Since 2002, Judge John Bowman has held the office of circuit judge in Florida’s highest civil trial court. Before joining the bench, Judge John Bowman was a probate attorney.
Probate is the process of settling estates under the supervision of the court. When a person dies (the decedent) leaving behind an estate, the court supervises the administration of the estate to ensure that all assets are gathered, creditors are paid, taxes are paid, and the remaining property is distributed to the decedent’s beneficiaries. The purpose of probate is to safeguard the decedent’s estate and prevent fraud.
Probate administration in Florida applies only to probate assets, or assets that form part of the decedent’s estate and were registered in the decedent’s own name. Probate assets include bank accounts, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and real estate.
Assets that cannot be probate assets include real estate owned under joint tenancy (ownership passes automatically to the surviving co-owner) and beneficiary designations such as retirement accounts with named beneficiaries.
A member of the Florida Bar for nearly three decades, Judge John Bowman was elected to serve as a circuit judge in 2002, leading him to the Juvenile Dependency Division in the 17th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida. Judge John Bowman has also been involved in a number of noteworthy cases in Broward County, including a lawsuit related to the 2016 Republican presidential primary ballot.
In March 2016, he ruled against an attempt to have Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz removed from the ballot based on a claim that the candidates aren’t natural-born citizens and are therefore ineligible to run for president. The lawsuit claimed that both Cruz and Rubio became citizens without undertaking a legal naturalization process and argued that a person can’t simultaneously be naturalized and natural-born.
During the hearing, Judge Bowman explained that the while the Constitution requires a president to be natural-born, there is no binding definition of the term. He also rejected the lawsuit because the plaintiff failed to include the Florida Secretary of State as a defendant. Responsible for the Division of Elections, the Secretary of State's office alone can be compelled to eliminate a candidate from a ballot. Judge Bowman further noted that there were no grounds for the lawsuit since the plaintiff wasn’t injured by Cruz and Rubio being on the ballot.
Judge John Bowman, a circuit justice in Florida's 17th circuit, has received widespread attention as an advocate for children in foster care. Successfully reducing the number of adoption-eligible children in the Circuit's Juvenile Dependency division from 150 to only five, Judge John Bowman has continued to promote adoption and received the Guardian Ad Litem Program's community advocate award for his efforts.
For a child to be eligible for adoption in Florida, the birth mother and any other person entitled to custody must agree to the adoption. Any court-verified evidence of abuse or neglect automatically waives this requirement. Once the court has terminated parental rights, adoptive parents may finalize the adoption after 30 days or following 90 days in the adoptive home, whichever occurs later.
Once finalized, adoption means that the child in question becomes a legal part of the new family. The child receives a new birth certificate that names the adoptive parents as the child's parents, and most children receive a new name to reflect their new family situation. The adoptive family accepts all parental responsibilities for the child and gives the child equal legal status in relation to other current or future children of the family.
Judge John Bowman has accumulated a long record of helping streamline the judicial system to benefit children.