BREVARD COUNTY — Residents will be voting who the next circuit judges are in the 18th judicial circuit court this month.
Only one winner will be determined in each group and Hometown News will be providing candidate profiles so that our readers can become familiar with those who would like to serve Brevard County residents.
Tesha Scolaro Ballou, 50, Viera, Incumbent
Number of years as resident: Viera resident for a little over a year, Judicial Circuit for 21 years
Occupation and company you work for: Circuit Judge in the 18th Judicial Circuit
Education: Stonehill College, North Easton, Massachusetts, Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude; New England School of Law, Boston, Massachusetts, Juris Doctor
Marital status: Married to Scott Ballou
Number of children: N/A
What makes you the best candidate for this seat?: “I am a Circuit Judge assigned to the Criminal Division. I hear presentations from attorneys, witness testimony and make decisions daily, according to the law. State Attorney Phil Archer and the Public Defender Blaise Trettis endorsed me, a testament to my reputation for fairness, knowledge, and a courteous demeanor.
“I run an efficient docket, decreasing pending felony cases by approximately 12 percent pre-pandemic. As an attorney, I litigated criminal, civil, and administrative matters. I have been recognized for Pro Bono efforts and belong to several voluntary organizations. My judicial experience and commitment to our citizens makes me the best candidate.”
A. Michael Bross, 64, Melbourne
Number of years as resident: 44-plus years in Brevard County
Occupation and company you work for: Attorney, Senior Partner of Michael Bross & Bryan Savy, PLLC
Education: AA Criminal Justice, Miami Dade Community College, Miami
BS Criminal Justice, Cum Laude, Florida International Univ., Miami
JD, Campbell Univ. School of Law, Buies Creek, North Carolina
Marital status: Married to Sharon “Sheri” Bross
Number of children: Three children, seven grandchildren and one Yorkie “Mr. Bojangles”
What makes you the best candidate for this seat?: “As an Army veteran and local business owner with over 34 years of experience as an attorney, I’ve tried several hundred civil and major criminal cases before countless federal and state judges (compared to eight jury and 15 non-jury misdemeanor trials by incumbent over 20 years ago).
“The judicial seat I am running for is based in Titusville where I grew up and attended Titusville High School. Not only have I spent over 40 years in Brevard County, I’m familiar with the needs of our community and have a passion for Brevard County and continue to be involved in community charities.”
Steve Henderson, 52, Viera
Number of years as resident: 15 years
Occupation and company you work for: Attorney / Henderson Legal Group
Marital status: Married to Maria Henderson
Number of children: Five children
What makes you the best candidate for this seat?: “Compared to my opponent, I have twice the legal experience –17 years. I also have more life experiences. I began my legal career at the Public Defender's Office in Viera trying countless cases.
“I am currently a partner at Henderson Legal Group in Viera, where I have represented thousands of litigants in vast areas of law such as family, criminal, delinquency, civil, and dependency. I possess the skills, integrity, temperament, qualifications, life experiences and commitment to public service needed to be your next judge. To learn more about me, please visit my website at www.steve4judge.com.”
Michael Peacock, 38, Melbourne
Number of years as resident: Born and raised in Florida
Occupation and company you work for: Lawyer at the Law Office of Michael D. Peacock
Education: BA from Palm Beach Atlantic University, West Palm Beach
JD from Western Michigan University, Lansing, MI
Marital status: Married to Stacey Peacock
Number of children: Two children
What makes you the best candidate for this seat?: “I have experience litigating thousands of cases all over the state of Florida. I have handled cases in civil litigation, guardianship, probate and dependency court. I have litigated cases in approximately 20 counties in Florida and appeared before dozens of different Judges on several types of legal matters.
“I love our community and am very involved. I am a proud Rotarian as a past president and member of Indialantic Rotary Club, a member of Melbourne's Zoning Board of Adjustment, and Treasurer of Brevard Cultural Alliance. I have the temperament and demeanor to be a judge. I will uphold the Constitution and be fair and impartial when deciding every single case.”
Donna M. Goerner, 49, Altamonte Springs
Number of years as resident: 25 years
Occupation and company you work for: Attorney/Owner - The Law Office of Donna M. Goerner, P.A.
Education: University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida - Associate of Arts, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida - Business Administration Bachelor of Science (major: finance, minor: criminal justice); University of Florida College of Law, Gainesville, Florida - Juris Doctor
Marital status: N/A
Number of children: N/A
What makes you the best candidate for this seat?: “I am the best candidate for this position because my experience and service to the community is extensive and balanced. I have practiced law for more than 24 years as a prosecutor or plaintiff’s attorney or as a defense attorney.
“I have tried and litigated criminal and civil cases including misdemeanors and felony crimes, such as: robbery, homicide, child abuse and rape; juvenile delinquency and dependency, foreclosures, personal injury, guardianship and more. I have tried more than 135 criminal jury trials, numerous non-jury trials in both civil and criminal cases and am Board Certified in Criminal Trial Law.”
Marc Jones, 45, Winter Springs
Number of years as resident: 40 years
Occupation and company you work for: Attorney, J. Marc Jones, PA
Education: University of Central Florida, Orlando, Degree in Communications
Barry University School of Law, Orlando, Juris Doctorate
Marital status: Single
Number of children: Two daughters
What makes you the best candidate for this seat?: “I am running for 18th Circuit Judge because I have the necessary experience, common-sense, and the right temperament to get things done fairly, consistently, and efficiently. My decade of private sector business experience prior to practicing law sets me apart.
“Working in the private sector and gaining real-world business experience has made me a more dynamic attorney. The combination of business experience and my years of trial work as a civil litigator make me the most well rounded and qualified candidate for circuit judge.”
Sam Bookhardt, 58, Titusville
Number of years as resident: Born and raised in Titusville
Occupation and company you work for: Attorney/Owner of Samuel Bookhardt III, P.A.
Education: Stetson University College of Law (Gulfport, FL), Juris Doctor; University of Central Florida (Orlando, FL), Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Major in Economics; Brevard Community College (Cocoa/Titusville, FL), Associate in Arts
Marital status: Married to Sandra Bookhardt
Number of children: Three children, one grandchild
What makes you the best candidate for this seat?: “I am the best candidate because of my legal experience, work ethic and ability to analyze complex legal matters; my commitment to our constitution and to our legal system; my ability to be fair and impartial; my ability to manage a heavy case load; my punctuality, compassion, patience, firmness and open-mindedness; and my desire to serve.
“I would be honored to put my 23 years of legal experience to work. Thank you for your consideration of my candidacy for Circuit Court Judge.”
Oscar A. Hotusing, 53, Melbourne
Number of years as resident: 26 years
Occupation and company you work for: Attorney working as a sole-practitioner
Education: Florida International University, Miami, BS Political Science and International Relations., Nova Southeastern University Law School, Davie, Florida JD
Marital status: Divorced
Number of children: One child
What makes you the best candidate for this seat?: “As the son of Panamanian Immigrants, I saw my parents work hard every day to establish themselves and provide. It is this work ethic that I relied upon to serve 13 years as a prosecutor, 10 years as a member of the United States Army Reserves JAG Corps, 10 years as a sole-practitioner focusing on criminal, family, Wills and Trust, and civil litigation along with two years serving the citizens of Brevard County as a County Court Judge. This is why I believe I am uniquely qualified for the responsibility of being a Circuit Court Judge.”