Cut the governor’s power
By The Palm Beach Post, Posted: 7:45 p.m. Friday, May 27, 2011
Without Jeb Bush and the Legislature, the judge who stands accused of damaging the entire Florida court system never could have become a judge.
Paul Hawkes had an undistinguished career during 14 years as a lawyer. But the ex-legislator became part of the Bush administration in 2000. For the next two years, he was chief of policy for the House. In early 2003, Mr. Bush named him to the 1st District Court of Appeal, the most important of Florida’s five appeals courts, because it is based in Tallahassee and thus hears all big cases involving state laws.
Two years earlier, the Legislature had changed the system for appointing judges. When seats open, nine-member nominating commissions interview applicants, and recommend to the governor between three and six candidates. For decades, the governor picked three commissioners, the Florida Bar picked three, and those six picked the three others, all of whom had to be non-lawyers. The idea was to limit the governor’s control over selection of judges.