Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Polston to join state Supreme Court

Opinions in high-profile appellate cases show Judge Ricky L. Polston’s conservative side.

Opinions in high-profile appellate cases show Judge Ricky L. Polston’s conservative side.

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Charlie Crist appointed appellate Judge Ricky L. Polston to the Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday, leaving the state's highest court with just one minority and roughly the same philosophical split.

Polston, 52, is Crist's second appointment in as many months, replacing the court's two most conservative members, who stepped down for personal reasons and were appointed by Jeb Bush when he was governor.

Polston replaces Justice Kenneth Bell, 52, whose last day was Wednesday. Crist's first appointment was Judge Charles Canady who replaced Justice Raoul Cantero, 47, who is of Cuban dissent and left the bench Sept. 6.

The bench's makeup is now five white men, a white woman and one black woman, Chief Justice Peggy Quince.

Crist will have two more choices — four of seven appointments — when more justices must retire next year. Both Canady and Polston are white, registered Republicans and have pushed conservative issues at some point in their careers.

Canady, as a Lakeland congressman, led the impeachment of President Bill Clinton and crafted federal antiabortion legislation.

As a lawyer, Polston defended a state highway agency in lawsuits challenging the state's antiabortion "Choose Life" license plates, a move that Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates decried Wednesday.

Although Polston has presided over thousands of cases, his most high-profile ones show a conservative side. He disagreed with colleagues on the 1st District Court of Appeals who declared Jeb Bush's voucher program unconstitutional. He also agreed with colleagues that NAACP lacked standing to challenge the ending of affirmative action in university admissions, a ruling the state Supreme Court overturned in 4-3 decision.

However, Polston agreed with the Florida American Civil Liberties Union and the Florida Caucus of Black State Legislators in 2004 that the Corrections Department must give ex-offenders the paperwork — and even help them upon request — in the process of restoring their civil rights.

"Where would I position him on the spectrum of conservative, liberal, ideological? I think it's a great compliment to any judge to say: I just don't know," said Tallahassee lawyer Barry Richard, a registered Democrat who defended George W. Bush during the 2000 presidential election recount. "He looks at every case for its intrinsic value and that's the best kind of a judge."

Polston was born in Dothan, Ala., but grew up in Graceville on a farm that grew peanuts and watermelons, he said. Married for 31 years to Deborah Ehler Polston, a children's book author, and his wife have four biological daughters and six sons adopted from state foster care.

Polston earned his bachelor's and law degree from Florida State University. He has been a certified public accountant for 30 years. Jeb Bush appointed him to the 1st District Court of Appeals in 2001. He teaches at FSU law school and is an elder at Christian Heritage Church, his application said.

Crist has expressed concern about the lack of diversity among finalists the Judicial Nominating Commission submitted for the two vacancies. He said he planned to be more "active" in ensuring women and minorities are finalists for his last two appointments.

"I have two more appointments to make in the next few months, and I would encourage women and minorities to apply," he said. " I hope that the nominating commissions present names that include minorities because I'm anxious to do it."

Polston to join state Supreme Court 10/01/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 2, 2008 3:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. No touchdown, but fun lesson for Bucs' Adam Humphries

    Bucs

    It didn't end up being a touchdown, but one of the Bucs' biggest hustle plays in Thursday's win over Jacksonville saw receiver Adam Humphries scoop up a loose ball just before halftime, after what looked like an incompletion but was correctly ruled a Jameis Winston fumble.

    Bucs WR Adam Humphries runs to the end zone with QB Jameis Winston trailing -- his alert play wasn't a touchdown because teammates cannot advance a fumble in the final two minutes of a half.
  2. Bucs' Demar Dotson should be back from injury next week

    Bucs

    The Bucs got good news on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI showed only a mild right groin sprain and should be back at practice next week.

    Bucs tackle Demar Dotson, shown last year when he signed a three-year contract extension, should only miss a week of practice with his groin injury and can return healthy for the Bucs' season opener at Miami in three weeks. [Octavio Jones | Times]
  3. Comedy legend Jerry Lewis dead at 91

    Obituaries

    LOS ANGELES — Jerry Lewis, the manic, rubber-faced showman who jumped and hollered to fame in a lucrative partnership with Dean Martin, settled down to become a self-conscious screen auteur and found an even greater following as the tireless, teary host of the annual muscular dystrophy telethons, has died. He was …

    In this Sept. 2, 1990, file photo, entertainer Jerry Lewis makes his opening remarks at the 25th Anniversary of the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon fundraiser in Los Angeles. Lewis, the comedian whose fundraising telethons became as famous as his hit movies, has died according to his publicist. [Associated Press]
  4. Mastermind of lottery rigging scam that netted millions faces 25 years

    Nation

    DES MOINES, Iowa — For a decade, computer programmer Eddie Tipton reliably showed up for work at the central Iowa office of the Multi-State Lottery Association and earned the confidence of his co-workers, a team of technicians entrusted to build computers used to randomly pick numbers for some of the most popular …

    FILE - In this June 29, 2017, file photo, Eddie Tipton, the former Multi-State Lottery Association information security director who admitted to masterminding a scheme to rig lottery games that paid him and others $2 million from seven fixed jackpots in five states, is seen in court in Des Moines, Iowa. Tipton is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday, Aug. 22. (Rodney White/The Des Moines Register via AP, File) IADES501
  5. Pasco County man killed in wrong-way crash on New Jersey Turnpike

    Accidents

    MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. — Authorities say a Florida man driving the wrong way on the New Jersey Turnpike was killed when his SUV crashed head-on into another vehicle.