‘Equally important is the diversity and inclusion that we have achieved in our applicant pool’
Bar President Eugene Pettis thanked and praised Bar members who responded to his call to apply for upcoming vacancies on the state’s 26 judicial nominating commissions.
Pettis also thanked Bar Board of Governors members, at their March 28 meeting, for helping recruit JNC candidates.
At its May 23 meeting, the board will nominate slates of three candidates for two vacancies on each JNC, and send those slates to Gov. Rick Scott, who will make the final appointments.
Pettis recently expressed concern about diversity among Florida’s judges and also declining diversity on the JNCs that review candidates for judicial vacancies. He issued an appeal for more applicants at the board’s January meeting.
“It is great that our membership recognized the importance of qualified lawyers getting engaged on our JNCs and answered my call to action. We have a record number of applications for the 26 JNCs,” Pettis said. “Equally important is the diversity and inclusion that we have achieved in our applicant pool.”
He told the board that of the 188 applicants by late January, there were no African-American males, 5 African-American females, and 30 to 35 Hispanics.
“Now we have 679 people in the pool, an all-time high for JNC applications,” Pettis said. “Roughly 45 percent fall into a category for diversity: women, Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians.”
He noted that the newspaper editorial boards he has visited are universally interested in seeing diversity on the bench and on JNCs.
“This is an issue above and beyond politics; this is an issue about the integrity of our courts,” Pettis said.
He noted he raised the issue of diversity on the bench and on JNCs in a recent meeting with Gov. Scott, who agreed it was important. Pettis also noted that state law requires the governor to consider diversity in making JNC appointments.
“As the Board of Governors JNC screening committees [which review the JNC applicants] start to work in selecting names that will be submitted to the governor, we are convinced that there are enough quality applicants that reflect the rich diversity of our state that will assist Gov. Scott in fulfilling his task of making final appointments,” Pettis said.