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Rick Scott begins search for Supreme Court justice’s replacement

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Gov. Rick Scott accepted Florida Supreme Court Justice James E.C. Perry’s resignation Friday and gave the Judicial Nominating Commission until Dec. 13 to submit a list of possible replacements.

“The commission’s expeditious handling of this matter is most appreciated,” the governor said in a letter to commission chairman Jason Unger.

To replace Perry, the state’s Judicial Nominating Commission will take applications and submit three to six names “of the most highly qualified applicants to the governor, who must make a final selection from the list,” according to its website.

“I strongly prefer submission of the maximum number of nominees (six) for the vacancy,” Scott wrote.

Perry, 72, announced his retirement Sept. 12. He stayed past the mandatory retirement age of 70 because of a provision allowing justices whose “70th birthday occurs in the second half of their six-year term (to) remain on the bench until the full term expires.”

In his letter accepting Perry’s resignation, Scott wrote: “Yours has been a life and legal career devoted to public service. As you retire from the bench, I hope you look back on your accomplishments with pride.”

It will be Scott’s first appointment to the state’s high court and an opportunity to add to its conservative minority of Charles Canady and Ricky Polston. The liberal wing includes Perry, Chief Justice Jorge Labarga, and Justices R. Fred LewisBarbara J. Pariente, and Peggy A. Quince.

Quince will be the only African-American justice on the seven-member court following Perry’s departure.

Michael Moline is a former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal and managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal. Previously, he reported on politics and the courts in Tallahassee for United Press International. He is a graduate of Florida State University, where he served as editor of the Florida Flambeau. His family’s roots in Jackson County date back many generations.

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