Supreme Court Justice Retention

Published On: Oct 21 2012 08:12:16 PM EDT
Updated On: Oct 23 2012 10:39:58 AM EDT

Florida voters will be asked to vote yes or no on whether three supreme court justices should be retained in office.

Justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince would become the first justices or appellate judges removed since merit retention elections began in 1978 if they lose Nov. 6, but none has ever faced the kind of organization opposition that has emerged this year.  [Read about controversy]

Below are biographies of the three justices from the Florida Supreme Court's official website.

Justice R. Fred Lewis

He also attempted to provide greater public access to justice for the disabled by mandating a survey and audit of all court facilities in Florida through a task force of professionals to identify and remove obstacles to facility access. While Chief Justice, Justice Lewis also instituted for the first time in Florida, a uniform high-level diversity training program for all Florida judges. Having a background in civil litigation and recognizing the need for better jury instructions in complex cases, he created and appointed the first Standard Jury Instruction Committee for Contract and Business Cases, a group that continues to move forward to finalize comprehensive jury instructions for these complex cases.

Justice Lewis served as liaison to the Florida Board of Bar Examiners for 10 years where he led the effort to require higher academic and character standards for applicants to the Florida Bar. He also led the effort to restructure the background fitness analysis process for Chapter 11—Certified Legal Interns. Currently serving as Chair of the Florida Professionalism Commission, his interest in maintaining high standards for all lawyers continues.

Born in Beckley, West Virginia, in 1947, Justice Lewis attended Woodrow Wilson High School, where he was actively involved in both athletic and academic pursuits, serving as president of the student body, receiving All State and All American recognition for athletic achievement, and receiving the Pete George Memorial Award as the outstanding scholar athlete.

Justice Lewis came to Florida in 1965 to attend Florida Southern College in Lakeland, where he excelled in athletics and academics. He was elected president of the sophomore, junior, and senior classes, and received the highest honor in 1969 by being selected as the Honor Walk Student, which is awarded annually for the outstanding senior student for scholastic and service achievements.

He graduated from college cum laude in 1969 and was awarded the NCAA Post-Graduate Grant as one of the top fifteen scholar athletes in the United States. He also received the Besser Lindsey Award as one of the top ten male university students in the United States, awarded by Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

Among his other achievements were the Williams Memorial Outstanding Athlete Award and inclusion in the Outstanding Athletes in America, National Student Register, Order of Omega, Omicron Delta Kappa, Psi Chi, Political Union, and the Greek Hall of Fame.

Upon graduating from college, Lewis moved to Miami to attend the University of Miami School of Law, where he graduated cum laude in 1972. He was a member of the University of Miami Law Review and was an officer in the Student Bar Association. Selected as a Justice of the Law School Honor Council, Lewis also served on the Appellate Moot Court Teams. He was selected for the Iron Arrow, the highest honor society, and was awarded membership in Bar and Gavel, and Order of Barristers.

Upon graduation from law school, Justice Lewis attended and graduated from the United States Army A.G. School after acting as Commander of the Corps of cadets for the University of Miami ROTC program. He graduated as its top student, receiving the Order of World Wars Superior Achievement Honor. Upon discharge from the military, Lewis entered private practice in Miami, specializing in civil trial and appellate litigation. He left practice upon his appointment to the Florida Supreme Court effective January 1, 1999.

Selected as Florida's Citizen of the Year in 2001 by the Florida Council, Justice Lewis has been heavily involved in children's issues, serving as a member of the Board of Directors of Miami Children's Hospital and many of its committees and panels. While in private practice, he was heavily involved in providing counseling to families with children having impairments and provided pro bono legal services and counseling for cancer patients seeking proper treatment for multiple conditions. In 2001 he also received the "Everyday Hero" award for his outstanding contributions to community service in Florida.

He has served The Florida Bar in the capacity of Inventory Attorney, spending many hours auditing and reviewing files for the protection of clients. He has authored materials published by The Florida Bar's Continuing Legal Education Program and has participated in numerous cases selected for annotation in The American Law Report.

An emeritus member of the Tallahassee American Inn of Court, in 1999, Justice Lewis received the distinguished Friends of Justice award from the American Board of Trial Advocates for his dedication and service to the citizens of Florida. In 2001, Justice Lewis also received the Public Trust and Confidence Award from the Florida Law Related Education Association. He previously served on Florida’s Commission on the Legal Needs of Children and is active in the Justice Teaching Institute, a program designed to enhance public education.  In 2002, the University of Central Florida honored Justice Lewis by creating the Justice R. Fred Lewis Award, which will be awarded annually to the individual who has demonstrated the highest level of social responsibility.  Justice Lewis received the inaugural award for his service to the youth of Florida. He also received the 2005 Great American, Law in Education Award, the 2006 Guardian of The Constitution Award, and the 2006 Education for Democracy Award.

