Michael Moline, Author at Florida Politics - Page 7 of 17

Michael Moline

Michael Moline is a former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal and managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal. Previously, he reported on politics and the courts in Tallahassee for United Press International. He is a graduate of Florida State University, where he served as editor of the Florida Flambeau. His family’s roots in Jackson County date back many generations.

This Supreme Court candidate steers clear of social media

Count on this if Seminole County Circuit Judge Michael J. Rudisill lands on the Florida Supreme Court: He won’t be tweeting about rulings or anything else.

“I tend to stay away from Twitter,” Rudisill said Monday, during his interview for a high court vacancy. “Twitter’s dangerous. Stay away from it. I don’t use Twitter, and virtually no good can come of it.”

Rudisill and Osceola County Circuit Judge Patricia L. Strowbridge were the final applicants of 11 interviewed by the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission to replace Justice James E.C. Perry, who departs the bench Dec. 30.

The nominating panel will forward six names by Dec. 13 to Gov. Rick Scott, who will then name Perry’s replacement.

Virtually to a person, the applicants described themselves as strict conservatives who would follow the examples of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia or Florida Supreme Court Justice Charles Canady.

Finally, late in the day, somebody asked Redistill whether he could point to any other judge he’d emulate.

“My fantasy football team is actually named The Fighting Scalias,” Rudisill replied.

Then he turned to Justice Clarence Thomas.

“His work ethic and constitutional originalist judicial philosophy, while slightly different from Antonin Scalia’s, probably would be a close second for me,” he said.

The differences between Thomas and Scalia’s textualism “are rather nuanced, I guess,” he said, but he personally tries to read laws according to the plain meaning of their words as generally understood.

“I definitely would not be tempted to breath new life and meaning” into those words, he said.

Rudisill was asked about Chief Justice John Robert’s opinion upholding the Affordable Care Act. Roberts interpreted the law’s financial sanctions against people who don’t buy insurance as a constitutionally permissible tax — to the consternation of movement conservatives.

Rudisill replied that he agrees with Roberts that courts should find laws constitutional when they can.

“Deference is always going to be appropriate,” but not if “you have to torture” statutory language to abide by the constitution, he said. “The law is clear that you err on the side of finding something constitutional. But if it’s clearly not, you have to do your job.”

Rudisill posited his relative youth as an advantage — he was born in 1976. “It’s a form of diversity that I would bring to the bench.” It makes him more at ease with useful technology than are some of his fellow jurists.

“These are things that I’m comfortable with,” he said.

Strowbridge has specialized in family law including adoptions and child dependency as an attorney and judge.

She disavowed any concern for trying to decipher the legislative intent of laws. That stance, she said, was informed by her experience early in her career helping to lobby the Legislature.

She witnessed considerable horse-trading for votes. “A lot of people” who supported her measure “didn’t know what was in the bill,” Strowbridge said.

“I don’t believe there’s anything called legislative intent,” she said. “Words have meaning. … Give those words the meaning that they have.”

If appellate courts increasingly face political pressure, it’s their own fault.

“When judges wander into legislating, that’s when the political pressure ramps up on them,” Strowbridge said.

As for coming to speed on the unfamiliar legal areas she would confront as a justice, “I study. I read,” she said. In fact, she considers The Florida Law Weekly good bedtime reading.

“I believe I am capable of learning what I need to learn,” Strowbridge said.

She was asked about two ethics proceedings against her when she was an attorney, and which she disclosed on her application.

One involved a misdirected fax that she neglected to return to the sender, not realizing that the Florida Bar had recently issued a rule requiring her to do that. She was required to take an ethics class.

The other involved a Bar grievance filed by a birth mother who’d given her child up for adoption and who later wished she’s chosen a more open form of the process. Strowbridge was not the woman’s attorney, but agreed to be more careful in communicating her role to mothers in the future.

One Supreme Court applicant cites liberal wing member as exemplar

Sylvia Grunor stood out among the second round of candidates interviewed Monday for a vacancy on the Florida Supreme Court by naming as her judicial role model the man she would replace — Justice James E.C. Perry, a member of the court’s liberal wing.

Dan Gerber, a civil-trial defense attorney with Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell in Orlando, praised Justice Charles Canady, a member of the court’s conservative minority, as “among the most brilliant attorneys and supreme court justices in the country.”

