Florida Supreme Court Justice Alan Lawson. Photo: J. Albert Diaz/ALM

Florida Bar members voiced support for the retention of all 17 incumbent appellate judges, including Supreme Court Justice Alan Lawson, whose fate will be decided by voters in the November general election.

And if the bar’s poll is any indication, things look good for the judges on the ballot, based on the results votes cast by 5,239 lawyers participating in the statewide poll.

Established justices and appellate court judges come up against merit retention elections every six years, while newly appointed judges face re-election after an initial term of at least one year.

Lawson, for instance, appointed by Gov. Rick Scott in 2016, was backed by 87 percent of voters for merit retention.

Related: 2018 Elections: Incumbent South Florida Judges Struggle to Ward off Challengers

Judge Kevin Emas, Third District Court of Appeal. Photo: J. Albert Diaz.

Judge Kevin Emas obtained the highest percentage of “yes” votes among Third and Fourth DCA judges, with 92 percent. The results echo his performance in the August 2018 Dade County Bar Association judicial poll, where he also came out on top.

Judge Carole Y. Taylor clocked in at 82 percent, making her the most popular Fourth DCA judge up for retention. Taylor was appointed to the appellate bench in 1998 by then-Gov. Lawton Chiles.

Fourth DCA Judge Jeffrey T. Kuntz also got strong support from attorneys with a whopping 82 percent supporting his continued tenure.

Here are the full 2018 Florida Bar merit retention poll results: 

The Florida Bar, which has conducted polls since 1978, asked voters to identify themselves as having “considerable knowledge” or “limited knowledge” about the judges they weighed in on. Those with limited knowledge of judges tend to vote with less confidence in them.

The poll was conducted by Elections Services Co. of Hauppauge, New York, and was confidential. Members returned nearly 6.9 percent of the 76,529 ballots sent out.

Florida Bar President Michelle Suskauer said in a statement to members, “It is vital that we attract and retain appellate court judges and justices with the highest qualifications to ensure that our courts have the confidence and respect of all Floridians.”

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