In 2007, Justice Lewis was named Florida Jurist of the Year by the Florida Chapters of the American Board of Trial Advocates and selected for Florida's Children's Cabinet. He also received the ABA 2007 Pursuit of Justice Award, and the Outstanding Citizen Award for 2007 from the Florida Council for Social Studies. In 2008, he received the Judge Mario Goderich Award from Cuban American Bar Association, which recognized his work for diversity. He also received a Resolution by the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services & Technology for his work to provide access for persons with disabilities. Justice Lewis received the Gracias Award 2008 from the Broward County Hispanic Bar on June7, 2008. The Award reads “For achieving monumental Heights in Public Services and Promoting Diversity.

In June of 2008 Justice Lewis received the prestigious William M. Hoeveler Judicial Award representing the highest level of professionalism in the Florida judicial system. He was selected as the recipient of the Joe Oldmixon Service Award for Outstanding Service to People with Disabilities 2007-2008 (presented by the Center for Independent Living Disability Resource Center). In 2009 he received the We the People Constitution Education Award from the Florida Law Related Education Association, Inc.

As a member of the Florida Supreme Court, Justice Lewis currently serves as liaison to the Florida Board of Bar Examiners and the Judicial Management Council. He has served on the Committee on the Rules of Civil Procedure, the Committee on Standard Civil Jury Instructions, and the Code and Rules of Evidence Committee.

Justice Lewis is a volunteer in the Florida Law Related Education program working with Florida teachers and students.  He is involved in a program of actively teaching and working in schools throughout Florida to promote a better understanding of government institutions and providing open access to judicial officers.

In 2000, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Public Service degree from Florida Southern College. In 2002, Justice Lewis received an Honorary Doctor of Law degree from St. Thomas University. He also has been the recipient of a Certificate of Appreciation for Outstanding Contributions to We the People, the Citizens and the Constitution; a Florida State University College of Law Award for Contributions to the Summer Law Program; a Guardian of the Constitution Citizenship Award for Law-Related Education in Brevard County; a Dade County Bar Association, Young Lawyer's Section Dedication to Children Award; and an Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Study of Law, Legal and Public Affairs, by Miami Senior High School. He also received the 2005-2006 Easter Seals Judge Wilke Ferguson Award for Protector of the Disabled.

In 2007 Justice Lewis received the Equal Opportunities in the Judiciary Award, the Constitutional Education Award, the Education for Justice Award, and the Justice Thurgood Marshall Award.

Justice Lewis and his wife Judith attended Florida Southern College together and were married in 1969. They have two children, Elle and Lindsay.

Justice Barbara J. Pariente

Justice Pariente’s legal and judicial career has spanned over 38 years.  She has been a Justice since 1997 and served as Chief Justice from 2004 through 2006. She has been a Floridian since 1973, having been born in New York City in 1948 and attended public schools in New York and New Jersey.  She graduated with highest honors from Boston University.  She then attended George Washington University Law School, where she graduated fifth in her class in 1973, earning highest honors and membership in the Order of the Coif.  She moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1973 for a two year judicial clerkship with United States District Court Judge Norman C. Roettger, Jr., of the Southern District of Florida.

After her judicial clerkship, Justice Pariente settled in West Palm Beach, where she joined the law firm of Cone, Wagner and Nugent in 1975 and became a partner in 1977.  In 1983, she formed the law firm of Pariente & Silber, P.A. In both firms, she specialized in civil trial litigation.  She earned certification by the Florida Bar as a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer as well as nationally by The National Board of Trial Advocacy.  She was awarded an AV rating, the highest available, by Martindale-Hubbell.  During her eighteen years in private practice, Justice Pariente served on the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Grievance Committee, the Florida Bar Civil Rules Committee, and the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Nominating Commission.  She was instrumental in organizing Palm Beach County's first Bench-Bar Conference.  She was a founding member and master of the Palm Beach County Chapter of the American Inns of Court, and was very active in the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, serving on its Board of Directors for many years.

In September 1993, Justice Pariente was appointed to the Fourth District Court of Appeal, where she served until her appointment as the seventy-seventh Justice of the Florida Supreme Court on December 10, 1997.  During her time on the Supreme Court, she has worked to improve methods for handling cases involving families and children in the courts.  Since 2010, she has served as the Chief-Justice’s designee to the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet and was appointed in 2011 to the Department of Children and Families’ Child Protection Transformation Advisory Board. 

