District: Circuit Judge
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.
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.
By ERIC PERA
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
He is up for election this year.
Spoto resides in Lakeland with his wife and two sets of twins, ages 7 and 1.