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.

This year there are three Supreme Court Justices and a total of 15 appeals court judges on the ballot for merit retention vote. Find your District Court of Appeal on this map.
    The Judicial Nominating Commission vets applicants through the merit selection process. The Commission is comprised of nine members appointed by the governor — 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, Supreme Court justices review final orders imposing death sentences, district court decisions declaring a State statute or provision of the State Constitution invalid, bond validations, and certain orders of the Public Service Commission on utility rates and services in addition to reviewing additional issues at their discretion.

    Appeals court judges on the ballot represent various district courts of appeal throughout the state of Florida and serve as an intermediate level of appellate review between the county and circuit courts and the Supreme Court. With regard to appeals, appellate judges apply the law based on the facts in the record and the issues on appeal. In this sense, application of the rule of law in the appellate context is restricted to what was presented in the lower court.

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

    [Revised: 10-10-2012]