Florida Bar President: Gov. Scott Should Publicly Embrace Judicial Diversity

May 23, 2014

Credit Sal Falko via Flickr

The Florida Bar is calling on Florida Gov. Rick Scott to help bring more racial and ethnic diversity to the state’s judicial benches. Today, a Bar task force released specific recommendations for doing so after surveying lawyers, judges and judicial nominators.

State law says the Florida governor must ensure judicial nominating committees reflect the diversity of residents—but the Bar Task Force report says there’s a long way to go.

Above all, it says, the state should appoint a diversity officer to work with the governor’s office and judicial nominating commissions.

Florida Bar President Eugene Pettis says he’s waiting to hear full buy-in from Scott.

“We’re asking the governor to be bold. We want to hear the governor acknowledge publicly that diversity is important to him," Pettis says. 

He says the governor’s attorneys have agreed to set up a meeting to discuss the recommendations.

The task force’s survey found three-fourths of respondents perceived judicial nominators to be selected more often based on partisan politics than on merit. And 82 percent of African-American respondents believe minority candidates do not have the same chances of being selected.