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Tuesday, May 26, 2020
GOV. DESANTIS APPOINTS TWO NEW SUPREME COURT JUSTICES .....
THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:
YOUR TWO NEWEST FLORIDA SUPREME COURT JUSTICES ARE .......
JUDGE RENATHA FRANCIS
ATTORNEY JOHN COURIEL
Today, Governor DeSantis appointed Judge Renatha Francis and attorney John Couriel to two seats on the high court that were open when former Justices Robert Luck and Barbara Lagoa were appointed to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Judge Francis was born in Jamaica. She obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of the West Indies and her law degree from Florida Coastal Law.
Francis was first appointed to the Miami-Dade County Court bench by Gov. Scott in August of 2017. Ten months later, in June of 2018, Scott elevated Judge Francis to the Miami-Dade Circuit Court. Just over one year later, in October of 2019, Francis resigned her seat on the Miami-Dade bench only to be appointed as a Circuit Court Judge in Palm Beach County. Prior to joining the bench she worked as a lawyer for the 1st DCA and then as an associate at Shutts & Bowen.
Amazingly, Judge Francis is NOT qualified to serve on the Supreme Court. Francis graduated from Florida Coastal Law in 2010 and became a member of the Florida Bar on September 24th of that year. According to the Florida Constitution, a Supreme Court justice must have been a member of the Florida Bar for 10 years. Therefore, Judge Francis will not be eligible to take her seat on the Florida Supreme Court until after September 24, 2020.
There has been much talk about the need for diversity on the bench, especially the Florida Supreme Court. When Justice Peggy Quince retired in January of 2019, that left the high court without a black justice for the first time in 36 years. Thirty-two people applied for the two open seats on the high court, six of them black. The JNC nominated one, Francis.
Slate, in an article from April 1, 2020, wrote about the controversy surrounding Francis' nomination by the JNC and suggested that Francis’ appointment is unconstitutional. They wrote:
There are two ..... constitutional provisions that are relevant. First, Article V, Subsection 11(c) states that "[t]he governor shall make the appointment within sixty days after the nominations have been certified to the governor." (DeSantis received the nominee list in January and was obligated to make his appointments no later than March 23, 2020.).
Next, Article V, Subsection 11(a) provides that "[w]henever a vacancy occurs in a judicial office to which election for retention applies, the governor shall fill the vacancy by appointing for a term." The plain language of the Florida Constitution does not distinguish between appointment and commission. The constitutionally significant event is the appointment, which is what fills the vacancy. How can a vacancy be filled if the appointee does not take office for a few months? It can’t.
John Couriel is a partner at Kobre & Kim, where he handles high-stakes cross-border disputes, with a particular focus on Latin America. A native Spanish speaker, Mr. Couriel conducts internal investigations and represents individuals and corporations in jurisdictions including Brazil, Argentina and Mexico.
Before joining Kobre & Kim, Couriel served as a prosecutor at the U.S. Department of Justice (as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida), where he prosecuted significant wire fraud, money laundering, healthcare fraud, and other conspiracies, including in cases involving cross-border prosecutorial cooperation and extradition matters.
Couriel has made more than one attempt at elected state office. In 2012, he ran against incumbent State Senator Gwen Margolis, losing badly to her with only 38% of the vote. In 2016, Couriel took a shot at the Florida House when he ran in District 114 as a Republican against Democratic candidate Daisy Baez. Baez defeated Couriel 51% to 49%; (1,336 votes separated the two candidates). Of note, Baez resigned her seat on November 1, 2017, after reaching a deal with the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office to plead guilty to a perjury charge related to her place of residence.
Couriel attended Harvard as both an undergrad and law school. He has been a member of The Florida Bar since 2004.
CAPTAIN OUT .......