Nearly 8,000 people have emailed Gov. Rick Scott to oppose Rep. Charles McBurney’s judgeship appointment after the National Rifle Association’s called on its members to tell the governor McBurney is “unfit” to be a circuit court judge.
McBurney, who has represented part of Jacksonville in the Florida Legislature for the last nine years, is currently in the running to become judge of Florida’s 4th Judicial Circuit. McBurney was one of 33 people to apply for two circuit judgeships in the Jacksonville-based 4th Judicial Circuit last year. The previous circuit judges could no longer serve due to mandatory retirement requirements.
Those ambitions could be seriously hindered as a result of an NRA email which urged members to write to the governor and tell him why McBurney shouldn't be selected to be a judge.
According to numbers obtained by Sunshine State News, the governor’s office had received 7,931 emails opposing McBurney’s judgeship while only 114 had written in his support.
The NRA took issue with McBurney’s decision to shelve the Burden of Proof bill during this year’s legislative session. The bill, if passed, would have shifted the burden of proof in Stand Your Ground cases to the prosecutor, who would have had to prove, “beyond a reasonable doubt,” whether a defendant could be granted immunity at a pretrial hearing in order to disprove a claim of self-defense immunity.
The legislation made it through the Senate, but didn't fare as well in the House, where McBurney refused to hear the bill in his committee.
“As Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Charles McBurney arrogantly put his blind ambition to become judge ahead of your constitutional right of self-defense and your basic fundamental right to the presumption of innocence,” wrote past president and current NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer.
“McBurney’s refusal to hear the bill, which had already passed in the Senate, was essentially a death sentence to the bill, since it needs to be heard in several committees before it can come to the House floor for a vote,” Hammer wrote.
The legislative session came and went with no Burden of Proof measure signed, but the NRA hasn't forgotten.
The group says McBurney, a former prosecutor, was essentially driven by the need to impress anti-gun prosecutors, who the NRA says could help him become judge. It's just another example of “political pandering,” the group argued.
Other pro-gun groups like Florida Carry piled on and told their members to send more emails to the governor.
The influx of emails prompted McBurney to request emails supporting his candidacy, but the numbers showed not as many came to his aid.
Now the fate of McBurney's judgeship ambitions rest in Gov. Scott's hands, and it's uncertain who will make the final cut for the 4th Judicial Circuit.
McBurney had not responded to Sunshine State News' request for a comment at the time of this article's release.