For a little over a decade, Bruce Carney has been wanting to be Citrus County’s second county judge.
Each year, the veteran Crystal River attorney would update his application in hope that Florida lawmakers would finally fund a judgeship to share County Judge Mark Yerman’s docket.
“I kept waiting in limbo,” Carney said.
Carney’s moment to try for the bench came in June, when the Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis budgeted for another Citrus County judge seat.
“When it happened, I was in disbelief,” Carney said. “It made it all real.”
It kept getting better for Carney. On Tuesday, DeSantis appointed him to the new judgeship, the governor's office announced.
“Short of the birth of my children, it’s the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me,” he said.
Carney was one of 12 applicants the Fifth Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) interviewed in August for county judge, created in June under House Bill 5011.
Half of the 12 who tried out were from Citrus County, including Carney, who lives in Beverly Hills.
JNC members sent Carney’s name with four other nominees to Tallahassee for DeSantis and his legal team to consider.
Carney said he was called to the state capital Tuesday for an interview with DeSantis, who offered him the job afterwards.
“I think the governor made a great decision,” County Judge Mark Yerman said. “I think the people of Citrus County will be well pleased with the new county judge.”
Yerman, who’s been county judge since 1993, handles a docket of up to 12,000 cases a year, according to prior reports. Florida’s maximum caseload for a county judge is supposed to be 6,500 cases a year.
Carney said he started meeting with local judges on Wednesday, learning the judicial ropes of the courthouse.
While he’s not bound by law to have a start date, Carney said he’s expecting his first day to be Dec. 19.
Carney’s also closing up his law firm of Carney & Associates in the office complex on the corner of State Road 44 and North Pennsylvania Avenue, where he’s worked since 1994.
Prior to that, for three years, Carney was a prosecutor with the Fifth Circuit State Attorney’s Office. He’s also been civil infraction traffic hearing officer since 2005.
Carney said he’s contacting the last of his clients to share the news.
“It brings a whole new set of unknowns, it’s just all very new,” he said about moving from private practice to the bench. “We’re just taking one step at time; it’s exciting.”
Carney has the job until it goes on the 2022 ballot.