Saturday, October 03, 2015

NSB Lawyer Doug Williams Running Against LARIZZA, Two-term State's Attorney for Seventh Judicial Circuit: Daytona Beach News-Journal


New Smyrna Beach lawyer to run for state attorney

Published: Friday, September 4, 2015 at 5:46 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 4, 2015 at 9:29 p.m.
Doug Williams
A New Smyrna Beach attorney has filed to challenge State Attorney R.J. Larizza in next year's election, which could have an impact on Flagler County's canvassing board.
Doug Williams, a Republican who has offices in Daytona Beach, DeLand and Palm Coast, filed to run against Larizza, who is in his second four-year term in the $155,000-a-year job.
Williams said in a phone interview on Friday that he decided to run because changes are needed at the State Attorney's Office. Williams said morale at Larizza's office is low and turnover is high, a claim which Larizza denied. Williams also said that Larizza's prosecutors are not receiving the training they need.
“They keep pushing the new guys into positions they are not qualified for because the turnover rate is so bad,” Williams said.
The lack of training and the slow progress is clogging up the system and wasting taxpayer money, Williams said.
Williams said Larizza has misplaced priorities.
“The deal with him is that he's too busy trying to work to keep his job rather than doing it,” Williams said.
Larizza, a St. Augustine Republican, denied the claims during a phone interview on Friday.
“I figure if I do the job the way it's supposed to be done, that the rest will take care of itself,” Larizza said. “I don't run around trying to figure out ways to do something to keep this job. I do this job because I believe in it, because I love it and because I want to make our communities better and safer.”
Larizza said there is no problem with morale at his office, where prosecutors start at $40,000 a year. He said the turnover at his office was consistent with those in other circuits. Larizza said he had tried to get the legislature to provide more funding so he can pay attorneys more.
“Folks leave. They take better paying jobs,” Larizza said. “They learn a lot in the office. They learn how to try cases. They learn how to evaluate cases they make a reputation and then they are hired away.”
Larizza rejected William's claim that prosecutors take too long to take cases to trial. He said prosecutors review any cases that are still on the docket after 180 days to see what they can do to move them along.
Larizza said attorneys get regular training. For example, Larizza said, criminal defense attorney Aaron Delgado recently spoke to prosecutors to give them a perspective from the defense side.
Larizza also said that as vice president of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association he takes an active role in working with the legislature on new laws.
Williams' decision to run could have an impact in Flagler County and its canvassing board, which publicly canvasses the absentee elector's ballots and provisional ballots filed during the primary and general elections.
Williams' former law partner is Flagler County Judge Melissa Moore Stens. The two ran a law firm together until Moore Stens won the 2012 election to serve on the bench.
According to state law, if no county court judge is able to serve or is disqualified, the chief judge of the 7th Judicial Circuit shall appoint a substitute member.
Flagler County Attorney Al Hadeed said through county spokeswoman Julie Murphy that such a decision would likely not be made “until the organizational activity of the canvassing board begins.”
Ludi Lelis, a spokeswoman with the 7th Judicial Circuit, said the same.
It has been a busy week for Williams. On Thursday, it was announced by Palm Coast law firm Chiumento, Selis, Dwyer that Williams had joined their firm in an “of counsel capacity” to handle the firm's immigration matters.

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