Pleus v. Crist, Case No. SC09-565 (Fla. July 2, 2009)

Former Gov. Crist

The Florida Supreme Court issued its opinion in Pleus v. Crist, Case No. SC09-565 (Fla. July 2, 2009)

The unanimous opinion, authored by Justice Labarga, grants a Petition for Writ of Mandamus filed by retired Fifth District Court of Appeals Judge Robert J. Pleus, Jr. Judge Pleus sought a writ of mandamus requiring Governor Crist to appoint his successor to the Fifth District. The Judicial Nominating Commission ("JNC") submitted a list of six nominees to the Governor, who rejected the list because of its lack of diversity. The Governor requested the JNC reconvene and consider the application of three African-Americans who had applied to fill the vacancy; the JNC met to consider the Governor's request and resubmitted the original list of nominees to the Governor. The Governor has not filled the vacancy.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled that the plain language of Article V, Section 11(c) of the Florida Constitution mandates that the Governor, upon receipt of the certified list of nominees from a JNC, make an appointment from that list within 60 days to fill the judicial vacancy. The Court noted the absence of any language in that provision granting the Governor the authority to reject the JNC's certified list or to extend the time in which the appointment must be made. The Court granted the Petition, but withheld issuance of the writ.
unanimous opinion


Pleus v. Crist, Case No. SC09-565 (Fla. July 2, 2009)
Pleus vs Gov Crist, SC 09-565.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [111.5 KB]

NAACP Amicus Curiae Brief, Robert J Pleus, Jr. vs. Governor Crist, Case No. SC09-565, Supreme Court of Florida

NAACP Amicus Curiae Brief, Pleus v. Crist
Pleus vs Gov Crist, SC 09-565, NAACP Ami[...]
Adobe Acrobat document [281.3 KB]

Lawyer group blasts JNC's Jimenez pick
The Buzz
From the staff of the St. Petersburg Times
December 23, 2008

The Judicial Nominating Commission ''ran afoul of Florida law'' and appeared to bow to political pressure when it nominated Miami lawyer Frank Jimenez for the Florida Supreme Court, a group of high-powered lawyers complained in a strongly worded letter Monday.

Jimenez, a politically connected attorney who is currently the U.S. Navy's general counsel, was nominated for the seat Wednesday after a long and contentious JNC meeting called in response to Gov. Charlie Crist's request for more ''diversity'' in the list of prospective justices. Amid frequent 5-4 votes, the commission suspended its rules at times as some members questioned what they were doing and what Crist's motives were.

''We are very concerned that the integrity of the process with respect to the nomination and selection of justices and judges may be tainted in the eyes of the public,'' said the letter to JNC chairman Robert Hackleman.


It was signed by 17 attorneys, including former Florida Bar President Kelly Overstreet-Johnson, Wayne Hogan, two former Fifth District Court of Appeal judges and state Sen. Alex Villalobos, R-Miami, and his father, José. Read more


Lawyer group blasts JNC's Jimenez pick
Lawyer group blasts JNC's Jimenez pick _[...]
Adobe Acrobat document [39.9 KB]
Adobe Acrobat document [32.3 KB]

Is the Integrity of Florida's Judicial Nominating Process in Question?

Civic Concern

Over the last month, the drama played out over the most recent nomination to the Florida Supreme Court has sparked sharp criticism of the judicial nominating process.

Florida's judicial nominating process requires judicial nominating commissions (JNCs) to review applications, interview applicants and submit a list of names to the Governor from which the Governor must choose an appointee. In an unprecedented move last month, Governor Charlie Crist responded to a list of potential Supreme Court appointees by requesting that the JNC reconvene and add additional names, specifically citing his concerns over the list's lack of diversity.

While legal analysts questioned whether the Governor was permitted to take such an action, the JNC held a contentious meeting, voted to suspend its own rules, held a private meeting, then voted to add a single name to their list, Frank Jimenez, a politically connected, highly ideological lawyer who previously served in former Governor Jeb Bush's administration. In the end, Governor Crist appointed Jorge LaBarga, a Cuban-American Palm Beach County judge whose name was on the original list submitted by the JNC.

The episode has raised serious concerns about the politicization and partisanship of the current structure of Florida's judicial nominating process, and respected commentators, including former Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham, have questioned the integrity of the system.


Is the Integrity of Florida's Judicial Nominating Process in Question? Civic Concern
CIVIC Concern_ Is the Integrity of Flori[...]
Adobe Acrobat document [51.1 KB]