18: Running for Judge & the World of Justice (w/ Nick Fiorentino)

In this episode we talk with attorney Nick Fiorentino who is running to be a Circuit Court Judge here in Florida. From his experience as a critical incident attorney to being a Florida Supreme Court Qualified Arbitrator and Mediator, we dig into the the fascinating process to become a judge and what makes him qualified. Join us as we uncover the mysterious and little known realm of law and order, the justice system, and what it’s like running to be a judge in the United States.

"Interviews. For Good."
The Naaman Creative Show

Episode Transcript

All right, Nick Fiorentino, got it.

Got it.

Took me a couple times.

You’re not the first one.

Thank you for taking the time to come on our show.

It means a lot.

I know you’re busy.

You were saying to me that you’re the first guest who literally cannot go to airplane mode because you could get called up at any time.

Really quick, what’s that about?

So I’m a Critical Incident Attorney for the Suncoast and Florida Police Benevolent Association.

So anytime an officer is involved in a critical incident, which could be they’ve arrested somebody and they’ve passed away in their custody, or they’ve been involved in a shooting or anything like that, the officers get representation 24-7.

So whenever that happens, I go, no matter if that’s 3 in the morning, whenever it happens, no matter what I’m in the middle of.

I’ve left my wife at dinner.

She’s taken an Uber home.

Luckily, she’s very understanding and appreciates the work I do, so she has no problem with that.

That’s good that you have that understanding with her.

Very much so.

She’s got to be supportive in that role.

When we first met, we met last week at a Chamber of Commerce event, which was awesome.

Doug Jackson just was like, hey, have you met Nick?

And here we are.

And we’ve had Doug on the podcast before he was our second guest.

Okay, Doug’s great.

And he was a good guest, too.

And you get that guy talking.

I think lawyers like to talk.

They do.

They usually like to hear themselves talk.

All of us are guilty of that sometimes.

But that’s okay.

I think most people are.

A lot of people get on here and they’re like, I don’t like the sound of my voice, but not very many people do.

Even singers, you know.

It’s just one of those things.

But it’s fascinating what you do as an attorney.

And I want to shed a little light on your practice, aside from what you just said.

But also then, you’re running for Circuit Court Judge.

And that’s pretty cool and quite unique.

And I want to dive into that as well.

But before we dive into the nitty gritty of running for a judge or anything like that, I’d like to lay some groundwork.

What’s the reason why you became a lawyer?

Why are you interested in law?

What was the catalyst there?

So that’s an interesting story.

I did not grow up in a family where you went to college and law school and thought, oh, I’ll be a lawyer someday.

We grew up, you know, what is your job going to be?

Get to work, figure out what your career is going to be.

So when I was graduating high school from Clearwater High, I was going to open a restaurant in Dunedin.

I had some money saved up from working while I was in high school and started that process.

Unfortunately, it did not come to fruition.

There were some issues with the building that just the money had run out at that point.

We were weeks away from opening.

And I had no backup plan, and I had to figure out how to reverse everything I had started and unwind this restaurant that didn’t come to fruition.

So I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to work on getting deposits back, things like that.

I then had to figure out what to do with my life because this was my plan.

This was my only plan.

There was no backup plan.

I called St.

Pete College, and a lady answered the phone there, and I said, I need to enroll there.

What do I do?

She said, oh, you fill out the application.

I paid, I think it was probably like 35 bucks back then, 50 bucks.

And she goes, what are you going to do?

I said, I have no idea.

She goes, well, what do you like to do?

And I explained the whole restaurant thing and having to unwind it.

And I said, that was, you know, fun and interesting to learn how to do that.

She goes, oh, you should be a lawyer.

I said, oh, okay.

How do I do that?

She said, come here for two years at St.

Pete Junior College at the time, transfer to USF St.

Pete once you have your AA, and then go to Stetson and get your law degree.

And that’s what I did.

So it was a receptionist who answered the phone at the college that day who sent me on this path.

Never my intentions at all.

Thinking about a lot of things in my life, in the world in general, it’s like those little tiny things where it’s like, if it was a different receptionist, what would you be doing potentially?

It’s those little things that then the dominoes fall all the way to here you are running for a judge now, not just having a firm, but-

Yeah, 100%.

Just if that lady had not answered the phone that day and had that conversation with me over five minutes.

And I always wondered too, if I had intended to be a lawyer and set my trajectory on that path earlier on in high school, it probably would have been a much more stressful time worrying about grades.

I had good grades, they weren’t bad, but I wasn’t on the college track.

I never did the SATs or ACTs or any of that.

I was just there to, you know, I did FBLA, future business leaders, different things like that, but I never was on a path for college.

I never took the classes that would take you on that path.

And luckily, you know, went to St.

Peacock Junior College at the time, got my associates and transferred to USF and got into Stetson.

So it all worked out the way the lady on the phone told me it would.

She laid it all out.

She laid your life out.

I have no idea who she is.

When I’ve talked about this story before, I’m hoping one day it resonates with somebody and it was them.

I’d love to meet that person.

Maybe she’ll be listening to this.

So it’s interesting because you mentioned that you would have had this pressure had you known you were going to be an attorney.

There might have been this added pressure of grades and something built up in your head, but since you, I don’t know, it was like happenstance, it kind of was easier on your mind, I guess?

I mean, I wasn’t stressed out through high school, like, oh, I have to get this great score on the SAT, or I have to take these AP class.

I mean, when I look at what kids are taking today, my son just graduated high school.

You know, when I look at the things that they’re, you know, focusing on today, I wasn’t on that path.

I didn’t know about those paths.

No one in my family told me about those paths.

It wasn’t something we looked at.

You know, my parents were working class, my dad owned a business, my mom, you know, worked for the Department of Corrections in Connecticut.

We just didn’t, college wasn’t the path.

Interesting.

So we were never had those pressures.

The pressure was, when are you getting to work?

What are you going to do?

Sure.

Yeah.

Yeah, to provide, right, get to it.

Yeah.

Yeah.

That’s interesting.

But it’s also fascinating that now you’re here and because becoming a lawyer is not easy.

It’s like extra.

Like I got, I got a science degree, but it’s like a bachelor of science in computer graphics technology.

And you know, it was a lot of work, right?

But it’s, it’s not the load that being becoming a lawyer, you have to got to pass the bar and things like that.

That’s intense stuff.

It definitely is.

You know, I was lucky enough to get into Stetson, had a great education there, and then went on to take the bar, pass the first time.

You know, it was a stressful situation, but was able to, you know, do it.

And you know, it’s, it’s probably because I was just told this is how you do it.

And I did it.

There wasn’t the pressure of having to, you know, get certain benchmarks throughout my education.

I just thought, oh, this is what I was told to do.

This is what I’m going to do.

And, you know, there really wasn’t the, the internet wasn’t as prevalent as being in your pocket or on your phone.

You know, it was 22 years ago.

It’s amazing how far we’ve come in 22 years, but so it wasn’t, there wasn’t even information out there about how hard it was, or you just had the assumption.

Sure.

Yeah.

Well, certainly hard.

I wonder if, you know, the internet sometimes could complicate things because there’s so much information out there, and then you have to sort through what is the law or what it was this ruling instead of like, this is the book that has that ruling.

