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Commission will interview all Supreme Court applicants

The Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission on Monday voted to interview all 11 applicants for a vacancy on the court.

The interviews, open to the public, will be held in Orlando Nov. 28, starting around noon and likely lasting through 7 p.m., said Jason Unger, the commission’s chair. The panel held a brief organizational conference call on Monday morning.

The interviewees are:

— Judge Wendy W. Berger of the 5th District Court of Appeal.

— Circuit Judge Alice L. Blackwell of Orange County.

— Assistant U.S. attorney Roberta J. Bodnar of the Middle District of Florida.

— Orlando civil-trial defense attorney Dan Gerber.

Sylvia Grunor, a Central Florida trial lawyer.

— State Attorney Brad King of the 5th Judicial Circuit.

— Chief Judge C. Alan Lawson of the 5th District Court of Appeal.

— Republican state Rep. Larry Metz of Yalaha.

— Circuit Judge Michelle T. Morley of Sumter County.

— Circuit Judge Michael Rudisill of the 18th Judicial Circuit.

— Circuit Judge Patricia Strowbridge of Osceola County.

The opening was created by the pending retirement of Justice James E.C. Perry, who will leave the bench at the end of the year.

Gov. Rick Scott will name Perry’s replacement, his first chance to pick a state Supreme Court justice.

In Florida, justices are picked through a “merit selection” process, beginning with a nonpartisan, nine-member commission that reviews and evaluates applicants.

The governor appoints five members, however, and The Florida Bar “sends nominations to the governor to fill the remaining four spots,” according to the Bar’s website.

For example, the Supreme Court commission includes attorney Jesse Panuccio, Scott’s former head of the Department of Economic Opportunity; Fred Karlinsky, a lawyer and insurance lobbyist with close ties to the governor; and Daniel Nordby, the former general counsel to the Florida House of Representatives.

“These Judicial Nominating Commissions (JNCs) then submit three to six names of the most highly qualified applicants to the governor, who must make a final selection from the list,” the Bar’s website says.

Scott, though, has asked for a full slate of six names. That list is due to the governor’s office by Dec. 13.

Because Perry represented the state’s 5th appellate district, applicants be from that area, which includes Brevard, Citrus, Flagler, Hernando, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns, Sumter, and Volusia counties.


Updated 11:45 a.m. — The official notice for the interviews has been released, reprinted in part below:

Interviews will be conducted on Nov. 28, 2016, at the offices of GrayRobinson, P.A., 301 E. Pine St., Suite 1400, Orlando.

INTERVIEW SCHEDULE
Monday, Nov. 28, 2016
Noon-12:30 Berger, Wendy W.
12:30-1:00 Blackwell, Alice L.
1:00-1:30 Bodnar, Roberta J.
1:30-1:45 break
1:45-2:15 Gerber, Daniel J.
2:15-2:45 Grunor, Sylvia A.
2:45-3:15 King, Bradley E.
3:15-3:30 break
3:30-4:00 Lawson, C. Alan
4:00-4:30 Metz, Larry E.
4:30-5:00 Morley, Michelle T.
5:00-5:15 break
5:15-5:45 Rudisill, Michael J.
5:45-6:15 Strowbridge, Patricia L.

The JNC welcomes comments on the qualifications of any of the applicants. Those wishing to comment should do so by email to Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission Chair Jason L. Unger at jason.unger@gray-robinson.com.

The members of the Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission are: Chair Jason L. Unger, Tallahassee; Vice Chair Nilda R. Pedrosa, Coral Gables; Cynthia G. Angelos, Port St. Lucie; Fred Karlinsky, Fort Lauderdale; Daniel E. Nordby, Tallahassee; Jesse M. Panuccio, Miami; Israel U. Reyes, Coral Gables; Hala A. Sandridge, Tampa; Jeanne T. Tate, Tampa.

Written By

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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