FERNANDINA BEACH WEATHER

Nassau County Judicial Candidates participate in Fernandina Observer’s Q & A

July 13, 2020

Editor’s Note:  For the 9th straight year, the Fernandina Observer is offering candidates the opportunity to answer questions posed by our senior staff.  The goal is to inform and educate the voters of Nassau County.  We have disabled comments on this post.

Candidates for Nassau County Judge include (L-R) Jenny Higginbotham Barrett, Jan Carver, John Joseph Cascone, and Harrison Wesley Poole.

To read initial candidates’ announcements click on the names below.

Jenny Higginbotham Barrett
Jan Carver
John Joseph Cascone
Harrison Wesley Poole

Why do you want to be a County Judge?

Jenny Higginbotham Barrett

Growing up in Callahan and Nassau County, with a dad that was involved in government and a mother who was a public school teacher, I developed a deep sense of community: strong families matter, the value of good neighbors, and the importance of service to others.  As a sixth generation Nassau County resident, community values are real to me, not just a catch phrase. As our County continues to grow, we must elect leaders that will continue to grow with the community that also maintains the same deep values upon which our communities are built.  The County Judge is not only a leader in the courtroom but also in the community. As I continue to raise my two children in Nassau County, I want to be part of the leadership that makes a difference for our families and will work closely with our first responders to keep our community safe.

Why do you want to be a County Judge?

Jan Carver

The expertise I have gained in medicine as a nurse practitioner, in management as an administrator in health care and as the court administrator here, and in law as an attorney and as a magistrate, all lend themselves to the needs of a county judge.  Serving as a judge is different than being an attorney.  An attorney is trying to persuade the court to his or her side.  A judge must be fair to all parties, ensure everyone has the opportunity to be heard, and give a ruling that is reflective of the testimony, the evidence presented and the laws that apply to the situation.  The parties and the attorneys representing the parties have to feel their case has been given serious consideration by the court.   A judge also has to manage their court calendar and their courtroom.  Some examples of my experiences that are important attributes of a judge include the ability to respectfully deal with people exhibiting difficult behavior in the courtroom, the ability to manage a calendar so cases can be handled efficiently, the ability to solve difficult problems, critical thinking ability, knowledge of mental health issues and substance misuse issues, and a knowledge of the law.

Our county court judge touches the lives of our citizens on a daily basis.  Being a judge provides me the opportunity to focus my expertise for the betterment of the people in our community.  A judge can change people’s lives for the better –  I’ve done that as a magistrate and want to continue to do that as county court judge.   I cannot think of a more interesting position.  People are interesting.  Each case is made different by the people involved.  And the decisions made in our county court affect our community – I want to make it the best it can be, and to impact lives for the better.

Why do you want to be a County Judge?

John Cascone

I consider the position of County Judge to be one of the two most important jobs in a small county.  When I came here thirty-one years ago I was fortunate to practice in front of Judge Robert Williams and he mentored me in the responsibilities of a professional in the court system.  His example made me want to serve as the County Judge.  I have spent my career in Nassau County serving its citizens in a multitude of cases.  I see this as an opportunity to further serve the community in the penultimate capacity a lawyer can offer a county of our size at the end of my career.  I am not running for a job but rather to further serve the community.

 

Why do you want to be a County Judge?

Harrison Wesley Poole

As a fourth generation resident of Nassau County, this is, and always has been, home. My wife, Debra, and I are raising our three sons here. I have always felt a calling to serve our great community, having volunteered as the Teen Court Judge, served on the Board of Directors for the Nassau County Volunteer Center, Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, and Trinity Love Hoblit Foundation, volunteered for the Katie Ride for Life and as a youth soccer coach, and dedicated countless hours of pro bono legal services to needy members of our community, with a particular passion for representing Veterans facing foreclosure, and assisted numerous local non-profits at no cost, such as the Elm Street Sportsman Association, Shrimp Festival Committee, and Trinity Love Hoblit Foundation. This election represents another opportunity to continue that service to the community, this time as our next County Court Judge, wherein I can ensure that justice is served in a fair, impartial, and efficient manner.

Why does your experience as an attorney better qualify you to be Nassau County’s Judge than that of other candidates for the position?

Jenny Higginbotham Barrett

Over the last 20 years, I have worked as a government attorney, private attorney and as attorney for a Fortune 500 corporation.

In these roles, I have always managed a large docket of cases. Managing a large docket has required me to effectively manage time, communicate and stay organized.

In addition to handling cases, I also supervise and manage the work of other attorneys.   By managing other attorneys, I make sure they stay on task, meet deadlines, and effectively litigate their cases.

Lastly, for the past 16 years, I have handled a wide variety of civil litigation across the country from complex real estate litigation, title matters, to mortgage and real estate fraud cases.  I make decisions and negotiate on behalf of the Company based on the strength of the legal argument, exposure and costs to litigate.  This variety of legal experience has given me a strong foundation of interpreting and applying legal principles to factual situations, and the ability to communicate in a concise and effective manner.

In addition to working legal cases, for the past 16 years, I have worked side-by-side with state and federal law enforcement to report and prosecute fraud and white collar crimes.

Why does your experience as an attorney better qualify you to be Nassau County’s Judge than that of other candidates for the position?

