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Levy residents may be called to hear 8 tobacco cases

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By Carolyn Risner

Judge Stan Griffis stays busy presiding over cases that involve family issues, probate and other non-felony civil matters, but he says it’s the foreclosures that keep him tied up these days.

“Foreclosures are a staggering portion of my docket,” Griffis told Williston Rotary members last week.

Griffis, who sits on the bench in Levy, Gilchrist and Alachua counties, said for the most part the people involved in the foreclosures are good folks who have found themselves in difficult situations.

His regular docket is expected to be pushed aside come next June when he will hear suits filed by eight individuals against the tobacco industry.

Originally a class action suit that was tried in Miami, Griffis said the case was overturned by the State Supreme Court, which also declassified the lawsuit, putting it back into the hands of the individual plaintiffs.

Now those individuals have refiled the suits and they will be heard here.

What that means for Levy residents, Griffis said, is the high probability of being selected to be on the juries that hear the cases.

Each case is expected to last three weeks, the judge said, and senior judges will more than likely pick up his regular docket while he is occupied with the lengthy lawsuits.

While Levy County has eight such suits, Alachua has 70, he said.

Griffis, who lives in Williston, also said that 10 applicants have thrown their names into the ring to replace retiring Judge Joe Smith.

After initial interviews, three to six names will go to the governor for final approval.

“The judicial turnover affects your quality of service,” he said, encouraging residents to write letters of support to Gov. Crist for the applicant they think would best serve Levy County.