TALLAHASSEE — Longtime Florida Supreme Court spokesman Craig Waters, who became the court’s public face during the 2000 presidential recount, is retiring early next year, the justices announced Friday.
Waters will step down in February after 35 years in the job, during which he ushered in once-novel ideas such as putting court records online, having oral arguments broadcast and distributing court material on social media.
But Waters, 65, is best known for his press briefings and open government efforts during the 36-day presidential recount legal battle in which George W. Bush ultimately prevailed over Al Gore by 537 votes in Florida and won the White House.
“The two main ideas of open government I had advocated — placing court documents on the web and livestreaming oral argument broadcasts worldwide from start to finish — were on full display during that period,” Waters said in a news release.
“We often forget today that these ideas were not widely accepted by American courts beforehand,” he added.
Replacing Waters will be Paul Flemming, who worked as a reporter and editor for 25 years before becoming the first public information officer for the Office of the State Courts Administrator in 2016. The justices voted to pick Flemming for the Supreme Court post.
“I am confident Paul and the staff of the Public Information Office will continue this legacy of openness for the courts,” said Chief Justice Charles Canady. “Craig cannot be replaced, but his work will be continued and expanded on the foundation he has built.”