Josh Davis, Flagler County Judge Candidate: The Live Interview
FlaglerLive | July 31, 2012
Josh Davis is one of seven candidates for Flagler County Judge in the Aug. 14 primary election.
The county judge election is a non-partisan race: all registered voters in Flagler County are eligible to cast a ballot in this case–whether Democratic, Republican, Independent or from a minor party. You may cast a vote regardless of the district, the town or the subdivision you live in. If one of the seven candidates wins more than 50 percent of the vote, that candidate will be the winner, and will replace County Judge Sharon Atack, who is resigning at year’s end.
If none of the candidates wins with 50 percent or more of the vote, then the top two vote-getters will head to a run-off in the Nov. 6 general election.
FlaglerLive submitted 14 identical questions to the seven candidates, who replied in writing, with the understanding that some follow-up questions may be asked, and that all exchanges would be on the record. Follow-up questions, when necessary, appear in italics, and may be awaiting answers.
On July 26, Davis wrote that he would not be providing answers. “I feel that by answering the questions you have posed I would not be fulfilling my duty to the profession to which I belong,” he wrote, though he had appeared at forums and willingly fielded questions without being warned of their substance beforehand. On July 28, he agreed to provide the answers after all. By late Monday evening, he still had not. He said on July 31 that he’d sent in the questions by email on the 28th, though they hadn’t been received. An email with answers was received the morning of July 31, when the answers below–the slightest of all the candidates–were published.
A style note: some lawyers are in the habit of capitalizing quite a few words that would not normally be capitalized in journalistic style. The capitalizations and similarly, specifically legal stylistic quirks have been preserved as a reflection of each attorney’s style.
The Questions in Summary: Quick Links
- Law school
- Disciplinary issues
- Fair treatment: pro se defendants
- Determining witness credibility
- Is a cop’s word more trustworthy than a defendant’s?
- Knowledge of civil law
- Technology and docket efficiency
- Religion and interpretation of law
- Legal role model
- For love of law or money?
- Your prejudices
- Your temperament
- Judging your opponents
- Judging yourself
Place and Date of Birth: Gainesville, Fla., Nov. 8, 1976.
Current job: Assistant state attorney, Flagler County; felony filing prosecutor.
Years practicing law: Six years.
Self-Disclosure Statement with the Florida Bar: Did not file one.
I received my B.A. from University of North Florida and my J.D. from Florida A&M University, College of Law. In my opinion, GPA & class rank have little to do with one’s ability to perform the duties of Flagler County Judge. It is my work and life experiences that will be the most important factors in being an effective Flagler County Judge.
We respect your opinion. But you’re running for a county judge seat, and the question goes to your work ethic. We ask again: what was your GPA and class rank?
Has not answered.
The Live Interviews:
Flagler School Board
Flagler County Sheriff
3. Many of your defendants in county court will be representing themselves (pro se). What is your strategy for dealing with pro se defendants who will be facing polished attorneys? How will you ensure that they will be treated as fairly, and what allowances will you make for their self-representation, if any?
I will treat pro se litigants the same way I have as a prosecutor with respect and dignity. My experience as a Public Defender and Assistant State Attorney will allow me to deal with pro se litigants without putting either party at a disadvantage.
4. As a judge, one of your most important tasks will be to determine the credibility of witnesses. What factors will you rely on to determine credibility? How do you see the difference between a witness in dreadlocks and tattoos as opposed to one in an Armani suit?
I have defended and prosecuted people in expensive suits, dreadlocks and those with tattoos and piercings. I will have no issue with making decisions based upon the rule of law. Discerning one’s credibility effectively requires looking past appearances and being led by the information they provide.
5. Along the same lines, it is often the experience of defendants in court that between the word of a cop and the word of a suspect, in he-said-she-said cases, the cops’ word will generally prevail. Explain first why you think that is, and explain to what extent, if any, a cops’ word would carry more weight in your court room than a suspect’s.
It is not the “word” that counts but the evidence presented by both the defendant and the law enforcement officer.
Sometimes the evidence is what a cop says he or she observes as opposed to what a defendant claims. What then?
Has not answered.
6. Understanding that judges do not—cannot—possibly read all their cases but rely substantially on lawyers’ arguments, and that you’ll face a considerable number of civil cases, how much civil law do you know? What areas of civil law have you practiced?
It is imperative for every attorney, much less a judge, to stay current on case law. An attorney has an interest in the case and will obviously argue for his/her client. A judge must know the law and be prepared to apply it impartially.
You did not answer the question.
Has not answered.
I will use any ethical means necessary, including technology, to make the Court more accessible to the County which I serve.
Religion plays an important role in my personal life, however, my job as a County Judge must be to work within the bounds of the U.S. and Florida Constitutions. Working as both a Public Defender and Assistant State Attorney I have never had an issue keeping my religious beliefs and professional life separated.
I am my own person. At times I have agreed and at times I have disagreed with the Supreme Court Justices’ opinions. But I do not align myself with any one sitting U.S. Supreme Court Justice.
10. Attorneys, as in so many professions in today’s dismal economy, are hurting for work. Not many can pull in the guaranteed $134,280 a year you’ll be making as a county judge. Understanding that you’re obviously doing this for the good of your community and for the most noble motives possible, you’re also human, you likely have or will have a family, and it’s no secret or sin that some of you are running to land a steady salary. To what extent is that guaranteed income driving your desire to be a county judge?
If you look at my work history it’s pretty obvious that money is not my motivator. I have been in public service since receiving my law degree and I see it as a noble profession in which to earn a living while assisting your community.
I have represented and prosecuted people from all walks of life. Justice is blind and if elected my Court will be no different.
I am married with three little girls, “hot buttons” and “ego” are something that I cannot afford.
You are telling us virtually nothing about your disposition. The last two questions go to your ability to analyze yourself and tell us what we would be contending with, with Josh Davis on the bench. You seem uninterested in answering beyond vague generalities. Are you suggesting that voters don;t need to know more about your character and demeanor?
Has not answered.
13. You’re part of a small community of lawyers who know each other, have likely faced each other in court or seen each other in action while waiting your turn, have been hearing and speaking about each other through the professional grapevine, and, being lawyers, likely have strong opinions about each other. In other words you know more about each other, especially regarding relevant matters in play here, than any member of the press or public could know. Enlighten us: give us, in your words and assessments, a brief synopsis of each of your opponents’ capabilities, strengths and foibles as you understand them, and whether, in your view, each is qualified to be a county judge.
Rather than attacking my opponents I offer everyone the opportunity to visit my website (see above) to learn why I am the best candidate for Flagler County Judge. Most of the Judicial Candidates work in this area and will continue to do so in some capacity regardless of the outcome of this election. I do not wish to attack anyone and risk tarnishing anyone’s reputation or upsetting one’s family.
You’re not being asked to attack anyone, let alone tarnish reputations, but to give us your professional perspective on colleagues from a unique vantage point the rest of us do not have. You may choose not to answer, but not at the expense of mis-characterizing the question.
Has not answered.
14. Do the same for yourself: Dispensing with such matters as heredity and lengths of stay in Flagler County—which, we hope you agree, are as irrelevant to the law as skin color and culinary tastes—what makes you the best qualified for this position?
I am a unique candidate for the position of Flagler County Judge because of my court experience and work history as both a Public Defender and Assistant State Attorney. Feel free to email me at email@example.com.