LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — Gov. Ron DeSantis made a series of appointments Tuesday, including appointing former Hillsborough County judge Jared Smith, of Lakeland, to serve on the Sixth District Court of Appeal.
Smith served previously as a judge in the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, a spot he was appointed to in 2019 by DeSantis. The judge made headlines earlier in the year for a ruling on a Tampa area teenager’s request for an abortion without parental consent.
In his ruling, delivered in January before being appealed and then reaffirmed, Smith wrote that the 17-year-old was not mature enough to get an abortion, citing among other things a 2.0 grade point average. That ruling, from Smith, was overturned by a panel of 2nd Circuit judges in August.
The 2nd District Court of Appeal stated that the teenager had proven she was mature enough, and that Smith’s ruling was “based on an abuse of discretion” and “may not be based on the weight of the evidence presented to the circuit court.”
However, when appealed further, the 1st District Court of Appeal affirmed Smith’s January decision.
“The minor is almost seventeen years-old and parentless. She lives with a relative but has an appointed guardian,” the higher court wrote, when affirming Smith’s ruling. “She is pursuing a GED with involvement in a program designed to assist young women who have experienced trauma in their lives,” it reads in part.
In the 2022 August Primary, Smith lost his bid for reelection to Nancy Jacobs. Now, he’ll serve as a justice in the 6th District Court of Appeal, covering Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Lee, Orange, Osceola, and Polk counties, and based in Lakeland.
As far as order of operations, Smith remains the 13th Judicial Circuit Judge for Unified Family Court Division A until January. At that time, he’ll leave the Hillsborough County court, with Jacobs sitting the bench instead. When 2023 starts, Smith will be sworn into his new role in the 6th Appellate Circuit Court.