Brad King, state’s attorney for the 5th Judicial Circuit in Central Florida, praised the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

In fact, he said, he’d read Scalia’s book, “Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts.”

“As I read it, clearly that’s the way I think things through,” King said of Scalia’s “originalist” approach to judging.

Still, to Grunor, a trial lawyer and partner with Orlando firm Palmer, Weiss, Grunor & Barclay, “Justice Perry had, to me, a good sense of himself.” He is, she said, “a family-first, law and order guy.”

But she also insisted: “I’m looking to interpret the law as it’s written.”

The Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission began interviewing the 11 applicants to replace retiring Perry, who departs the bench Dec. 30.

The nominating panel will forward six names by Dec. 13 to Gov. Rick Scott, who will then name Perry’s replacement.

Scott has said that he wants a justice to follows judicial restraint and is humble.

None within the second round of interviewees has served on the bench before. Grunor said that would “add rather than detract” from her contributions to the high court.

“Being a trial lawyer, you get an idea of what goes on in the courtroom,” she said.

She would approach the work “not with an agenda,” but to apply her education and experience. “I want to make it a better place.”

Grunor ran unsuccessfully for the trial bench in 2000, and once applied to fill a vacancy in the 18th Judicial Circuit. She practices family, personal injury and insurance law.

She cautioned against judges who give overly broad interpretations of the law. “If the Legislature passed it, my job is to interpret it,” she said — and not to try to read too much into a statute.

Asked what changes she would like to see in the court system, Grunor said: “More access to the courts.” As a trial lawyer, she understands “how hard it is to get into the courthouse sometimes, and how long you have to wait.”

“If I had any influence on that, I’d like to see more judges in the courts.

Gerber has more than 28 years’ experience practicing law — mass torts and class actions, commercial litigation, and voting rights cases included, he said.

He would take “a practitioner’s point of view” to the court. He lamented that the average time for an intermediate appellate court in Florida to issue a decision is 190 days.

“Frankly, time is money,” Gerber said.

An advocate for children with autism, he said the courts represent “the last place” in which to “seek help for the helpless.”

Although not well versed in criminal law, he would approach it like “any other area of law in which you might not have experience.”

Specifically: “Read everything you can get your hands on. After a while, you’ll be able to handle those cases in a predictable manner.”

What kind of court ruling make Gerber grimace?

“When I see a judge of an appellate court saying, ‘We know better than the Legislature or an executive department,’ “ he said. “That does frustrate me when I see that.”

He hates to see “judicial hostility to the litigants and the lawyers.”

Gerber noted his long history in the conservative movement, including assignments for Republican clients during his early days at his firm, before the movement’s ascension.

“I didn’t have to do that,” Gerber said. “I took it because I believed in it.”

Asked to write his own epitaph should be win appointment, Gerber said: “He brought a stabilizing conservative presence to the Florida Supreme Court.”

King spent much of his time explaining his role in the investigation of the 2010 death of Michelle O’Connell — according to her family, at the hands of boyfriend St. Johns County Deputy Jeremy Banks.

King was one of two outside state’s attorneys assigned as special prosecutor in the case. Both determined there was insufficient evidence to support a homicide charge. Rather, King said, the evidence pointed to suicide.

“I could not have taken that case to trial” under the circumstances, despite public demands that he do just that, he said. “Fundamentally, it just wouldn’t have been right.”

He would not serve as a pro-police or pro-prosecution justice, he said.

He believes trial judges should establish the fact record in cases and appellate judges are bound to respect that.

And as for respecting legislative intent, “I don’t think (judges) have the discretion to determine that the Legislature’s intention was” beyond the statutory language, King said. They can’t decide “what they really meant.”

Search narrows for next president of Enterprise Florida

The search for the next leader of Enterprise Florida is down to two candidates, after a third candidate withdrew.

Michael Finney, former president and chief executive officer of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., has taken his name out of contention, according to Michael Grissom, spokesman for Enterprise Florida.

Instead, Finney has indicated he will seek a teaching position at the University of Michigan, Grissom said.

The Michigan agency is the equivalent of Enterprise Florida — the state’s economic development organ.

Finney had been ranked as first choice of a search committee.

Richard M. Biter, a retired assistant secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation, had been ranked No. 1 or No. 2 by three of the six search committee members.

Gov. Rick Scott was to interview Biter Monday, according to the governor’s daily schedule.

