Cannon ready to revamp Supreme Courtby John Kennedy | March 7th, 2011
House Speaker Dean Cannon, wrangling with the Florida Supreme Court since it killed three constitutional amendments pushed last year by the Republican Legislature, unveiled his latest idea Monday — overhaul the Supreme Court.
Cannon said the House will propose creating two, five-member Supreme Courts, one charged with overseeing civil matters, the other criminal cases. Justices from the current, seven-member court could form the core of the new, 10-justice lineup, but there would be no guarantees, he conceded.
The Winter Park lawmaker, during a briefing with reporters, also said he wants to change existing merit retention election standards. He’d require appellate justices to win the support of more than 60 percent of voters to stay on the bench. Currently, justices only need to secure a majority.
Cannon, in a thinly-veiled political shot, also noted that only justices on the controversial First District Court of Appeal, housed in the lavish new courthouse dubbed Tallahassee’s Taj Mahal, have failed to gain 60 percent support in merit retention contests over the past decade.
Cannon’s ideas would require constitutional amendments, approved by voters.
“This is a thoughtful, structural reform, that I believe will improve the administration of justice, help unclog our civil dockets and help make sure our criminal justice system doesn’t make mistakes and administers justice fairly and swiftly,” Cannon said.