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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New Hope for Daytona Beach: State Attorney R.J. Larizza Takes Office

State Attorney R.J. LarizzaDAYTONA BEACH, FL - Ralph Joseph Larizza on Tuesday announced "the healing has begun" as he was sworn in as State Attorney for the 7th Judicial Circuit in Florida. Overwhelming applause in celebration at the start of a new era was the tone of the induction.

Larizza, 50, a former probation officer, prosecutor and most recently private attorney based in St. Augustine, was introduced to hearty applause in the Flagler Auditorium, where he was sworn in by Senior Judge Richard O. Watson.

Long time incumbent John Tanner was booted out of office by angry voters, tired of special interests tainting the office of the State Attorney (See Tanner Booted from State Attorney Job). In a tale fitting for David vs. Goliath, Larizza handily won against Tanner, who was largely financed by the same special interests that have profited immensely as a result of the widespread corruption in Daytona Beach City Hall. See This is killing Daytona Beach! When will it STOP?

Larizza's anti-corruption platform for reform was simply too attractive to the voters to pass.

"I'm privileged to have the opportunity to work with all of you, and to have the opportunity to make our community a better place."

"My promise to you is that we will prosecute those that need to be prosecuted, to the fullest extent. We will be fair. We will be just. We will be accessible.

And, by God, we're gonna do it right."
R.J. Larizza

As reported in The St. Augustine Record, Mose Floyd, a prosecutor in Duval County, will come to St. Augustine to take over the duties of managing attorney.

"He graduated from the Naval Academy at Annapolis and retired from the Marine Corps as a lieutenant colonel after 22 years," Larizza said. "He's currently the director of County Court in Duval County, and we're very pleased to have him on board."

Luis Bustamante, 39, was named Chief Assistant State Attorney, leaving behind a key position with the Attorney General's Office as Chief Assistant Statewide Prosecutor.

In addition, Noel Griffin, chief of investigations for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) in Jacksonville, signed on as Larizza's chief investigator.

"I'm very fortunate, as are the citizens of the 7th Circuit, to have an attorney the caliber of Luis Bustamante and a law enforcement officer the caliber of Noel Griffin willing to serve," Larizza previously said.

Judge Watson made enlightening comments about Larizza's to the position. After losing his father at nine he was brought up by a values-based family; he was able to finance his own education and work his way through various law enforcement and legal prosecutorial jobs into this position.

We wish RJ good luck and hope the political insiders who supported the incumbent will respect the office and the staff and allow them to "protect the innocent and prosecute the offenders to the fullest extent of the law".

Much fear is sensed in Daytona Beach City Hall.

Comments from readers:

You mean he got rid of most of the "Good Ol' Boys" and hired qualified staff. Without the "good Ol' Boys" running the show... [local politicians] are in a world of trouble.

Thank God for the change. Maybe now everyone can get back to doing business. My hopes and prayers are with you [RJ]. I know the right thing will be done now...

About the Florida 7th Judicial Circuit Court...

Florida Circuit Courts SystemThe Seventh Judicial Circuit is one of 20 in the State Courts System. Because the Seventh Judicial Circuit oversees court matters in a four-county area, the court has judges based at seven courthouse locations throughout the circuit.

Two Circuit judges and one County Court judge hear cases at the Kim C. Hammond Justice Center in Bunnell. Three Circuit judges and two County Court judges hear cases at the Putnam County Courthouse in Palatka. Four Circuit judges and two County Court judges hear cases at the Richard O. Watson Judicial Center in St. Augustine. Eighteen Circuit judges and 10 County Court judges hear cases at four courthouse locations in Volusia County. Volusia County courthouse locations include: Volusia County Courthouse, DeLand; Justice Center, Daytona Beach; Courthouse Annex, Daytona Beach; and Courthouse Annex, New Smyrna Beach.

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