After 15 Years, Judge Is Removed From Everglades Case

A federal judge who presided over the legal ins and outs of the Florida Everglades restoration project was removed yesterday after 15 years on the case. U.S District Judge William Hoeveler was dismissed after he called Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s (R) Everglades bill “clearly defective” and suggested that the governor had been “misled by persons who did not have the best interests of the Everglades in mind.” Those “persons” — sugar industry leaders — challenged the impartiality of the judge based on those remarks, and U.S. District Court Judge William Zloch agreed. Environmentalists mourned the loss of an outspoken and well-informed ally and worried about how much time it would take Hoeveler’s replacement to get up to speed on the intricacies of the case, but they expressed confidence that the law was still on their side: “Regardless of which judge we have, the compelling facts regarding the protection of the Everglades are not going to change,” said Charles Lee of Audubon of Florida.