Also in contention is Chris Hart, president and chief executive officer of CareerSource Florida, which operates workforce development boards and career centers throughout the state.

The next president will be paid $175,000-$200,000 per year, down from former agency leader Bill Johnson’s salary of $265,000. The agency’s head also serves as Florida’s Secretary of Commerce.

It’s not clear there will be an agency to run. Enterprise Florida and jobs growth are major priorities for Gov. Rick Scott, but House Speaker Richard Corcoran has called spending taxpayer money for jobs development “a bad idea.”

Tampa International Airport

Guns-in-airports bill resurfaces for 2017 Legislative Session

A Florida House member has reintroduced legislation that would allow people to carry firearms inside airport terminals.

State Rep. Jake Raburn, a Lithia Republican, filed HB 6001 on Wednesday.

The measure would eliminate the words “passenger terminal” of airports from a list of places where state law forbids people to carry guns.

The measure also would eliminate language requiring that guns be “encased for shipment” in aircraft baggage holds.

Raburn submitted his proposal for the 2017 legislative session. He proposed similar legislation during the 2016 session, but no committee ever debated the measure.

The Senate Criminal Justice Committee approved a version of the bill introduced by Sen. Wilton Simpson, a Trilby Republican.

This year’s bill would take effect July 1.

People still would be barred from carrying guns in “any place where the carrying of firearms is prohibited by federal law” — generally defined as the “sterile area” beyond security checkpoints, according to Florida Carry, the gun rights organization.

The organization says that 44 states allow guns inside other areas in airport terminals, but Florida is not one of them.

Judge voids 14.5 percent workers’ comp rate increase

A circuit court judge Wednesday struck down a 14.5 percent increase in workers’ compensation insurance rates due to begin taking effect next month, ruling that a ratings agency violated the Sunshine Law in preparing its rate proposal.

Judge Karen Gievers said the National Council on Compensation Insurance, or NCCI, failed to open its deliberations to the public or provide its data to an actuarial expert retained by the plaintiff in the case.

Since NCCI was acting as an agent of the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, Gievers, said, it was subject to the state’s open–government requirements.

The rate hike “must be found to be void ab initio” — that is, from the start — “because the lack of sunshine so permeated the process,” Gievers wrote.

“The decision today will save Florida’s businesses deep millions of dollars in premium increases that are now set aside from a Dec. 1 effective date,” said Ron Sachs, a spokesman for plaintiff James Fee.

“NCCI is very disappointed in the decision of the Leon County Circuit Court,” marketing communications director Dean W. Dimke said in a written statment. “We continue to believe that NCCI and the Florida OIR have fully complied with the law.  NCCI plans to appeal the trial court’s decision.

“The office is in the process of reviewing the order to determine next steps,” said Amy Bogner, a spokeswoman for Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier.

The insurance office was also a defendant in the lawsuit.

The rate increase, approved in October, alarmed business interests, including the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Florida, both of which formed task forces to address it.

NCCI attributed the increase to Florida Supreme Court rulings striking both the state’s cap on attorney fees in workers’ compensation disputes and a two-year cap on temporary permanent disability payments.

Business and insurance leaders blamed the attorney fee ruling, Castellanos v. Next Door Co., handed down on April 28, for most of the increase — the idea being that higher attorney fees will drive up insurance costs both in themselves, and in leading employers to settle disputes for higher amounts to avoid litigation.

The Legislature is widely expected to seek a fix during its regular session next spring.

Bill Herrle, Florida director for the National Federation of Independent Business, and a member of the AIF task force, did not treat the ruling as good news.

“This is the trial bar’s unscrupulous tactic to put blinders on the Legislature and conceal the ridiculous fees they extract from the workers’ comp system,” Herrle said.

Fee, the plaintiff in the legal challenge, is a Miami worker’s compensation attorney suing as an employer who buys coverage.

He pointed to state law requiring rate-making agencies like NCCI to open deliberations of their internal decision-making committees to the public.

NCCI replied that it long abandoned its committee structure, so the provision no longer applied.

But Gievers noted that NCCI employees nevertheless conducted multiple meetings to discuss the rate proposal, both internally and with insurance office representatives.

She faulted both agent and agency for “not providing notice to the public or giving the public an opportunity to be present or heard at meetings between NCCI and OIR.

“Neither NCCI nor OIR (nor the two acting together) is legally authorized to change the law, only the Legislature is empowered to change our laws,” she continued.

