Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) appointed Jamie Grosshans to the Florida Supreme Court on September 14, 2020. She was appointed to succeed Justice Robert Luck, who was elevated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in November 2019. Grosshans will join two other DeSantis nominees on the seven-member court.
The governor had originally appointed Renatha Francis to the position on May 26, but a five-member Florida Supreme Court ruled against Francis’ appointment and ordered the governor to select a different nominee. State Rep. Geraldine Thompson (D-44) filed a lawsuit challenging Francis’ appointment in July 2020.
Grosshans is a judge on the Florida 5th District Court of Appeal. She was appointed to that court by Gov. Rick Scott (R) in 2018. She was a judge for the Orange County Court in Florida from 2017 to 2018. Before that, Grosshans was a solo practitioner for Plant Street Law. She also previously worked as an assistant state attorney for Florida’s Ninth Judicial Circuit. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Thomas Edison State College and a J.D., cum laude, from the University of Mississippi School of Law.
Florida Supreme Court justices are chosen through a process of assisted appointment. A judicial nominating commission screens potential judicial candidates and submits a list of nominees to the governor. The governor must appoint a judge from this list. Newly appointed judges serve for at least one year, after which they appear in a yes-no retention election held during the next general election. If retained, judges serve six-year terms.
The Florida Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort. As of September 2020, all six of the sitting justices were appointed by a Republican governor.
In 2019, there were 22 supreme court vacancies across 14 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. Retirements caused 14 of the vacancies. In 2020, there have been 20 supreme court vacancies in 16 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected.