Process to fill county judge seat started

Ritterhoff Williams [Submitted]

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Posted March 8, 2021 | Ocala Gazette Staff

Ritterhoff Williams [Submitted]

Local officials recently took the first step to fill the vacancy expected to be left by retiring County Judge Sarah Ritterhoff Williams.

On March 3, the Fifth Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission issued the vacancy announcement. In January, Ritterhoff Williams said she would retire from the bench effective May 14.

In her resignation letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis, she cited the increased caseload, the job’s growing reliance on technology and the backlog of cases due in part to COVID-19 as reasons for her decision.

Ritterhoff Williams had 1,665 pending cases, including county civil, criminal traffic, misdemeanor, small claims and other infractions, according to Clerk of the Court records.

Jury trials started on Monday after nearly a year-long suspension due to COVID-19.

To be considered for the vacancy, applicants must be a member in good standing of the Florida Bar for the last five years, a resident of Marion County and a registered Florida voter.

The deadline to apply is Wednesday, March 17 at 1:00 p.m. Interviews are set for March 30. While the interviews, scheduled for the Marion County Judicial Center, are open to the public, the commission’s deliberations are not.

DeSantis set a deadline of March 31 for a list of six candidates from which to fill the vacancy. After receiving the list, he has 60 days to make an appointment, according to Cody McCloud, press secretary for the governor.

The application is available at

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