“Until meeting in the sunshine and public records laws are changed, the defendants must comply by conducting the public meetings in the sunshine while providing the public records requested.”

Mark Touby, president of Florida Workers’ Advocates, called the ruling “a tremendous victory for Florida businesses and the workers they employ,” and said it would promote a “clear and open” ratemaking process.

“It is our hope that this well-reasoned ruling will put a halt to NCCI’s history of secret meetings and outrageous rate-hike requests, which only served to bail out the insurance companies’ alarming pattern of denying legitimate claims and then making Florida employers cover the cost of those errors,” Touby said.

“This might sound like a victory, but Florida businesses shouldn’t be fooled by this classic trial lawyer tactic,” said Carolyn Johnson, director for business, economic development and innovation policy at the Chamber.

“The rates may not go up ‪on Dec. 1, but this is only temporary. What won’t stop, however, is that trial lawyers will use this time to continue enjoying the benefit of unlimited legal fees in workers’ comp cases, while they are also seeking higher attorney fees for claims retroactively impacted as far back as July 2009. It’s a lucrative deal for billboard trial lawyers.”

FEMA extends deadline for Hurricane Matthew-related flood claims

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has given Floridians another 60 days to file claims for Hurricane Matthew-related damage under the National Flood Insurance Program.

David I. Maurstad, the assistant administrator for federal insurance, announced the extension Tuesday. Normally, policyholders have 60 days to file claims, but Maurstad said the extension — bringing the total to 120 days — was warranted.

“Given that Hurricane Matthew caused significant widespread flooding in the impacted areas of Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia, FEMA is concerned that this deadline may present an undue burden on policyholders,” he wrote.

The storm passed along Florida’s east coast on Oct. 7.

Tampa attorney Thomas Young had launched a petition drive at WhiteHouse.gov and agitated on Facebook and Twitter seeking the extension.

“Thanks to all those who helped us achieve this significant victory for Hurricane Matthew victims,” Young said in a written statement Wednesday.

“By signing petitions, contacting elected officials, and actively participating in social media campaigns, we were able to effectuate this important extension,” he said.

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation also requested an extension.

According to FEMA, reached 40,810 individuals and families in Florida counties had registered with the agency as of Tuesday.

The deadline for Hurricane Hermine-related claims is Monday. Thus far, 8,980 individuals and families have filed claims.

Felon voter restoration advocates make their case to Supreme Court

The group behind a proposed state constitutional amendment to automatically restore voting rights to nonviolent felons told the Florida Supreme Court this week that the initiative meets all criteria to appear on the ballot.

In a brief filed Tuesday, Floridians for a Fair Democracy argued that the proposed amendment “presents voters with a unified and limited question of whether to automatically restore voting rights to persons convicted of a felony.”

Additionally, “the ballot title and summary of the proposed amendment clearly and unambiguously explain that such automatic restoration is the chief purpose of the amendment,” the brief argues.

“Reading them together, the voter will be adequately informed and able to cast an intelligent vote about whether to include the proposal in the Florida Constitution.”

The text of the amendment and its ballot summary comply with Supreme Court precedent requiring a “logical and natural oneness of purpose,” the brief argues.

Signing the document were Jon Mills of Boies, Schiller & Flexner, a former Florida House speaker and dean emeritus at the University of Florida Fredric G. Levin College of Law; and Orlando attorney Andrew M. Starling.

Supporters hope to place the initiative on the ballot in 2018.

The Supreme Court reviews all proposed constitutional amendments and can block any that violate the single-subject rule. That means either that they amount to “logrolling,” forcing voters to accept something they don’t like to get something they do; or substantially affect more than one branch of state government.

“The proposed amendment would make one simple policy change that touches upon only a single branch of Florida’s government,” the brief says. “Given the vast executive functions of the governor and Cabinet, this solitary impact is not substantial in the sense contemplated by the single-subject rule.”

Under existing law, the governor and Cabinet review petitions to restore voting rights filed by all felony offenders. Were the amendment adopted, that system would apply only to felons convicted or murder or sexual offenders.

The ballot summary reads:

“This amendment restores the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions after they complete all terms of their sentence including parole or probation. The amendment would not apply to those convicted of murder or sexual offenses, who would continue to be permanently barred from voting unless the governor and Cabinet vote to restore their voting rights on a case by case basis.”

