TALLAHASSEE — Eighteen lawyers applied to fill a pending vacancy on the Florida Supreme Court; most had applied before.
The applicants aim to replace veteran Justice Harry Lee Anstead, who was appointed by Gov. Lawton Chiles in 1994. Anstead, 71, will retire Jan. 5 to comply with the state's mandatory retirement age for justices.
Anstead's resignation gives Gov. Charlie Crist his third appointment to the seven-member bench this year. Crist will get his fourth pick when Justice Charles Wells, another Chiles appointee, retires in March.
Ten applicants are already state circuit and appellate judges. Five are women. And the list appears to include five minorities.
Fourteen of the applicants had applied for at least one of the two positions Crist filled earlier this year. And four have been finalists in those earlier selection processes: Judge Waddell Wallace of Jacksonville, Judge Kevin Emas, lawyer Ed Guedes and Judge Jorge Labarga.
The applications now go to the nine-member Judicial Nominating Commission, which will interview the candidates in early December and forward a list of three to six finalists to the governor. Commission members include Howard Coker, a former leader of the trial bar; Robert Hackleman, a law partner of Crist's former chief of staff, George LeMieux; Kathleen M. Shanahan, who was chief of staff when Jeb Bush was governor; and Jason Unger, a longtime Republican activist whose wife, Karen, ran Bush's 2002 re-election campaign.
Crist's previous appointments had conservative judicial records. Those appointees were Justices Charles Canady, a former appellate judge and Republican congressman, and Ricky Polston, also a former appellate judge.