District: County Judge
One of our best county judges.
Doing good job.
Righteous religious in your face judge.
What were you people thinking?
Very good. Will make a great circuit judge one day.
Likes himself too much.
Tries to sound a lot smarter than he really is.
As a judge I wish he wouldn't lean so much on the Bible. An awesome judge, though, despite that.
Good job so far.
Very friendly. Treats everybody with respect. Very thorough and explains things well to Defendents. Fair in sentencing. One downfall - very state oriented in decisions. Will find against state or defense XXXX and find case law supporting his position to d
OK, but too much ego.
Jury's out but seems to be disappointing in many respects. He tries hard.
The model of integrity and character. Brilliant and professional. No other judge can touch his intellect and enthusiasm.
Works hard. A bit of a "know-it-all."
The personification of professionalism. Embodiment of competence. Judge Kirkland has no equal.
Really nice man. Sometimes too nice. Often gives benefit of doubt where he shouldn't. Needs to be more authoritative.
Talks too much on each case.
By ERIC PERA
John Kirkland's ranking moved up this year in the latest Ledger survey of lawyers.
He jumped to sixth among the 10 Polk County judges this year, with an overall rating of 7.37 out of 10. He placed seventh in The Ledger's 2008 bar survey.
Once again, he scored highest in the professional conduct category, with 7.56. His low score of 7.10 was for written decisions.
Respondents praised Kirkland's work ethic and courtroom demeanor.
'The personification of professionalism,' one lawyer said. 'Judge Kirkland has no equal.'
Another lawyer said he's 'the model of integrity and character, brilliant and professional.'
Some lawyers criticized Kirkland for what they characterized as his 'know-it-all' attitude.
One lawyer said he is 'OK, but too much ego.'
Kirkland scoffed at the notion he's any more knowledgeable than other judges.
'I've got a lot more to know,' he said.
One lawyer praised Kirkland for being respectful and fair but criticized the judge for being 'very state-oriented in decisions.'
'I guess that means I rarely grant motions to suppress,' Kirkland said. 'Needless to say, that's not true. I consider the facts, and if the case law is in support of their motion, then I should grant it. And if it's not, then I should deny it.'
Kirkland, 58, is a former prosecutor and assistant public defender. He grew up in Winter Haven and majored in education at the University of South Florida. He graduated from Stetson University College of Law in 1978.
In 2006, Kirkland won a three-way race for county judge and began his judicial career in small-claims court.
He lives in Lakeland with his wife of 21 years, Elizabeth. He has two grown children and four grandchildren.