Circuit Court Judge Tony Black was appointed to the Florida Second District Court of Appeal by Governor Charlie Crist. Here is what the press release stated about his selection:
Judge Black has been serving the 13th circuit honor and humility for the past eight years,” said Governor Crist. “His extensive knowledge and experience will be invaluable to the people of the Second District. ”Black, 53, has served on the 13th Judicial Circuit since 2002.
Previously, he practiced privately as a sole practitioner and with Simmons and Dunlop from 2000 to 2002; with Black and Jung P.A. from 1993 to 2000; MacFarlane, Ferguson, Allison and Kelly from 1985 to 1993; and with McKenna Storer, Rowe, White and Farrug from 1983 to 1985. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and a law degree from the University of Illinois.
When he was a practicing attorney, I watched Judge Black successfully try a wind versus water insurance case against Butler Pappas. Just because he argued and won an insurance related case for a policyholder does not mean he is an expert in the field or will favorably rule for policyholders in the future. He has far too much integrity for that type of judicial activism.
While almost all of my cases are far outside of Florida today, I still get a chance to see Judge Black on a regular basis. Usually, my view of him is watching his back while running along Tampa’s Bayshore Boulevard because he is one of the Florida’s best Master Class runners. He fits the profile of a person with fit mind and body. He is a quiet role model and Governor Crist correctly described him as "humble."
There are many other judges with similar backgrounds. We never hear about them because judges are taught to distance themselves to avoid perceived conflicts and bias. I feel that is somewhat unfortunate because it is far easier to criticize individuals we do not know than people we do. The Bar and Bench should do a better job of humanizing judges and explaining their most important role in our democracy.
One of the most difficult positions in a democracy is a judicial position. Good judges must make rulings and law that may be in direct conflict with popular sentiment of the day or which may upset politicians selecting them for higher judicial positions. The logic of justice and rule of law are not popularity contests. Jurists are often wrongly criticized by ignorant individuals seeking to gain popular approval. Many critics of judges often provide hypocritical views of traditional and fundamental American justice.
As a result, it is crucial to appoint those in our communities who possess character, honor, integrity and wisdom. Judge Black is an example of such a selection.