Stung by public reaction to judges who lobbied state lawmakers into a $50 million courthouse many have dubbed a “Taj Mahal," the Florida Supreme Court has established new rules that would muzzle individual judges who try to have their way with the Legislature.
And some judges are not happy. The state’s circuit court judges have formally asked the state’s highest court to rescind the rules and at least engage in a public discussion of rules that would constrain their right to speak out in public. Judges at the Fifth District Court of Appeal also have filed a formal objection to a provision that would establish term limits on chief judges.
The rules, approved by a sharply divided court in February, would prevent individual judges from taking their budget requests and suggestions for changing the law directly to lawmakers without first getting approval from the Supreme Court and administrative committees who oversee the budget.
In addition, the state’s highest court has imposed an 8-year term limit on the service of all chief judges and requires them to be selected on the basis of their managerial, administrative and leadership skills.
Justices Barbara Pariente, Jorge Labarga, Ricky Polston and James Perry voted for all of the rules while Chief Justice Charles Canady and Justice Peggy Quince concurred with part of the decision but objected to term limits. Justice Fred Lewis dissented from the entire opinion.
“The majority in many ways takes the court system backward to recreate circumstances similar to those found by the citizens of Florida to be unworkable and abusive over 40 years ago," Lewis wrote.”
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Florida Supreme Court to Judges: No Lobbying