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State of Florida

Methods of Judicial Selection: Florida

Judicial Nominating Commissions

There are twenty-six judicial nominating commissions that screen applicants for vacancies on Florida courts and recommend qualified candidates to the governor: the statewide nominating commission for the supreme court (rules), a commission for each of the five district courts of appeal (rules), and a commission for each of the twenty judicial circuits (rules). For all vacancies on the supreme court and district courts of appeal and for mid-term vacancies on the circuit and county courts, the appropriate nominating commission submits a list of three to six nominees. The governor must appoint one of the commission's nominees.

Each nominating commission consists of nine members appointed by the governor. Four members are lawyers appointed from lists of nominees submitted by the Florida Bar. Of the remaining five members, at least two must be lawyers. Members must be residents of the jurisdiction the commission serves. In making the appointments, the governor is to ensure that, to the extent possible, the membership of each commission reflects the racial, ethnic, and gender diversity and geographic distribution of the relevant jurisdiction. Members serve four-year terms.

In 1991, the Florida legislature altered the composition of the state's judicial nominating commissions to provide that one third of all members be women or members of a racial or ethnic minority group. A white male who applied for a commission vacancy was rejected because the position was reserved for a woman or minority, and he filed a suit challenging the constitutionality of the diversity provision. The federal district court found that the provision violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Mallory v. Harkness, 895 F.Supp. 1556 (S.D. Fla. 1995). The decision was affirmed by the court of appeals without reported opinion in 1997.

For more information, see Judicial Merit Selection: Current Status.

Nominating Commission Costs

  • $13,000 (2007)