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Justices' jobs appear safe, judging by early returns

Published November 3, 2004

Two Florida Supreme Court justices were poised to easily retain their seats after Tuesday's election, early returns showed.

Justices Kenneth Bell and Raoul Cantero III, both appointed to the high court by Gov. Jeb Bush in 2002, would keep their seats for a six-year term in the merit retention vote. The vote is nonpartisan and the judges face no opposition.

No Supreme Court or District Court of Appeal judge has ever been voted out in a merit retention vote.

Bell, 48, a seventh-generation native of Pensacola, is the only judge on the high court with experience as a trial judge. In 1991, Bell became the youngest circuit judge ever in the First Judicial Circuit.

In his application for the Supreme Court, Bell noted that the courts "must recognize their role as the "weakest branch of government' and pay due deference to the legislative and executive branches."

Cantero, 44, was the chief of the appellate division for the law firm of Adorno & Yoss in Miami before his appointment to the court.

Cantero, grandson of former Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, was born in Spain to Cuban parents and is a graduate of Harvard Law School.

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