“The drafters explicitly excluded individuals convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense, who will continue to seek restoration under the current system,” the brief says.

Richard Corcoran dour on Florida’s state budget outlook

House Speaker Richard Corcoran doesn’t believe the Legislature will have $7.5 million above existing spending when the time comes to write the next state budget.

“The budget, I think, is going to be difficult,” Corcoran told reporters following the House Organization Session Tuesday.

“Once we see the Zika effect in our state’s tax revenues, my hunch is that when we hit session in May we are going to be at best flatlined and at worst we could have a deficit,” he said.

Given his conservative predelictions, “for anything that anybody wants to do on either side” — meaning in the House or Senate — “they’re going to have to go in and they’re going to have to find cuts. What we’ve said over and over and over is that we are convinced, even without that being the reality, that we have a spending problem in this state. We are going to address that spending problem.”

The Joint Legislative Budget Commission projected in September that lawmakers would have an extra $7.5 million to play with next session, with deficits in subsequent years.

Corcoran considers that number “fictional.”

It doesn’t account for the full increase in managed care costs, or the true rate of return on pension investments, which have been declining — or an array of budgetary pressures, he said.

Even when the commission rendered its estimate, “in my estimation, we were probably more between ($500 million) and $1 billion in a hole,” Corcoran said

Richard Corcoran blasts teachers union, taking Democrat Janet Cruz by surprise

House Democratic leader Janet Cruz confessed surprise Tuesday at Speaker Richard Corcoran‘s vehement call for members to urge the Florida Education Association to drop its lawsuit against Florida’s tax-credit scholarship program.

“Wow! It was aggressive,” Cruz said of the speaker’s remarks.

“I didn’t expect to hear any of that today, and I don’t know that I expected for teachers to be villianized. I need to think about that for a little while,” she said.

In his inaugural address as speaker, Corcoran described the union’s position as “evil” — akin to letting children drown for want of better education.

But he was just getting started. During a news conference, he was asked about a public information campaign by the program’s supporters attacking the lawsuit. Corcoran said he supported their right “to speech and right to engage in the political process, to say something.”

He added: “Let alone something that is as disgusting, and as repugnant, and as evil as what this teachers’ union is engaging in.

“The fact that you have these children who are dying to get out of a failing factory and go to a place where they have an opportunity and hope for a real life and a real possibility of doing something great with themselves, and you have these people trying to destroy that? It’s one of the lowest marks of any special interest group I’ve been familiar with, ever,” Corcoran said.

“To the extent that there’s 18 gazillion dollars fighting crazy people like that, have at it.”

The program allows students to attend private schools, and nearly 100,000 have taken advantage of that possibility. Corcoran said the evidence is clear that these children do better than they would have in public school.

“What they’re defending as fair is not fair,” he said of the program’s critics. “That’s some subjective, crazy-ass notion that they have that’s completely false. But they still have that right. I’m not taking that right away from them.”

On Aug. 16, the state’s First District Court of Appeal rejected a challenge to the tax-credit scholarship program brought by the Florida Education Association and other plaintiffs, who argue it diverts money from public schools. Corcoran during his inaugural speech as speaker attacked the lawsuit.

The union has appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.

For her own part, “I support the FEA’s lawsuit,” Cruz said.

House Democrats “will continue to do what we’ve always done — which is fight for working families,” Cruz told reporters.

“We are going to fight to ensure that they continue to have public education the way that we know it. We don’t believe that teachers are evil. We believe that they do a wonderful job. We’ll fight to continue to preserve and bolster public education. We’ll fight the same, age-old fight for expansion of health care coverage for working families across Florida.”

Richard Corcoran installed as House speaker promising ‘struggle’ to do right

Richard Corcoran assumed the speakership of the Florida House during its organizational session Tuesday, promising a new era of good government enforced by unprecedentedly stringent ethics rules and controls on lobbyists.

“Good government isn’t a process; it’s a struggle for its leaders to do the right thing,” Corcoran said. “We have to put aside the rhetorical devices and political tricks and look out for the people. We have to govern selflessly and we have to tell the truth.”

The House adopted the new rules without debate.

Before Corcoran’s remarks, the House engaged in traditional organizational session pageantry. In small groups, newly elected members stood in the well of the House and took their oaths of office — 26 of them. Re-elected members then took their feet en masse to reaffirm their own oaths.

