Florida Bar investigates after Jacksonville attorney secures judge position

Local attorney under investigation

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A local attorney who became a judge by default without an election is now part of a Florida Bar investigation.

The Florida Bar said it is investigating Michael Kalil, a local attorney and his new position as circuit judge.

The Florida Bar released the following statement:

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“We have opened an investigation to determine if Michael Kalil‘s conduct in the matter of qualifying for a judicial election constitutes violation of any of the rules regulating the Florida Bar.”

Kalil secured a judge’s seat without opposition or an election, something Action News Jax law and safety expert Dale Carson said raises a lot of questions.

“In Jacksonville we get to choose our judges, and this denied the voting population the opportunity to do that,” Carson said.

According to the Florida Division of Elections, April 24 was the deadline to file qualifying documents to run for circuit judge.

That same day, it received a letter from Kalil saying he decided to run for group 8.

It also received a letter that same day from Judge Tyrie Boyer, dated April 23, announcing his withdrawal in seeking group 8 reelection.

“In a circumstance where a judge decides not to run, he or she would ordinarily notify the court system and notify the governor,” Carson said.

In a statement, Kalil said in part:

“There are some false, preconceived narratives out there right now that simply are not true. I can assure everyone there was no impropriety whatsoever with my campaign.”

Action News Jax asked the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission, which has jurisdiction over sitting judges if it is investigating, responded in part that it is “unable to confirm or deny the existence of inquiries, or discuss inquiries that may be pending.”

The NAACP also released a statement, saying in part the “NAACP condemns the last minute maneuvers that have resulted in the automatic election of Michael Kalil to the Fourth Judicial Circuit Court.”

“We think it is deplorable and deprived other attorneys of being able to run for that particular judge seat," said Isaiah Rumlin, president of the NAACP.

Attorney Rhonda Peoples Waters released a statement that said in part:

“It’s always been my preference to seek appointment to or run for election in an open judicial position rather than challenging a sitting judge. I met with Judge Boyer and chief Judge Mahon last fall and made that preference clear. Had I known Judge Boyer planned to retire, I would have considered filing to run in the seat being vacated by his retirement."

Action News Jax contacted Boyer for comment on why he withdrew his seat but have not heard back.