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Florida Supreme Court

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Florida Supreme Court
Court information
Justices:   7
Founded:   1845
Chief:  $162,000
Associates:  $162,000
Judicial selection
Method:   Assisted appointment
Term:   6 years
Active justices

Fred Lewis  •  Barbara Pariente  •  Peggy Quince  •  Charles Canady  •  Ricky Polston  •  Jorge Labarga  •  James E.C. Perry  •  

Seal of Florida.png

Founded in 1845, the Florida Supreme Court is the state's court of last resort.


The current justices of the court are:
JudgeTermSelected by
Justice Fred Lewis1998-2019Gov. Lawton Chiles
Justice Barbara Pariente1997-2019Gov. Lawton Chiles
Justice Peggy Quince1998-2019Gov. Lawton Chiles
Justice Charles Canady2008-2017Gov. Charlie Crist
Justice Ricky Polston2008-2017Gov. Charlie Crist
Chief Justice Jorge Labarga2009-2017Gov. Charlie Crist
Justice James E.C. Perry2009-2017Gov. Charlie Crist


The Florida Constitution gives the Supreme Court manditory appellate jurisdiction over certain types of cases such as death penalty and public utilities cases, discretionary appellate jurisdiction over matters pertaining to the state constitution, and exclusive and non-exclusive jurisdiction over writs of habeas corpus, mandamus, quo warranto, and prohibition.[1]

Judicial selection

See also: Judicial selection in Florida

Judges are selected using the assisted appointment method, where the Governor of Florida chooses from a list of three to six candidates recommended by the Commission on Judicial Appointments. Justices serve six-year terms. The appointment of a justice must be confirmed by a retention vote in the next general election at least one year after taking office.[2]

Political outlook

See also: Political outlook of State Supreme Court Justices

In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan outlook of state supreme court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 were more liberal. The state Supreme Court of Florida was given a campaign finance score (CFscore) which was calculated for judges in October 2012. At that time, Florida received a score of 0.51. Based on the justices selected, Florida was the 8th most conservative court. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice but rather, an academic gauge of various factors.[3]


Minimum qualifications for appoint to the court are:

  • Registered to vote in Florida.
  • Resident of Florida.
  • Under 70 years of age.

Removal of justices

Judges may be removed in one of two ways:


Jorge LabargaCharles CanadyRicky PolstonJames PerryBarbara ParientePeggy QuinceFred LewisFL Supreme Court.jpg
Florida Supreme Court justices, from left to right, top row: Jorge Labarga, Charles Canady, Ricky Polston, James Perry bottom row: Barbara Pariente, Peggy Quince, Fred Lewis
Fiscal Year Filings Dispositions
2014 * *
2013 2,490 *
2012 2,752 2,366
2011 2,539 *
2010 2,506 *
2009 2,386 *
2008 2,505 *
2007 2,478 *


  • Florida has not provided information on all of its Supreme Court's yearly filings and dispositions.

Notable decisions

The Florida Supreme Court has heard many cases of note, including the 2000 presidential election Florida recount case Bush v. Gore.[8]


Financial disclosure

See also: Center for Public Integrity Study on State Supreme Court Disclosure Requirements

In December 2013, the Center for Public Integrity released a study on disclosure requirements for state supreme court judges. Analysts from the Center reviewed the rules governing financial disclosure in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as personal financial disclosures for the past three years. The study found that 42 states and Washington D.C. received failing grades. Florida earned a grade of F in the study. No state received a grade higher than "C". Furthermore, due in part to these lax disclosure standards, the study found 35 instances of questionable gifts, investments overlapping with caseloads and similar potential ethical quandaries. The study also noted 14 cases in which justices participated although they or their spouses held stock in the company involved in the litigation.[15]

History of the court

Florida Supreme Court building
  • 1838: Territory of Florida Constitution written; creates a supreme court but does not assign any judges to it
  • 1846-1851: Circuit judges elected to serve on supreme court by legislature
  • 1851: One chief justice and two justices assigned to supreme court
  • 1853: Justices elected to the court by popular vote
  • 1861: Amended constitution allows governor to appoint justices with advice and consent of Florida Senate
  • 1902: Amendment increases number of justices to six
  • 1911: Legislature reduces number of justices to five
  • 1923: Number of justices increased to six
  • 1940: Constitutional amendment sets number of justices at seven
  • 1971: Governor Reubin Askew institutes merit selection of supreme court justices
  • 1976: Florida Constitution amended to allow for merit selection of appellate judges[16][17]

