A Hernando County judge who has seen a lot of court cases come and go is stepping down.
Daniel B. Merritt Sr. is the chief judge for the 5th Judicial Circuit and he has officially retired.
After practicing law for years he was sworn in as a judge for the 5th Circuit in 1998 but the law hasn’t always been his calling.
When judge Merritt was younger he was all about music and even played the drums in a rock band.
“I thought that was going to be my career path until I got married and had a son and decided I should do something more appropriate,” Merritt said.
Judge Merritt has seen a lot. In 2010 John Kalisz shot five people, killing three of them including his sister. That case ended up in Merritt’s courtroom. He sentenced Kalisz to death after the jury’s recommendation.
“Will I remember the Kalisz case? Of course I will but there are a lot of other ones as well,” Merritt said.
That was a highly publicized case but judge Merritt said he likes to remember cases involving adoptions or helping families or solving problems.
“Never did rank my cases by notoriety or just because it was a case in the newspaper or something,” he said.
Merritt said every case or trial is important.
“To the parties involved that is the most important case of their life probably,” Merritt said.
So now that Judge Merritt has retired the question is, will he set up his drum set again?
“Well, you never know," he said. "I may to entertain myself.”
Judge Merritt Sr. isn’t leaving the game completely. He plans to do some senior judge work in the future.