Renatha Francis makes final list for Florida Supreme Court nominees

If appointed, Renatha Francis would be only Black justice on the court

Judge Renatha Francis. (WPLG)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Palm Beach Circuit Judge Renatha Francis is on the certified list of nominees to fill in a Florida Supreme Court vacancy.

Francis was a justice designate in 2020, but her appointment was nullified in September 2020 on the grounds that she was not a member of the Florida Bar for at least 10 years. This is one of the minimum requirements set by the state constitution.

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Gov. Ron DeSantis received the list of six nominees by the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission to replace retiring Justice Alan Lawson on Monday.

Lawson, 61, announced in April he will retire on Aug. 31, more than 10 years before justices’ retirement age of 75.

“I would like to extend my gratitude to the members of the Judicial Nominating Commission for recommending such an exemplary list of strong constitutionalist jurists and practitioners,” DeSantis said in a press release. “I would like to thank the commissioners for their hard work and diligence. They have left me with a difficult choice, but I look forward to appointing our next Supreme Court justice in the coming weeks.”

The list also includes Robert Long and Adam Tanenbaum, judges on the 1st District Court of Appeal; Anne-Leigh Gaylord More, Hillsborough County circuit judge; Meredith Sasso, judge on the 5th District Court of Appeal; and Denise Harle, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom.

If appointed, Francis would be the only Black justice on the Florida Supreme Court. The last Black justice was Peggy A. Quince, who retired in 2019 and was the court’s first Black female chief justice.

Francis would also be the second woman on the state’s high court. Justice Jamie R. Grosshans is currently the only woman.

DeSantis has 60 days to appoint a justice from among the nominees.

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Ashley joined in June 2022.