Get to Know the Members of the Supreme Court of Florida

Supreme Court of Florida

The Supreme Court of Florida is the highest court in the state of Florida. It consists of seven justices, one of whom presides as the Chief Justice. Florida’s governor fills any vacancies on the high court by appointing an individual from a slate of names given to him by the Supreme Court judicial nominating commission. To be considered for the seat, one must be a Florida resident and registered voter and not older than 70 years of age. The term of a Justice lasts six years, after which each appointment must be confirmed by a retention vote of Florida’s voter during the general election.

The current Florida Supreme Court includes Justices Barbara Pariente, Fred Lewis, Peggy Quince, Jorge Labarga, Charles Canady, Ricky Polston, and C. Alan Lawson.

Barbara Pariente was appointed to the court in 1997. The late Gov. Lawton Chiles appointed her, and she served as Chief Justice during her first term. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Boston University and her J.D from George Washington University. Justice Pariente previously served as a judge on Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal, before being appointed to the high bench. Justice Pariente was born and raised in New York City and currently presides in West Palm Beach, Fl.

Fred Lewis is one of the longest serving justices on the court; the late Gov. Lawton Chiles appointed Lewis to the court in 1998. He served as the Chief Justice from 2006 to 2008. Born and raised in West Virginia, Lewis came to Florida to study at Florida Southern College, before earning his J.D from the University of Miami.
Peggy Quince was appointed to the court in 1997, the same year as Fred Lewis. Both Governor Chiles and then-Governor-elect Jeb Bush, in a collaborative pick, appointed her. She served as the Chief Justice, for two years until 2010, the first African-American woman to serve in that capacity. Justice Quince is the third female and the third African-American to serve on the court. Before joining the high court, she served as a judge on Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal. Born in Chesapeake, Virginia, Justice Quince received her law degree from the Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America.

Jorge Labarga is the current Chief Justice. Former Governor Charlie Crist appointed him to the court in 2009. Born in Havana, Cuba, Justice Labarga was retained in 2010 and 2016 and is credited with being the first Cuban-American to hold the post of Chief Justice in the state. Justice Jorge studied at the University of Florida and earned his J.D at the Levin College of Law in 1979.

Governor Crist appointed Charles Canady to the court in 2008. Born in Lakeland, Justice Canady was said to be one of the judges being considered by President Donald Trump as a successor to Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court. Justice Canady is a graduate of Haverford College and Yale Law School, where he earned his JD.
Ricky Polston is one of the more recently appointed justices. Polston was born in Alabama and raised in Graceville, Florida. Justice Polston was appointed by Governor Crist in 2008 and acted as the Chief Justice from 2012 to 2014. Formerly a certified public accountant, Justice Polston worked as a judge on Florida’s First District Court of Appeal before joining the high court.

C. Alan Lawson was appointed to the court just a few months ago by Governor Rick Scott to replace the retiring Justice James E. C. Perry. He served as a judge of the Fifth District Court of Appeal before his appointment to the Supreme Court. Justice Lawson, born and raised in Lakeland, studied at Tallahassee Community College and Clemson University before earning his J.D. at the Florida State University College of Law.

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