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Florida Supreme Court Changes Policy On Retired Judges

House Speaker Richard Corcoran.
Florida House of Representatives
Florida House of Representatives

Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran is praising the state’s Supreme Court after it formally barred retired judges from weighing in on cases after new justices are appointed.

Chief Justice Jorge Labarga ended retired Justice James Perry’s involvement on the court in January after Corcoran complained.

Justice Perry had been filling in until a new justice was named. After Lawson’s appointment, Perry continued working on cases he had heard arguments for but Lawson had not. The new policy says retired judges won’t be assigned or continue in an assignment when all seven justices are available.

“The language that you’re talking about that they came out with today says simply this, is that once seven justices are appointed on the bench, then you cannot have a senior judge unless there’s incapacitation. And I think that’s a good rule,” Corcoran said. “And I think that the court did an excellent job of taking the lead and initiative to make the system better.”

Corcoran criticized Perry’s participation in cases after Alan Lawson was appointed to the court. Corcoran says it violated Florida’s Constitution. But the Constitution gives the chief justice the ability to assign retired justices to cases to temporarily fill vacancies on the court.

Sarah Mueller is a journalist who has worked for media outlets in several states since 2010. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2010 and worked as a print reporter covering local government and politics.