicial Circuit includes Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, and Washington counties.

Carol Kent Wyatt contributed to this report.

Meet the Editor

Wendy Weitzel, The Star’s digital editor, joined the news outlet in August 2021, as a reporter covering primarily Gulf County.

Prior to then, she interned for Oklahoma-based news wire service Gaylord News and for Oklahoma City-based online newspaper NonDoc.com during her four years at the University of Oklahoma, from which she graduated in May with degrees in online journalism and political science.

While at OU, Weitzel was selected as Carnegie-Knight News21 Investigative Fellow among 30 top journalism students from around the country. She also was senior editor managing a 12-person newsroom in coordination with Oklahoma Watch, a non-profit news organization in eastern Oklahoma.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.