Five candidates are in the running to become Broward’s next circuit judge, after the Judicial Nominating Commission submitted their names to Gov. Rick Scott for consideration.
The JNC nominated Nikolaus Hunter Davis, Phoebee Rebecca Francois, Tarlika Nunez Navarro, Julio E. Gonzalez Jr. and Claudette Renee Vanni to replace retired Broward Circuit Judge Alfred Horowitz.
Horowitz left office in December after 22 years on the bench, first in the county court from 1995, then the circuit from 2000. He retired three years before his current term was set to expire.
The first nominee, Davis, was admitted to the bar in October 2008, and handles statewide prosecutions, according to his Florida Bar profile. He is also admitted to practice in state courts in South Carolina and Virginia.
Francois is a general magistrate and hearing officers panel chairperson. She was admitted to the bar in February 1995. Chief Circuit Judge Victor Tobin selected her over nearly 20 applicants in 2009 to replace retired County Magistrate Deborah McClosky.
Gonzalez is a former county judge who rose to the bench in 2006 on appointment by Gov. Jeb Bush. He lost the retention election in 2008 and a 2012 bid to return to office, despite positive reviews from attorneys who appeared before him. He was admitted to the bar in January 2000. He served as a prosecutor in Brooklyn, New York, and Miami-Dade County, and was a senior trial attorney with the Legal Aid Society in New York.
Navarro was admitted to the bar in September 2010. She is a founding partner of Fort Lauderdale-based Bacchus & Navarro Law Group, and a former assistant state attorney for Broward County.
Vanni has been a general magistrate since 2012, covering Broward’s probate division. She worked in public interest law for more than a decade as a senior attorney in the guardian ad litem program and senior trial lawyer at the Office of the Attorney General’s Children’s Legal Services Bureau. She was admitted to the bar in November 1999.