HJR 1097

House Joint Resolution
2A joint resolution proposing an amendment to Section 11 of
3Article V of the State Constitution to provide for Senate
4confirmation of justices and judges subject to a merit-
5retention vote.
7Be It Resolved by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
9     That the following amendment to Section 11 of Article V of
10the State Constitution is agreed to and shall be submitted to
11the electors of this state for approval or rejection at the next
12general election or at an earlier special election specifically
13authorized by law for that purpose:
16     SECTION 11.  Vacancies.-
17     (a)  Whenever a vacancy occurs in a judicial office to
18which election for retention applies, the governor shall fill
19the vacancy by appointment subject to senate confirmation. If
20the senate does not confirm an appointment within 180 days after
21receipt of the governor's communication, the nominee shall be
22deemed unconfirmed. The senate may sit for the purposes of
23confirmation regardless of whether the house of representatives
24is in session. An appointment shall be appointing for a term
25ending on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January of
26the year following the next general election occurring at least
27one year after the date of confirmation appointment, one of not
28fewer than three persons nor more than six persons nominated by
29the appropriate judicial nominating commission.
30     (b)  The governor shall fill each vacancy on a circuit
31court or on a county court, wherein the judges are elected by a
32majority vote of the electors, by appointing for a term ending
33on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January of the
34year following the next primary and general election occurring
35at least one year after the date of appointment, one of not
36fewer than three persons nor more than six persons nominated by
37the appropriate judicial nominating commission. An election
38shall be held to fill that judicial office for the term of the
39office beginning at the end of the appointed term.
40     (c)  The nominations shall be made within thirty days from
41the occurrence of a vacancy unless the period is extended by the
42governor for a time not to exceed thirty days. The governor
43shall make the appointment within sixty days after the
44nominations have been certified to the governor.
45     (d)  There shall be a separate judicial nominating
46commission as provided by general law for the supreme court,
47each district court of appeal, and each judicial circuit for all
48trial courts within the circuit. Uniform rules of procedure
49shall be established by the judicial nominating commissions at
50each level of the court system. Such rules, or any part thereof,
51may be repealed by general law enacted by a majority vote of the
52membership of each house of the legislature, or by the supreme
53court, five justices concurring. Except for deliberations of the
54judicial nominating commissions, the proceedings of the
55commissions and their records shall be open to the public.
56     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the following statement be
57placed on the ballot:
61amendment to the State Constitution to modify the judicial
62nominating and appointment process for judicial offices
63requiring merit-retention votes by requiring Senate approval of
64judicial nominations to the Supreme Court and district courts of
65appeal. Currently, when a vacancy in the office of justice of
66the Supreme Court or in the office of judge of a district court
67of appeal arises, the State Constitution requires that a
68judicial nominating commission convenes to interview applicants
69and then present to the Governor a list of three to six
70qualified nominees for the vacancy. The Governor must appoint
71one of those nominees to the position. Upon appointment by the
72Governor, the nominee is in office as a justice or judge. The
73proposed amendment would eliminate the constitutional
74requirement that a judicial nominating commission provide the
75Governor with a list of candidates for appointment. If this
76amendment passes, the Governor could appoint any qualified
77person as justice or judge, subject to confirmation by the
78Florida Senate. The Senate would have 180 days in which to vote
79on a nominee. If the Senate fails to vote for the nominee in
80that time period, the nomination would fail and the Governor
81would have to make another nomination. The requirement for
82Senate confirmation would also apply to nominations for circuit
83judge or county judge in any jurisdiction that has elected to
84use merit selection and retention in the jurisdiction.

CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.