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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Aug. 29, 201905:10 AM EST

The Marbut Report: Advice for starting on path to the bench

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Federalist Society spotlights the judicial nominating process.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

If you want to be a judge appointed to, or elevated on, the bench in Florida – at least while Gov. Ron DeSantis is in office – you’ll need to respect the rule of law and understand the role of a judge.

That’s what Joseph Jacquot, general counsel to DeSantis, told more than 100 attorneys and judges at The River Club during a panel discussion presented Aug. 22 by the Jacksonville Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society.

Jacquot was joined on the panel by Katherine Hurst Miller, an attorney at Wright & Casey in New Smyrna Beach and chair of the 7th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission, and Patrick Kilbane, general counsel and wealth adviser at Ullmann Brown Wealth Advisors and immediate past chair of the 4th Circuit JNC.

The discussion was moderated by Rogers Towers attorney Adam Brandon, president of the Jacksonville chapter of the Federalist Society.

Since taking office in January, DeSantis has appointed 30 people to the bench, including three state Supreme Court justices.

“Half are women, half are men, half are non-Caucasian and most had no judicial experience,” Jacquot said.

The discussion covered nominating and appointment protocols.

The chair and past chair on the panel explained the beginning of the process.

“There is no perfect applicant. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. We look for the ability to do the job,” Miller said.

Kilbane said attorneys who wish to apply for a judicial vacancy should begin work on their application, even if it’s years ahead of when the applicant plans to become a candidate.

He also said that as long as the commission hasn’t been convened to fill a vacancy, commissioners are available to help potential candidates complete their applications.

“That way, you can have it ready when there’s a vacancy,” Kilbane said.

“It’s a bear to fill out. Think about how you’re presenting yourself and have someone help you with proofreading. Your application is your introduction to the JNC and to the governor,” Miller said.

After a nominating commission submits three to six candidates to the governor’s office, Jacquot and his staff interview the nominees and make recommendations to DeSantis, who then has the authority to appoint one of the nominees, or ask the commission to submit more candidates.

“The governor’s role is to promote liberty. We’re looking for character and judicial philosophy,” Jacquot said.

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