THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:
AND YOUR NEXT JUSTICE OF THE FLORIDA SUPREME COURT .....
Will be chosen in the next ten weeks.
Of course, according to most insiders, the decision has already been made to choose Circuit Judge Renatha Francis of the 15th Judicial Circuit in Palm Beach County.
For those of you that slept on this story back in 2020, there were two openings on the Florida Supreme Court. Gov. DeSantis was sent nine names by the JNC. Included in those nine names were John Couriel and Renatha Francis. The Governor chose those two as his next two Justices. Couriel was quickly sworn into office. Not so with Judge Francis. You see, there was this little rule (it was in small print so DeSantis couldn't see it that well) in the Florida constitution that stated that a justice is required to have been a member of The Florida Bar for at least ten years. Judge Francis, at the time of DeSantis naming her to the high court, was a member for only nine years. She became a member of The Florida Bar on September 24, 2010.
So, Gov DeSantis, you know, the one who likes to follow the letter of the law, and the one who likes to appoint strict textualists to the bench; DeSantis decided that he would hold off on swearing in Judge Francis to the high court until September 25, 2020. Problem solved.
Not so fast though as a lawsuit was filed challenging the authority of DeSantis to name Francis to the high court in the first place. The Florida Supreme Court heard the case and rendered their decision. Francis was not qualified and DeSantis needed to choose another nominee. He eventually chose Judge Jamie Grosshans.
Fast forward to 2022 and Justice Alan Lawson has announced his retirement from the Florida Supreme Court. The JNC has seventeen applicants and wouldn’t you know that, at the top of the list is none other than Judge Renatha Francis.
Now look, DeSantis had his reasons to appoint Francis back in 2020. Justice Peggy Quince, the only justice of color on the high court, retired. DeSantis wanted someone of color on the Supreme Court. Forget the fact the both the JNC and the Governor passed over several much more qualified candidates; (six other candidates were of color and all had more experience). None of the other candidates of color had “Federalist Society” on their resume though. Francis did.
There still is nobody of color on the high court today. This time around there are three applicants of the 17 that applied that are black.
Judge Cymonie Rowe, 15th Judicial Circuit. Member of the Bar for 24 years. Appointed as a Circuit Court Judge in 2016. Attended Nova Law.
Judge Stephen Everett, 2nd Judicial Circuit. Member of the Bar for 15 years. Appointed as a County Court Judge in 2016 and a Circuit Court Judge in 2019. Attended LSU Law.
Judge Renatha Francis, 15th Judicial Circuit. Member of the Bar for 11 years. Appointed as a County Court Judge in 2017 and a Circuit Court Judge in 2018. Attended Florida Coastal Law.
But, only one of those three judges is an active member of The Federalist Society.
According to a story published in the Florida Bulldog on May 18, 2022, it’s a done deal - DeSantis has already decided to pick Francis. All the JNC has to do is fall into lock-step and name her as one of the finalists. Here is an excerpt from that story:
“Palm Beach Circuit Court Judge Renatha Francis has already been seen checking out the Florida Supreme Court’s underground parking garage by St. Augustine Street; she let it be known she wants a coveted spot near the elevator to the justices’ chambers.
Space in the exclusive, heavily fortified garage won’t be available until Aug. 31, when Justice Alan Lawson retires. But Francis can count on getting what she wants, according to a court insider who communicated with Florida Bulldog on condition of anonymity because the Lawson succession plan is top secret.
“There is talk here that [Gov. Ron] DeSantis told the justices he is going to name Judge Renatha Francis to replace Justice Lawson because now she meets the qualifications,” the insider said.”
You can read the entire story here::
Chair, Florida Supreme Court JNC
Shutts & Bowen
215 S Monroe St Ste 804
Tallahassee, FL 32301-1858
Dear Chair Nordby:
This is an open letter written to all nine members of the JNC. Your Florida Supreme Court JNC received 17 applications to replace Justice Alan Lawson on the high court. Back in 2020, your JNC nominated an unqualified candidate by the name of Judge Renatha Francis.
We all understand the desire for diversity on our high court. Among our 17 applicants, you have three who are of color. Two of those candidates, Judge Rowe and Judge Everett both have more experience that Judge Francis.
It has been widely reported in the press that Governor DeSantis has already made it clear of his intention to chose Judge Francis to replace Justice Lawson. But, for that to happen, your nine members must fall in line and agree to include Judge Francis’ name on your list of nominees. Here is a novel idea - don’t do it. Nominate the six most qualified candidates for the job. And if you feel the need to make sure that at least one of your nominees is one of color, then nominate Judge Rowe, or Judge Everett - both are eminently more qualified and both have more experience practicing law and being a judge.
So, Mr. Nordby, shock the world and don’t name Judge Francis as a nominee.
For the Justice Building Blog
THE APPLICANTS INCLUDE:
Jeffrey Albinson, a lawyer with the Golden Scaz Gagain firm;
Edward Artau, a judge on the 4th District Court of Appeal;
Steve Berlin, a judge on the 6th Judicial Circuit;
Hunter Carroll, a judge on the 12th Judicial Circuit;
Eric Eisnaugle II, a judge on the 5th District Court of Appeal;
Stephen Everett, a judge on the 2nd Judicial Circuit;
Renatha Francis, a judge on the 15th Judicial Circuit;
Ariana Fajardo Orshan, a judge on the 11th Judicial Circuit;
Anne-Leigh Gaylord Moe, a judge on the 13th Judicial Circuit;
Denise Harle, a lawyer with the Alliance Defending Freedom organization.
Jeffrey Kuntz, a judge on the 4th District Court of Appeal;
Robert Long, a judge on the 1st District Court of Appeal;
Tarlika Nunez Navarro, a judge on the 9th Judicial Circuit;
Cymonie Rowe, a judge on the 15th Judicial Circuit;
Meredith Sasso, a judge on the 5th District Court of Appeal;
Adam Tanenbaum, a judge on the 1st District Court of Appeal;
Thomas Winokur, a judge on the 1st District Court of Appeal;