Justice James Perry, one of two African-American members of the Florida Supreme Court and an appointee of former Gov. Charlie Crist, will retire from the bench on Dec. 30. Perry's decision will give Gov. Rick Scott his first opportunity to appoint a justice to the seven-member high court that has challenged his policy decisions in a number of areas.
In an announcement released by the court on Monday, Perry said he delivered news of his decision to Scott in a letter on Friday afternoon.
"After over 16 years of proudly serving the citizens of the state of Florida, first as a circuit judge and currently as a justice of the Florida Supreme Court, I am constitutionally mandated to retire at the end of my current term," Perry wrote.
Perry, who was appointed to the Supreme Court by Crist in March 2009, is the fourth African-American to serve on the court. A product of a segregated South, he said he decided to become a lawyer on April 4, 1968, the night Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis.
Scott will select Perry's successor from a list of finalists presented to him by a nine-member Judicial Nominating Commission. Just last week, the governor reappointed three of the JNC's members. The group includes Jesse Panuccio, Scott's former general counsel and former secretary of the Department of Economic Opportunity; Fred Karlinsky, a Tallahassee lobbyist and political supporter of the governor; and Daniel Nordby, a former legal advisor to the Florida House and to the Department of State.
The three reappointments were Nordby; Nilda Pedrosa, a Miami lawyer and deputy chief of staff to Attorney General Pam Bondi; and Israel Reyes, a Miami lawyer and a former judge and prosecutor in Miami-Dade.