Brad King appointed as judge for Fifth Judicial Circuit

Former State Attorney Brad King was appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to serve as a judge for the Fifth Judicial Circuit Court [Photo by John Jernigan]

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Posted September 13, 2023 | By Caroline Brauchler

Former State Attorney Brad King has come out of retirement after being appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to serve as a judge on the Fifth Judicial Circuit Court on Sept. 12.

King will fill the vacancy created by Judge Richard Singletary’s retirement. Officials from the fifth circuit have confirmed that King will placed in Marion County.

“It is something different for me. But it won’t be something that will feel uncomfortable doing,” King said.

Including King, there were 12 total applicants for the appointment. The other 11 applicants were Benjamin Boylston, Spencer Gollahon, Rebecca Guthrie, Charles Helm, Carmalita Lall, Timothy McCourt, Ian Pickens, Danielle Ruse, Harlan Derek Saltsman, Christopher Small and Lisa Yeager.

King, Bolyston, Helm, McCourt, Pickens and Yeager made the Fifth Circuit Judicial Nominating Committee’s short list of names recommended to the governor for appointment.

King, 66, served as the state attorney for the Fifth Circuit from 1989 to 2020, and said he believes his reputation and experience will only benefit him as he steps into his new role as judge.

“I plan to be driven, as far as making sure that the cases are resolved that people get their day in court,” King said. “I make decisions, I communicate decisions, because that’s one part of the system—win, lose or draw.”

King filed to run for reelection for state attorney in 2020, but shortly before the deadline for other candidates to file, withdrew his candidacy. The day before he announced he would not run again, current State Attorney Bill Gladson filed his candidacy and qualified while King withdrew his candidacy, making Gladson the only qualifying candidate, effectively winning the race.

King doesn’t anticipate interacting with his successor very often as he takes on this new role, saying “the only contact I’ll have with the State Attorney’s Office is to pass them in the hallway, basically.”

At the time of his retirement in 2020, King said he needed to focus on his family, specifically raising his newly adopted son. Since then, he worked as a reserve officer for the Ocala Police Department until he had to undergo a series of surgeries last year. Now that his son is in school, King says he has much more time on his hands, which is why he applied to be considered by the governor for the appointment.

King said he expects some of his judicial duties to include cases focused on probate and guardianships, which he said may be a “learning curve” for him, but that he is prepared and well versed to handle it.

“I’ve been reading the law and making decisions my whole professional career. So I don’t see that I’m going to have a big problem stepping in and doing what needs to be done,” he said.

King, known for his assertive, pro-death penalty and tough on crime history as a career prosecutor, said he doesn’t expect this experience to impact his ability to rule fairly.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a problem at all with fairness, because we make a lot of decisions not to go forward with cases,” he said. “Probate matters. It’s understanding what the facts are knowing the law and applying it. And that’s not going to matter, you know, who one party is or the other—you just follow the law.”

King said he plans to start work as soon as Oct. 2, but that could be pushed back as far as Oct. 25.

When asked if he plans on running in 2026 to be elected to continue his judgeship at the end of this term, King paused to calculate his age before answering. “I really expect I will run again at that point,” he said.

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