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Pariente is second woman named Florida chief justice

Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Barbara J. Pariente, who wrote Thursday's unanimous opinion overturning the law that kept Terri Schiavo alive, is just the second woman to serve in that role.

When she became chief justice in July, she talked of her battle with breast cancer in 2003 and undergoing chemotherapy.

"During the months of treatment, I kept on wondering, "How am I going to do this?' " she said.

At the time, Gov. Jeb Bush predicted Pariente would be "a firm and fair chief justice whose first commitment is upholding the law and whose driving passion is working for all Floridians, particularly our children."

Pariente, 55, is one of two women on the seven-member court. She was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1997 by Bush's predecessor, the late Gov. Lawton Chiles. One of the other finalists was Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Susan Schaeffer.

A New York native, Pariente graduated magna cum laude from Boston University and graduated fifth in her class at George Washington University Law School in 1973. She clerked for a federal judge in Fort Lauderdale for two years before entering private practice in West Palm Beach.

She spent 18 years as a personal injury lawyer before becoming a judge in 1993, when Chiles appointed her to the 4th District Court of Appeal.