There for the occasion were numerous former House members, including U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a former House speaker. Gov. Rick Scott came up to the Fourth Floor for the occasion. Justice Rick Polston crossed the street from the Florida Supreme Court.

The usual arrays of bouquets were mostly absent from members’ desks — Corcoran had discouraged that practice. But — in another tradition — members’ families crowded into seats lining the chamber and in the gallery overhead. Members wore red or blue roses in their jacket lapels, depending on their political bent.

When it came time to vote for speaker, fellow party members placed both Corcoran’s name and that of Democratic leader Janet Cruz in nomination. But Cruz moved to dispense with a vote and urged Corcoran’s election unanimously, and the House agreed. He ascended to the speaker’s podium, where Polston swore him in as speaker. He will serve through 2018.

Addressing the House, Corcoran said his reform platform is sorely needed, pointing to the “primal scream” from voters on Election Day.

“Somehow, we were all surprised. But we shouldn’t have been,” Corcoran said in prepared remarks. “We talked about this over a year ago at our designation ceremony. What said then, the voters yelled on Election Day — ‘the enemy is us.’ ”

He spoke of an age-old struggle between the governed and those who govern. “We have to govern selflessly, and we have to tell the truth.”

The truth, Corcoran said, is that too much legislation is written by lobbyists, who “see themselves as the power brokers of this process.”

“On the rare occasion we are able to push through the horde of lobbyists and special interests, and do something really, really meaningful, they just regroup. They openly brag about waiting us out, and then they come back — one statute, one exemption, one appropriation at a time, and undo all that we did,” he said.

“We can make this a moment of greatness, and push back and tell the people of this state of Florida that we will fix their broken system, and that we can turn it into something that is true and good and beautiful. “

It begins, Corcoran said, with the “aggressive and transformative” new House rules prohibiting lobbyist favors to lawmakers, including free airplane rides, and extends the ban on lobbying by former House members to six years.

“It all ends, and it all ends today,” he said.

Plus budget rules requiring earmarks to be submitted in bill form, sponsored by a House member, and not as last-minute amendments. Last year, he said, the House identified $2.3 billion in such projects.

The bipartisan rules changes are the “strongest in the nation,” Corcoran said. The people will know “who’s pushing and playing” for such earmarks, he said.

“And for those of you who find this rule to be too burdensome, here’s my message: if you can’t get one single member out of 120 to file your bill; if you can’t withstand just a few weeks of public scrutiny; and if you can’t give detailed information on why that project is worthy, then you don’t deserve taxpayers’ money.”

Corcoran bragged about cutting off “corporate welfare” during the last session and promised more of the same — even at the risk of confrontation internally, with the Senate and with Scott, whose jobs programs emphasizes priming the pump for new and growing businesses.

Corcoran argued for school choice, urging Democratic members to tell the Florida Education Association to withdraw a lawsuit challenging Florida’s tax-credit scholarship program.

“They are literally trying to destroy the lives of 100,000 children. Most of them are minorities and all of them are poor. It flies in the face of common sense and it defies every single study. It’s  downright evil,” Corcoran said.

“I know that’s a strong word,” he continued, but compared the situation to letting children drown for lack of educational opportunity.

He called for Washington to let Florida take the lead on health care reform. “Let us show the rest of the nation — let us show Washington, D.C. — how well we can do,” he said.

He decried what he sees as judges who put “power above principles.”

“We need judges who will respect the Constitution and separation of powers. Who will resist the temptation to turn themselves into some unelected super-legislature. The problem with holding the same office for in essence life, is you start to think that office is far, far, far less important than the person in it — which is why we need 12-year term limits on judges, so we can have a healthy judicial branch.”

“Members, we are only one-half of one legislature in one state. So a lot of people have said to me that this is far, far, far beyond our dreams. But that will not stop us. The special interests will not stop us. The mainstream media will not stop us. Our own party leaders will not stop us. We will fight.”

Finally, Corcoran harkened back to a book he’d loved as a child, the tales of King Arthur.

“I remember being just a little boy, mesmerized by those stories: This idea of a group of knights, working  side by side, none greater than the other, and all willing to die for something greater than themselves. Could leaders really work that way? Could the world really be like that?”

Two House members were excused from the Organization Session: Shevrin Jones, a West Park Democrat, who’s recovering from back surgery; and Jared Moskowitz, a Coral Springs Democrat, whose wife is expecting.

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