Chamber members will learn more about the issues surrounding Florida's judicial merit retention system when Florida Supreme Court Justice Peggy A. Quince addresses the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce at its Aug. 28 membership meeting.
The meeting will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Regent, 6437 Watson Rd., Riverview. To ensure adequate seating and food, the chamber is requiring advance reservations by calling 813-234-5944.
Quince is the first black female chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court. She was appointed to the court by the late Gov. Lawton Chiles and Governor-elect Jeb Bush in 1998.
Born in Norfolk, Va., in 1948, she received her law degree from Catholic University of America in 1975. She also holds honorary law degress from Stetson University College of Law and St. Thomas University School of Law.
She began her legal career in Washington, D.C., as a hearing officer with the Rental Accommodations Office, administering that city's new rent-control law. In 1977, she entered private practice in Norfolk with a special emphasis in real estate and domestic relations.
She moved to Bradenton in 1978 where she practiced general civil law until 1980 when she began her tenure with the Attorney General's Office Criminal Division, handling appeals, including death penalty cases, in the Florida and U.S. Supreme Court. During that time, she also served as Tampa bureau chief for the Attorney General's Office.
The judicial merit retention is a system of selecting justices that was established by the voters when they amended the Florida Constitution in the 1970s. Under merit retention, the governor appoints new justices from a list of three to six names submitted by a judicial nominating commission. Once appointed, justices eventually must face the voters in a "yes" or "no" vote as to whether they should remain on the bench. Justices' merit retention races are conducted on a statewide basis. If retained, the justice serves a six-year term beginning in early January following the merit retention election.
That system could change if voters approve Amendment 5 in November.
Amendment 5 would require the Florida Senate to confirm state Supreme Court nominees. Critics fear this would politicize the process. The measure also would allow the Legislature to repeal any court decision with only a majority, which is 50 percent plus one. Right now, the Legislature needs a supermajority.
The cost to attend the luncheon is $10 in advance or $12 at the door for Riverview chamber members, $15 for guests.
For more information, visit the chamber's website.