Florida House Introduces Legislation to Override Judicial Decisions and Impose Judicial Term Limits

Florida House Introduces Legislation to Override Judicial Decisions and Impose Judicial Term Limits

(Originally distributed by the St. Pete Bar Association)

Should the legislative branch of government have the power to override judicial opinions declaring legislative acts unconstitutional? Several Florida lawmakers are taking affirmative steps to effectively exempt state statutes from judicial scrutiny.

In December, 2016, Florida State Representative Julio Gonzalez (R), an orthopedic surgeon from Venice, introduced HJR 121, titled “Legislative Review of Judicial Ruling Declaring a Legislative Act Void.” The bill, which now has a senate backer (Keith Perry), proposes amending the Florida Constitution to allow the Florida Legislature to overrule by a 2/3 vote any state court decision finding a piece of legislation unconstitutional.

The text of HJR 121 is as follows:

Any law, resolution, or other legislative act declared void by the supreme court, district court of appeal, circuit court, or county court of this state may be deemed active and operational, notwithstanding the court’s ruling, if agreed to by the legislature pursuant to a resolution adopted by a two-thirds vote of each house within five years after the date that the ruling becomes final. Such resolution is exempt from section 8 of this article and shall take effect immediately upon passage.

The exemption from section 8 indicates that the governor would have no involvement in the judicial override process. The bill is currently before the House Civil Justice and Claims Subcommittee (CJC).

Other bills aimed at limiting judicial autonomy that were cleared in February 2017 by the Florida House Civil Justice and Claims Subcommittee include:

• HJR 1, which was approved 8-7, seeks to limit appellate judges (including the Florida Supreme Court and District Courts of Appeal) to 12 consecutive years in office and prohibits reappointment for one year after leaving office.

• HB 175 would reallocate the judicial training process from the Florida Supreme Court to the Florida Court Educational Council, which currently advises the Supreme Court on judicial education.

• HB 301 would require a “detailed explanation” by the Florida Supreme Court to the governor and legislature if a decision is not rendered more than 180 days from oral argument.

The Florida Bar is actively opposing HJR 121 (judicial override) and HJR 1 (appellate term limits). Additionally, the Florida Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (FLABOTA) is voicing its strong opposition to both pieces of proposed legislation and has hired a lobbyist to urge state lawmakers to reject them.

What are your thoughts as a legal professional? Let the Florida Legislature know! The appropriate addresses and telephone numbers may be found in the attachment.

HJR 121 – Legislative Review of Judicial Ruling Declaring a Legislative Act Void

House Resolution: Julio Gonzalez (R) (Rep.) – Orthopedic Surgeon (Venice)
412 House Office Building
402 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300
Phone: (850) 717-5074

Co-Introducer: Byron Donalds (R) (Rep.) – Financial Advisor (Naples)
1101 The Capitol
402 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300
Phone: (850) 717-5080

Co-Introducer: Randy Fine (R) (Rep.) – Businessman (Brevard)
1401 The Capitol
402 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300
Phone: (850) 717-5053

Co-Introducer: Jason Fischer (R) (Rep.) – Engineer/Small Business Owner (Jacksonville)
1401 The Capitol
402 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300
Phone: (850) 717-5016

Co-Introducer: Ralph Massullo, M.D. (R) (Rep.) – Dermatologist (Lecanto)
1301 The Capitol
402 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300
Phone: (850) 717-5034

Co-Introducer: Bobby Payne (R) (Rep.) – Electric Generation & Transmission Utility Management (Palatka)
1301 The Capitol
402 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300
Phone: (850) 717-5019

Senate Resolution: Keith Perry (R) (Sen.) – Founder, CEO Perry Roofing Contractors (Gainesville)
312 Senate Office Building
404 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100
(850) 487-5008

HJR 1 – Judicial Term Limits

House Resolution: Jennifer Mae Sullivan (R) (Rep.) – Mount Dora
402 House Office Building
402 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300
Phone: (850) 717-5031
Co – Introducer: Dane Eagle (R) (Rep.) – Real Estate Broker (Cape Coral)
322 The Capitol
402 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300
Phone: (850) 717-5077

Co-Introducer: Jason Fischer (R) (Rep.) – Engineer/Small Business Owner (Jacksonville)
1401 The Capitol
402 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300
Phone: (850) 717-5016

HB 175 – Florida Court Educational Council

General Bill: Justice Appropriations Subcommittee; Civil Justice and Claims Subcommittee

Co-Introducer: Larry Ahern (R) (Rep.) – Small Business Owner (Seminole)
222 The Capitol
402 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300
Phone: (850) 717-5066

Co-Introducer: Jason Fischer (R) (Rep.) – Engineer/Small Business Owner (Jacksonville)
1401 The Capitol
402 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300
Phone: (850) 717-5016

HB 301 – Supreme Court Reporting Requirements

Co-Introducer: Jason Fischer (R) (Rep.) – Engineer/Small Business Owner (Jacksonville)
1401 The Capitol
402 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300
Phone: (850) 717-5016

Co-Introducer: Larry Metz (R) (Rep.) – Attorney (Yalaha)
402 House Office Building
402 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300
Phone: (850) 717-5032

HAS PASSED IN THE HOUSE

YOUR LOCAL LEGISLATORS
Senator Jeff Brandes
9800 4th Street North
Suite 200
St. Petersburg, FL 33702
(727) 563-2100

Senator Darryl Rouson
535 Central Avenue
Suite 302
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 822-6828

Senator Jack Latvala
26133 U.S. Highway 19 North
Suite 201
Clearwater, FL 33763
(727) 793-2797

Representative Larry Ahern
Suite B
8383 Seminole Boulevard
Seminole, FL 33772-4392
Phone: (727) 395-2512

Representative Ben Diamond
Suite C
425 North 22nd Avenue
St. Petersburg, FL 33701-4322
Phone: (727) 552-2747

Representative Chris Latvala
Suite 206
2963 Gulf to Bay Boulevard
Clearwater, FL 33759-4200
Phone: (727) 724-3000

Representative Wengay Newton
Suite 108
695 Central Avenue
St. Petersburg, FL 33701-3662
Phone: (727) 892-2468

Representative Kathleen Peters
Suite C-105
6798 Crosswinds Drive
St. Petersburg, FL 33710-5477
Phone: (727) 341-7385

Representative Chris Sprowls
Suite 100
2364 Boy Scout Road
Clearwater, FL 33763-0901
Phone: (727) 793-2810

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