Jan Carver

I am the only candidate with experience presiding over our courts.  As the first and only Nassau County magistrate, I’ve presided over five different courts here – Mental Health court, (part of our criminal court system),  Marchman Court (deals with substance misuse), Dependency Court, (where children are removed from their parents’ care until the parents get help for their problems), Family Court, and Civil Traffic Court.  I have demonstrated the ability to connect with people from  all facets of life.  I always remember this is the people’s court.  I treat everyone who comes before the court with respect and patience.  I remember that coming to court is most often an emotional and stressful experience.  I have demonstrated that I have the ability to manage my courts and to handle cases effectively and efficiently.  I have been involved in our community for the thirty years I have been here.   I know the resources available in our community to address some of our major issues and I know how to connect people to those resources.  My career, both in medicine as a nurse practitioner, and in law as an attorney and magistrate, has been about serving the people of this county.  I have a deep love for Nassau County, and I can apply my knowledge of the many resources available to every court case, so that not only is the law upheld, but people’s lives are improved.

I have the experience, the passion, the commitment and the desire…as well as deep ties to our community to be our next county court judge.

Why does your experience as an attorney better quality you to be Nassau County’s Judge than that of the other candidates for the position?

John Cascone

I have had a trial practice in Nassau County for thirty-0ne years.  I have always been a courtroom lawyer with more than two hundred jury trials.  Unlike my opponents who list the hundreds or thousands of cases handled, I have tried jury trials before the citizens of Nassau for citizens of Nassau.  This is in addition to the thousands of matters I have handled during my career as a lawyer.

Seven percent of Florida Bar members achieve Board Certification and I have been Board Certified in Criminal trial since 1993, none of my opponents have been lawyers for that length of time.  The majority of the County Court calendar, almost 75%, is of a criminal nature.  My opponents do not have that experience at the level I have maintained for the duration of my practice.

Why does your experience as an attorney better qualify you to be Nassau County’s Judge than that of other candidates for the position?

Harrison Wesley Poole

My background as both state prosecutor and general practitioner makes me uniquely qualified for the position. I am the only candidate in the race with jury trial experience as a prosecutor, defense attorney, and civil litigator. My criminal jury trial experience ranges from DUI up to Second Degree Murder. For the past 11 years, I have been a general practitioner here in Nassau County and have handled virtually all of the types of cases coming before the County Court, including criminal cases, small claims, evictions, credit card and collections cases, traffic infractions, lien and real property disputes, and many more. I have also volunteered as the Nassau County Teen Court Judge and served as a Hearing Officer for the Nassau County School District and as a Special Magistrate for the City of Fernandina Beach. Rather than focusing my practice on a specific area of law, my very diverse legal career has prepared me well for the many hats that are worn by a County Court Judge.             

What is the case you handled that you are most proud of?

Jenny Higginbotham Barrett

I have handled a lot of cases over the past 20 years—whether it was in litigation or business transactions.

I have helped counsel young adults with getting their life back on track, whether that is through community service or getting their driver’s licenses after making bad decisions.

Most recently, with the epidemic of wire fraud and email compromises, I have helped home buyers retrieve their money from fraudulent accounts after being victimized by a criminal hacker.  This was extremely rewarding because these customers had lost their entire life savings through the fraud and I was able to assist them in navigating through the banking and real estate industries to get their money back.

What is the case you handled that you are most proud of?

Jan Carver

There are several cases that I am proud of because the outcomes were wonderful – cases which ended with the person involved having their life changed for the better because of their involvement in the judicial system.  We were able to assist several people to get the help they needed to change the path they were on, so that they could move on with their lives in a much more positive way.

 

What is the case you handled that you are most proud of?

John Cascone

I was co-counsel in the matter of Clark V. Hoshall and Bobby Smith versus Nassau County, also known as the ADA lawsuit.  I used my trial skills, in an arena foreign to me, for the benefit of our most neglected and needy citizens and brought a recalcitrant County Commission into compliance with federal law to benefit the entire county.

 

 

What is the case you handled that you are most proud of?

Harrison Wesley Poole

It’s tough to pick just one case, as I’ve prosecuted some pretty heinous crimes , worked hard to clear the names of people wrongfully accused of crimes, and sought to redress some very serious wrongs in civil cases. I’d probably say that I’m most proud of my pro bono work. I recently wrapped up representing a Veteran that was facing the foreclosure of his home of thirty years. It was a unique case in that it involved a reverse mortgage that, because of their ages at the time, was taken out only in his wife’s name. Many years later, the wife developed Alzheimer’s Disease and had to be relocated to an assisted living facility. Once the lender learned that the wife was no longer living in the home, they filed suit to foreclose. We fought the case for nearly two years on an entirely pro bono basis and earlier this year were able to work out a settlement with the lender that will allow our client to remain in his home for the rest of his life.

What do you like most about the practice of law?

Jenny Higginbotham Barrett

Practicing law is never boring.    Every day presents a new challenge.  I enjoy investigating a problem, dissecting the facts and researching the law. I enjoy being creative and making new legal arguments. However, the most rewarding part of practicing law is helping people.

 

 

 

What do you like most about the practice of law?

Jan Carver

The best feeling there is is to see someone’s stress resolve when you help them solve a difficult problem in their life or show them options for solutions– and I did that in the areas of law that I practiced and as a magistrate .

 

 

What do you like most about the practice of law?

John Cascone

Helping people!

 

 

 

What do you like most about the practice of law?

Harrison Wesley Poole

Being a general practitioner in a small town, I get to handle a very diverse caseload, which certainly breaks up the monotony and keeps my work very interesting. I really enjoy being able to build long-standing relationships with clients and work with them to solve the various problems that life may bring them. To me, it is very rewarding to earn their trust and confidence that I will always give them good counsel.

 

 

 

 

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