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7th Judicial Circuit judges

3 seats on ballot in circuit that covers St. Johns, Flagler, Putnam and Volusia counties

Florida judicial circuits map
Florida judicial circuits map

Ten Circuit judges in the 7th Judicial Circuit are returning to the bench without opposition, but three will appear on the ballot of voters in St. Johns, Flagler, Putnam and Volusia counties.

Like all judicial posts, these are nonpartisan elections that will appear on everyone’s ballot.

Scroll down to read each candidate’s responses to News4Jax’s questionnaire, presented verbatim as submitted. Because the Florida Bar restricts those running for judge from engaging in political activities and taking positions on issues, the candidates’ responses to our News4Jax questionnaire based on their understanding of that restriction.

  7th Judicial Circuit Judge - Group 6

Anna Handy

Party affiliation: Non-Partisan

Age: 36

Candidate’s family: Spouse and 2 children

Occupation: Attorney

Education: Juris Doctor Degree

Political experience: None

What do you see as the top three issues in this race?

I treat everyone with humility and respect. I am patient, kind, and unbiased. I will consistently follow the law and will decide cases fairly and impartially and without political interference.

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

By faithfully interpreting the Constitution and laws of the United States and State of Florida, and by treating everyone in a respectful and courteous manner.

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

That I helped the citizens of our circuit to decide their disputes in both a fair and impartial manner.

If elected how would you address the calls for racial justice?

By treating everybody with respect and dignity regardless of what their background is.

What challenges does COVID-19 present to the office you are seeking?

Efficiency and direct access to the court system.

Campaign website: annahandyforjudge.com

Campaign’s social media pages: Facebook


Mike Orfinger

Party affiliation: Non-partisan election

Age: 54

Candidate’s family: Married to Laura-Grace Orfinger; two children, ages 24 and 21

Occupation: Circuit Judge, Seventh Judicial Circuit

Education: B.A., Wake Forest University, 1986; J.D., University of Florida College of Law, 1989

Political experience: Circuit Judge, Seventh Judicial Circuit, 2015-present

What do you see as the top three issues in this race?

Because this is a judicial race, there are no "issues" as there would be in a partisan political contest. I believe the "issues" for judicial candidates are whether they have the required time and depth of experience, whether they can uphold the law with common sense, and whether they are running for the right reason, namely to serve their community. Thankfully, I can answer "yes" to all of these.

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

I have over thirty years of legal experience, including the past 5 ½ years as a Circuit Judge. Throughout my career as both a lawyer and a judge, I have handled numerous complex cases. I work every day to uphold the law, to apply common sense to the case at hand, and not to legislate from the bench.

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

I would hope to be remembered as a judge who performed his job faithfully, and who upheld the law with integrity, honesty, and common sense. I would want the parties and lawyers who appeared before me to remember me as someone who listened to them, who considered their arguments fairly and impartially, and who explained the basis of his rulings thoroughly so that no one felt they were treated arbitrarily.

If elected how would you address the calls for racial justice?

The Florida Code of Judicial Conduct does not permit me to answer this question.

What challenges does COVID-19 present to the office you are seeking?

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the way the judicial system conducts its business. We have adapted by making more extensive use of audio-video technology for conducting court proceedings, and making temporary changes to our procedural rules to do so. However, because jury trials have been suspended since late March 2020, and will not resume in the Seventh Circuit until late July, there will be a large backlog of cases for quite some time. Clearing that backlog will likely require prioritizing criminal trials, which will require firm case management of both criminal and civil cases.

Campaign website: ReElectOrfinger.com

Campaign’s social media pages: Facebook

  7th Judicial Circuit Judge - Group 14

Joan Anthony

Occupation: Small Business Owner

Education: I received my Bachelor’s degree in History from Bethune-Cookman College in 1981 and my Juris Doctorate from Howard University School of Law in 1984.

Political experience: How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

I will provide an effective forum for the fair, efficient, and impartial resolution of legal and factual court-related matters in Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns and Volusia counties.

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

As someone who sat on the bench and acted with a high-level of integrity and fairness.