Now it’s like, well, this blog said this or whatever this resource, I’m sure there is go tos.

Well, there is.

And, you know, when people do their own legal research on the internet, it tends to complicate things.

Right.

Because I get calls all the time from clients, oh, I googled it and it says this or that.

Well, what state is it?

Every state is different laws.

Different counties have different ordinances.

Even within Florida, there’s different district courts of appeals that have different holdings.

So it’s never a cookie cutter approach.

And that’s why those are the long conversations I have with clients.

Oh, certainly.

Because they’ll google something and just assume it should be that way.

And they don’t understand, well, you have to have the facts.

You know, you have to have the understanding of the judge of those facts to apply the law to it to get to that decision.

They think you google something, and because they have the answer instantly, judges and attorneys should have that answer instantly.

And it’s just not that simple of a process.

If it was that simple, it’d be a different animal altogether, but it’s clearly not.

One thing that interests me, and I talk to, when I talk to lawyers, I always ask this question because it’s, for me, it’s such an interesting dichotomy.

So we’re all humans, normal citizens in the world, and we all have to abide by the laws, these complex laws.

And some are very simple, like don’t murder somebody, okay, cool, cool, cool.

But like there’s a lot of nuance, a lot of gray and unknown laws that many citizens normally are unaware of.

And I’m just interested in your take on, isn’t it an interesting thing how much training and education you had to go through and research in order to understand the law as fully as you could?

I would imagine no attorney knows the full law, but because it’s so complex, isn’t it interesting that then we all have to abide by those laws, but we don’t even know what is going on?

It’s just I don’t know if you have a comment on that, but that’s always been in my brain.

What’s interesting is, and maybe other attorneys have told you this, in law school, they’re not really teaching you the law.

They’re teaching you how to think like a lawyer.

They’re teaching you how to logically read the laws that exist, the case law that interprets those statutes.

There’s not a lot of focus on the black letter of the law.

So you’re not sitting there reading tons of statutes and learning the law, because every law school that’s approved by the American Bar Association is set up to be an accredited law school.

So it doesn’t…

You go to school at Stetson and Gulfport, and you go to school at Harvard, essentially, you should be able to go and then take the bar in any state.

So just because you go to law school in Florida, doesn’t…

There are plenty of people who were in law school with me at Stetson who then went to take the bar in Tennessee.

So they’re not teaching you the law of every state.

They’re teaching you how to research the law, how to find the laws.

Now, there are some specific classes like on family law or civil procedure where they’re actually teaching criminal law.

They teach you some of the actual specific statutes, rules of evidence, but it’s not the function of law school, believe it or not, to teach you the law.

It’s to teach you how to think logically, how to think like a lawyer, and how to research the law and find the answers.

That makes sense.

It’s almost like the scientific method.

Once you have a full understanding of how to go about studying something, generating a hypothesis, testing that hypothesis, it’s the process and how you think through it and how you compile your argument or whatever that may be.

Right.

A lot of times in law school, they give you a fact pattern with a crazy set of facts, and the process is to apply as much or to pull out as much from that fact pattern as you can, whether it’s a civil case, probate case, a property case.

And then logically, would you go to the statutes first and see what statutes say on this?

And then what do the cases say interpreting those statutes?

And so it’s a logical process that they teach you, not necessarily the black letter of the law.

Right.

Yeah.

Yeah.

It’s fascinating because I don’t live in that realm.

And so especially when we got talking about you running for judge, that was also eye-opening.

And we’re going to get to that, I promise.

But I wanted to kind of lay a good foundation of like who you are and then also your experience in being a lawyer, being an attorney, and how that relates to what you’re going to be doing.

So real quick, fill in the gaps.

We know that you’re a critical…

What is it?

Critical incident attorney.

Incident attorney.

What else does your law firm hit on just so that we know?

I’ve been practicing for 20 years.

This is my 20th year practicing, or 21st year now.

I practice family law, primarily is what I did the majority of my career.

And then my firm also does probate and personal injury, so I also do that work as well.

In the family law realm, I spent a lot of time on that.

Those are divorces, paternity cases, child custody, things of that nature.

And through that process, I’ve become a mediator, which is a neutral to help parties resolve cases.

I’ve become a parent coordinator, which is where you bring in high conflict parents and try to teach them how to communicate with each other.

Sometimes they can’t even decide, you know, what color shoes they should have for a child, or which doctor the child should go to.

So you bring in the parents and try to educate them over a period of time how to communicate with each other and try to bridge the gap of, we’re not going to make you guys best friends, but we can at least get you to a point where you can communicate for the best interest of your child.

And become an arbitrator, which is where you’re sitting to decide a case when parties bring an issue before you, which is different than a mediator, because a mediator helps facilitate an agreement.

An arbitrator actually makes a decision.

Right, yeah.

I watch a show called Silicon Valley, and one of the episodes, they go to binding arbitration, and it’s just like, that’s that.

Yes.

Yeah.

So it’s interesting actually hearing it in real life, something about that.

And then with the work with the police union, you know, I’m that critical incident attorney, but I follow those cases through to the end.

So when I get called out for an incident, I’m with that case till it’s over.

So whether it’s an administrative complaint with internal affairs, if it becomes a federal lawsuit, if it becomes a criminal case, I stay with that case until it’s completed.

And do you represent the police officer in that case?

Yes.

Yeah, that’s the default.

I get called out to represent the officer.

Got it.

So I’ve got to step back and point out that your work in mediation between couples who can’t decide on a shoe color.

That would be the parent coordination.

Parent coordination.

Oh, right.

So that’s got to make you patient.

You’ve got to have developed a pretty thick skin in regards to patience in those moments.

I imagine they’re sometimes screaming at each other, or I can’t imagine how frustrating it is like, oh my gosh, I just want to leave this room.

Like that energy can’t be easy to work in.

And I want to relate that to if you can…

I would imagine that on top of maybe like someone fighting for like, I didn’t do that, I didn’t kill that person.

That’s some of the most argumentative times that you could find in the…

out there in the world, and you’re right there in the middle of it.

And I imagine that that training would make you a good judge.

I would like to think so it’s actually why I took that training.

So, just to back up a little bit, why I want to be a judge is I had a case back in 2017-2018.

It was a family law case, modification of custody.

I was representing a dad who had 50% of the time with the child.

He had since remarried, had additional children with his new wife.

And the mother in this case filed to modify time sharing because she thought she should have more time with the child and the child should be at a school closer to her house.

We had an all-day trial, halfway through that trial, the judge said, I have lunch plans and I don’t plan on coming back after lunch, so finish before lunch.

Well that cut off four hours of our trial.

Talked to my client, we rearranged our witnesses, presentation of evidence.

We got our case done in the time that we could.

The judge ended up issuing an order that removed almost all time away from my client, except for every other weekend, and there wasn’t additional time in the summer, holidays, anything like that.

Really tore this family apart.

We filed a motion to ask the judge to re-hear the case, to reconsider, because some of the information in that order was wrong, and she refused to.

And you could tell that from her decision at trial to end it early, to the final judgment that her heart was just not in being a judge or dealing with these sorts of cases.

