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Carlos G. Muñiz ready to lead the Florida Supreme Court

Senior Editor News in Photos

'We have a special culture here, it’s a very warm, welcoming, supportive environment. Whatever I can do to continue that culture, and that spirit, and that tradition here, I want to do'

Justices Charles Canady and Carlos Muñiz

Outgoing Chief Justice Charles Canady passes the gavel to incoming Chief Justice Carlos G. Muñiz at a private ceremony for court staff June 29. Muñiz, who becomes chief justice July 1, said the ceremony was “about two things,” honoring his predecessor and thanking the court staff. “The rest of us on the court benefit so much from your leadership,” Muñiz said. “There’s a lot that goes into what you had to deal with, especially in the last couple of years, we know that we wouldn’t have been able to make it through the challenges that we had without you, so I wanted to say, thank you.” Canady served as chief justice for six years, although not consecutively. “It’s such a privilege that all of us have to serve the people of this state, doing the work that we do,” Canady said. “We’ve been through such a challenging time, and I am grateful to you for the ways that you adapted to those challenges and moved us forward.”

Chief Justice Charles Canady symbolically passed the gavel to Chief Justice-elect Carlos G. Muñiz in a ceremony for court staff June 29.

Surrounded by fellow justices and staff in the Supreme Court Rotunda in Tallahassee, Canady gripped an oversized gavel that he jokingly referred to as  a “mallet.”

“I’m delighted to present this to [Chief] Justice-elect Carlos Muñiz, who will become chief justice at midnight tomorrow,” Canady said. “So, at midnight tomorrow, consider yourselves under new management.”

Canady served as Florida’s 54th chief justice from July 2010 through 2012, was reelected by his colleagues a second time, to serve from July 2018 through 2020, and a third time in 2020.

A Lakeland native, Harvard alumnus, and 1979 Yale Law graduate who joined the court in 2008, Canady said he scheduled the ceremony to welcome his successor, and just as importantly, thank his “court family.”

“I think this may be the biggest gathering that we’ve had among the court family since we moved out of the pandemic,” Canady said. “We have an amazing team of people who work in OSCA [Office of State Courts Administrator] and the Florida Supreme Court, who do the work of justice, and help others do the work of justice, around the state.

Canady singled out a handful of staff and administrators for praise, including Supreme Court Clerk John Tomasino, Supreme Court Marshal Silvester Dawson, State Courts Administrator Allison “Ali” Sackett, Deputy State Courts Administrator Katie Cunningham, and Innovations and Outreach Chief Tina White.

“Tina made such a contribution to our branch during the pandemic, we really could not have done what we had to do, as we did, without her constant labor,” Canady said. “And when I say constant, I probably don’t have a full grasp of how constant it was.”

Canady also thanked his judicial assistants and others, too many to name, who helped the court system navigate the pandemic.

“It’s such a privilege that all of us have to serve the people of this state, doing the work that we do,” Canady said. “We’ve been through such a challenging time, and I am grateful to you for the ways that you adapted to those challenges and moved us forward.”

Canady called his successor “deeply committed.”

“He will give it his all and he will bring to this, as he does everything else, a very thoughtful, determined approach,” Canady said. “I’m grateful that he’s willing to take on this responsibility.”

Muñiz said the ceremony was “about two things,” honoring his predecessor and thanking the court staff.

“The rest of us on the court benefit so much from your leadership,” he said. “There’s a lot that goes into what you had to deal with, especially in the last couple of years, we know that we wouldn’t have been able to make it through the challenges that we had without you, so I wanted to say, thank you.”

A veteran government lawyer and Yale Law School graduate, Muñiz served as general counsel to the U.S. Department of Education before Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed him the Supreme Court’s 89th justice in 2019.

Muñiz said that when he arrived, he was “taken aback” by the Supreme Court’s inviting atmosphere.

“We have a special culture here, it’s a very warm, welcoming, supportive environment,” he said. “Whatever I can do to continue that culture, and that spirit, and that tradition here, I want to do.”

Pledging to be a faithful caretaker of the institution, Muñiz asked everyone to “cultivate a spirit of gratitude.”

“We each have the ability to work for the common good, to give it our best, to fulfill whatever God-given purpose we have for being here,” he said. “I hope we can all realize what a great privilege that is, to be grateful for that.”

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