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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Justice Bell resigns from FL Supreme Court

Bellweb3 Justice Kenneth B. Bell announced his resignation from the Florida Supreme Court this morning.

The resignation, effective October 1, means Gov. Charlie Crist will have a chance to appoint 4 of the court's 7 justices. Besides Bell and Raoul G. Cantero III, Justices Harry Lee Anstead and Charles T.Wells are due to retire in Crist's first term. Both Cantero and Bell were appointed by Jeb Bush.

In a move similar to Cantero's resignation last month for personal reasons, Bell said in a letter to Crist he will return to his hometown of Pensacola because of family, according to a news release issued by the state's highest court this morning.

“Serving the people of Florida as a justice,” Bell said in a written statement, “has been the greatest privilege of my public life.  Indeed, I wish I could continue to serve. "However, similar to the reasons recently expressed by Justice Cantero in his resignation, my family responsibilities require that I return full-time to Pensacola."   

Said Bell: "I will leave Tallahassee with many cherished friends and fond memories of my time on the Court. I hope that tendering this resignation today will give you sufficient time to complete the constitutional mechanism for appointing a replacement."

Bell , 52, became the first Justice appointed from the far Western Panhandle of Florida in more than a century when Bush named him to the state’s highest court on December 30, 2002., the release states.

Gov. Crist said in a statement:

“Justice Bell’s tenure on the Florida Supreme Court is to be commended.  He will be remembered for his firm belief in the separation of powers and the system of checks and balances on which our nation was founded.  As a justice, he was always careful to respect the appropriate roles of the judicial, legislative and executive branches.

“His experience as a trial court judge gave him a unique perspective for every case that came before the Court.  In addition, his heritage as a seventh-generation Pensacolian and the sole justice from Northwest Florida in a century has made him an important voice in the legal community.  I am certain his contributions to case law will endure for a very long time.

“As a person, Justice Bell was well liked and respected by all who served alongside him.  I wish him and his family all the best.  I am grateful to Justice Bell for his service to the people of Florida."

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 10:59am]


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