Judges Survey 

Keith Spoto

Keith Spoto
Keith Spoto

District: Circuit Judge

2010 Overall Legal Ability Communication Ability Written Decisions Professional Conduct
7.53 7.40 7.60 7.37 7.75

Comments
Pleasant; fair.

Is emerging as an excellent judge.

Rude, cocky, has no ability to grasp issues.

Fair and considerate; knows when and when not to be "tough."

Young judge getting better.

Fair to all parties. Maintains control of his courtroom.

Remains a touch too prosecution oriented but has really tried to level out. Good things to come of him.

Rulings are often impractical; he fails to show empathy for litigants.

One of the brightest, most even handed, courteous judges you will meet.

The jury is out to see how well he adapts once he is out of criminal division.

Allows himself to be ex-partied too much and was better suited to county court.

Jury is out. He seems bright enough.

Lack of experience shows.

Still too much like a second prosecutor in the courtroom.

Could stand to be more flexible.

Still maturing.

Bad temperament for a judge.

Judge Spoto is an up and coming jurist. There is no doubt who runs his courtroom.

A prosecutor in a black robe.

Decent on legal decisions, leaning toward bad. Very state oriented, almost biased in state's favor (more so than other judges. Clogs up other judge's docket due to his regular refusal to accept plea agreements.

Has spent most of his time in the criminal justice sector. His work in civil is limited. Otherwise, good judge, good person.

Smart. Takes his job very seriously.


Article
By ERIC PERA
THE LEDGER

With barely two years on the circuit bench, Judge Keith Spoto ranked squarely in the middle of the pack, ranking 14th among 28 circuit judges in this year's Ledger survey of lawyers.

Spoto, 49, is no stranger to the survey. As a county judge, he finished third in The Ledger's 2008 survey, scoring an overall 7.75.

This time around lawyers again praised his professionalism, earning Spoto a score of 7.75. His lowest, 7.37, was in the category of written decisions. He received an overall rating of 7.53 out of a possible 10.

Several lawyers described Spoto as fair, courteous, smart and even-handed.

"Is emerging as an excellent" judge, one wrote.

"Judge Spoto is an up-and-coming jurist," wrote another. "There is no doubt who runs his courtroom."

Other lawyers described Spoto as too prosecutorial. "Almost biased in state's favor (more so than other judges)," one lawyer said.

Another lawyer wrote: "A prosecutor in a black robe."

Spoto declined to comment on any specific statements in the survey. He said he hasn't changed all that much in his move from the county to the circuit bench.

"I try to stay consistent," he said. "One of the other judges said in the past, 'You're never as good as they say you are, and you're never as bad.' I enjoy my job and certainly try to do my best."

A 1986 graduate from the University of Florida's law school, Spoto worked for an Orlando law firm doing primarily commercial litigation before serving as an assistant state attorney for about 10 years.

He was appointed to the county bench in 2002 and was elected in 2004 to a six-year term. In 2008 Spoto was appointed to the circuit
bench.

He is up for election this year.

Spoto resides in Lakeland with his wife and two sets of twins, ages 7 and 1.
District: County Judge

2008 Overall Legal Ability Communication Ability Written Decisions Professional Conduct
7.75 7.75 7.83 7.42 8.01

Comments
Keith Spoto

A solid and respectable judge.

Another great prosecutor.

Excellent judge.

Expeditious and competent.

He was the obvious choice for appointment to circuit court; not always punctual, but once on the bench he has

the most effective courtroom in the county, while still being fair to all parties.

Loses temper, which is always unpleasant to display in a courtroom; otherwise makes good rulings.

Past due to be a circuit judge.

Polk County is very fortunate to have such a high-caliber mind and high-quality person in their judicial system.

Solid judge; needs to be a little more neutral.

Solid-should be on a circuit bench

State oriented.

Tough yet fair; belongs in circuit court; state oriented.

Up and coming; work on patience.


Article
By KYLE KENNEDY

THE LEDGER

Keith Spoto finished third in this year's rankings of county judges with an overall rating of 7.75 out of 10.

He had a 7.62 rating in the 2006 poll and finished second overall out of seven judges.

Spoto, recently appointed to Circuit Court, was cited for his efficiency by lawyers. They did note issues with temper and patience. He scored highest in professional conduct with an 8.01 and lowest in written decisions with a 7.42.

"Expeditious and competent," wrote one lawyer.

"He is the obvious choice for appointment to Circuit Court," another said. "Not always punctual, but once on the bench he has the most effective courtroom in the county, while still being fair to all parties."

One lawyer said Spoto is "tough yet fair." Another praised his "high-caliber mind."

Temper was the most frequent issue cited by lawyers.

"Loses temper, which is always unpleasant to display in a courtroom; otherwise makes good rulings," one wrote. Spoto was advised to "work on patience," though one respondent said, "his temper is better, his conduct has improved."

"Those comments, I would say, are certainly not unfair," Spoto said. "The patience thing has recurred, and I think that's something I've gotten better on over the years. But you never know. Everything bears re-examination."

Spoto said he tries to run an efficient court and said that might be related to the comments about his patience.

"I think I've tried to call things as fairly as I can. I do try to be expeditious in moving court along," he said. "I try to do that without treading on people's ability to get a fair hearing. And perhaps sometimes that's perceived that I'm trying to hurry things along too much."

Spoto, a 1986 graduate from the University of Florida's law school, worked for a law firm in Orlando and then served as an assistant state attorney for about 10 years. He was appointed to the bench in 2002.

Spoto, 47, lives in Lakeland with his wife and twin 5-year-old sons.


 
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