Experienced judges and justices who lose reelection or merit retention votes could still serve as senior judges, under a bill introduced in the Florida Senate.
SB 428, filed by Sen. Charles Dean, R-Inverness, would amend F.S. §25.073.
Currently under that statute, trial judges who are defeated for reelection and district court of appeal judges and Supreme Court justices who lose merit retention votes cannot serve as senior judges.
Dean’s bill would change that in certain conditions. Judges or justices would have to have served for more than 12 years and not have been disciplined for ethical misconduct. There also could not be any pending cases before the Judicial Qualifications Commission or cases where the judge “was not exonerated of all . . . charges.”
The bill also provides that the judge or justice could not sit on any civil trial or appeal if any party involved in the case objected.
If passed by the Legislature, the law becomes effective July 1. The bill has been referred to the Judiciary, Rules, and Budget committees and had not been scheduled for a hearing as this News went to press. No companion bill had been introduced in the House as of press time.