The statewide merit retention judicial poll for Florida Supreme Court justices and District Courts of Appeal judges is conducted every two years by The Florida Bar. In-state members are asked to rate judges and justices who are up for retention and of whom they have direct knowledge. Beginning in 2018, the merit retention poll will be conducted by the Constitutional Judiciary Committee of The Florida Bar.
Results for Florida Bar merit retention polls from 1978 through 2016 are available HERE.
Resolution of Disputes Concerning Conduct of Poll
Any challenge to the conduct of a merit retention poll shall be referred to The Florida Bar Board of Governors for investigation by the Judicial Administration & Evaluation Committee.
Instructions included with the poll sent to Bar members offer attributes that should be carefully considered in rating each incumbent. They include:
QUALITY AND CLARITY OF JUDICIAL OPINIONS. Are opinions written with clarity? Are they logical? Do they dispose of the issues addressed? Can they be readily used to advise clients?
KNOWLEDGE OF THE LAW. Familiarity with and working knowledge of the rules of procedure and the statutory and case law of the state of Florida, as well as possession of adequate foundation in legal methods and principles.
INTEGRITY. Intellectual and moral honesty; absolute reliability; sincerity.
JUDICIAL TEMPERAMENT. The capacity to exercise the qualities of patience, tolerance and forbearance that will ensure self-control while searching for truth in the presence of distractions.
IMPARTIALITY. The ability to conduct official duties without regard to personal knowledge or personal feeling toward counsel or litigants.
FREEDOM FROM BIAS/PREJUDICE. Having no mental leaning or inclination for or against people by reason of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, creed or geographic origin, or for or against an expressed ideology.
DEMEANOR. Conduct that reflects an appreciation of the great prestige of judicial office.
COURTESY. Showing an attitude of respect for people.
With regard to “quality and clarity of judicial opinions,” please consider the following criteria: (a) you should have read enough of the individual’s opinions during the past year to be sufficiently informed on this attribute; (b) your assessment should not be based on your agreement or disagreement with the individual’s written opinions, but rather on whether those opinions meet the stated criteria; and (c) your assessment does not contemplate or require that you have appeared before the justice/judge or the court of which that individual is a member.
Two groups of responses are provided on the ballot. The first group is designed to qualify your opinion by indicating your degree of personal knowledge of the incumbent’s judicial performance. This necessarily is subjective and should be your first consideration. If you mark “No knowledge,” your response for that incumbent will automatically be counted as “No opinion.” If your response indicates limited or considerable knowledge of the individual’s judicial performance, then you should mark the appropriate response in the second group after you have given careful consideration to each of the specific attributes mentioned above.