Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday appointed Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Eric Hendon to a seat on the 3rd District Court of Appeal in South Florida.
Hendon, a circuit judge since 2012, is the first African-American judge Scott has appointed to a state appellate court since taking office in January 2011.
During that time, Scott has made 34 appointments to the five state district courts of appeal. Scott's lack of appointment of black appellate judges became an issue in recent litigation over the upcoming appointment of three new justices to the Florida Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission, which Scott appointed, has advanced a list of 11 nominees to the state's highest court, but does not have any African-American nominees.
When Justice Peggy Quince retires on Jan. 8, the court will be without a black justice for the first time in 36 years. Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis will appoint the new justices from the list of 11 nominees.
Hendon, 62, is a former county judge in Miami-Dade who was appointed to the circuit bench by Scott in December 2012. A graduate of the University of Florida law school, Hendon will replace Judge Richard Suarez, who is retiring from the appellate court.
On Thursday, Scott also appointed Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Bronwyn Miller, 46, to another seat on the 3rd District Court of Appeal. Miller, a graduate of the University of Miami law school, will replace Judge Leslie Rothenberg, who is also retiring from the appellate court.