Renatha Francis names final list of Florida Supreme Court nominees

TALLAHASSEE, Florida. –Palm Beach Circuit Judge Renatha Francis is on the certified slate of nominees to fill a vacancy on the Florida Supreme Court.

Francis was a judge-designate in 2020, but her appointment was rescinded in September 2020 on the grounds that she had not been a member of the Florida bar for at least 10 years. This is one of the minimum requirements set by the state constitution.

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Gov. Ron DeSantis received the list of six nominees from the Supreme Court Justice Nominating Commission on Monday to replace incumbent Justice Alan Lawson.

Lawson, 61, announced in April that he would retire on August 31, more than 10 years before the judges’ retirement age of 75.

“I would like to express my gratitude to the members of the Judicial Nominating Commission for recommending such an exemplary list of strong constitutional lawyers and practitioners,” DeSantis said in a press release. “I want to thank the commissioners for their hard work and diligence. They left me with a tough choice, but I look forward to appointing our next Supreme Court justice in the weeks to come.

The list also includes Robert Long and Adam Tanenbaum, judges on the 1st District Court of Appeals; Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Anne-Leigh Gaylord More; Meredith Sasso, judge in the 5th District Court of Appeals; and Denise Harle, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom.

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If nominated, Francis would be the only black justice on the Florida Supreme Court. The last black judge was Peggy A. Quince, who retired in 2019 and served as the court’s first black female chief justice.

Francis would also be the second woman in the state’s high court. Judge Jamie R. Grosshans is currently the only woman.

DeSantis has 60 days to appoint a judge from among the nominees.

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