Gov. DeSantis appoints four appellate judges after Florida Supreme Court rejects challenge
Ron DeSantis quietly boosts school safety. Image via Reuters.

The Florida Supreme Court threw out a complaint that two are ineligible because they live outside the district.

Gov. Ron DeSantis named four judicial appointments to the 5th District Court of Appeal; a move necessitated by legislation he signed in June.

Since last month, the appointments were delayed by a legal challenge.

DeSantis’ office announced the appointments Friday. The appointees, chosen from a list the 5th District Court of Appeal Judicial Nominating Commission provided on Oct. 18, will take the bench on Jan. 1. They will fill four vacancies created through HB 7027, which set up the new 6th District Court of Appeal and revised other appellate court jurisdictions.

The new appellate Judges include Florida Gaming Control Commissioner John MacIver of Leon County, 15th Judicial Circuit Judge Paige Kilbane, Putnam County Judge Joseph Boatwright II, and Judge Adrian Soud of Duval County.

DeSantis’ announcement of their appointments came one day after the Florida Supreme Court rejected a challenge, filed last month, over the eligibility of several appellate Judge candidates for the 5th and 6th districts.

Justices on Thursday tossed a complaint Democratic Sen. Geraldine Thompson and Orlando lawyer Whitney Boan. The challenge argued four candidates for the 6th District and two for the 5th District — MacIver and Kilbane — are ineligible because they live outside the districts’ jurisdictions.

Attorney General Ashley Moody disputed that assertion. In documents filed Tuesday, she held that while Judges must live in their given district, they don’t have to meet that residency requirement until they are appointed.

The Supreme Court sided with her and the Governor less than 48 hours later. In a 13-page opinion, Chief Justice Carlos Muniz noted the Florida Constitution does not expressly prohibit the nomination of district non-residents.

“Given that the Constitution provides for a 60-day period between a Commission’s certification of nominations and the gubernatorial appointment deadline, and in the absence of clear textual direction to the contrary, we cannot say the Constitution imposes an ‘eligible at the time of nomination’ requirement,” he wrote. “Rather, we believe that the Constitution leaves to the commissions’ discretion whether to nominate only candidates who are residents at the time of nomination.”

Justice Renatha Francis, Ricky Polston, and Associate Justice Ivan Fernandez concurred fully with Muniz’s opinion. Justice Jorge Labarga concurred partially, writing that the Supreme Court should have weighed whether the Nominating Commissions for the appellate districts acted outside their rules in recommending nonresidents.

Justice Charles Canaday, John Couriel, and Jamie Grosshans recused themselves from the case due to potential conflicts of interest. Canaday and Couriel were references for three candidates. Grosshans, meanwhile, is married to a member of the Nominating Commission for the 6th District of Appeal.

The redrawn 5th District Court of Appeal will be based in Volusia County and hear cases from the 4th, 5th, 7th, and 18th judicial circuits in Brevard, Citrus, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Hernando, Lake, Marion, Nassau, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns, Sumpter and Volusia counties.

Before joining the Florida Gaming Control Commission, MacIver served as General Counsel to Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, Deputy General Counsel for the Executive Office of the Governor, and Assistant General Counsel for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

He earned his juris doctor from Northern University.

Kilbane has served as a Judge on the 15th Judicial Circuit Court since 2021 following her appointment by DeSantis in 2020. She previously served as a judge on the Palm Beach County Court and as Assistant State Attorney in the 19th Judicial Circuit.

She also worked as a complex commercial and intellectual litigator with Mracheck Law and staff counsel for Allstate, Esurance and Encompass “handling a broad range of auto and property matters,” according to her bio with the Federalist Society.

She holds a law degree from the University of Florida.

Boatwright, an East Palatka resident, has served on the bench of the Putnam County Court since January 2013. He previously served as Managing Assistant State Attorney in the 7th Judicial Circuit and as an associate attorney in private practice.

He holds a law degree from the Catholic University of America, a Master of Laws in Taxation from the University of Florida, and a Master of Laws in Judicial Studies from Duke University.

For the last 14 years, Soud has served as a Judge on the 4th Judicial Circuit Court. Before that, he worked in private practice as a partner at the Soud Law Firm in Orange Park and as an associate attorney at Holland & Knight.

He received his law degree from Stetson University and currently lives in Jacksonville.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


  • Charlotte Greenbarg

    December 17, 2022 at 9:23 am

    Funny now that Republicans have trampled over the Democrats in the vote the far left mouth frothers aren’t posting garbage!

    • Joe Corsin

      December 17, 2022 at 8:43 pm

      I post far left hit pieces every day! What are you blind or just a liar?

  • John J Keane

    December 17, 2022 at 6:17 pm

    Congratulations to Judge Soud on your appointment by the Governor. I am not familiar with the other appointees, however, if they are as qualified as Judge Soud the Governor and the Nominating Commission did a really outstand job on the recommendations.
    Best wishes to all.

Comments are closed.


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