Many Floridians will spend part of this week tearing into presents, sipping eggnog or gazing at blinking Christmas lights as they gather with family and friends to celebrate the holidays.
But some top-notch lawyers and judges will be polishing their resumes as they try to get appointed to the Florida Supreme Court. Wannabes for two seats on the high court face a Tuesday deadline to submit applications.
As of Friday evening, 12 applicants had already handed in their paperwork in a process that stems from President Donald Trump naming former Florida Supreme Court justices Robert Luck and Barbara Lagoa to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Atlanta-based court handles cases from Florida, Alabama and Georgia.
The openings offer Gov. Ron DeSantis an opportunity to appoint two more justices to a Supreme Court he’s already reshaped.
Shortly after taking office in January, DeSantis named three conservative jurists --- Luck, Lagoa and Carlos Muñiz --- to replace three liberal-leaning justices who were forced to step down after reaching a mandatory retirement age.
The applicants as of Friday evening included lawyer Belinda Noah, along with five Florida appellate judges and six circuit judges from across the state.
Judges Ed Scales and Norma Lindsey of the 3rd District Court of Appeal, Judge Samuel Salario of the 2nd District Court of Appeal and Judge Thomas “Bo” Winokur of the 1st District Court of Appeal had applied. They were all appointed to their current jobs by former Gov. Rick Scott.
Also applying was 4th District Court of Appeal Judge Jonathan Gerber, who was named to his current post by former Gov. Charlie Crist in 2009.
Also in the running were circuit judges Cymonie Rowe, of the 15th Judicial Circuit in Palm Beach County; Daryl Trawick, of the 11th Judicial Circuit in Miami-Dade County; Howard McGillin, of the 7th Judicial Circuit, which is made up of Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns and Volusia counties; Elijah Smiley, of the 14th Judicial Circuit, which is made up of Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson and Washington counties; Tatiana Salvador, of the 4th Judicial Circuit, which is made up of Duval, Clay and Nassau counties; and Hunter Carroll, of the 12th Judicial Circuit, which is made up of Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties.
After the Tuesday deadline, the Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission will review the applications, interview candidates and submit finalists to DeSantis, who will make the appointments.