Tuesday, September 25, 2012


This is one of those subjects that few consider- until it effects them.  Please understand that the foundation of our democracy is under attack, and before most people realize it, it will be too late.  The subject: JUDICIAL MERIT RETENTION ELECTION.-- What's that, you say. Since 1978, Florida has utilized the process of Merit Selection and Retention of judges.  In an effort to remove politics from the process of electing judges, the citizens of the State of Florida passed a Constitutional Amendment putting our current system in place.

Remember Civics class?  Separation of Powers- 3 Branches of Government (Executive, Legislative, and Judicial).  This is why our system works- not all the power is in any one branch.  The courts have to be fair and impartial, without regard to wealth, poverty, or political party.  To ensure this, appellate judges (including the Florida Supreme Court) are chosen by a committee who evaluate each applicant's background, experience, demeanor and impartiality.  That committee then nominates a slate of qualified applicants presented to the Governor for eventual appointment.

There have been 16 Merit Retention Elections since the process was established in 1978.  On the ballot this year, voters will be asked whether a particular judge should be retained in office.  There are 3 Florida Supreme Court Justices up for retention as well as 15 District Court of Appeals Judges.  Ballots in Citrus County will only include the 3 Supreme Court Justices as the District Court Judges are from other districts around the state.  The Florida Bar issued a poll to the lawyers of the state, asking about the retention of these Justices, and the overwhelming opinion of Florida lawyers is to VOTE YES; 90% on average.

Unfortunately, yesterday the Republican Party of Florida announced an intention to support the corporate interests that now seek to unseat these very qualified jurists.  In the history of our system, there has never been such a blatant infusion of politics into a judicial race.  Today, Florida Bar President Gwynne Young released the following statement:

       "A fair and impartial judiciary, free from political or special interest influence is the purpose of Florida's non-partisan merit retention elections for appellate judges. The Florida Bar does not believe any political party – Democratic, Republican or other – should participate in any non-partisan election, particularly for judicial positions.

       Maintaining the integrity and impartiality of Florida's judges is critical to preserving the principles of democracy on which our country was founded. Non-partisan merit retention elections were established by the people of Florida to ensure that the rule of law, not popular thought or political view, is the basis for all judicial decisions. "

The Florida Bar is committed to providing Floridians with objective information regarding merit selection and retention and the biographies of the justices and judges who are on the November 6 ballot. Through the non-partisan educational program, The Vote's in YOUR COURT: Judicial merit retention. Know the facts., the Bar is informing Florida voters about merit retention and the role of judges. The program offers extensive website information, printed materials and speakers for groups.

"The Florida Bar is a non-partisan organization that does not endorse or support the retention of any justice or judge. The Florida Bar encourages all voters to make educated decisions in this – as in any – election."
Visit the website and learn about these Justices. Your vote is more important than ever.  Mr. Taylor is available to speak to your group about this very important issue.  Please call our office to schedule Mr. Taylor to speak or to have your questions answered, but most importantly, understand the issues, the importance of these issues and VOTE.