Four Palm Beach County judges among 24 vying for federal judgeships

4:16 p.m Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017 Local
Palm Beach County Circuit Judge John Kastrenakes (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

Four Palm Beach County circuit judges and a West Palm Beach-based appellate court judge are among 24 lawyers who will be interviewed next week for five openings on the federal bench in South Florida.

Circuit judges John Kastrenakes and Dina Keever-Agrama, both former federal prosecutors, along with fellow judges Jeffrey Colbath and Meenu Sasser will be interviewed by the Federal Judicial Nominating Commission for the Southern District of Florida during hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday in Miami. Colbath and Sasser have applied for federal judgeships before.

Mark Klingensmith, a Florida 4th District Court of Appeal judge and a former circuit judge in Martin County, is also among those who will be interviewed.

The 24 who snagged interviews were selected from roughly 45 who applied, said Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos López-Cantera, chairman of the statewide federal judicial nominating commission.

The commission will select the 10 top candidates and forward the names to U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson. Florida’s two senators will then send the names of their top picks to President Donald Trump for consideration.

The openings are to replace four U.S. district judges who are now on senior status and one, Boca Raton resident Judge Robin Rosenbaum, who was elevated to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in May 2014. The judges with senior status, which means they are semi-retired and have reduced caseloads, include U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra, who is based in West Palm Beach. The others are judges William Zloch, James Cohn and Joan Lenard.

Once the final five are appointed and have cleared the rigorous confirmation process, including questioning by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, the chief judge will decide where in the district, which extends from Key West to Fort Pierce, they will serve.