Talked to my client about an appeal, referred him to an attorney.

It was going to cost thousands of dollars.

He didn’t have it.

He had just gotten out of the Army.

He was just establishing himself in a career, had his, you know, a new family with his wife and kids.

And I told him, look, I will do the appeal for free.

You pay for the transcript.

And that took him several years making payments to do.

But we still started the appeal immediately.

I had never done an appeal.

I told him, look, I’ll do this for you.

We’ll figure it out.

We ended up appealing the case.

Took about nine months.

But the appellate court reversed everything the judge had done.

And he got all the time back.

And so from that point forward, it was so clear to me how important it is that we have judges who listen to the evidence, follow the law, want to be there, want to give of their career to do this.

And that’s when I started going on the path of becoming a mediator, a parent coordinator, an arbitrator, to start taking those trainings so I could learn to become a neutral in these situations and deal with these high conflict individuals, because that’s what a lot of cases are that come before you.

Cases that come before you that aren’t high conflict tend to settle before they get to the judge.

Right.

So it’s the high conflict ones where you need that specialized training to help to deal with the individuals involved and also to understand the impact your decisions are going to have on the people before you, on the parties, the kids, everyone that’s part of that process.

It’s a really important position.

And yeah, like you said, it’s important that their heart is in it and not on lunch.

I mean, everybody gets hungry and lunch is important, but I would imagine in that mode, all right, I need to, this is priority number one is making sure that I do my best job to make sure that at least I did what I could to make the best judgment that affects their lives forever in their relationship with their children and each other.

It’s such a massive thing.

We had a police officer in here, and he was talking about his training and him being on the job.

And these kinds of conversations are so eye opening because for me, you know, this is work, and I work on websites and create brands.

And it’s important to build businesses and go in the right way and ask the right questions.

But in no way is it life or death or really could ruin someone’s life based on my decision one way or another.

If I pull my gun out or not, if I judge this way or another, I have a massive respect for people in positions like yours or you’re going for a judge or a police officer.

It’s massive responsibility when you clock in.

Or for you, I guess you’re kind of always clocked in unless you’re on vacation right now.

Pretty much.

And that’s admirable, you know.

I commend you for that because not everybody is willing to do that.

But yet, also, a lot of people are so quick to judge the system, the process, if they don’t like, you know, an outcome or how a cop reacted in that situation.

And there are some cases where it’s like, well, that’s clear, they shouldn’t have done that.

But a lot of times, it’s like, put yourself in that position, how high stress, how high intensity, and you have split seconds to decide to do this or that.

Our law enforcement are making calls within split seconds, based on the information they have at the scene that they’re in.

You know, we have body cameras now, which support a lot of the decisions that they make in that moment.

But it also has a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking, looking at those videos.

Because again, when I’m sitting there, or we’re sitting there looking at a video, we can slow it down in slow motion.

Or we could watch it five times, ten times, overturn, you know, turn that back.

Oh, it looks like he did this and not that.

In the moment, you literally have a second to make a decision, which could be life or death.

And, you know, being a judge, you of course have more time because it’s not, you’re not making an instant decision in a lot of cases.

You have a chance to evaluate the evidence, look at the evidence, look at it again.

But it’s important that you want to, people who want to be judges want to put the work in to actually do that, to put the time in, have an interest in putting the work in, and aren’t just looking for a career change.

And clearly you do.

Obviously, if you’re running and you’ve got all this going on, would you, question number one, would you need to stop doing all of your normal practice if you became a judge?

Would that consume your entire world?

Well, if you become a judge in the state of Florida, you are not allowed to practice law.

So you can’t do both.

It’s the law.

So there’s no choice.

The practice that I have now would change.

I would no longer be a part of it.

I no longer own it.

I would no longer be able to do the work that I do.

Do you have to be an attorney or have passed the bar to be a judge?

To be a judge in Florida, you have to be an attorney for five years.

That’s the only requirement.

An attorney in good standing for five years.

What are other states?

I don’t know.

Could like me, could I be a judge in some states?

If for the United States Supreme Court, you don’t have to be an attorney.

There’s no requirement in the Constitution that you be an attorney to be a US Supreme Court Justice.

Is that kind of wild that a higher position, you don’t need to have any law?

And I don’t know that it’s ever happened or it probably hasn’t happened in the last 150 years.

But it’s not a requirement.

Interesting.

Also age, there’s something I remember about age.

Is there no age requirement?

In Florida, no.

It’s just an attorney for five years.

I guess to be an attorney for five years, you’re going to have to have some, you’re going to need to be.

You’ll be at least 26, probably 27.

Yeah, right.

So being a judge, what has the process been like to, I don’t know if you apply to or say, hey, I’m running or do you just declare it?

Hey, I’m running or how do you get on the ballot?

So in Florida, there’s two different ways you can become a judge.

One is if a judge retires midterm or is removed for the bench or something like that, the governor can appoint you to the bench.

The other way is when a judge does not or run again, then there becomes an open seat and you can run for that, and the voters make that decision.

So when you decide to run, you file paperwork with the state, and then you announce your campaign, you’re off and running.

And so how long have you been running?

I filed in October of 2023.

All right.

So you’ve been at it for a little?

Yes.

Or in 2024?

Yep.

March.

It’s March, right?

Yes.

So we’re about five to six months into it.

Wow.

Do you enjoy this process?

Is it what you expected?

Because I know when we first talked, I started to pick your brain, and you’re like, I can’t answer that question.

I can’t answer that question.

So I’m being careful right now because I’m aware, but I guess we can get back to that.

So first off, is it what you expected?

It is.

I find it to be an enjoyable process.

I go to 10 to 15 events a week, aside from my practice, meeting people.

I’ve met some great people.

I’ve been doing this for a long period of time, so so many people have become good friends.

It’s allowed me to grow the support that I have.

But again, I’ve met just so many great people that it really changes your perspective.

I think it’s important for people running for judge, and when people become judges, to continue to stay out there, continue to be connected to the community.

It tends to happen that people get elected and they disappear until it’s time to run again.

And I don’t want to be that sort of elected official or judge.

I’d like to stay connected and continue to be a part of the community.

The community is extremely important to me.

I’m in Rotary.

I’m on several boards that I most likely want to be able to continue to be on because there’s rules about what you’re allowed to do as a judge.

But there’s still other organizations that can be a part of and continue to be a part of the community.

And I think that’s important, for judges to be connected and not become some unknown figure that you only see in the courthouse.

Yeah, I mean, your judgments affect that community that you have to live in as well.

So it’s like, what kind of community do you want to live in?

You at least have some pull on what is decided.

And some of these cases, I would imagine, set precedent for who knows how many years based on your judgment.

It’s really interesting.

And so, to get back to the other part, when I started to ask you questions, you couldn’t answer pretty standard questions that normal people could answer.

Like, hey, so if someone did X and someone did Y, how would you judge on that?

You can’t answer that question.

That is correct.

And other questions like that.

So how do you find navigating that?

How do you show people?

And this podcast is clearly an example.

You’ve already shined a light on kind of who you are as a person, what your priorities are, what your credentials are.

I guess I’m answering probably the question.