Justice Pariente is currently the Chair of the Supreme Court's Steering Committee on Families and Children in the Courts, which works collaboratively to improve methods for handling cases involving children and families so that the interests and need of the child are paramount. Over the past decade, she has met with family court judges and staffs throughout Florida's judicial circuits, promoted judicial education on the unified family court and advocated for improved case management, case coordination, and non-adversarial methods of resolving these disputes.  From 2000-2002, she was a member of the Florida Bar's Commission on the Legal Needs of Children.  In 1999 she served on the Governor's Advisory Committee on Character Education, where she focused on promoting civic education.

Justice Pariente has also actively supported programs that promote successful alternatives to incarceration such as Florida's drug courts.  For over a decade, she served as the liaison to the Supreme Court's Task Force on Treatment-Based Drug Courts and she helped to organize the first statewide conference on drug courts.

Based on her longstanding commitment to children, Justice Pariente remains involved as a mentor to school-age children. She has served as a mentor to students through Take Stock in Children, a program for helping economically disadvantaged students earn a college scholarship. Her most recent mentee is a senior in college. She is proud that another mentee, whom she began mentoring in ninth grade, has since graduated from college and began attending law school.

Justice Pariente was inducted into the Florida Women's Hall of Fame in 2008.  She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the George Washington University's Distinguished Alumni Award, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers' Jurist of the Year Award, the Florida Association of School Social Workers' Lifetime Achievement Award, the Palm Beach County League of Women Voters Good Government Award, the William M. Hoeveler Judicial Professionalism Award, the Visionary Award of the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar, the Jewish Museum of Florida's  Breaking the Glass Ceiling Award, the  Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency Distinguished Judicial Service Award, the  Florida Association of Women Lawyers' Award in recognition of lifelong dedication to the success of women lawyers in the legal profession,  the  American Bar Association's Law Day Speech Award, the  Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Palm Beach County Jewish Federation and the Palm Beach County Legal Aid Society Civil Litigation Pro Bono Award. In 2012, she received the "Gracias Award" by the Broward County Hispanic Bar Association.

Justice Pariente speaks frequently throughout the state to promote better awareness of the need for increased focus on civic education, on topics ranging from professionalism, judicial independence, the unified family court, juvenile justice and crime prevention. Justice Pariente's past publications include a contribution to the Cardozo Journal of Law & Gender entitled “A Symposium with Women Chiefs” at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. Volume 13, No. 2 (April 2007); a contribution to Women Trial Lawyers: How They Succeed in Practice and in the Courtroom (Prentice-Hall 1987). In addition, she authored an article in the Florida Bar Journal entitled "A Profession for the New Millennium: Restoring Public Trust and Confidence in Our System of Justice." 74 Fla. B.J. 50 (January 2000) and co-authored an article in the Florida Bar Journal entitled "Teaching Them a Lesson," 77 Fla. B.J. 6 (June 2003) about girls in the Juvenile Justice system.

Justice Pariente is married to the Honorable Frederick A. Hazouri, judge of the Fourth District Court of Appeal. Together, they have three married children and eight grandchildren, all of whom live in Florida.  In 2003, Justice Pariente shared with the public her successful treatment for breast cancer, in hopes of promoting greater awareness of this disease that strikes one in eight American women.

Read a Conversation with Justice Pariente by Jodi Wilkof, a Profile of Justice Pariente published in the October 2004 Bar Journal, and an article on her in the Bostonia alumni magazine.

Justice Peggy A. Quince

Justice Peggy A. Quince was born in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1948. She is married to Fred L. Buckine, (retired) attorney at law, and they have two daughters, Peggy LaVerne, a graduate of Florida A & M University, and Laura LaVerne, a graduate of the University of Central Florida. Justice Quince graduated in 1970 from Howard University with a B.S. Degree in Zoology; she received her J.D. Degree from the Catholic University of America in 1975. While a law student she was active in Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity and the Black American Law Students AssociJustice Peggy A. Quinceation; she received an award for her work with Catholic's Neighborhood Legal Services Clinic. In 1999, she received an honorary doctor of laws degree from the Stetson University College of Law. In 2004, she received an honorary doctor of laws degree from St. Thomas University School of Law and Nova. Justice Quince 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, Virginia, with special emphasis in real estate and domestic relations.

