MIAMI — A Florida lawmaker is once again pushing a proposal that
would place a two-term cap on Florida’s state appellate and Supreme
Court judges, despite facing opposition from the state’s legal
Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, has
advocated for 12-year term limits on judges during a speech he gave
in September after he was elected speaker designate of the House.
In a speech
in December presented at the Associated Industries of Florida’s
annual conference, Corcoran said that the “enemy” of the business
community are the “seven individuals who meet in private and wear
black robes,” according to a report
on Court House News.
In February, according to flasenate.gov, a House
bill that would bar retention of state Supreme
Court justices or district judges who have served two consecutive
six-year terms passed the Florida House of Representatives. However,
it stalled in the state Senate's Judiciary Committee.
In a report by Court
House News, on Dec. 9, the Florida Bar’s
Board of Governors universally rejected support for judicial term
limits, which is the same position the board took last year, too.
According to the report, William Schifino Jr., Florida Bar president,
said in printed editorials that the term limits for judges “should
concern all Floridians.”
Corcoran's renewed efforts come after the Florida Supreme Court
made decisions against policies that were supported by the state’s
One decision in December 2015, according to Law
360, focused on how the Florida Supreme Court
deemed the Legislature’s congressional maps unconstitutional after
extensive litigation. In another decision, the court rejected limits
on attorney’s fees in workers’ compensation cases, despite claims
that it would raise insurance rates.
Corcoran has denied that the move was taken as a retaliatory
measure, the Palm
Beach Post reported.
During much of the Florida Supreme Court's rulings, it has had a
liberal majority, which has played a large part in the decisions.
However, in December 2016, Gov. Rick Scott appointed conservative C.
Alan Lawson who replaced retired Justice James E.C. Perry, a liberal
jurist, as reported by the Orlando
As the Florida
Family Action reported, while this appointment doesn't give the
Florida Supreme Court a conservative majority, it brings more balance
to the court. However, liberal Justice Peggy Quince is due to retire
in 2019, according to another Orlando Sentinel report,
which could tip the scales even further.
Until that time comes, there are some who believe that term limits
could have unintended consequences. For instance, there could be a
drop in the number of qualified judges.
Philip Padovano, retired appellate judge from the 1st District
Court of Appeal, said on Court House News that it would wreck the
judiciary as there would not be people making a career out of serving
on the bench. Instead, they might simply end up with “lawyers who
couldn’t do anything better.”
Systems, however, are already in place to ensure that wayward
judges don’t get on the bench, according to Shannon Carlyle, an
appellate lawyer in the central part of the state.
Passage of the proposal would make Florida the first state to have
term limits on appellate judges, Court House News reported.