Lindsay Scott Garza is a Lee County native.
She is a prosecutor in the State Attorney’s Office. And now she is running against incumbent Archie B. Hayward for the Lee County judge seat.
Scott Garza, a graduate of Florida Gulf Coast University, earned her law degree from St. Thomas University in Miami.
Scott Garza is married, lives in North Fort Myers and is a mom to a 1-½-year-old little girl. While she is not a known name, her father is Mike Scott, the former leader of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.
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So why does Scott Garza want to be a county judge?
“This community has given so much to me,” Scott Garza said. “Running for judge is a way to elevate my ability to continue to serve the community. I’ve been serving the community for the last eight years as a prosecutor, and so I feel like this is the next step, that I can reach broader members of our community.”
Scott Garza said she understands how law and order works in Lee County.
“Knowing some of the players, I think, always helps. And I mean, all players, so other firms, attorneys, and law enforcement agencies, things of that nature. So I definitely think it can be helpful, and obviously, just the inner workings of the court systems,” she said.
Since she is not a household name, she featured her dad former Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott in her campaign ad to try and change that.
“Someone recently told me, politics is a contact sport. It’s name ID, it’s recognition. And he has that. I don’t, you know, so part of it was strategic, of course, to let folks know that I was his daughter and make that connection,” Scott Garza said.
The Florida Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys endorsed Scott Garza for county judge.
She said that is a big deal.
“Those are my opposition, and I think that’s a testament to the fair judge I will be. Even though I am a prosecutor, that’s my background, every case, is case-by-case. I’m not deciding something as a prosecutor just because maybe who is on the other side. It is looking at the law and the facts that I have thought, and so that is what I believe I bring to the table—a higher level of efficiency, professionalism and respect,” Scott Garza said.
Scott Garza said she also has the work ethic needed to succeed on the bench.
She prides herself in always being ready for court.
“Preparation is a huge thing,” Scott Garza said. When I come, I’m prepared. And so to see that the judge has reviewed my motion, the judge has done the research already for my motion, and perhaps the counter motion that the other side has filed. Those are things that I appreciate as an attorney. And so those are things that I have taken note of over the years.”
Under the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct, Scott Garza can’t weigh in on disputed legal or political issues, including the ongoing criminal case against 10-year-old Daniel Marquez.
Daniel is accused of threatening violence at his school and was perp-walked by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office within hours of his arrest and charged by a crime by State Attorney Amira Fox, Scott Garza’s boss.
WINK News asked Scott Garza, in broader terms, of law enforcement videos and the impact they could have on “innocent until proven guilty.”
“Any type of bias that is created by the public, those are not people that would be, that would be jurors,” she said. “Now, juveniles are different, though. They don’t have jury trials. They have a bench trial in front of a judge. And so again, as a judge, listening to facts and evidence, the fact that a perp walk was done does not have any evidentiary value to me as a judge. So if I’m presiding over that case, what I’m really looking for is the witnesses, any photographic or text messages or different things, screenshots from something, any evidence that’s introduced in the trial, whether it be through materials or witness testimony, and then what the law is on that particular crime.”
Garza also can’t weigh in on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decision to suspend Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren. DeSantis said the elected leader ignored his duty to enforce state laws when he pledged not to prosecute people who seek or provide abortions.
WINK News asked what she would do if she doesn’t believe in the law.
“Then you shouldn’t be running for judge. You should be running for a House of Representatives or for Congress or for the Senate, or be a lobbyist and try to change the law,” Scott Garza said. “That’s not my job, as a judicial candidate, same with as a prosecutor, it was not my job to change the law, it was my job to enforce it. So same thing with a judge.”
So why should voters pick her?
“The fresh energy that I bring in and the passion that I have to do this job and do it well,” Garza Scott said.
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