If elected how would you address the calls for racial justice?

I will ensure that the 7th Judicial Circuit Courtroom is a level playing-field where all parties, regardless of their claim or social status, are treated impartially and have access to a knowledgeable judge that will rule swiftly and in accordance with the law.

Campaign website: joananthonyforjudge.com


Dan Hilbert

Party affiliation: Non-Partisan Race

Age: 40

Candidate’s family: Married to my wife, Bethany, and have two children ages 6 and 9.

Occupation: Attorney at Canan Law

Education: Bachelors from Westminster College JD from Florida Coastal School of Law Florida Bar Board Certified Trial Expert

Political experience: None.

What do you see as the top three issues in this race?

As a candidate for Circuit Judge, I have only one priority: To uphold the Constitution and law while serving the people of Volusia, St. Johns, Flagler and Putnam Counties, with honor, integrity and common sense.

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

Now more than ever we need judges who are ready to take the bench and hit the ground running. I have practiced Criminal, Civil and Family law and am a Florida bar board certified trial expert. Most importantly, I will uphold our Constitution and Laws with common sense and integrity.

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

That I was a faithful servant who remained humble. That I applied the law fairly and impartially.

If elected how would you address the calls for racial justice?

Socrates once said, "There is only one good, "knowledge," and one evil, "ignorance."" I believe that a Judge must be impartial and follow the law regardless of race, gender, religion, etc. A Judge must be humble and study the law so as to ensure consistency and fairness. As a Judge I will be impartial and uphold the law, not legislating from the bench.

What challenges does COVID-19 present to the office you are seeking?

Dockets were already packed. COVID-19 has now ground the trial courts to a standstill. We need judges who can hit the ground running with little to no learning curve and the experience to utilize technology to advance the justice system forward!

Campaign website: hilbert4judge.com

Campaign’s social media pages: Facebook


MaryEllen Osterndorf

Party affiliation: judicial elections are non-partisan

Age: 54

Candidate’s family: single

Occupation: attorney & mediator

Education: • Bachelor of Arts, Political Science, Florida State University, 1987 • Juris Doctor, Mercer University, Walter F. George School of Law, 1990

Political experience: first time seeking office

What do you see as the top three issues in this race?

Judicial races are generally not issue specific. The judicial canons proscribe the behavior of judicial candidates.

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

I would recommend that the voters carefully review the experience of all of the candidates, including the kinds/types/areas of law they have practiced and their community involvement.

It has been my good fortune and privilege to represent individuals, families and small businesses in the 7th Circuit and throughout Florida for the last twenty-nine (29) years, in a general practice law firm and as a mediator for the last twelve years.

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

That I faithfully and impartially upheld the law in each and every case in which I presided.

If elected how would you address the calls for racial justice?

I will faithfully support the U.S. Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Florida. I avow and commit to perform my duties as a Circuit Judge impartially, with integrity, civility & fairness to all litigants and participants.

What challenges does COVID-19 present to the office you are seeking?

There are multiple challenges presented by COVID-19. The health, safety & security of all participants in legal proceedings is paramount. The greatest challenge at this time is ensuring access to justice for all.

Campaign website: MaryEllenforJudge.com

Campaign’s social media pages: Facebook

  7th Judicial Circuit Judge - Group 27

Bryan Robert Rendzio

Party affiliation: None (Non-Partisan Judicial)

Age: 45

Candidate’s family: Wife (Stacy) and two sons (10 yo and 7 yo)

Occupation: Judge

Education: BA - Florida State University; JD Florida Coastal School of Law

Political experience: None

What do you see as the top three issues in this race?

Not applicable for a judicial race.

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

In my opinion, it is not appropriate in a judicial race to comment as to how one candidate can help voters in a way that another candidate cannot help. I respect my opponent and believe that we are each dedicated to upholding the standards of the bench. As the incumbent Circuit Judge for Group 27, I have had the privilege of managing a Unified Family Court docket for the citizens of the Seventh Circuit. I hope to continue in this role.

