On April 28, 2022, Gunster attorneys Joe Jacquot and Asghar Syed led a panel discussion on Florida’s judicial appointment process, hosted by the Jacksonville Bar Association and the Jacksonville Chamber of the Federalist Society. The program aimed to dispel myths regarding the JNC and Governor’s appointment approach, share practical tips and details of the process, and inspire prospective candidates to apply.
Joe Jacquot moderated a discussion between Ray Treadwell, Chief Deputy General Counsel for Governor DeSantis; Robert Harris, Chairman of the 4th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission; and Circuit Court Judge London Kite. From 2019-2020, Jacquot served as General Counsel to Governor DeSantis and, in that role, oversaw the process for more than 100 judicial appointments for the Governor, including five Justices to the Florida Supreme Court. During his prior 2003-2006 tenure as Deputy Chief Counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Jacquot managed the confirmations of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito.
Treadwell, who now oversees the Governor’s legal office’s interviews of judicial candidates commented that the Governor’s process is transparent. Candidates know that the Governor will ask about their judicial philosophy and evaluate how they understand the role of a judge.
Harris described the rigorous process the JNC undertakes to vet candidates and Treadwell, in turn, noted that the Governor’s office relies heavily on the JNC’s due diligence. Harris also observed a trend towards declining applications to the JNC and encouraged prospective applicants to apply for both County and Circuit Judge positions.
Judge London Kite detailed her personal journey as a 17-year prosecutor with State Attorney’s office prior to being appointed to the bench by Governor DeSantis. Judge Kite described the time and attention to detail required in what can be a demanding application process and her experiences interviewing with the JNC and the Governor.
Overall, the panel discussion encouraged attorneys who desire to become a judge to start preparing as early as possible.