FERNANDINA BEACH WEATHER

Nassau County Judge applicants shortlisted

Submitted by

Suanne Z. Thamm

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Photos courtesy of Suanne Z. Thamm

According to an informed source, the following applicants for the position of Nassau County Judge have been recommended to Governor Rick Scott for further consideration.  All are Nassau County residents who practice law in Nassau County:

Steven Michael Fahlgren, Hilliard http://www.stevefahlgren.com/steve-fahlgren.htm.  Fahlgren serves as the Hilliard city attorney.  During his interview he claimed that if appointed, he would be able to “hit the ground running” on the civil side of the job, but that he has no background practicing criminal law, although he took criminal law courses.  He indicated that he is very involved in the community via 4H and Take Stock In Children as well as church activities.  He has never been grieved by a client.  When asked during the interview about a possible conflict with his wife’s political career as a member of the Nassau County School Board, he replied that he is not a political animal and that there are different election cycles for both positions.  He has been a certified mediator for 5 years.  He responded that the most important aspect of being a county judge was “to be fair and have people believe you are fair.”

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Vice Chair Dexter Van Davis and Chair Chip Bachara confer

David A. Hallman, attorney for Nassau County, Yulee http://www.nassaucountyfl.com/index.aspx?nid=116    Hallman said in response to a Commission questions that he believed the most important qualities in a county judge include “experience, excellence, demeanor and fit.”  He felt that his experience as County Attorney required him “to fashion solutions on a variety of issues in the crucible of public domain.”  He believes that the County Judge must be comfortable with a wide range of people.  While he admitted to seldom appearing in court, he said that he has spent time observing court sessions.  He told the commission that he came to Nassau County for the job of County Attorney and that he loves living and working in the County.  He said that since most people appearing in court would only ever come before the County Judge, judicial demeanor is critical.

Wesley R. Poole, Poole & Poole, Fernandina Beach http://pooleandpoolelaw.com/ Poole informed the Commission that he is a 5th generation Nassau County resident and that there are a total of 7 generations of Pooles living in Nassau County today.  He has 39 years of trial experience and has served two stints as City Attorney for Fernandina Beach.  He sees the County Judge as “the People’s Judge.”  Although at age 63 he is the oldest applicant, he said that he has no retirement plans and that he waited this long to seek the position because he believes that judges should be experienced.  He addressed Commission concerns regarding possible conflicts with his law firm by stating that the type of cases handled by the County Judge are generally handled by his son, who would need to avoid taking such cases.  He expressed a desire to become more involved in public service involving mental health needs of the community should he be selected as judge.

Thomas Eugene Townsend, Jr., Assistant Public Defender, Yulee.  Townsend

46:  Panel members Robert O'Quinn, Chip Bachara, Gilbert Feltel, Paul Renner, Courtney Grimm
46: Panel members Robert O’Quinn, Chip Bachara, Gilbert Feltel, Paul Renner, Courtney Grimm

informed the Commission that he had moved to Nassau County as a 9th grader in 1986, and that he held a variety of positions including teacher and outdoor sales before settling on the law.  Although he had a job with a prestigious law firm, he left the position to become an assistant public defender because he wanted to work with people and gain trial experience.  He believes that he deals well with people in conflict situations, citing his work in a variety of legal situations such as Juvenile Court, felonies, first appearances.  After 6 years of practicing in Nassau County, he believes that he has had experience with most of the law in the county.  He believes that the community has accepted him since he grew up here and has been involved with sports and church activities.

A press release from the 4th Judicial Nominating Commission is expected later today.  Other Nassau County applicants interviewed included:  Janet Carver, John Cascone and Clyde Davis.  Governor Rich Scott will have 60 days from the official receipt of the Commission’s short list to make his selection.

February 1, 2013 9:55 a.m.

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