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The Florida Bar

Judicial Independence

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Benchmarks: Raising the Bar on Civics Education
Informed Voters-Fair Judges Project
Why does judicial independence matter?
What “an independent judiciary” means
Educational Resources
News & Videos
Constitutional Judiciary Committee
Test Your Civic Knowledge
Defending Our Freedoms

Attend Benchmarks/Informed Voters Project seminar at Annual Convention
Join Justice Barbara Pariente who is a lead presenter in this two-hour seminar
to teach attorneys how to talk to civic groups about concepts such as the rule of law and judicial review. The seminar is being held at The Florida Bar Annual Convention in Orlando on Friday, June 27, from 3 to 5 p.m. Details: or (850) 561-5669. (2 hours General CLE credit)

Benchmarks: Raising the Bar on Civics Education
Benchmarks image of courts

Benchmarks is a series of civic education activities that attorneys can present when they speak to civic and community groups. Many Americans lack basic knowledge about their government and the courts; Benchmarks offers a way to bridge the gap and educate and engage audiences about civics education. Activities cover:
  • Amending the Florida Constitution and the role of the courts.
  • Judging candidates for judicial office.
  • Understanding what makes a law "constitutional."
  • Getting beyond labels in discussing courts and controversial cases.
  • Interpreting what laws mean.
  • Testing your knowledge of what's in the U.S. and Florida constitutions.

Each activity comes with an overview, handouts and is guided by a PowerPoint. All materials can be downloaded from The Florida Bar website.

Attorneys can receive CLE credit for making Benchmarks presentations. Benchmarks presenters can earn one ethics credit hour for each presentation for up to three presentations in a three-year reporting period. Form to apply for credit PDF document opens in new window.

Informed Voters Fair Judges
Informed Voters-Fair Judges Project
The Florida Bar is pleased to announce its partnership with the Informed Voters-Fair Judges Project of the National Association of Women Judges. External Link The project focuses on increasing the knowledge of citizens regarding the importance of a fair and impartial judiciary. Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente serves as state coordinating committee chairperson for the initiative.

Why does judicial independence matter?

Lady Justice holding scalesJudicial independence means that judges are free to decide cases fairly and impartially, relying only on the facts and the law. It means that judges are protected from political pressure, legislative pressure, special interest pressure, media pressure, public pressure, financial pressure, or even personal pressure.

What “an independent judiciary” means

Gavel on TableJudges must be fair and impartial to all who come before them; judges must be free from partisan political influence; judges must rule on the basis of what is just, not just what is popular; and judges must be able to protect ordinary citizens from politicians, government, large corporations, and from each other.

Educational Resources

Florida Code of Judicial Conduct External Link

A Comprehensive Analysis Of Judicial Compensation, Recruitment And Retention Practices In The State Of Florida PDF document opens in new window

The Economic Impacts Of Delays In Civil Trials In Florida’s State Courts Due To Under-Funding by The Washington Economics Group, Inc. PDF document opens in new window

A Trail of Justice PDF document opens in new window - by Justice Overton

ABA Standing Committee on Judicial Independence External Link

American Judicature Society External Link

Justice At Stake Campaign External Link

Florida Law Related Education Association External Link

National Center for State Courts External Link

Brennan Center for Justice External Link

News & Videos

2012 Merit Retention video (YouTube) External Link (WMV format)

New report details rising costs of judicial elections
Special-interest groups and political parties spent $24.1 million on TV ads and other election materials in state court races in 2011-2012, according to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Justice at Stake and the National Institute on Money in State Politics. The report gives a detailed look at 2011-2012 state Supreme Court elections. In the first full election cycle since Citizens United, independent spending helped to fuel the costliest election cycle for TV spending in judicial election history.

Constitutional Judiciary Committee

Constitutional Judiciary Committee Members

Constitutional Judiciary Committee Reports

Test Your Civic Knowledge

Take a quiz provided by:
Center for Individual Freedom External Link
Intercollegiate Studies Institute External Link
Annenberg Learner Civics Quiz External Link
The New York Sun External Link
20 Question Civics Quiz External Link

Defending Our Freedoms

Stack of Law booksFor as long as our great nation has existed, the separation of powers among three branches of government has worked to protect and defend our freedoms.
The three branches also have the power to “check and balance” each other so that each clearly has its own responsibilities – the legislative branch makes the laws; the executive branch enforces and carries out the laws; and the judicial branch interprets the laws.
For example, Congress may pass laws but the President can veto them; the president can veto laws but Congress can override the veto with a 2/3 vote; and the President and Congress may agree on a law but the Supreme Court can declare a law unconstitutional.

[Revised: 03-12-2014]