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

As a Judge, my goal is to be remembered as someone who treated everyone with respect, fairness and equality. I would also like to be known as a Judge who displayed a positive judicial demeanor.

If elected how would you address the calls for racial justice?

As a Judge, I am not ethically permitted to respond to any issues, which could come before me in Court. I can state that I uphold the standards of the Court by conducting my matters with respect, fairness and equality for all who come before me.

What challenges does COVID-19 present to the office you are seeking?

Because of the continued efforts of court administration, I am not facing many workplace challenges concerning COVID-19 access. The Court system is currently utilizing remote technology to address COVID-19 issues. As a Unified Family Court Judge, I conduct my matters from my Courtroom. However, due to COVID-19, the majority of my hearings are currently occurring through a remote-access platform wherein parties and counsel appear before me remotely.

Campaign website: keepjudgebryan.com

Campaign’s social media pages: Facebook


Alicia Washington

Party affiliation: JUDICIAL CANDIDATES ARE NOT PERMITTED TO DISCUSS PARTY AFFILIATIONS

Age: 50

Candidate’s family: SPOUSE ALFRED WASHINGTON, JR. AND CHILDREN AJ AND ALIYA

Occupation: ATTORNEY

Education: JURIS DOCTORATE

Political experience: JUDICIAL CANDIDATES ARE NOT PERMITTED TO DISCUSS POLITICAL ACTIVITIES

What do you see as the top three issues in this race?

ELECTING A JUDGE THAT HAS DEMONSTRATED A COMMITMENT TO PUBLIC SERVICE.

ELECTING A JUDGE THAT HAS COMMON SENSE

ELECTING A JUDGE THAT IS COMMITTED TO UPHOLDING THE LETTER OF THE LAW TO HELP MAINTAIN LAW AND ORDER

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

JUDICIAL CANDIDATES ARE NOT ALLOWED TO DISPARAGE OTHER JUDICIAL CANDIDATES. I CAN ONLY SPEAK TO WHAT I HAVE DEMONSTRATED WHICH IS A COMMITMENT TO PUBLIC SERVICE. I SERVED OUR COUNTRY AS A COMBAT MEDIC. I HAVE HUMBLY SERVED IN THE SEVENTH CIRCUIT FOR THE PAST 22 YEARS. AS A CIRCUIT JUDGE I WOULD CONTINUE TO SERVE OUR COMMUNITY AS A COMMON SENSE JUDGE THAT UPHOLDS THE LETTER OF THE LAW.

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

I WOULD HOPE TO BE REMEMBERED AS A JUDGE THAT SERVED HONORABLY AND HUMBLY, USED COMMON SENSE IN REACHING DECISIONS, AND THAT GAVE EVERY LITIGANT THE RESPECT HE OR SHE DESERVES WHILE UPHOLDING THE LETTER OF THE LAW

If elected how would you address the calls for racial justice?

AS A JUDICIAL CANDIDATE, I AM NOT PERMITTED TO COMMENT ON MATTERS THAT MAY REASONABLY APPEAR BEFORE ME AS A JUDGE. SUFFICE IT TO SAY EVERY LITIGANT THAT APPEARED BEFORE ME WOULD BE HELD TO THE STANDARD OF ADHERING TO THE LETTER OF THE LAW. A SOCIETY WITHOUT LAWS IS AN ANARCHY. LAW AND ORDER ARE REQUIRED FOR CIVILITY.

What challenges does COVID-19 present to the office you are seeking?

COVID-19 CHANGED THE DYNAMICS OF TRADITIONAL CAMPAIGNING DUE PRIMARILY TO THE CANCELLATION OF SOCIAL EVENTS. I AM DISAPPOINTED THAT I DID NOT HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO MEET MORE VOTERS FACE TO FACE. I BELIEVE THAT ANYONE WHO MEETS ME KNOWS THAT I AM FAITHFUL, HUMBLE, AND COMMITTED TO SERVICE.

Campaign website: ALICIAFORJUDGE.COM

Campaign’s social media pages: @ALICIAFORJUDGE