Notable firsts

  • Justice Peggy Quince is the first African American woman to serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. She is also only the second African-American and third female to serve on the court.[18]
  • Justice Joseph Hatchett was the first African-American to serve on the court.[19]
  • Justice Rosemary Barkett was the first woman to serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. She is also the first female, Arab-American and Hispanic woman to be appointed to the court.[20]
  • Justice Raoul Cantero was the first person of Hispanic decent to serve on the court.[21]

See also

External links


  1. FL Supreme Court History
  2. Supreme Court Overview
  3. Stanford University, "State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns," October 31, 2012
  4. Methods of Judicial selection:Removal of Judges
  5. Florida Courts, "2013-2014 Annual Report," accessed April 6, 2015
  6. E-mail from Florida Public Information Office provided 2012 numbers
  7. Florida State Courts, Annual Report, 2011-2012
  8. Wikipedia: Florida Supreme Court
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 North Escambia, "Florida Supreme Court cancels hearing on execution drug," December 15, 2013
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2, "Florida’s Barbaric, Disgusting Decision to Execute a Prisoner Using an Untested Drug," By Justin Peters, October 16, 2013
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Reuters, "Florida Supreme Court rules execution drug is effective sedative," by Bill Cotterell, December 19, 2013
  12. "Florida Supreme Court approves new execution drug," December 15, 2013
  13. 13.0 13.1 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  14. Supreme Court of Florida, "RICK SCOTT, et al. vs. GEORGE WILLIAMS, et al.,," January 17, 2013
  15. Center for Public Integrity, "State supreme court judges reveal scant financial information," December 5, 2013
  16. Florida Supreme Court, "The Supreme Court of Florida"
  17. Florida Supreme Court, "History of the Florida Supreme Court"
  18. Florida Supreme Court, Chief Justice Peggy A. Quince
  19. Florida Supreme Court, Judge Profile, Josephy Hatchet
  20. Florida Supreme Court, Judge Profile, Rosemary Barkett
  21. Florida Supreme Court, Judge Cantero Biography


JudgeIncumbencyRetention voteRetention Vote %
ParienteBarbara Pariente   ApprovedAYes4,934,29668.0%ApprovedA
LewisFred Lewis   ApprovedAYes4,899,66767.5%ApprovedA
QuincePeggy Quince   ApprovedAYes4,894,67767.7%ApprovedA


Florida Supreme Court, Associate Justice
2010 General election results
Candidates Votes Percent
Charles Canady Green check mark transparent.png 3,032,766 67.5%
Against retention 1,457,276 32.5%
Florida Supreme Court, Associate Justice
2010 General election results
Candidates Votes Percent
Ricky Polston Green check mark transparent.png 2,917,344 66.1%
Against retention 1,494,754 33.9%
Florida Supreme Court, Associate Justice
2010 General election results
Candidates Votes Percent
Jorge Labarga Green check mark transparent.png 2,623,144 59.0%
Against retention 1,825,270 41.0%
Florida Supreme Court, Associate Justice
2010 General election results
Candidates Votes Percent
James Perry Green check mark transparent.png 2,741,271 61.7%
Against retention 1,700,729 38.3%
  • Click here for 2010 General Election Results from the Florida Secretary of State.
Main Article: Florida judicial elections, 2010


Florida Supreme Court, Associate Justice
2006 General election results
Candidates Votes Percent
Fred Lewis Green check mark transparent.png 2,759,763 67.1%
Against retention 1,351,264 32.9%
Florida Supreme Court, Associate Justice
2006 General election results
Candidates Votes Percent
Barbara Pariente Green check mark transparent.png 2,772,413 67.6%
Against retention 1,328,674 32.4%
Florida Supreme Court, Associate Justice
2006 General election results
Candidates Votes Percent
Peggy Quince Green check mark transparent.png 2,787,041 68.2%
Against retention 1,296,966 31.8%
  • Click here for 2006 General Election Results from the Florida Secretary of State.
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