But what are your methods to tell people how you’re going to be unbiased, how you’re going to care without answering these direct questions?

Because otherwise, what happens if you answer them?

You’re out of the race.

What happens is most likely you’d continue on in the race.

If you win, the Supreme Court of Florida could sanction you or remove you from the bench.

If you lose, the Florida bar could sanction you or suspend you from the practice of law.

So the day you signed the paperwork to run, the day I signed that paperwork, I agreed to abide by the laws of the state of Florida and the judicial canons.

Judicial canons, specifically Canon 7, is the rules regarding taking positions on issues.

It’s more about neutrality.

So you’re not allowed to, and this also combines the law into it as well, it’s a nonpartisan position, so people always want to know, are you a Republican or a Democrat?

Can’t answer that question.

What’s your position on the death penalty?

Can’t answer that question, because you’re not allowed to address anything that could come before you, and you’re not allowed to reveal your political leanings, because ultimately it shouldn’t matter.

That’s what it comes down to, is your job as a judge once you’re elected is to take the laws of the state of Florida and apply it to the facts before you.

And it shouldn’t matter if you agree with that law, personally or not.

It should matter if that’s the law, because the legislature is tasked with passing laws in the state of Florida.

The governor approves those laws, and ultimately the judges are supposed to apply those laws to the facts before them.

And now, of course, there’s times where you have to look at it to some challenge the constitutionality of a law.

You know, you’d have to look at the Constitution and apply it to the statute that was passed.

But ultimately, that’s your job to call balls and strikes.

It’s not to let your personal feelings get involved.

And I think what happens is, especially when I’m out meeting with people, is they watch Supreme Court nominees be questioned on TV by senators.

And they’re like, oh, well, clearly that person is on this side or that side.

But if you really sit there and watch, a lot of those candidates are not answering the questions.

It’s more the senators giving speeches and people just assuming where everybody stands because of how they were nominated or who nominated them.

So it’s very interesting because when I’m out meeting with people, they want to grill you in some situations, like they see the Supreme Court justices getting grilled.

It’s just we’re not allowed to answer those questions.

Our job is to follow the laws of the state of Florida, uphold the Constitution, and apply the facts fairly and evenly to, or the laws to the facts before us.

That makes sense now that you lay it like that.

Because ever since we met, I’ve just still, I was racking my brain on it.

It is interesting, but ultimately, the most important thing is that you’re neutral.

So that people coming in to be tried feel this is fair.

Fairness is all, that’s what justice is, right, is at least as fair as you could get.

Correct.

And that’s why before I just said, oh, I’m going to be a judge, let me file a paperwork, I took the time to become a mediator, become a parent coordinator, become an arbitrator, because these are all training specific to training your mind to become a neutral.

As an attorney, your task is to represent a client and represent their interests.

And so your job is to go in there and represent them as best as you can with the law that’s available to you.

And when you’re on the other side, you have to be able to look at both sides and not be just on the one side you used to argue on.

So it was important to me to have this several years of training, become a mediator, parent coordinator, arbitrator, because it’s just important to have that training, because it changes your way of thinking, because you’re so used to arguing one side of an issue or the other.

Makes so much sense.

I would imagine that gives you a leg up on other people who are running, who you’re running against, who might not have those credentials.

I agree.

I think so.

Yeah.

I mean, I think it’s important to have that background.

Also, it’s nice that you’ve been strategic about your…

It’s a mindset thing, you know, because you could…

It’s not…

You know what laws are, you know the process, but it’s your mindset, like in those moments of the arguing or trying to take in all of this information to stay neutral, to look at it as cleanly as possible.

I don’t know the…

I’m kind of at a loss for words on some of these, but I think you might see what I’m pulling at there.

Well, you have to be able to look at both sides of an issue, and not just the side that you’re used to arguing on.

Right, right.

And that’s got to be tough sometimes where you can’t let your…

your feelings play into it, although, you know, you might feel one way 100% of the time, but you’ve got to apply the law evenly across the board.

Right.

Consistently, fairly.

Yeah.

That’s important.

One of the most important things that you can give to the people that appear before you and the attorneys that appear is consistency.

Sure.

There’s times when a case will come before, you know, when I have a new client, and I will tell them, okay, if this case is before Judge X, this is the potential outcome.

If it’s before Judge Y, this is the potential outcome, because sometimes there’s just, there’s not consistency between judges.

So I think it’s important for at least individual judges to be consistent in their holdings, rulings, how they interpret the law.

Definitely.

Yeah.

I taught for six years at a university level, and it’s nothing like what you’re talking about with the law and something that affects someone’s life this much.

But when I was grading, I had to have a structure, and I did.

In the creative realm, it is a little harder, because taste does play into it.

But ultimately, I’m professional enough where I know this works.

This logo is not good, and here’s why.

This logo is good.

But I had to apply my grading consistently across the board so that I could, no matter what student came to me at any time, if they got an A or an F, I could always say, oh, well, that’s because this.

And it was even.

Or if they talked amongst themselves and said, what did you get?

It would make sense out there in the school on how I’m applying the grades.

It’s about the closest I’m going to be able to get to my judgments.

And that’s true.

I mean, consistency is important for the people that you were teaching and the people that, if I’m elected, would come before me.

It’s important.

Consistency is important.

Impartiality, neutrality.

I mean, those are just important elements to being a judge.

Do you think that, ultimately, what you’ve just described, the process of how you have to be, you know, you have to be hush on everything while you’re running?

And I guess after that, too.

You have to continue to follow those canons.

And there’s even more once you’re elected.

There’s additional rules that you have to follow.

Hi there.

This is Josh Naaman, CEO and founder of Naaman Creative.

We’re the ones who produce the podcast that you’re listening to right now.

It’s pretty good, isn’t it?

Well, on top of podcast production, we do anything related to websites, from design, development, maintenance, management, even hosting.

And today, I want to talk to you about maintaining a website properly in comparison to maintaining a car.

In order for a car to run smooth and last long, you have to frequently change the oil, top off fluids, get tune-ups, keep it clean, make sure the tires are always inflated and replaced when they expire.

The same goes for a website.

You’ve got to stay on top of maintenance and updates to strengthen security, improve speed, performance, and keep the content current and relevant.

Google likes this too.

So, if you are complaining about the air conditioning of your website, it’s not working, and you need to help keeping up with the maintenance of your website.

Well, here at Naaman Creative, we’re here to help.

Reach out to us at info at naamancreative.com, and we’ll get you taken care of right away.

Do you see any issues, or do you feel like these rules all make sense, or is there anything that sticks out to you and go, it all 98% makes sense, but man, this could be tweaked.

Does anything stand out?

That’s interesting because I actually think the rules would prevent me from commenting on that.

Honestly, because those rules, ultimately, if anything that could come before you as a judge, you can’t comment on.

Ultimately, if somebody were to challenge one of those rules, it could come before me as a judge.

Yeah, sure.

Even you saying, yeah, I think there probably could be something tweaked, even hints at that.

It does.

I think it could be a violation of those judicial canons to comment on that.

I had mentioned when we first met, you’ve got to be on your toes.

You’ve got to be on your game 24-7.

You do.