She moved to Florida in 1978 and opened a law office in Bradenton, Florida, where she practiced general civil law until 1980. In February, 1980, Justice Quince began her tenure with the Attorney General's Office, Criminal Division. As an assistant attorney general she handled numerous appeals in the Second District Court of Appeal, the Florida Supreme Court, including death penalty cases, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. Her thirteen and a half year tenure at that office included five years as the Tampa Bureau Chief. Additionally, three years were spent handling death penalty cases exclusively, on direct appeal and in postconviction proceedings.

Justice Quince is a member of The Florida Bar, Virginia State Bar, the National Bar Association, the Tallahassee Women Lawyers, and the William H. Stafford Inn of Court. She is an active member of the Government Lawyers Section, the Criminal Law Section, and the Equal Opportunity Section of The Florida Bar. She is a former member of the George Edgecomb Bar Association, the Hillsborough County Bar Association, Hillsborough Association of Women Lawyers, and the Tampa Bay Inn of Court. Justice Quince's former Florida Bar activities include membership on the Gender Equality Committee, the Criminal Law Certification Committee, and the Executive Councils of the Government Lawyers and Criminal Law Section.

Presently, Justice Quince is on the executive counsel of the Appellate Section of The Florida Bar and is the Supreme Court liaison to the Small Claims Rules Committee and the Supreme Court Library Committee. She is also liaison for the following State Courts System Advisory Committees; Commission on District Court of Appeal Performance and Accountability, the Committee on Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules and Policy, the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Task Force and the Local Rules Advisory Committee. She has lectured at a number of Continuing Legal Education programs on issues involving search and seizure, probation and parole, use of peremptory challenges, postconviction relief, professionalism and ethics, and the independence of the judiciary.

In 1993 Justice Quince became the first African-American female to be appointed to one of the district courts of appeal with her appointment by Governor Lawton Chiles to the Second District Court of Appeal to a term effective January 4, 1994. She was retained in office by the electorate in November 1996. On December 8, 1998, Justice Quince was appointed by the late Governor Lawton Chiles and Governor-elect Jeb Bush to the Florida Supreme Court. Justice Quince is a member of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church. Her civic and community activities include membership in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Jack and Jill of America, Inc., the Urban League, the NAACP, and The Links, Inc.

Justice Quince has received the following honors and awards: 2008, Lifetime Achievement Award by The Florida Bar's Government Lawyer Section; Florida Commission on the Status of Women, 2007 Florida Women's Hall of Fame award; American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession; 2007 Justice Quince was inducted into Florida Blue Key as an honorary member; 2006 Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award; 2006 Rickards High School Outstanding School Volunteer Award; 2005 Key to the City of Winter Haven; 2005 Richard W. Ervin Equal Justice Award; 2004 Key to the City of Panama City, Florida; 2004 Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, Black Law Student Association Alumni Achievement Award; 2004 Lee County Association for Women Lawyers and the Lee County Bar Association Award for dedication to the promotion of equality in law and outstanding service as a distinguished member of the Florida judiciary; 2002 Florida Bar Equal Opportunities in the Profession Award; 2002 Florida Girls State Award; 2003 Helping Hand Award; 2003 Southern Women in Public Service Pacesetter Award; 2003 Florida Girls State Award; 2003 Pioneering the Future in our Community Award; 2003 Outstanding Jurist and Howard University Alumna Award; 2001 William H. Hastie Award from the National Bar Association Judicial Council; National Bar Association Presidential Achievement Award; Girl Scouts, Woman of Distinction Award, 2001; National Bar Association Women Lawyers Division Jurist Award for Outstanding Leadership Achievements and Dedicated Service to the Community At Large; Florida Chapter of the National Bar Association for Service on the Bench; Virgil Hawkins Bar Association Award for Community Service and Advancement of Equal Justice Under Law; the Virgil Hawkins Bar Association Certificate for Achievement in Jurisprudence; the Fort Lauderdale High School Award for participating in the School Law Magnet Program; the Broward County School Board Appreciation Award for Inspiration and Devotion to Our Youth; Award of Distinguished Service and Continuing Commitment to the People of Florida from the Fort Lauderdale B'nai B'rith; Proclamation from the Broward Board of County Commissioners stating that February 28, 1999, as "The Honorable Peggy A. Quince Appreciation Day"; Hillsborough County Sheriff's Black Advisory Council Appreciation Award; Lakeland NAACP Award for Contribution to Civil Rights; the African-American Production Company Personal Achievement Award; Paul C. Perkins Bar Association Appreciation Award; Florida State University College of Law Appreciation Certificate for Contributions made to Summer Law Program For Undergraduate Students; and Certificate from the Office of the Attorney General, Florida Crime Prevention Training Institute for Exemplary Contributions to Crime Prevention in the State of Florida.

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