Scott names 'conservative' lawyer Forst to DCA judgeship
Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday named a lawyer to an appellate judgeship who highlighted his "conservative credentials" on his application, including past ties to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and members of the Bush family.
Scott chose Treasure Coast attorney Alan Orantes Forst to a vacancy on the 4th District Court of Appeal, rejecting four other finalists who all had extensive judicial experience. Forst was a finalist recommended by a Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) that includes six Scott appointees among its nine members.
Forst had angered Democracy at Stake, a Democrat-leaning judicial watchdog group, for touting his Republican ties on his application for the non-partisan position. He replaces Fred Hazouri, who retired from the court that handles appellate cases in Broward and Palm Beach counties and the Treasure Coast.
Forst is an attorney and chairman of a state agency, the Florida Reemployment Assistance Appeals Commission. The Palm City resident included in his application a section he labeled "Conservative Credentials," and name-dropped Clarence Thomas, Bob Dole and Jeb Bush.
Forst noted that he was a college Republican and Ford-Dole volunteer, worked for a pro-Ronald Reagan political action committee. He worked in President Reagan's Justice Department, where his duties included being a liaison between the agency and Clarence Thomas, who then was chairman at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Talbot "Sandy" D'Alemberte of Democracy at Stake, a former American Bar Association president, former president of Florida State University and former dean of its law school, issued a statement expressing deep disappointment with Scott's choice. "When you have a person appointed to the court who has never tried a case to verdict and without any substantial appellate experience, it certainly makes you question whether the JNC is making nominations based on political acceptability rather than competence," he said.