The second I signed those papers to run, I had to be bound by those rules, and you have to be cognizant of it at all times.

Did you actually feel it when you were signing those papers?

Did you feel a wave of, okay, this is a new responsibility.

I got to get into this mode?

You feel a weight of running for office.

I mean, it’s a responsibility to put yourself out there to serve your community, and you want to do it in a way that doesn’t embarrass yourself, your family, and you want to make sure that you’re upholding what people would expect from you as somebody who wants to be a judge.

Yeah.

There’s a lot that comes with it.

People like you take these positions or roles or run for them, you need more credit than I think is given.

And this is a reason why I have my podcast, is to shine light on all sorts of different people in any industry.

Because a lot of time once you start to peel back that onion or look behind the curtain, it’s like, whoa, I didn’t realize it.

Like a makeup artist, she’s one of my clients, but she does makeup in Hollywood.

And once I started to dive in, we uncovered this whole arena that I had no idea where, thinking about she’s the closest person to the actors, because she’s right there in their face, literally.

I was like, oh, my gosh, and so we just went down that rabbit hole.

I feel like I’m doing that with you.

And hopefully people listening can get a better understanding of like, ah, this is why, and maybe not feel as much resentment, because there is that.

And I’m actually leading into that question, where people are resentful about law, whether they feel like it’s been mistreated or anything like that.

How do you deal with people’s anger or frustrations with the law?

What would you say to them to make them feel better, that maybe the system is getting better or going in the right direction?

I mean, for instance, like Roe vs.

Wade was overturned.

I know you can’t comment on that, but it’s like, how wild.

We thought we were going in the right direction, and I guess, again, opinion, but then whoop.

How do you assure people or how do you talk to people about, hey, you know, we are doing the best we can, you know, talk them down if they are frustrated?

What would you say?

So one of the things that has been most important to me in running has been to educate people on the importance of judicial races.

So one of the things that I’ve noticed in running is a lot of people that I go out there and meet don’t realize they vote for judges.

They don’t even realize it’s something that they do.

And part of the reason for that is every two years, we have 69 judges in our circuit, Pinellas and Pasco, including circuit and county judges.

Every two years, about a third of them are up for election.

So about 20 every two years.

On average, there might be one or two of those judges on the ballot because most judges win reelection unopposed without anybody challenging them.

Because the only one who can challenge a judge is an attorney.

Those attorneys live in the counties and practice in the counties where those judges preside.

So if you’re going to challenge a judge, you’re going to have to continue to potentially appear before that judge or other judges who know you’re challenging a judge.

So it impacts, could impact your career.

At least there’s a perception that it could impact things.

I don’t know that any judge would specifically put a target on you, but it’s a bad perception.

And attorneys are the ones who tend to support judicial candidates.

Well, those attorneys are still appearing before those judges.

So there’s a big perception of if you challenge a judge, it’s unlike any other race.

You know, if somebody’s running for senator, they expect to have an opponent.

Somebody’s running for state rep, they expect to have an opponent.

In judicial races, it’s very rare to have an opponent.

So, and when judges are on the ballot, people don’t know how to get information about judges.

So that’s the next problem, because we can’t answer questions like you brought up already.

So it’s hard to get the information out there and hard to get people to care about it because there’s not a party designation after our name.

So there’s nothing to help them decide.

So in most elections, you know, just to tell you the numbers, between 2012 and 2022, 11% of the people who vote leave judges blank.

So on average, it’s about 29,000 people who vote in Pinellas and Pasco.

Just don’t even make a decision for judge.

They just leave it blank because they have no idea what information to put in there.

And judges, the other thing is, some people vote for judge because they don’t think it’s important because I’m not suing anyone, I’m not going before a judge.

What do I care?

But judges, you know, in criminal cases, they decide freedom if you’re going to go to, they can take your life or that your life be taken, depending on the case.

They decide fault in, you know, car accident cases.

They decide potentially who’s going to be on the ballot if somebody filed the paperwork correctly.

So a candidate you may be supporting in another race could be removed from the ballot by a judge.

Their law could pass that you think is a great law and a judge could invalidate that law and say it’s unconstitutional.

So there’s a lot of impact judges have on your life, and people don’t always understand it.

And because it’s such a mystery of who are these people who are, you know, in the robes up on the bench, they don’t always have that big of an interest in it.

And that’s not everyone.

But again, 10% of the population in Pinellas and Pasco that voted left the judges blank on average in the last 10 years.

How do you combat that?

What’s, you know, you’re on a podcast right now.

You’re going to reach a decent handful of people who are like, huh, but what are their initiatives being taken to help tell the public that this should be more of a priority?

I mean, we’re combating the noise of the world, TV shows, sports and everything.

What is being done in general, and what are you doing to try to combat that?

So there’s different groups out there that try to talk about the importance of judges.

But those groups tend to be partisan groups.

So again, they’re speaking to the people that tend to get involved in judicial races or have a louder voice.

I spent the last couple years kind of going around to different groups and talking about the importance of judicial races, to try to explain to people what I just went through, you know, those, what judges can do, what impact they can have on your life, your business, you know, the amount of people who don’t vote for judges.

And just kind of took some time to try to educate people as best I could.

And I mean, attorneys talk about it with people, you know, but there’s not, I don’t know that there’s a big initiative to try to create a better understanding of it.

So I do my best when I, you know, go out and talk to people at different venues, or different meetings, or different civic organizations, and to try to just explain the process.

Because like I said, a lot of people just don’t understand it.

And it’s one of the few races, because it is nonpartisan, because we can’t take positions where if somebody tells someone, oh, I met Nick, he’s a good guy, vote for him.

Or I met this person, you know, I like them.

Or I listen to him on a podcast.

It’s one of those few races where you can tell your friends and family to vote for somebody, and it’s not gonna create an issue because they don’t, there’s no position we can take that creates controversy.

So it’s not like you’re telling somebody who to vote for for president, and they happen to be the opposite party as you.

Right.

It’s a neutral position.

So it’s easier to tell people, hey, I met this person, I think you should vote for him.

Yeah, it’s more, it seems to be coming down to character and your credentials and how you apply yourself and look at the law and, you know, which is actually really great the more I learn about it.

I’m kind of putting the puzzle together.

It’s a big puzzle.

It is.

It’s hard.

And like I said, I think a big part of what creates reluctance on people’s parts maybe is they’re so used to only seeing the process on TV when it’s US Supreme Court justices being grilled and being made political.

And that’s not necessarily the case with local judicial races.

So there’s a lot going on in your world even before you will hopefully be a judge.

Now I know who to vote for.

I’m wondering how you maintain work-life balance.

You know, you could get called right now or in the middle of the night, you’re sleeping or on a date with your wife, and you could go to a crime scene.

How do you maintain like that realm and then enjoying a nice dinner with your wife and disconnecting?

Do you have methods on that?

It’s hard.

It’s hard.

You have to kind of compartmentalize.

But I mean, I know at any time I could get a call and have to go.

I mean, I had a situation a few years back where I was called to an incident at 5 at night, went to that incident, was there till 2 in the morning, got home as soon as my head hit the pillow.

I got another call and I was at that incident until 11 o’clock the next morning, and then went to the office and went on with my day.

