Vacant Florida Supreme Court seat draws 15 candidates

by | Apr 19, 2023



  • The Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission has certified fifteen candidates for a vacant judge seat on the state’s highest court, setting the stage for Gov. Ron DeSantis to make his fifth appointment.
  • The Judicial Nominating Commission will interview all fifteen candidates in Orlando on May 3 and then recommend between three and six applicants to DeSantis for his consideration.
  • Recently-retired Justice Ricky Polston was named as Citizens Property Insurance’s new General Counsel and Chief Legal Officer earlier this month.

The Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) certified fifteen candidates on Tuesday, setting the stage for Gov. Ron DeSantis to appoint his fifth judge to the state’s highest court.

The JNC has announced that it will be interviewing all fifteen candidates in Orlando on May 3 as part of the selection process. Following the interviews, the JNC will recommend no fewer than three and no more than six applicants to DeSantis for his consideration, where he will then have sixty days to appoint a judge from the selection of nominees.

The fifteen candidates include Derek J. Angell, Victoria J. Avalon, Woody Robert Clermont, Roger Gannam, Bruce Edwin Kyle, Michael Thomas McHugh, Autumn M. Miller, Joshua Aaron Mize, Tarika Nunez-Navarro, Thomas Nelson Palermo, Bryan Edward Sarabia, Meredith Sasso, Jared Edward Smith, John K. Stargel, and Scott Toner.

DeSantis most recently appointed Renatha Francis to the state Supreme Court last August, filling the vacancy of former Justice Alan Lawson, who announced his retirement in early 2022.

Earlier this month, the JNC was prolong the deadline for candidates to submit applications for the vacant seat by an additional two weeks. This decision was taken after the original cutoff date failed to attract a sufficient number of candidates, with only three individuals applying for the position. The lack of applications was widely attributed to the abruptness with which the vacancy was announced, giving prospective nominees little time to prepare and submit their applications.

The recently-retired Justice, Ricky Polston, was named as Citizens Property Insurance’s new General Counsel and Chief Legal Officer earlier this month.

Polston, who notified DeSantis on March 20 of his decision to step down from the Supreme Court, began at Citizens on April 3. He originally joined the Supreme Court in 2008 and served as Chief Justice from 2012 to 2014.

“I’m grateful to the board for their confidence and support,” Polston said. “After a fulfilling career in the Florida judiciary, I’m excited to join CEO Tim Cerio and the strong leadership team at Citizens for this new chapter of my professional life. Citizens is critical to bringing stability to Florida’s insurance market and I can’t wait to get started.”

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