SUNCOAST - A bill approved by Gov. Ron DeSantis last month has created an additional vacancy in the 12th Judicial Circuit covering Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties.

House Bill 5011, signed by the governor on June 7, increased the number of 12th Circuit judges from 21 to 22. Applications are open until 5 p.m. Aug. 5, with interviews tentatively scheduled for Aug. 29 on the eighth floor of the Sarasota County Judicial Center.

The application can be downloaded from the Florida Bar’s website or the Office of the Governor’s website.

Candidates must deliver a paper version of their application and current photo to Varinia Van Ness, chair of the 12th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission. They must also send a PDF of the application and photo to Van Ness at varinia@vannesslawgroup.com, as well as a redacted version of the PDF that complies with Sunshine Law.

Applicants are required to be registered voters and residents of their territorial jurisdiction at the time of taking office. They must also have been a member of the Florida Bar for the preceding five years. Interviews will be conducted by the commission, which will send its recommendations to Gov. DeSantis.

In June, the commission made six recommendations to the governor for a Manatee County judge position, which will open after Judge Douglas Henderson retires in September. Henderson’s replacement has not yet been chosen.