The Phoenix Flyer

Federalists dominate list of candidates for the Florida Supreme Court

By: - May 5, 2023 5:05 pm

The Florida Supreme Court building. Credit: Michael Moline

A judicial selection panel has sent Gov. Ron DeSantis the names of six candidates it deems qualified for the Florida Supreme Court vacancy left by the resignation of Justice Ricky Polston.

They are:

  • Michael Thomas McHugh, chief judge of the Twentieth Judicial Circuit in Fort Myers.
  • Joshua Aaron Mize, a judge on the Florida Sixth District Court of Appeal.
  • Thomas Nelson Palermo, a circuit judge in Hillsborough County.
  • Meredith L. Sasso, chief judge of the Sixth District Court of Appeal.
  • Jared Edward Smith, another Sixth District Court of Appeal judge.
  • John K. Stargel, yet another judge of the Sixth District Court of Appeal. He’s married to former state Sen. Kelli Stargel.

DeSantis has 60 days to make his selection.

Of the six, only McHugh disclosed no affiliation with the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, sort of a farm system for members of the conservative legal movement. DeSantis is known to favor its members for judicial appointments.

The Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission interviewed 15 applicants on Wednesday, having had to reopen nominations after receiving only three applications earlier this spring.

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Michael Moline
Michael Moline

Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal.