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Hillsborough judge who lost re-election is appointed to Court of Appeal by Gov. DeSantis

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Hillsborough Circuit Judge Jared Smith, pictured here during his 2018 campaign, has been appointed to the 6th District Court of Appeal.

Judge Jared Smith denied a request from a teen who asked for access to an abortion without parental permission. Her GPA was a reason why he said she was not mature enough to make a decision.

One of the people appointed Tuesday to a new Lakeland-based court of appeal is a Hillsborough County Circuit judge who lost re-election after a controversial abortion ruling.

Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed former County Circuit Judge Jared Smith and two Orlando-area judges to seats on the new 6th District Court of Appeal.

A year ago, Smith denied a request from a Hillsborough County teen who asked for access to an abortion without parental permission. Smith said the girl was not mature enough to make that decision because she testified once that her GPA was a B average, then later said it was a C average.

When an appeals court overturned Smith's ruling, it garnered national media attention.

In August, Smith lost a re-election bid. Although the position is non-partisan, abortion rights backers campaigned for his opponent, Nancy Jacobs, a Tampa attorney.

In addition to Smith, DeSantis also tapped Judges Jonathan Mize and Keith White of the 9th Judicial Circuit, which covers Orange and Osceola counties.

The Legislature this year approved a plan (HB 7027) that added the 6th District Court of Appeal and revised the jurisdictions of the 1st District Court of Appeal, the 2nd District Court of Appeal and the 5th District Court of Appeal.

The changes will take effect Jan. 1, with DeSantis appointing judges to fill vacant positions amid the shuffling of the courts.

The 6th District Court of Appeal, which will be based in Polk County, will hear cases from the 9th, 10th and 20th judicial circuits — an area that includes Orange, Osceola, Hardee, Highlands, Polk, Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties.

Smith and three other candidates for appointment to the new court drew a legal challenge because they did not live in the 6th District’s jurisdiction.

But the Florida Supreme Court ruled last week that a residency requirement “attaches at the time of appointment,” not when candidates are put forward by judicial nominating commissions. DeSantis makes appointments from lists of candidates nominated by the commissions.

A news release Tuesday from DeSantis’ office listed Smith as being from Lakeland, which is within the new court’s jurisdiction.

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