On Tuesday, May 14, 2024, the Tampa Free Press reported that a Leon County circuit judge will hear arguments later this month in a legal challenge to a Northeast Florida judicial candidate’s eligibility to run for election. Judge J. Lee Marsh has scheduled a hearing for May 29 regarding a lawsuit contending that Scott DuPont should not appear on the ballot for a judgeship in Florida’s 7th Judicial Circuit.

The lawsuit was filed in April by Rose Marie Preddy, DuPont’s opponent in the race, after the candidate qualifying period. Preddy was appointed as a judge in the 7th Circuit by Governor Ron DeSantis last year. She argues in the suit that DuPont does not meet the constitutional requirement that a judicial candidate must be a member in good standing of The Florida Bar for the preceding five years.

Preddy, represented by prominent Tallahassee lawyers Daniel Nordby and Barry Richard, points out that DuPont was suspended from legal practice by the Florida Supreme Court from October 2019 to June 2020. This suspension followed the Supreme Court’s removal of DuPont as a circuit judge in 2018 due to improper conduct. According to the lawsuit, a lawyer who has been suspended is not considered a member of the state bar during the suspension period.

DuPont, represented by former state representative Anthony Sabatini, filed a response denying the allegations but providing no detailed legal arguments. The Supreme Court had suspended DuPont from practicing law after he reached an agreement with The Florida Bar related to spreading false information about an election opponent.

The legal challenge seeks to remove DuPont from the ballot for the August 20 primary, where he and Preddy are the only candidates who qualified to run for the judicial seat. The hearing before Judge Marsh less than three months before the election will determine whether DuPont meets the constitutional bar membership requirement to serve as a circuit court judge. In addition to DuPont, the lawsuit names the state Division of Elections and local Supervisors of Elections as defendants.



Source: Tampa Free Press