Written by Shannon McLin Carlyle
Many of you know I am a lawyer, but might not know our firm’s specialty. My husband, Chris, and I practice appellate law, which means we present cases to the district courts of appeal as well as the Florida Supreme Court. As a result, we have the unique opportunity to get to know the seven justices on the supreme court. Every 6 years, several of the justices are up for “merit retention.” The system is designed to give the people of Florida an opportunity to vote a justice off the bench if the justice was unethical, corrupt, untoward, etc. It was never designed to try to have hard-working, honorable people be removed from the bench for political reasons. Unfortunately, for the first time in Florida’s history, that is what is happening now with the campaign to unseat the three justices that are up for merit retention this year, Justices Pariente, Lewis, and Quince.
Chris and I know each of the justices personally. We have appeared before them for years, and also work with them in the Florida Bar’s appellate practice section. I can assure you that these three individuals are smart, trustworthy, hard-working, fair-minded, and ethical, and each have the integrity and character to continue to serve as justices.
Justice Pariente is a breast cancer survivor and was a true inspiration as she refused to stop working even though chemotherapy treatments left her with no hair. She never missed an oral argument or judicial conference, and sat on the bench during televised oral arguments with no wig. Her actions empowered other survivors. In 2008, she was inducted into Florida’s Women Hall of Fame.
Justice Lewis instituted the “justice teaching” program that has placed almost 4,000 lawyers and judges throughout the state in public school classrooms to speak to the kids about the legal system. In 2008, Justice Lewis received the prestigious Hoeveler Judicial Award, representing the highest level of professionalism in Florida’s judicial system.
Justice Quince has served on the court since 1999 and was the first African American and first woman to serve on Florida’s highest court. She was appointed jointly by both Governor Jeb Bush and Governor Lawton Chiles.
The justices’ accomplishments are too great to list here. If you’d like to know more about their stellar careers, I urge you to look them up on Wikipedia. If you have any questions or would like to discuss anything about this issue, please feel free to call or email me.
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