The Phoenix Flyer

Amid legal controversy, group pushes forward to interview Florida Supreme Court candidates

By: - October 12, 2018 10:48 am

The organization charged with providing a list of qualified candidates to succeed three retiring justices on the Florida Supreme Court will meet twice in November to conduct interviews before submitting top choices to Governor Rick Scott and the incoming governor-elect.

But which of the officials will have the power to choose the new Supreme Court justices?

Will it be Scott, or the governor-elect, meaning Republican Ron DeSantis or Democrat Andrew Gillum?

The stakes are high, because the Supreme Court makes decisions in high-profile cases that reverberate across the state.

The nine-member Florida Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) is made up of appointees chosen by Scott, and they are expected to select candidates who align with his conservative ideology.

The JNC met for a brief conference call on Thursday afternoon to confirm that they will meet in both Miami and later in Tampa for two days each of interviewing the 59 people who have applied to fill the positions of Justices Barbara Pariente, Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince, all of whom are facing mandatory retirement in January. The three are considered to be liberal-leaning justices.

However, the League of Women Voters of Florida, Common Cause and other officials filed a petition with the Florida Supreme Court challenging Scott’s power to choose the next justices. The case is filed against Scott, the JNC and Jason Unger, the JNC chair.

The governor has said in consultation with the governor-elect, he will announce the new justices on January 7, his last day in office, which coincides with the retirement date of the three justices.

But the groups challenging Scott on the issue in court say that the power to appoint the new justices goes to the incoming governor.

Scott has so far ignored the lawsuit, and last month he ordered the JNC to begin accepting nominations.

Scott ordered the JNC to give him their top choices by November 10, four days after the general election.

Unger, a Tallahassee attorney who chairs the JNC, told the other members on the commission that they will split up the interviews of the 59 candidates geographically, interviewing half of them in Miami at the Miami International Airport on November 3-4, and roughly the other half at the Airport Executive Center next to Tampa International Airport on November 8-9.

The JNC is charged with submitting three to six names for each of the three upcoming vacancies.

Here is the list of the candidates who have applied:

  1. Andrews, Michael F.
  2. Atkinson, Andrew
  3. Bilbrey, Ross
  4. Bokor, Alexander Spicola
  5. Boulris, Amy Brigham
  6. Burns, Jeffrey Leonard
  7. Carroll, Hunter
  8. Coates, Howard , Jr.
  9. Couriel, John Daniel
  10. Cowden, Angela Jane
  11. Cox, Cynthia
  12. Daniel, James
  13. Duncan, James Scott
  14. Farach, Manuel
  15. Gerber, Jonathan
  16. Gowdy, Bryan Scott
  17. 1 Grosshans, Jamie Rutland
  18. Guedes, Edward
  19. Harper, Bradley
  20. Ketchel, Terrance
  21. Klingensmith, Mark
  22. Kuntz, Jeffrey
  23. Kyle, Bruce
  24. Lagoa, Barbara
  25. Lee, Laurel
  26. Lindsey, Norma
  27. Long, Robert , Jr.
  28. Luck, Robert
  29. Mahon, Mark
  30. Makar, Scott
  31. McDaniel, Michael Patrick
  32. Miller, Mark
  33. Muniz, Carlos Genaro
  34. O’Byrne, Haden Patrick
  35. Osterhaus, Timothy
  36. Ramsberger, Thomas
  37. Roberson, Eric
  38. Robe1is, Clayton
  39. Roby, William
  40. Rowe, Cymonie
  41. Salario, Samuel , Jr.
  42. Salvador, Tatiana Radi
  43. Samuels, Leonard
  44. Scales, Edwin , III
  45. Senn, Stephen
  46. Singhal, Anuraag
  47. Siracusa, Pat,
  48. Sjostrom, Jonathan
  49. Smiley, Elijah
  50. Solomon, Donna Greenspan
  51. Soud, Adrian
  52. Stargel, John
  53. Tatti, Anthony Michael
  54. Thatcher, Matthew
  55. Thomas, Kemmerly
  56. Thomas, William
  57. Trawick, Daryl
  58. Wallace, Waddell , III
  59. Winokur, Thomas


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Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has covered politics and government in Florida for more than two decades. Most recently he is the former politics reporter for Bay News 9. He has also worked at Florida Politics, Creative Loafing and WMNF Radio in Tampa. He was also part of the original staff when the Florida Phoenix was created in 2018.