Former lawmaker, judge dies at 71

Published: Monday, January 26, 2009 at 7:49 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 26, 2009 at 7:49 p.m.

FORT WALTON, Fla. -- Former lawmaker and circuit judge Jere Tolton, who presided at a number of high-profile cases during his 30-year career, has died. He was 71 years old.

A judicial assistant to one of Tolton's former colleagues says Tolton died Friday night at a Birmingham, Alabama hospital because of post-surgery complications. Tolton recently had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

Tolton won a seat in the Florida House of Representatives in 1972 and left four years later to fill a vacant circuit judge post in Escambia County. He then replaced an Okaloosa County judge in 1977.

In 2004, he sentenced former Florida Senate President W.D. Childers to more than three years in prison for bribing an Escambia County commissioner with a cooking pot full of money.

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