So, you know, it’s something I’ve been doing for the last 18 years, that type of work.

So it takes priority over…

And I tell my clients that, hey, if we’re in the middle of this situation, I may have to deal with something if it comes up.

And I’ve never had somebody not understanding of it.

They understand the importance of that.

If I’m in trial, I will find coverage or, hey, I’m not available during this time, this time period, and I’ve never had an issue with it.

I’ve even had judges during hearings where I did get a call, understand and continue them, and we let us come back the next day to finish what we were doing.

So it’s never been an issue to where it’s caused conflicts with clients or anything else.

With my wife, like I said, I’m very lucky.

Very lucky that she’s understanding.

She knows the importance of the work.

So if we’re at dinner and I get a call and she’ll graciously take an Uber home, because I’ll immediately respond to those calls, because that process can’t proceed until I get there.

So it’s important that I respond in a timely manner, because it’s usually a traumatic event, and I need to get there to start figuring out what happened and providing information to the officers and the clients I’m representing so that they have an understanding, kind of start getting their mind around what’s about to happen.

Yeah, yeah.

That compartmentalization was also what came up with, his name is also Nick, the former police officer.

He just spells it differently, you know, where it’s like, dude, how do you like just walk away from your day?

Where you just, you know, had to, your gun was out or you were in a chase.

I mean, it’s my day, my most dangerous part of the day is like driving to and from work.

For the most part, that’s my most dangerous part of the day.

It’s just, it’s commendable.

And it helps for me, I love getting to know people like this because it also helps give me more proper or full perspective of what’s going on in all these different positions that people are living about their lives and a greater respect for that’s difficult.

Maybe I shouldn’t be as quick to judge on that.

Yeah, with those situations with law enforcement, there’s a lot of time it’s portrayed of the action they took.

They’re trained to do it.

It’s not a big deal.

I’ve never been involved in a critical incident where it wasn’t a traumatic event for the officers involved.

They’ve never been happy about the actions they’ve had to take, the second guessing, all the things you go through as a normal human being.

And it’s compounded for them because it immediately becomes an investigation.

It immediately becomes you’re under the microscope.

And it’s an important job to show up to be able to help them through that process.

Because a lot of times they’ve never been involved in an incident like that.

There’s officers who make an entire career without ever being involved in an incident like that.

So when they are, it’s important that they have guidance and have somebody that they can lean on to help them through that process.

You know, there’s some great things going on.

The stigma with mental health is, you know, lifting, where officers are now getting great mental health treatment that they need after these incidents.

The union that I work with, the Suncoast Police Benevolent Association, has been a big proponent of getting retired officers to go to St.

Pete College and get certifications to then come back and be therapists or mental health professionals for officers.

And that way, they’re now getting help from somebody who’s been through it.

That’s huge.

Throughout law enforcement, a lot of my practice was doing family law, and it was for law enforcement.

Because there were so many years, there was such a stigma that, oh, if I get mental health, I’m less of a cop, or I’m less of a man, or whatever the situation is.

And so that stuff tends to get buried, and then it comes out in other ways, whether it’s abusing alcohol or getting a divorce.

There’s just different ways that it comes out.

There’s been so many studies on it.

And so it’s very important to kind of remove that stigma so that everybody gets the help they need.

Yeah, that’s great.

It’s so important, and these are high-intensity jobs, and even what you’re doing.

But apply that to most things.

Most people have something that they need to work through.

It’s good to have those resources.

That’s great, especially in that realm with police officers.

That’s where it’s needed, I would imagine, most.

I appreciate you filling me in on that, because that’s uplifting to hear that.

Ultimately, that information, unfortunately, this positive stuff doesn’t make the news.

It’s like, oh, he shot somebody.

It’s not like, okay, and then now we’re increasing our efforts to have people who used to be in those positions get certified as a therapist or whatever to help them, because that triggered it.

Our perception, that’s why Jerry Springer was big.

Why people slow down for a car crash.

Ooh, they like the conflict, they like the drama.

There’s some questions before a particular segment that we’re about to get to, where I feel like I have to ask.

So number one, what’s the craziest law that you’re aware of?

What’s the most wild law out there where you’re like, I cannot believe that that’s a law.

Okay, how about this?

And maybe you can speak generally.

What’s the most wild case that you’ve ever been involved in where you’re like, I can’t believe this happened?

I had a case when I first started practicing.

It was involved two individuals, one of which was seeking a domestic violence injunction.

And when we went to court, one of the allegations was that my client had sent this person a six-foot bunny, okay?

I don’t even know the reasoning behind it, don’t understand why that was considered violence and any…

beside the point.

So we were in the courtroom, and sure enough, in the middle of questioning the individual, she pulls out a six-foot rabbit.

So we’re standing in the courtroom while she’s holding a six-foot rabbit in the air.

A real rabbit?

No, no, it’s a stuffed animal.

It was just…

never thought that would happen.

It was just one of those things that were status…

I looked at the judge, the judge was like, we’re all looking, like nobody knows where to go from there.

Like, we didn’t understand why the six-foot rabbit was…

the rat or made her afraid.

We didn’t understand.

It was like around Easter time, and it was like a six-foot stuffed pink rabbit.

Did you have to dive in to like, okay, tell us why?

Oh yeah, we had to go through the whole thing and try to figure out, and apparently, and I’m not saying anything about the person who pulled out the rabbit.

It was just…

didn’t know where to go from there.

It was just an interesting situation.

Like I said, I was probably a lawyer a year or two.

It was just to have that happen was…

it was interesting.

That’s quite interesting.

I guess you never know what you’re going to get.

You never know.

Yeah, it’s a wild world out there.

And you get to see really behind the curtain of what’s going on.

I think a lot of stuff unfolds right there.

It does.

Here’s all the information, and you get to look at it, at least a lot of the information, and it’s probably pretty fascinating.

And family law is a little bit different than other civil, family, or I’m sorry, criminal, because in those cases, you have discovery, you get a lot of information beforehand.

In family law, like in injunction cases, or in temporary support hearings, things like that, you’re going on the fly, because you don’t get the opportunity to do discovery beforehand, which is where you see all the evidence.

You just get a notice to show up in court in 10 days.

You show up, and everybody presents what they have.

So you never know what you’re going to get in those situations, and so you have to be able to deal with that pretty much on the fly.

So speaking of dealing with stuff that’s unexpected, what would you say is the biggest or one of the biggest setbacks or hurdles that you’ve had to overcome in your career, and how did you work through that?

Probably one of the biggest things that I had to deal with was just throughout my practice as it changed, taking on more responsibility as partners retired, becoming managing partner of the firm, continuing to be on call 24-7, and managing the firm, managing the staff.

So that was just the change of mindset of going from being an attorney at a firm, a partner at a firm, to then running the firm, being in charge of the staff, and taking on all those responsibilities in addition to managing your cases, in addition to being on call.

You know, it’s just kind of trying to figure out how to prioritize everything and making sure it all flowed effortlessly so your staff didn’t realize, you know, what’s going on.

That’s a tough thing.

That maybe sometimes you’re stressed, but you have to be able to manage it, and I think I’ve been able to do that successfully.

Sure.

