St. Johns County Judge, Group 2

Nonpartisan office elected by voters of all parties

Two candidates are seeking your vote for St. Johns County judge, Group 2. This race appears on the Aug. 23 ballot.

News4Jax sent a questionnaire to each candidate asking about their background and their views on several issues. Scroll down to read the responses of those seeking your vote -- in their own words.

Note: Responses are sorted alphabetically by party and are presented exactly as submitted, with no editing by News4Jax staff.

  CANDIDATES

Alyssa Camper Shorstein

Occupation: Attorney

Age: 38

Family: Husband, Bryan Shorstein, Son, Christopher Camper Jr (20), Son Daniel Camper (15)

Education: St. Augustine High School (02′), Flagler College (05′), University of Florida Law School (09′)

Political experience: This is my first time running for office.

What do you see as the top three issues you’ll likely face while holding this office?

The top issue I will face with this position is case management and docket control. The number of cases in county court continues to increase dramatically due to the growth of county and increase of jurisdictional limits.

It is essential that a county judge be able to manage the case load efficiently ensuring that everyone has equal and open access to the court and that cases are promptly and properly ruled on. It is also important to be mindful of the time of law enforcement as they are often called to testify and you do not want them having to sit around all day waiting to testify especially if they are on night shift and that is the time they need to be sleeping. There are many important variables in how a county judge organizes and manages their case load that are challenging and essential.

The second issue I will face is dealing with how mental health and substance abuse issues play a role in the criminal justice system. If these issues are not able to be addressed, then those who are in the system due to their addiction and/or mental illness will continue to be in a continuous cycle that affects them, their families, and our community as a whole. One of my goals is to start a mental health treatment court in St. Johns County to help those with qualifying crimes be able to get proper treatment.

The third issue I will face is the isolation that being a judge creates. The role extends further than the courthouse, so a judge has to maintain his or her impartiality and conduct to honor the judicial position at all times. This often leads to not being able to be as social as they may have been as an attorney. A judge is also restricted in what they can participate in and events that they can attend.

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

  • Throughout my career I have gotten the opportunity to practice in front of every judge in the St. Johns County courthouse. Along with the variety of law I have practiced (over 40 different areas of law) this gives me a unique insight into how the courtrooms are managed and the different judicial styles and case management techniques. I am committed to building a mental health treatment court in St. Johns County so that defendants with qualifying crimes would have access to proper treatment if they so choose. My legal and life experience allow me to respect all parties in litigation and ensure that they are heard. I understand that being heard is an essential element of our justice system and have seen first hand that if a party feels that the judge listened to them, that they leave feeling they received their day in court even if the ruling is not in their favor.

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

  • I hope to be remembered as respectful, efficient, and for helping to build the mental health treatment court that our growing county so desperately needs.

Campaign website: alyssaforjudge.com

Campaign’s social media site(s): facebook.com/AlyssaForJudge


Casey L. Woolsey

Occupation: Attorney

Age: 35

Your family: Married to husband, Josh, and Mom to Jake (6), Brady (6), Ben (4) and Mac (2).

Education: B.A. in Writing and Linguistics and Politial Science from Georgia Southern University, and Juris Doctorate from Florida Coastal School of Law.

Political experience: None

What do you see as the top three issues you’ll likely face while holding this office?

  1. Maintaining an independent Judiciary in times of divisive politics. To maintain the judiciary’s reputation for impartiality and nonpartisanship, it’s imperative that the Judiciary rise above partisan politics and decide cases based on legal merits, despite whether the decision is controversial or politically popular.
  2. Maintaining appropriate checks and balances between all branches of government in compliance with the United States Constitution and Florida’s Constitution. The role of the Judiciary is not to create its own laws, but to apply the laws that our elected officials have passed, regardless of public opinion. The role of the executive branch is to enforce those laws.
  3. Maintaining transparency and accountability within the Judiciary. To keep the public’s trust and confidence, the Judiciary must remain accountable to the citizens it serves.

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

  • I have experience in multiple areas of law including criminal, civil, landlord/tenant, and family law, and represented a diverse range of clients, including individuals, families, small businesses, and large corporations. Because of this experience, I am uniquely positioned to recognize and respect the needs and rights of all St. Johns County citizens. Additionally, my jury trial experience sets me apart from other candidates. I’ve had the rare opportunity to try both civil and criminal jury trials and family law bench trials. I’m fortunate to have started my career with a firm that valued jury trial experience and grateful to the clients who trusted me with one of the most important decisions in their lives.

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

  • I’d like to be known as a Judge who decides cases fairly and impartially and shows patience and compassion to litigants and attorneys who appear before me.

Campaign website: caseywoolseyforjudge.com

Campaign’s social media site(s): facebook.com/caseywoolseyforjudge