Mill Creek resident Hunter Norton, an attorney with Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, focuses his practice on business, construction and civil litigation. Now, he has another task: finding good judges.
Gov. Rick Scott appointed Norton to the Judicial Nominating Commission for the 12th Judicial Circuit last month. His term will end July 1, 2018.
The commission recommends potential judges to the governor for appointment to seats of vacating judges.
Norton, who speaks English, Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian, served as a noncommissioned officer in the U.S. Air Force, where he worked as an advanced intelligence briefer.
When choosing a judge, trial experience is a necessity — actual courtroom experience. If you’ve never tried a case, you are going to have a difficult time controlling a courtroom full of attorneys and witnesses and evidence.
It’s difficult to find qualified attorneys with actual courtroom experience to fill those positions. In the past, many of our judges who are very qualified have come from the criminal bar, and they are state prosecutors and public defenders. The greatest challenge is finding qualified civil litigation attorneys.
In the context of trial litigation, I think the greatest frustration my clients face is inconsistent rulings on the law, such that if you have one fact pattern in one court, you have a good result. And take it to another court, and you have a different outcome. Sometimes, at the appellate level, there can be a disagreement on the law because of vagueness written into opinions.
If I had to repeal a law, it would have been the Protecting Tenants of Foreclosure Act, but that law has been sunseted. The law was designed to protect those who were unwittingly tenants of a house that was being foreclosed on. But, in Florida, there were already safeguards in the law. I agree with the spirit of the law. The fundamental problem is that the law was done on a federal level and told each state how to handle tenants after foreclosure, not withstanding the state had already implemented appropriate protections. In a lot of instances, it made it worse for tenants and made it a nightmare for property owners. You had con artists crawling out of the woodwork, creating false leases.
To my children, I don’t know that I’d recommend litigation, but I would recommend law. At the end of the day, there are very few things you do that aren’t impacted by the law or the legal process. Even if they didn’t want to practice law, law school doesn’t hurt. It teaches you how to think critically.
All the protections in the U.S. Constitution are critical. I believe the First Amendment right to free speech is the most critical right of all, and I believe our Founding Fathers believed the same thing because it is the First Amendment. If we don’t have the right to free speech, all the other rights are meaningless.
Law school changes how you think. That was the first thing my family said to me after I had been to law school for a year. Although my substantive opinions remained the same, how I expressed those opinions and analyzed those issues had fundamentally changed.
My favorite part of being a lawyer, as I explained to my 5-year-old daughter, is that when you aren’t a lawyer and you disagree with someone, you sometimes have to agree to disagree. But as a lawyer, when you have that argument, there’s someone sitting there in a black robe on a bench who is going to tell you if you are right or wrong. The best part is when he tells you you are right.
– Pam Eubanks
“If we don’t have the right to free speech, all the other rights are meaningless.”
– Hunter Norton