Florida Chief Justice elected to second term

Courtesy of Daily Business Review

Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga was chosen to serve a second two-year term Friday, making him the first chief justice to succeed himself in over 150 years.

The tradition of the Supreme Court of Florida is to appoint the next senior member who have not yet held the position. Justice James E.C. Perry would have been next in rotation, but chose not to stand for election due to his constitutionally mandated retirement beginning in the coming months.

Chief Justice Labarga expressed his excitement about serving another term.

“It is a privilege to serve the people of Florida. My second term will continue the work started during the first, especially the efforts of the Access to Civil Justice Commission and implementation for both our new long range and the first comprehensive statewide communications plan developed for the state courts system,” Labarga said.

According to the Florida Supreme Court, Charles H. Dupont was the last chief justice to lead the state’s top bench twice in a row, serving in 1860 during the Civil War and again in 1865.

Labarga also made history by becoming the first person to serve more than a single term as chief justice since the late Justice B.K. Roberts. Roberts served three non-consecutive terms from 1953-1973. His third term, 1971-1973, was during a time when scandals at the Supreme Court interrupted normal succession.

Labarga, 63, is the second Cuban-American appointed to Florida’s high court. He came to Florida as an 11-year-old after the Cuban revolution. He graduated from Forest Hill High School in West Palm Beach and went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in political science in 1976 from the University of Florida. He remained at the university to attend law school and received his law degree in 1979.

In Florida chief justices are elected by the other justices, not appointed by the executive, as happens at the United States Supreme Court. Labarga will begin his second term July 1.

For more information, visit the www.floridasupremecourt.org website for more information on Chief Justice Labarga and the Florida Supreme Court.