Judicial term limits on the move in state House

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By: Mike Vasilinda
February 10, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Legislation to limit Supreme Court and appellate judges in Florida to two six year teams is moving forward in the state House.

It became a top priority of the Speaker after several adverse rulings from the Court.

The Supreme Court ruled twice against lawmakers in redistricting, overturned a death penalty sentencing law, and threw out caps on attorneys fees in workers comp cases all in the last 2 years.

Now key lawmakers are pushing a 12 year term limit on appellate judges.

Right now they face voters every six years, but no judge has ever lost.

Representative Jennifer Sullivan of Lake County is the sponsor.

“An accountability system that doesn’t hold people accountable is not truly an accountability system” says the second term lawmaker.

Warren Husband, representing The Florida Bar, told lawmakers Florida would be the only state to restrict judges terms if passed and approved by voters.

“Been on the ballot three times in three states. Been rejected by the voters in all three instances” says Husband.

Even William Large, who is President of the conservative, law suit fighting Florida Justice Reform Institute thinks term limits for judges is a bad idea.

“It would be very unlikely that the best and brightest lawyers would apply, because they would see that they would have to retire in 12 years” says Large.

State Rep. Sean Shaw’s father was a distinguished Supreme Court Justice.

"The courts are definitely under attack. When you’re attacking something that’s not broken, it’s unnecessary. The court system is working fine, just because you disagree with certain decisions, doesn’t mean that you just broad side attack on the court is appropriate,” says Shaw.

Many believe that attorneys in private practice would be reluctant to apply if there were term limits, and that would mean only government lawyers would apply to be judges.

And they are likely to be less skeptical of government.

In 2011, after other adverse rulings, a different House Speaker tried to split the supreme Court in two and pack more judges on the court. It cleared the House but never got a hearing in the Senate.



 

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