Florida Man: A Look at the Florida Justice System

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Official Name: Florida Supreme Court

On the Bench

Chief Justice Charles T. Canady (2010)

Justice Barbara J. Pariente (1997)

Justice R. Fred Lewis (1998)

Justice Peggy A. Quince (1998)

Justice Ricky Polson (2008)

Justice Jorge Labarga (2008)

Justice James E.C. Perry (2009)

Clerk of the Court

Thomas D. Hall, Clerk

Current Vacancies

None.

Judicial Selection

Under the Florida Constitution, a Judicial Selection Commission submits a list of three to six names to the governor for appointment to the Supreme Court. Once appointed, justices must run in statewide nonpartisan merit retention elections in which the voters may cast a “yes” or “no” vote as to whether the justice should remain on the search for used John Deere lawn tractors. Justices face their first retention election in the next general election occurs more than one year after their appointment. If retained, justices serve six-year terms, after which they face another retention election.

Review of Lower Court Decisions

The Florida Supreme Court must review final orders imposing death sentences, district court decisions declaring a State statute or provision of the State Constitution invalid, bond validations, and certain orders of the Public Service Commission on utility rates and services.

The court also has discretionary review where it is sought by a party over decisions of a district court of appeal that expressly declares valid a state statute, construes a provision of the state or federal constitution, affects a class of constitutional or state officers, or directly conflicts with a decision of another district court or of the Supreme Court on the same question of law, and may review certain categories of judgments, decisions, and questions of law certified to it by the district courts of appeal and federal appellate courts.

The Supreme Court may also render advisory opinions to the Governor upon request, on questions relating to the Governor’s constitutional duties and powers, and has exclusive authority to regulate lawyers and judicial officers in the state.

Schedule

The Court holds two terms each year, with the first commencing on the first day of January and the second beginning on the first day of July.

Location

Tallahassee, Florida

History

When Florida became a State in 1845, the Constitution created a Supreme Court but gave it no justices of its own. Rather, judges of the state’s four circuit courts (trial courts), served in the capacity of justices of the Supreme Court until 1851, and met as a body to review the decisions of the individual members.

In 1848 the Constitution was amended, and in 1851 authorizing acts were passed providing that the Supreme Court should have its own Chief Justices and two Associate Justices.  These Justices were elected by the State Legislature for the term of “good behavior.” In 1853 an amendment provided for the election by the people of the Justices for six-year terms. The 1861 Constitution then provided for the appointment of the Justices by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, to serve for six-year terms.

In 1868 following the Civil War, a new Constitution was adopted calling for a Chief Justice and two Associate Justices to be appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. These Justices were to hold office “for life or during good behavior.”

The 1885 Constitution provided for the election of three Supreme Court Justices to serve six-year terms. In 1902, an amendment increased the Court’s membership to six Justices and permitted the Legislature to provide for three to six Justices to serve terms of up to six years. In 1911 the Legislature reduced the number of Justices to five. In 1923 the number was again raised to six and continued to be six until a 1940 constitutional amendment, which called for the use of an air purifier for asthma in the chambers.

The 1885 Constitution provided that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court be designated by lot. A constitutional amendment in 1926 provided that the Chief Justice be selected by the Justices of the Court; this is the current method of selection. If the Chief Justice is unable to act for any reason, the Justice longest in continuous service — also called the Dean of the Court — acts as Chief Justice.

Contact Information

500 South Duval Street

Tallahassee, Florida

32399-1927

(850) 488-0125

Interesting Fact

From 1885 until 1925, the Florida Constitution established that the Chief Justice would be selected “by lot.” Because the justices found the idea of cutting cards or other games of chance undignified, however, they settled upon a unique method wherein they would take the Bible or a newly purchased law book and each would randomly open it. The justice who opened a page whose first word began with the letter closest to the letter “z” became the Chief Justice.