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Controversy involving 8th Circuit State Attorney seat

One candidate has been deemed ineligible in the race to replace 8th Circuit State Attorney Bill Cervone, leaving only one candidate in the race. Democrat Beverly McCallum has been deemed ineligible to run after her opponent Republican Brian Kramer filed a lawsuit in Leon County after McCallum faced a 15-day suspension from the Florida Bar.
Published: Jul. 10, 2020 at 6:47 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -The race to replace 8th Circuit State Attorney Bill Cervone has taken an unexpected twist. Republican candidate Brian Kramer is now running unopposed, although a Democratic candidate had qualified. Democrat Beverly McCallum has been deemed ineligible.

The Florida Bar suspended McCallum in December of last year. According to court documents, the suspension was the result of a letter sent to the Chief Judge of the 5th Circuit in which McCallum accused two judges of misconduct. The formal complaint said that the original letter was dated August 3rd, 2015. However, the letter was not sent to the chief judge until February 25, 2017.

Kramer said the Florida Bar determined McCallum's claims against the two judges were false. As a result, McCallum was eventually suspended for some time from December of 2019 to January of this year.

"You have to have been a member of the Florida Bar for the preceding five years. There is a fifteen-day gap in the preceding five years for Ms. McCallum, where she was not a member of the Florida Bar with a privilege to practice," said Kramer. "So, five years after that gap is closed, she will meet the qualifications. But right now, she doesn't."

Kramer said this suspension makes her ineligible for the 8th Circuit State Attorney's Seat.

"Any lawyer who wants to be a state attorney has to be a member of the Florida Bar for the preceding five years. Ms. McCallum doesn't meet that definition because she was suspended," said Kramer.

He said his suit that was filed in Leon County was upheld and confirmed that McCallum does not qualify as a candidate.

"We won the lawsuit at the circuit court level. The judge agreed that we stated our complaint was correct. Ms.McCallum does not constitutionally qualify to hold the office of state attorney," said Kramer.

He said the judgment has been entered. However, he does not believe the process is finished

“It’s a well-reasoned judgment that is supported by case law. I expect that the DCA will review the judgment and will affirm it. If Ms. McCallum chooses to challenge it further, I would expect the same result at the Supreme Court,” said Kramer.

On the Division of Elections page for the state of Florida, Kramer is now the only candidate listed for the 8th Circuit Seat.

The State Attorney for the 8th Circuit handles cases in Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Levy, Gilchrist, and Union counties.

McCallum sent TV20 a statement saying, “I respect the judiciary but will swiftly appeal the case. With so many issues we face as a community lately, impacted are the constitutional and political rights of over a quarter-million Eighth Circuit voters. These principles are the very bedrock of our participatory democracy.”

Copyright 2020 WCJB. All rights reserved.

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