Do you call your lawyer friends to ask who to vote for in the judge races? Well, it’s that time again but you can decide for yourself by coming to our July and August Hot Topics luncheons and Judicial Candidate Forums. The elections for Florida’s 9th Judicial Circuit serving Orange and Osceola counties and Orange County judges will take place during the August 23 primaries. We will hear from the Circuit Judge Candidates July 13. You will have an opportunity to meet and learn about the six candidates seeking election in our popular and well-orchestrated forum format run much like a debate. This is always a favorite program of our League and the community.
Candidates for July 13 Hot Topics Circuit Judges Judicial Forum, include:
- Circuit Group 9: Allison Kerestes & Fay Olga Pappas (top row)
- Circuit Group 14: John Beamer & Michael Stewart (middle row)
- Circuit Group 44: Aldo Bartolone & Vincent Chiu (bottom row)
We are fortunate to have two popular and highly revered judges to moderate the session: Honorable Tarlika Nunez-Navarro and Honorable Tanya Wilson—the first Colombian American and the first Black woman judges in the 9th Circuit respectively.
Judge Tarlika Nunez-Navarro is a Circuit Court Judge for the Ninth Judicial Circuit, where she currently presides in the Felony Criminal Division in Orange County. Prior to assuming her new role in the Ninth Judicial Circuit, Judge Navarro was a Circuit Court Judge for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit in Broward County where she was appointed in 2018 and reelected without opposition in May 2020. Judge Navarro has presided over several divisions including Felony Drug Court, Juvenile Drug Court, Domestic Violence Court, and the Unified Family Court. She was designated a “Champion” in her field for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit in 2020.
Prior to serving on the bench, Judge Navarro worked in private practice, specializing in criminal defense and women’s rights, and was also an Assistant State Attorney in Broward County, prosecuting crimes from first-degree misdemeanors to life felonies.
She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami, and her law degree from St. Thomas University School of Law, where she graduated Cum Laude. While in law school, Judge Navarro clerked for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit in Miami-Dade County’s Family and Domestic Violence Division. She is also actively involved in her community, dedicating her time to mentoring adolescents and teaching the importance of health and well-being. She sits on the Board of Advisors at St. Thomas University School of Law, where she co-chairs the Lawyer Well-Being Institute and is an adjunct professor at FAMU’s School of Law. She is currently the Judicial Liaison to the Hispanic Bar Association of Central Florida. Previously, Judge Navarro was the Judicial Liaison for the Broward County Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section and the Broward County Hispanic Bar Association, where she was named Jurist of the Month for August 2020. Judge Navarro is the first Colombian American to hold a Circuit Court seat on Florida’s Ninth and Seventeenth Judicial Circuits. She lives in Orlando with her husband and family, and enjoys golfing, tennis, surfing, and horseback riding when she is not serving on the bench.
Judge Tanya Davis Wilson was initially appointed by Gov. Rick Scott in 2014 to serve on the county court bench and won reelection without opposition in 2016. When she was appointed in 2017 to the circuit bench, Judge Wilson served in the Domestic Relations Division before her current assignment in the Circuit Criminal Division. She is the first African American female judge to serve as a County Judge and a Circuit Court Judge in the Ninth Judicial Circuit.
Before becoming a judge, Judge Wilson was an Assistant U.S. Attorney (federal prosecutor), a Federal Public Defender, and an Assistant Public Defender in the Ninth Judicial Circuit when she began her legal career in 1997. Since 2012, Judge Wilson has served as an officer of For The Kidz, Inc., a charitable organization connecting children and teens in poverty to educational, health, and social resources.
Judge Wilson received her undergraduate degree in Journalism and her law degree from the University of Florida. She is a double Gator! Judge Wilson enjoys her volunteer work in various community organizations when she is not on the bench. She also enjoys reading, going to the movies and the beach, and graphic design. She is married to a retired sheriff’s deputy, and they have a son.