On Sept. 14 Governor Ron DeSantis appointed Justice Jamie Grosshans to the Florida Supreme Court, replacing the disqualified Renatha Francis. Grosshans fills the vacancy created by the nomination and confirmation of Justice Robert Luck to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
After graduating from the University of Mississippi School of Law, Grosshans clerked in the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the United States Attorney’s Office for the northern district of Mississippi. She eventually ended up as an assistant state attorney for Orange County, Florida, after being admitted to the Florida Bar in 2006.
Grosshans then transitioned to private practice focusing on family law and criminal defense. Since 2018 and until her appointment to the Florida Supreme Court, Grosshans had served as a Judge on the Fifth District Court of Appeal for the state of Florida, presiding over cases concerning criminal and civil law.
Grosshans is a member of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a fact that was left out of her application to the Judicial Nominating Commission. The membership has been the source of concern as the Southern Law Poverty Group considers the alliance to be an anti-LGBT hate group.
DeSantis appointed Grosshans to fill the seat of Robert Luck, who was nominated by President Donald Trump for a circuit court position. DeSantis’s first attempt at an appointment was Judge Renatha Francis, whose legitimacy faced a challenge by Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Windermere.
According to Thompson v. DeSantis, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that DeSantis’s appointment of Judge Francis exceeded his authority, holding that the “appointee must be constitutionally eligible for that office at the time of the appointment.”
However, not all was lost for DeSantis as Thompson’s petition was eventually dismissed because the remedy requested was “legally unavailable.” The Court stated, “There is no legal justification for us to require a replacement appointment from a new list of candidates.”
After he missed yet another court-imposed deadline, the court ordered the governor to appoint a new justice by Sept. 14 at noon.
After the court’s judgment was ignored by DeSantis, the court gave him until 5 p.m. that same day. The court refused to formally issue a writ of mandamus, a power reserved for only the most extraordinary of circumstances.
Renatha Francis withdrew herself from consideration for the seat. DeSantis has discussed with Trump the potential appointment of Francis to a federal judgeship.
Speaking about the process that led to the eventual appointment of Judge Grosshans, DeSantis said, “It wasn’t necessarily the way we envisioned the process, but I think the result is going to be very, very good, and I think we’ll look at a great Supreme Court justice.”
At the nomination ceremony, Grosshans was joined by her family. She expressed appreciation to them and to everyone else that has supported her.
“No one comes to a position like this alone, and I have been carried to this moment by the generosity of countless people,” Grosshans said. “You can trust I will bring fidelity to the law and an unyielding respect for the separation of powers to my service on the court.”
Grosshans joins the court as its only female member. Her appointment leaves the court without a Black member, which has not been the case for almost 40 years.
Featured image: The Florida Supreme Court building. Unmodified photo by Brandonrush used under a Creative Commons license. (https://bit.ly/34smX6q)