For Immediate Release: April 14, 2011
Contact: April Salter or Lisa Hall, 850.681.3200, 850.508.7782
Coalition to lawmakers: Impartiality of our Courts is Non-Negotiable
Tallahassee, Fla — A coalition of former Supreme Court Justices, former Florida Bar Presidents, and Senator Bob Graham today went on the offensive against proposed legislation (HJR 7111 & HB 7199) that would dangerously expand legislative and executive authority and partisan influence over Florida’s judicial branch.
Speaking with reporters in a conference call Thursday morning, representatives of Floridians for Fair & Impartial Courts called on lawmakers to recognize the dangers the proposed legislation poses to the citizens, and the costs that they would bear.
“A fair and impartial court system is vital to the proper functioning of our society and is necessary to ensure that all disputes are resolved according to the rule of law and our constitution,” said Raoul Cantero, a former Florida Supreme Court Justice who moderated the discussion. “I am deeply concerned about proposed Constitutional Amendments and legislation that would jeopardize the ability of the courts to fulfill that critical mission.”
Conference call participants characterized the proposal to split the Supreme Court into separate criminal and civil divisions as a “solution in search of a problem.” It’s estimated that dividing the court would add more than $21 million in new staff and bureaucracy – and the caseload statistics don’t support it. The number of cases pending at the court has fallen by roughly 45% since 2001 (from 1544 to 881).
Participants on today’s call included:
Bob Graham, Former Florida Governor and United States Senator
Raoul Cantero, Former Justice, Florida Supreme Court
Leander Shaw, Former Chief Justice, Florida Supreme Court
Gerald Kogan, Former Chief Justice, Florida Supreme Court
Harry Lee Anstead, Former Chief Justice, Florida Supreme Court
Joseph Hatchett, Former Justice, Florida Supreme Court and Chief Judge, Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
Lee Haworth, Chief Judge of the 12th Judicial Circuit and Chairman the Committee of Chief Judges
Martha Barnett, Former President, American Bar Association
Howard Coker, Former President, The Florida Bar
Tod Aronovitz, Former President, The Florida Bar
Neal Sonnett, Former President, American Judicature Society and Dade County Bar Association
Peter Webster, President-Elect, American Judicature Society
Richard Levenstein, Member, American Judicature Society National Advisory Council