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Nine finalists named to fill open Supreme Court spots

Gov. Ron DeSantis has 60 days to make his picks.

Gov. Ron DeSantis will select from a group of nine finalists as he seeks replacements for former Supreme Court Justices Barbara Lagoa and Robert Luck.

The Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) named the set of finalists Thursday. Lagoa and Luck resigned from their posts after being named to spots on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Currently, the state’s 3rd Appellate District does not have a representative on the Supreme Court. Florida’s five appellate districts must be represented on the court, meaning at least one of the two nominees must come from that region.

Of the nine finalists, three are from the 3rd Appellate District.

Two of those three — John Couriel and Eliot Pedrosa — currently work as attorneys. Couriel works at the Kobre & Kim law firm. Pedrosa is a Miami attorney who was named by President Donald Trump to serve as the United States Alternate Executive Director of the Inter-American Development Bank.

The third nominee from that region is Judge Norma Lindsey of the 3rd District Court of Appeals.

The remaining six nominees are all judges. Five of those individuals serve on appellate courts.

Judge Timothy Osterhaus and Judge Lori Rowe both serve on the 1st District Court of Appeal. Judge Jonathan Gerber is from the 4th District, while Judge Jamie Grosshans and Judge Meredith Sasso are from the 5th District.

The final nominee — Judge Renatha Francis — is the only African American nominee of the group. She serves on the the 15th Judicial Circuit in Palm Beach County.

The Supreme Court currently lacks an African American Justice. That’s been a sore spot for some lawmakers, who have sought to reform the JNC process.

The JNC selected the nine finalists from a list of 32 names submitted in late December.

Lagoa and Luck were both DeSantis nominees. He has 60 days to name their replacements.

DeSantis made restructuring the court a top priority. After being elected he was able to replace liberal Justices Peggy Quince, Barbara Pariente and Fred Lewis with conservative picks, shifting the court to the right after years of Republicans lamenting the court’s liberal leaning.

Written By

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.

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