After being appointed county judge in 2015, the people of Leon County elected me to the job. Before my term had ended, Governor DeSantis appointed me to the circuit bench. Since then, my chief judge has assigned me to handle family law and civil case dockets in Leon County.
Since 2018, I have published 91 “Ask Judge Smith” newspaper columns. I suspended my column last August after announcing my candidacy for the 2022 election cycle.
I’m happy to report that I kept my office without a contested election because no other candidate filed to run against me. Thus, I will take office in January for a six-year term. I am grateful to serve you and am blessed to have this opportunity.
I am delighted to report my new docket assignment. From July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2024, I will serve the people as the Circuit Judge for Wakulla County! When I learned the location, it caused me to reminisce.
My family moved to Tallahassee in 1970, and I have happy childhood memories of Wakulla Springs. I spent many hours there, jumping off its diving towers. What a rush!
Wakulla Springs is deep and crystal clear. Standing on the tower, when you look at the water, you can see down to the bottom of the springs. Thus, the jump appears to be much higher than it is. The illusion is intimidating. The water is icy cold, so it’s best to dive right in and absorb the shock to your system all at once. The alternative, wading in inch by inch, is too severe to endure.
Another fond childhood memory of Wakulla County was eating seafood at The Oaks restaurant in Panacea. The Oaks had the world’s best deviled crab and onion rings. My parents and I loved that restaurant, and it was always worth the drive!
Now, let’s focus on the big job I have. Being the only circuit judge assigned to Wakulla County means handling all felonies, family law cases, and circuit civil lawsuits. Taking on that volume and variety of work comes with challenges. Still, you can count on me to be prepared, listen, and follow the law. Moreover, I’ll do my best to be polite and respectful.
I invite you to observe trials and hearings. Those who do will be impressed by our effort to be fair and impartial and get cases right on the merits. Please feel free to introduce yourself when I am out in the community, and I’ll see you at the next Worm Gruntin’ Festival.
The Honorable J. Layne Smith is a Circuit Judge, bestselling author, and public speaker. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.