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Crist appoints Polston to the Supreme Court

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Crist appoints Polston to the Supreme Court

Justice Polston and Gov. Crist

Ricky Polston, a First District Court of Appeal judge who adopted six brothers in foster care, has been named to the Florida Supreme Court by Gov. Charlie Crist.

Polston, 52, is Crist’s second appointment to the seven-member high court. Polston will replace Kenneth Bell, who served on the Supreme Court since 2003 and has returned to private practice in Pensacola.

“I have taken great care in appointing Judge Polston because I know this selection will affect generations of Floridians,” said Gov. Crist.

“The Supreme Court justices make precedent-setting decisions on important matters. I am confident Judge Polston will rule from our state’s highest bench with restraint, fairness, and humility. He has shown, throughout his personal and professional life, the kind of compassion that is so important to our justice system.”

A Panhandle native who grew up on the family farm in Jackson County, Polston has served on the First DCA in Tallahassee since 2001.

He graduated from the Florida State University College of Law with honors in 1986. He was in private practice for 14 years, handling a variety of cases in state, federal, and appellate court. A certified public accountant for 30 years, he has taught a variety of courses at the FSU’s law school since 2003 as an adjunct professor.

Noting Polston has presided over 6,000 appellate cases, Crist said: “Judge Polston’s breadth of legal experience makes him an ideal choice for this post. I trust he will have the courage to make decisions that preserve the integrity of our justice system.”

As Polston’s large family gathered in front of the Governor’s Mansion October 1 for the official announcement, Gov. Crist said: “Just as impressive as his legal background is his personal story. Judge Polston is a humble man from rural roots, being raised in Graceville, in the Panhandle.. . . He tells me he learned the value of discipline and hard work growing up there. He says he is guided every day by the common sense and practicality instilled in him since his childhood. Family remains very important to him, and I respect that very much.”

Judge Polston lives in Tallahassee with his wife of 31 years, Deborah Ehler Polston, a children’s book author. The Polstons raised four biological daughters. Diana, 25, is now living in St. Louis with her husband and children.

Present at the news conference were daughters Michelle, 23, Cheryl, 21, and Rachel 19, who held the 1-year-old baby Jonathan.

The Polstons adopted Jonathan and his five brothers from foster care: Kevin, 15, Brandon, 9, Michael, 7, Joel 5, and Jeremiah, 3.

“In a state as diverse as Florida, I know that Judge Polston’s personal experience and family values will help him bring a unique and special approach to the Florida Supreme Court,” Crist said.

“He is an elder in his church. And he told me the racial diversity of his children has given him a deep respect and appreciation for different cultures and backgrounds.”

After introducing his family, joking he hoped he wouldn’t take an hour and a half, Polston said, “Gov. Crist, I want to thank you for this great honor and opportunity to serve the people of Florida. I treasure your confidence and your trust.”

Polston also said he “appreciated the hard work of the Judicial Nominating Commission. It was a privilege being nominated with two other fine judges,” naming First DCA Judge Peter Webster and Fourth Circuit Judge Waddell Wallace.

“I want to express my deepest gratitude and appreciation to my family for their willingness and commitment they share with me for my service on the Florida Supreme Court,” Polston said.

Later in the day, when a reporter asked whether Polston’s conservative views on issues played a role in the appointment, Gov. Crist answered: “No, not really. As I’ve said before, as it relates to any judicial appointment, frankly, I look for people who have great integrity, I hope great compassion, and a fundamental sense of fairness, that want to serve the people. He filled all of that with great intellectual capacity. And he’s a ’Nole, too!”

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