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Crist says remove stubbon JNC members

Gov. Charlie Crist said Monday he would like to remove the members of a Judicial Nominating Commission that has refused to submit diverse nominees for an appellate court vacancy.

”It’s disappointing to me,’’ Crist said after a retiring judge at the Fifth District Court of Appeal asked the Florida Supreme Court to force the governor to accept one of six nominees submitted by the court’s nominating commission last year.

Judge Robert J. Pleus Jr. has continued to serve at the Fifth District Court of Appeal while waiting for Crist and the Judicial Nominating Committee to quit squabbling over the appointment.  Tallahassee lawyer Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte filed suit on Pleus’ behalf Monday, asking the state’s highest court to intervene.

The Committee reviewed 28 applicants for the job last year and submitted six nominees to the governor. Crist asked the JNC to reconvene and submit a new list, saying he wanted more diversity. He said the committee has been reluctant to send names that include African Americans. The JNC contends it is without authority to reconvene and come up with a new list.

The Constitution gives the governor 60 days after receiving a list of nominees to make the appointment, a deadline that elapsed on January 5.
Crist said he wants to review the lawsuit and consult with his general counsel before deciding what he can do.

-- Lucy Morgan