TALLAHASSEE — Jason Gonzalez, the general counsel who helped Gov. Charlie Crist reshape Florida's highest court, is leaving his post for private practice.
"It's been a great privilege to serve the governor and the people," said Gonzalez, who is married with three young children. "But it's time to devote more time to my family."
Gonzalez, 35, officially steps down today, after he attends the investiture ceremony for Justice James E.C. Perry, the last of the four state Supreme Court justices he helped Crist select.
The appointments of Perry and Ricky Polston, Charles Canady and Jorge Labarga mark the first time in Florida history in which any governor appointed a majority of the court in less than a year.
The appointments also marked a period in which Crist's administration struggled to balance its own desire for diversity court with the right-leaning preferences of conservative groups.
As the governor's top attorney, Gonzalez played an important role in advising Crist as he weighed various candidates and dealt with outside political pressure.
Last month, Gonzalez defended Crist before the high court in a lawsuit that challenged Crist's right to reject all six finalists for a seat on the Fifth District Court of Appeal. Crist rejected the list because it did not include African-Americans.
Gonzalez is among the few minorities to serve at the top of Crist's administration. His great-great-grandfather left his native Cuba in 1866 and founded the city of Fort Myers.
Gonzalez is weighing offers from several prominent statewide firms but has not yet decided which to join. He plans on returning to litigation.