Marion County’s administrative judge, Circuit Judge Edward Scott announced he would retire effective June 30.
Scott, 69, said it was time. He turns 70 on June 15, and his two-year stint as administrative judge comes to an end in June as well.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a while,” he said. “I still love this job; that’s been the problem. It’s hard to quit something you really like doing.”
Scott is the second judge to announce their retirement this year. County Judge Sarah Ritterhoff Williams announced in January that she would retire on May 14.
A local judicial nominating commission recently sent a list of four nominees to Gov. Ron DeSantis from which to choose her replacement.
Scott said changes to court operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic did not contribute to his decision to retire.
“It certainly changed the way we conduct court. Now, we’re using Zoom for hearings. I don’t mind it. I can do everything quicker,” he said. “I am ready to start spending as much time as I can with my kids, grandkids.”
First, he said he plans to catch up on sleep. Then, he hopes to travel with his wife and maybe buy a new boat so they can go fishing in the Gulf of Mexico again. He also will focus on his guitar playing more.
“I don’t have any grandiose plans,” he said.
He hopes to return as a senior judge after a year. State rules prevent judges from working for a year after they retire. Senior judges serve on an on-call basis to hear cases when dockets are heavy. Due to the backlog of cases from the suspension of trials due to COVID-19, circuits across the state will rely heavily on senior judges.
“To me, it’s the most ridiculous rule I have ever seen. I can’t even come back as a volunteer. I have to sit out for a year,” he said.
First elected to the bench in 2006, he ran unopposed in 2012 and 2018. Circuit judges serve six-year terms and Scott’s seat would not come up until 2024. DeSantis will appoint someone to serve out his term.
During his time in the circuit, Scott presided over a broad range of cases, from family law to felony to civil.
Before becoming a judge, he served in private practice for 20 years and was a Marion County Sheriff’s Office deputy before that.
By his count, he’s spent 55 years working.
“My first job was at Six Gun Territory. I was 15. I operated the printing press. If you wanted to get a newspaper that said you robbed a bank, that was my job,” he said.
Six Gun Territory was a Western-themed attraction located near the current Silver Springs State Park. Six Gun closed in 1984 and was torn down for development.Scott said he will miss the rapport with other judges, attorneys and bailiffs.
“I’m going to miss the people I work with. I’ve gotten to know a lot of really good people,” he said.
One of those people is Becky Knipe, his long-time legal assistant. The pair have worked together for 30 years.
“He doesn’t shout. He takes everything under the law exactly. He gives everybody a fair shot,” Knipe said.
Knipe said he is the politest person she knows but is nobody’s fool.
“He is mild-mannered, but everybody knows when he’s serious. It just takes a lean or a look, and that’s enough,” she said.
She said she’s come to think of him as family but gets emotional knowing things will not be the same after he retires.
“He’s just a good guy all the way around. He will truly be missed,” she said, her voice cracking.