And there’s not like one handbook where it’s like, oh, here’s what you do.

No, there’s definitely not.

Guys, I mean, in a similar boat on there’s a lot of moving pieces in my business and a lot happening.

And it’s constantly increasing.

It’s like, how do I manage all of this?

But it’s, I guess, a good thing because it means that you’re growing.

It means that you’re taking on more responsibility, and things are happening within that, but it’s a lot.

It is.

It is.

It’s a lot.

There’s not a one size fits all for any situation.

Pinellas and Pasco, there’s probably about 4,000 attorneys, so you can get 4,000 opinions on how to do different things.

So there’s no one right way.

You have to figure out what works for you.

The way I manage it, you had asked me earlier, is I get in the office about 5, 5.30 in the morning and start my day there so that I can get everything done that needs to get done.

And it allows me to go on with my day to be able to campaign, go to hearings and do other things of that nature, because I get in there early to get a lot done before the day starts, before the phone starts ringing, before the emails start coming in.

And that’s allowed me to really organize my day in a way that allows me to get everything done.

Yeah, that’s smart.

My day last night ended at about 5:30 a.m.

so I’m kind of on the other end of the spectrum where I wait for everybody to go to sleep in the world to silence and then I can get the production work done, get in my creative zone.

You know, it’s either morning or night because during the day, it’s meetings and so much stuff.

Okay, so we talked about that struggle or that difficulty before rapid fire.

I want to know what’s the biggest success story with one of your clients that you’re just super proud of that warms your heart when you think about it.

I had a case probably about 15 years ago that a lady had purchased a new home.

It was her first time purchasing a home.

She had gone through a program to help her get it, and she was so proud of getting this house.

About a year into owning it, the house literally started falling apart.

You could put a golf ball by the doorway of her bedroom, and it would roll to the corner extremely fast because her foundation was literally sinking.

Her walls were cracking.

You could stick a pencil into the holes in the wall.

And she had no option.

She didn’t have money.

Everything she had went into purchasing this house.

And she went to a turn after turn.

No one would help her.

And she finally made her way to my office.

And we took the time to investigate the case, look into it all, figure out what was going on.

And we were able to determine that her house was built on top of a…

It was the last house built in a subdivision.

And back in the 50s, 60s, when they would build houses, they would use the last lot as a landfill for all the construction debris.

So her house was built on top of all that debris, which then started to settle, which caused her house to separate.

So there were two components there.

One is the person who flipped the house, knew all these cracks and everything were there, and just simply patched them up and painted over them.

So that was the first issue we had.

The second was the house was sinking.

So what did we have to do there?

Her insurance policy did not have coverage for sinkholes, but because we were able to determine it was construction debris, it wasn’t a sinkhole.

So we were able to get her coverage there.

And we were able to get her money back from the person she purchased the home from because they had just patched over these huge cracks.

We had a painter who painted over and patched who said he could stick his hand into these cracks before he patched them to the outside of her house.

And luckily, we found the painter who could testify to that.

And ultimately, she got enough money.

She didn’t get rich from this or anything.

She got enough money to have her house lifted up and have these, I can’t think of what they’re called, but her house was lifted up by these planks that were cemented into the ground, and they were able to repair her house.

And her house, now we’re 15 years later, her house is fine.

So we were able to save her house.

And that was probably one of my biggest successes.

You know, I always remember that because she came to me with nothing.

She didn’t know what she was going to do.

She had just put everything she had into getting this house.

And it was literally sinking and falling apart around her.

And so to be able to get the house, her the money to lift the house up, where they could pump in cement and do everything they needed to do to secure the house so that she had a place to live with her kids, that was my biggest success, I felt like, as an attorney.

Yeah, that’s enormous.

When your world is literally falling apart around you, and that’s like what you’ve got.

I mean, I’m a homeowner, and there’s things that happen, but it’s not falling apart.

And it was because somebody hid everything that was wrong with the house.

So lame.

And she, like I said, she put everything she had and she went through all the first time homebuyer programs and all the classes and saved the money and did everything she had to do.

And she was a CNA, so she was a nursing assistant, not making a lot of money, and it took her a lot to be able to get this home for her family.

And it just started falling apart around her within a year of being there.

Well, good for you.

I’m glad that that’s nice.

It was, you know, that was an important case because it really made it…

And I’ve had a lot of other cases where it’s made a difference, but that one just always stands out in my mind because we literally saved the roof over her head.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

It’s like not metaphorical.

It’s literal.

Oh, how cool.

Well, we’ve reached near the end of our interview, but there’s first spot where we do rapid fire.

And essentially, I’ve asked Doug these questions.

I’ve asked most every guest pretty much the same set of questions near the end just to see the similarities and the differences.

These are kind of questions that I always want to know about someone, and so I’m going to ask them to you.

Are you ready?

I’m ready.

All right, let’s do this.

And it doesn’t have to be rapid if you want to expand.

It’s all good.

All right, the first one is always, what is your biggest source of inspiration?

My family.

Done.

Mic drop.

I feel you on that.

I would agree.

Do you have a favorite book?

Born to Fly was a book I read probably 20-something years ago about a Navy fighter pilot that went down in, I believe it went down in China, or right off the coast of China and how he was captured and was able to eventually get free.

And he was held hostage for several days, and it’s just a great book.

Cool.

Very inspiring.

Sounds like it.

Yeah, yeah.

I mean, they had to destroy things, and just everything that had happened before he was captured, and just everything that went into that process.

That’s a whole other world.

I would like to get someone, actually someone just joined my NPI group, and he was in the Army.

I don’t know if he served though.

I’d like to get someone who served, you know, was in it and be at a whole other level.

I know some people, my grandfather trained Marines.

So it’s just an interesting world.

It’s wild.

War is still going on.

Really, guys?

But anyways, that’s part two.

How do your judgments affect the wars in the world?

Actually, they probably do.

They trickle down.

Now they’re coming.

Do you have a favorite musical artist or a favorite album?

Favorite artist is probably Garth Brooks.

Yeah?

Any favorite album by him?

Not so an album, but the song The River.

Yeah?

All right.

Most people can’t drill down to a song.

That one.

Unless it’s karaoke, then it’s Friends in Low Places.

Yeah, classic, of course.

Garth Brooks is pretty big.

Mm-hmm.

All right.

How do you define success?

Being satisfied with where you are?

Being satisfied with what you’re doing?

Just like a satisfaction.

That you’re not striving to be bigger, be better.

Just being satisfied with kind of where you are.

Love it.

And what you’re accomplishing.

Yeah.

A lot of common answers are, you know, happiness.

Being happy with what you’re doing.

It sounds like that’s kind of a similar thread.

Yeah.

I agree.

So you’re winning, by the way.

Two more.

All right.

What’s one of your or the favorite business tool that you use?

Like to get business, or in general?

Or retain it, or to organize your company?

Probably is networking.

Being able to get out and talk with people and build your business.

I would agree with that.

No one’s ever said that.

It’s not really looked at as a tool, but it absolutely is.

100%.

I mean, if you don’t have people and you have no business.

My business is 98%, 99% networking, referral-based.

Yeah.

And especially what you’re doing.

