St. Petersburg Times Online: News of Florida
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather
  • Lawmakers to revisit law to help protect kids
  • Bush suspends four Escambia officials
  • Suspicions attend the death of opera diva
  • Database would monitor drug use
  • GOP senators seek corporate tax package
  • Each side adds twist to voting map fight
  • Deal lets Bush pick 9 judges

  • From the state wire

  • Hurricane Jeanne appears on track to hit Florida's east coast
  • Rumor mill working overtime after Florida hurricanes
  • Developments associated with Hurricanes Ivan and Jeanne
  • Four killed in Panhandle plane crash were on Ivan charity mission
  • Hurricane Frances caused estimated $4.4 billion in insured damage
  • Disabled want more handicapped-accessible voting machines
  • USF forces administrators to resign over test score changes
  • Man's death at Universal Studios ruled accidental
  • State child welfare workers in Miami fail to do background checks
  • Hurricane Jeanne heads toward southeast U.S. coast
  • Hurricane Jeanne spurs more anxiety for storm-weary Floridians
  • Mistrial declared in case where teen was target of racial "joke"
  • Panhandle utility wants sewer plant moved to higher ground
  • State employee arrested on theft, bribery charges
  • Homestead house fire kills four children, one adult
  • Pierson leader tries to cut off relief to local fern cutters
  • Florida's high court rules Terri's law unconstitutional
  • Jacksonville students punished for putting stripper pole in dorm
  • FEMA handling nearly 600,000 applications for help
  • Man who killed wife, niece, self also killed mother in 1971
  • Producer sues city over lead ball fired by Miami police
  • Tourism suffers across Florida after pummeling by hurricanes
  • Key dates in the life of Terri Schiavo
  • An excerpt from the unanimous ruling in the Schiavo case
  • Four confirmed dead after small plane crash in Panhandle
  • Correction: Disney-Cruise Line story

    printer version

    Deal lets Bush pick 9 judges

    The House-Senate agreement lets voters elect nine others.

    By STEVE BOUSQUET, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published May 2, 2002

    TALLAHASSEE -- The House and Senate, at odds over how to fill new judgeships, brokered a deal that lets Gov. Jeb Bush appoint half of 18 proposed new trial judges.

    The other nine would be chosen by voters, including one each in the Hillsborough and Pasco-Pinellas circuits and two in the circuit covering Hernando and Citrus counties.

    Senators favored filling all new judgeships through elections, and House leaders wanted Bush to do the choosing. Their disagreement threatened to torpedo the bill and leave Florida's backlogged trial courts without help in a year when the Supreme Court certified the need for 34 more circuit judges.

    "We've got a choice: Compromise or get no judges," said Senate Judiciary chairman Locke Burt, R-Ormond Beach. "That's not good for the people of Florida, and it's not good for the court system."

    The compromise passed the Senate Appropriations Committee 15-2 Wednesday and must survive budget negotiations. The two dissenters, a Republican and a Democrat, complained that back-room politics trumped the public's will.

    Floridians voted overwhelmingly in 2000 to continue electing circuit and county judges rather than switch to a pure system of merit selection, which is how vacancies are filled whenever a judge retires, dies or is promoted to a higher court in midterm.

    But no law dictates how new judgeships are filled. The Legislature has the discretion to fill them by election or appointment.

    Sen. Les Miller, D-Tampa, and Sen. Alex Villalobos, R-Miami, opposed the compromise. Miller called it a "power grab" by a Bush-friendly House.

    Villalobos said that "as a matter of principle" lawmakers should follow the will of voters, who rejected by nearly a 2-1 ratio a proposed constitutional amendment requiring all judges be appointed.

    "Judges ought to be elected. That's what the people of Florida said," Villalobos said.

    Last year, the Republican Legislature gave Bush more say over the committees that recommend candidates for the bench.

    "It's stupid for us not to get good judges. Whether they're elected or appointed, they're all good people," said Sen. Skip Campbell, D-Tamarac.

    Back to State news
    Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
    Special Links
    Lucy Morgan

    From the Times state desk