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Judicial diversity is a priority

Judicial diversity is a priority

The recent controversy created by the addition of a nominee for the at-large vacancy on the Florida Supreme Court has many Floridians wondering what is the process for selecting the judiciary in our state.

The intention is that judicial nominating commissions (JNCs) review and select a slate of names that are then submitted to the governor. Ultimately it is the governor who picks the final appointee who will serve on the state's judiciary. JNCs are made up of members appointed by the governor with several of the appointees including candidates recommended by the Florida Bar.

Apparently, the present controversy has arisen because the governor has asked several JNCs, including the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission, to make sure they are sending him the most diverse pool of candidates possible.

Diversity in its broadest sense is extremely important in judicial selection. This includes diversity of race, gender, ethnicity and experience.

Judicial decisionmaking is enhanced by the diversity brought to the process. Similarly, confidence in judicial decisionmaking is enhanced by having a judiciary that reflects the diversity of Florida's population.

Allowing judicial nominating commissions to give the governor more options only enhances the possibility of a more diverse judiciary. There is nothing improper with the governor asking for more names or the JNC sending more names. A 1996 attorney general's opinion affirmed the fact that the JNC could send additional names to the governor if the names did not exceed six and were sent to the governor before a judge had been selected to fill a vacancy.

The JNC should be commended for attempting to provide the governor with a list of diverse nominees.

Cynthia Tunnicliff, Tallahassee

Editor's note: Cynthia Tunnicliff has served on the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission and as chair of the 2nd Judicial Circuit Nominating Commission and the 1st District Court of Appeal Nominating Commission.

9 to watch in 2009 | Dec. 28, story

Leaders need experience beyond politics

As you pointed out, Adam Putnam has the smarts and the ambition to become the speaker of the U.S. House some day. But does he have the experience and the background for the job?

Putnam was elected to the state Legislature right out of college and then, a few years later, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He has never held a full-time job nor has he ever had a real boss to report to. He has never had to ask for a raise or worry about losing his job or do any of the other things most of us have had to do who work in the private sector.

Our Founding Fathers worked under the assumption that our political leaders would be representatives of the various states and occupations and therefore be able to work for their mutual benefits. They also assumed that these leaders would stay in Washington for a short time and then return to their homes, as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson did. Instead, our country has developed a cast of characters who are only politicians and have no interest except to remain a politician. I fear that Adam Putnam typifies that type of politician.

If he really aspires to head the House of Representative, he should come back home and get a job for a few years so that he understands the problems most of us face in our everyday working lives.

Roger W. Gambert, Palm Harbor

Silence greets Sansom outrage | Dec. 27

We voted for them

Golly gee. I naively thought it would be somewhat more than a month after the November elections before the whining would start — but no. Floridians continue to vote Republican in the state level elections and then — surprise — complain about the fine folks they supported. It's either that the legislators they just elected / re-elected are abusing their power, are deaf to the needs of the state and its citizens or just accomplish nothing.

The Sansom article notes there is no outrage over the collegiate shenanigans of the House speaker from his colleagues. And that surprises who? They don't want to upset the apple cart because woe be unto them when their apple cart gets dumped over. They know there are no consequences. Florida will keep electing them, Charlie Crist will keep praising their actions and all will be fine. Just some pesky editorials and letters to the editor that will eventually go away.

So can we stop the complaining now? I can't take two more years. We elected these clowns. Deal with it.

Doug Bauer, Clearwater

Rep. Ray Sansom

Call in the ethicists

Here we go again. The questions are about ethics, but the answers are sought not from ethicists, but from lawyers.

We are likely to get SOS (the same old story): "His behavior was unethical, but not illegal." Conclusion: Case dismissed.

When I think about professional ethicists, lawyers are not the profession that springs to mind. When the questions are about the law, bring on the lawyers; but when ethics are to the fore, call the properly trained professionals for those questions.

Would you look to a lawyer to answer questions about electricity, farming, medicine or other fields which require special knowledge? Of course not. Why then call on them for questions on ethics?

Mortimer Brown, Lutz

Buddy's blunders too many to count Dec. 26, Daniel Ruth column

Bungling Buddy

I loved Daniel Ruth's column about Buddy Johnson. Johnson's actions are particularly egregious when you remember what a great job Pam Iorio did as supervisor of elections. Iorio handed Buddy Johnson a department that was running perfectly and he managed to not only mess it up but also to incur this enormous "supposed" debt.

In reading the accounts of election night, I found it interesting that Buddy Johnson was "missing" for several hours and his staff was unable to contact him regarding the voting problems. His flippant attitude toward this very important position and his numerous ethical lapses are the very reasons that he was voted out of office.

Delia Miller, Temple Terrace

The walking wise men of D.C. | Dec. 21

There's a local need

The article in a recent Sunday's Parade magazine was an inspiration. You could look into the eyes of Brandon Forrest and Arthur Rush and see the goodness of their souls.

A local chapter of the Alliance for Concerned Men would be a great idea. Perhaps some local reformed men who read this article would start a chapter. The Times could help by doing an occasional article on the local chapter, along with donation instructions.

Claude Hensley, Clearwater

Judicial diversity is a priority 01/01/09 [Last modified: Friday, January 2, 2009 7:12pm]
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