Especially when you can’t talk about particular things, you need a community to help you.

It makes it difficult.

That’s why it’s good to have good people on your side out there talking about you and being able to spread the word.

Certainly.

Well, hopefully, this does just that and just moves that needle a little in the helpful position.

One last thing.

What’s your favorite thing to do outside of law, being an attorney, hopefully being a judge?

What’s your favorite thing to do?

Travel.

I like to travel, whether it’s locally, whether it’s around the state of Florida, the United States, or around the world.

I just love to travel.

Italy is my favorite place to go.

I’ve been there a few times, and I’m looking forward to going there again, hopefully in the next couple of years.

Great.

I haven’t been to Italy, but it’s on my list.

I would agree, traveling is right up there.

That’s pretty much what I spent most of my money on, extra money on.

And I think part of that is because I’m on call so much.

When I am traveling, I’m not.

It allows me an excuse to go away and be disconnected.

Absolutely.

I think that’s important for everybody.

Now we’re so connected.

No matter what you do, it’s good to disconnect.

This Saturday, I get to do that for a week.

I’m going to be a little connected, but ultimately, there’s a hammock next to the ocean with my name on it.

When we go on a cruise or something like that with the family, we put all of our cell phones in the safe as soon as we get on the boat, and we don’t touch them till we get off.

So we are completely disconnected the entire time, which makes it very interesting when you’re sitting at dinner and you go, oh, what is, who is in that movie and you can’t Google anything.

So it actually promotes so much conversation, but we bring a regular digital camera.

We don’t bring our cell phones for cameras or anything.

We just completely shut them off, and the kids had a hard time with it the first couple of times, but they ended up loving it too.

We put them in the safe, and we’re just so much more connected at that point.

That’s so healthy.

But dinner conversation gets interesting, like I said, when you’re so used to googling something, like, oh, what vegetable is that?

Or whatever it might be, or what actress was in this movie?

And you have to really sit there and figure it out, and you don’t just have the answer at your fingertips.

Sure.

It’s good to step back from that ultra connection.

Yes.

And it also makes you appreciate when you come back to it, like, oh, it is nice that we can just look up that answer.

But you don’t always have to.

Right.

It’s okay.

It’s okay to step back.

Well, it made for some interesting conversation, like when you’re trying to figure something out.

Yeah.

Like you go back to the critical thinking.

Absolutely.

Versus just, oh, let me Google it and hope it’s right.

Sure.

I like the moments where I can’t have my phone.

For instance, right now, it’s on airplane mode.

I always let my wife know, going into airplane mode, so that she knows.

Yeah.

Or swimming laps.

Can’t have my phone on there.

Right.

Although I’m sure some people now do.

And flying, I never buy those packages.

I just, yeah.

Just read.

Well, that’s great to hear.

I’m very much in line with you on several of your answers.

So you win.

Great job on the rapid fire.

Everybody wins.

And I’m not special.

You are.

Everybody’s special.

So just a few to wrap up in conclusion that I like to ask.

So I can imagine maybe your answer, but I’ve got to ask it.

Where do you see yourself in five, ten years?

What’s your future goals?

Well, I hope that I’m elected, and I’m a Circuit Court judge for Pinellas and Pasco.

That’s the goal.

So I hope that’s where I am.

Beyond that, if I’m not successful, that’ll have to be reevaluated after November.

After November, all right.

The judges are elected during the August primary, unless there’s a runoff.

Then in November, there’s a runoff.

So you vote, potentially vote twice if nobody gets 50% in August.

Okay.

Good to know.

Well, before I ask you to kind of dive into a little more of those details, I always ask this, what’s a major piece of advice or words of wisdom that you go to or that you would have wanted to hear, you know, early in your career or now that you just feel like is important no matter who’s listening?

It’s funny because it’s advice I heard probably in the last six months from one of our current judges had said this at a forum that, and I think it applies to attorneys, I think it applies to judges, I think it applies to pretty much everyone, but his way of using it was, you know, his father, who had been a judge, had told him when he became a judge, you know, there’s two types of judges.

There’s those who grow and those who swell.

And he said, be a judge who grows.

So I think that can be applied to a lot of different things, of don’t let it go to your head.

Don’t let it, you know, grow into the position.

Don’t let it, you know, swell your head and give you a big ego.

So I’ve kind of been falling back on it since it just resonated once I heard that.

And it’s been something I’ve been going back to quite a bit.

Yeah, I like that perspective.

That’s great.

Yeah, and it’s simple.

It’s simple to say, to practice it as a different animal.

But that’s huge.

I mean, growth is everything.

Even as a judge, you should not stop learning, or whatever position you’re in.

You should just always continue to grow.

Also, what are you doing if you’re not just going to sit around?

Yeah, but that’s great advice.

I love it.

I mean, the framework of him doing the swelling is something that they like to call Robitis, where you put a robe on and you just become this different person than who you were your entire career.

You know, you get a big head, and that’s something that I think a lot of people, especially attorneys specifically, because they’re the ones in the courtroom all the time, look to, like, are you going to get Robitis?

Are you going to change who you are?

Are you going to become somebody different from who we elected?

Right, yeah.

I think that’s important to a lot of people.

Absolutely.

And not just judges.

The people who we elect to represent us in general is like, hey, are you who you’re saying you are?

Or are you just going to twist and turn based on now what you want?

And that’s where that advice applies to anyone.

Are you going to grow or are you going to swell?

Yeah, absolutely.

I love that.

That’s great.

Last thing, I just want to allow you to plug yourself in how you’re allowed to and let people know who are listening, how they can help support you, find more information about you, how they vote.

So, we have a Facebook page, Fiorentino, F-I-O-R-E-N-T-I-N-O, the number four judge is the user name, or Nick Fiorentino for judge, if you’re just searching for it.

And then we also have a website, which is fiorentino, the number four judge.com, which has all of my background, my resume, all of my career, and whether or not you want to put a sign in your yard or in your business, all that information is on my website.

Yeah, I looked at your website, and it’s really cool.

You have solid endorsements.

I love that.

And then you keep scrolling down, and you see senators and county school board members and circuit judges and mayors.

Retired circuit judges.

Retired.

You just have to be careful.

Yeah, definitely.

Circuit judges can endorse, but retired judges can.

Retired, of course they are.

But it’s impressive.

And then you have other attorneys and citizens.

And it’s taking me a while to scroll down the list.

So clearly, you have made an impact, and hopefully that just continues.

I’m grateful for all the support I have.

There’s a lot of good people who are supporting my campaign.

And I hope it resonates with the voters.

Yeah, I’m sure it will.

It’s been a pleasure getting to know you better.

Because right when we first met, I was like, this is an interesting guy.

And he’s in an interesting realm that I never get to talk about.

It’s very unique.

And so I appreciate you taking the time, clearly a busy person, to come and just talk to me and hopefully resonate with the listeners and the people who can vote for you.

And we’ll make the world a little bit better with you.

Thank you.

I appreciate you taking the time to interview me.

This has been great.

Yeah, it’s been fun.

Thank you.

Ready to make your own podcast?

Join the ranks of successful businesses and individuals with a professional podcast produced by Naaman Creative. Schedule a free consultation now to get started!