Gov. Scott names nine new judges, including Allen Winsor

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Florida Solicitor General Allen Winsor has been tapped to fill a vacancy on the state’s 1st District Court of Appeal bench.

Gov. Rick Scott announced the appointment on Thursday. Winsor, 39, will replace Judge Robert T. Benton, who retired last month.

As solicitor general, Winsor reports to Attorney General Pam Bondi and essentially acts as the state government’s lawyer before the Supreme Court, among many other duties. Bondi appointed him to the post in June 2013.

Recently, for example, he argued against a proposed solar-power amendment seeking court approval to get on the ballot. He also defended, on Bondi’s behalf, the state’s ban on gay marriage.

“There is not a more qualified attorney in the country, and while I am devastated to be losing my Solicitor General, the judiciary is gaining a tremendous asset,” Bondi said in a statement.

Winsor previously worked at the Gray Robinson law firm 2005-13, according to a press release, and clerked for U.S. Circuit Judge Ed Carnes, now chief judge of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

He graduated from Auburn University and received his law degree from the University of Florida.

Scott announced eight other judicial appointments, naming:

  • Circuit Judge Harvey L. Jay, III to the 1st District Court of Appeal. Jay, 53, of Jacksonville, has been a trial judge since 2012. He replaces Judge Simone Marstiller, who retired in December.
  • Geoffrey Gentile to the 20th Judicial Circuit. Gentile, 52, of Cape Coral, is a partner with Boyle, Gentile & Leonard. He replaces Judge Cynthia Pivacek.
  • Lee County Judge Leigh Frizzell Hayes also to the 20th Circuit. Hayes, 60, of Fort Myers, has been a county judge since 1997. She replaces Judge R. Thomas Corbin.
  • Assistant State Attorney Devin S. George to Lee County Court. George, 36, of North Fort Myers, has been an assistant prosecutor in the 20th Circuit since 2006. She replaces Judge Frank Mann, Jr.
  • Ernest Kollra and Alberto Ribas Jr. to the 17th Judicial Circuit. Kollra, 62, of Plantation, has been a sole practitioner since 1986. He replaces Judge Lynn Rosenthal. Ribas, 48, of Fort Lauderdale, has been an assistant state attorney since 2006. He fills the vacancy created by the removal of Judge Laura Marie Watson.
  • Gina Beovides to Miami-Dade County Court. Beovides, 34, of Miami, has served as senior staff attorney at Dade Legal Aid since 2006, and has been a civil traffic infraction hearing officer since 2011. She replaces Judge Charles Johnson.
  • Paul Militello to Sumter County Court. Militello, 51, of Ocala, is past president of the Citrus County Bar Association and has been a sole practitioner since 2009. He replaces Judge Thomas D. Skidmore.

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.