The Florida Bar

The Vote’s in YOUR COURT - Judicial Merit Retention Know the Facts

Know the Facts

The merit retention process was adopted in Florida in 1976 for Supreme Court justices and appeals court judges.

Justices and appeals court judges, in six-year terms, appear on the ballot for Floridians to vote whether or not to retain them.

In 2016, there are three Supreme Court Justices and a total of 28 appeals court judges on the ballot for merit retention vote. Find your District Court of Appeal on this map.
    A Judicial Nominating Commission vets applicants through the merit selection process.

    There are 27 separate JNCs in Florida: one for the Florida Supreme Court; five for each of the district courts of appeal or “appellate districts”; twenty for each circuit court and the county courts contained in that circuit; and one Statewide Commission for Judges of Compensation Claims. 

    The Supreme Court, appellate districts, and circuit JNCs each consist of nine members — five as direct appointments and four from recommendation by The Florida Bar. The judicial applicants are judged on criteria including professional qualifications, character, integrity, intellect, experience, temperament, professional competence, maturity, capacity for growth and other characteristics necessary to perform the duties of that office. Three to six potential justices or judges are presented to the governor, who makes the selection from those options. Justices and judges on the upcoming ballot underwent this official selection process at the time of their original appointments.

    At the statewide level, the Supreme Court of Florida reviews certain constitutional issues determined by the district courts of appeal and hears appeals in cases involving the death penalty. The Supreme Court also has jurisdiction over appeals in bond validation proceedings and actions relating to settling statewide utility rates.

    Florida’s five district courts of appeal hear appeals from the circuit courts of those counties within their particular appellate districts. Some decisions from county courts in the districts also are subject to DCA review. Cases involve civil and criminal matters, as well as review of certain administrative actions of state government agencies. As a general rule, decisions of the district courts of appeal represent the final appellate review of litigated cases.

    Visit to learn more and view biographical information on the judges and justices up for merit retention.

    [Revised: 07-11-2016]