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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Jul. 15, 202003:40 PM EST

Appointment of Florida Coastal School of Law graduate to state Supreme Court challenged

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Circuit Judge Renatha Francis would be the first Florida Coastal grad to sit on the state's highest court.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

The appointment of a Florida Coastal School of Law graduate to the state Supreme Court is being challenged.

15th Circuit Judge Renatha Francis

State Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Windermere, filed an emergency petition July 13 contending that the state Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission and Gov. Ron DeSantis exceeded their authority to nominate and appoint, respectively, 15th Circuit Judge Renatha Francis to a vacancy on the court.

The basis of the motion is that the state constitution requires a Supreme Court justice at the time of appointment to have been licensed to practice law in Florida for a minimum of 10 years. Francis will not meet that requirement until Sept. 20, nearly four months after the governor’s office officially announced her appointment to the court.

The announcement states that Francis will not be sworn in as a justice until Sept. 20, when she would meet the 10-year requirement.

Francis graduated from Florida Coastal and was admitted to The Florida Bar in 2010.

She was an attorney for the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee from 2011-17, when she was appointed to the Miami-Dade County Court.

Francis was appointed in 2018 by former Gov. Rick Scott to the 11th Circuit Court and by DeSantis in 2019 to the 15th Circuit Court.

She would be the first Jamaican-American and the first Florida Coastal graduate to join the state's highest court.

The petition asks the court to nullify Francis's appointment and also to require DeSantis to select a constitutionally qualified nominee from the original list of 31 applicants for the vacancy after the JNC provides him with a new list of up to six nominees.

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