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April 15, 2013
Retention challenge dismissed

A last-minute challenge that sought to remove three Florida Supreme Court justices from last November’s general election ballot has been formally dismissed by a Second Circuit judge.

The petition for writ of quo warranto to remove the justices from the ballot and an alternative request to prevent tabulating votes in their merit retention races was filed after 4 p.m. the day before the election. An earlier case, also unsuccessful, sought to remove the justices from the ballot on the grounds they had improperly qualified.

The challenges stemmed from discovery of errors on the justices’ retention qualification papers and corrections they made just minutes before the qualifying deadline in April.

In his ruling (Case No. 2012-CA-3694) on the November filing, Judge Kevin J. Carroll noted the action came six months after qualifying and one day before the general election when “thousands of votes had already been cast by means of early and absentee voting.” He also wrote that the justices were retained in the election and those results had been certified.

“Under the undisputed facts of this case, Petitioner is not entitled to relief,” Carroll wrote.

He found that a substantial number of previous cases require that seeking to remove a name from the ballot must happen before an election and that someone seeking such a removal “cannot wait until the citizens are already voting to attack the validity of the qualifying process, which took place more than six months before.”

Carroll issued his ruling on March 19.

[Revised: 01-31-2015]