Make us your home page

The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Supreme Court JNC meeting gets ugly



The Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission has spent the last 45 minutes trying to decide whether to reconvene and consider submitting more finalists to Gov. Charlie Crist.

This debate breaks down pretty much along the same lines as the JNC's composition does. Gov. Charlie Crist gets to appoint five of the nine JNC members. And the other four are nominated by the Florida Bar.

So you guessed, the four nominated by the Florida Bar are arguing forcefully that they shouldn't reconvene. And most of the other five, many of whom are Gov. Charlie Crist supporters, are arguing they should reconvene and cough up more names.

Arturo Alvarez, nominated by the Bar: "Our constitutional and moral obligations as commissioners ended when we certified those names to him….We did our job now it’s his turn to do his. . .Nothing new has occurred . do anything else, would be historically detrimental to the judicial nominating process. We’re hear to restrain the governor's power of appointment."

Kathleen Shanahan, appointed solely by Gov. Crist: "I guess I agree there was a change in circumstances…if I was standing in the line of Publix and there were changes made to the list, I think others would agree that would constitute a change in circumstances."

JNC chair Bob Hackleman said he supports returning to deliberations and giving more names, but he just said was concerned that their rules may not allow them to reconvene. So he just made a motion to "diverge" from any rules that they may already be breaking, so they can go into secret deliberations and consider finalists.

The motion carried 5-4, with the Florida Bar nominees voting against it.

Now some of the Florida Bar appointees are trying to get a motion passed to reopen the whole application process for another 30 days, to attract more diverse candidates. That went down by the same 5-4 margin.

On a different 5-4 vote, the JNC decided to consider an entirely new applicant who didn't even apply or interview for this opening, although he has applied for past openings on the high bench. The new applicant is Third Disctrict Court of Appeal Angel A. Cortiñas who was on the conference call line and yelled out, "You can interview me now."

Now they're debating whether or not Judge Jorge Labarga has withdrawn his name as a finalist for the Supreme Court.

They just went into a closed session to consider whether to send one or two new finalists from the old 18 member list plus Cortiñas.

[Last modified: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 3:09pm]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours