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    SENIOR JUDGES

    INTRODUCTION

    Senior judges are a vital judicial resource.  When judicial workload exceeds capacity and the judicial need deficit is not addressed—as has been the case since 2007—senior judges significantly improve the services that Florida’s courts are able to provide citizens.

    For instance, the continued public service of senior judges enables parties to:

    • have better and speedier access to courts;
    • shortens trial calendars;
    • reduces backlogs; and
    • mitigates interruptions that are caused when judicial offices are vacant or when active judges are unable to serve because of illness. 

    Their service is especially crucial in times of budget austerity; currently, they are playing a critical role in helping the branch address the formidable mortgage foreclosure backlog.

    The chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court has “the power to assign justices or judges, including consenting retired justices or judges, to temporary duty in any court for which the judge is qualified.”  The chief justice also has the authority “to delegate to a chief judge of a judicial circuit court the power to assign judges for duty within that circuit” (Article V, section 2(b), Florida Constitution).  The judges or justices who are assigned to temporary judicial duty are known as senior judges.

    BECOMING A SENIOR JUDGE

    To become a senior judge requires some effort and planning.  Three months before retirement, judges who seek to become senior judges must submit a letter notifying the chief justice of their retirement and of their interest in serving as a senior judge. 

    They are then given two forms to complete. 

    1. The Consent to be Assigned to Judicial Service form requests factual information (e.g., about the court from which they are retiring) and inquires into their willingness to abide by certain requirements (e.g., earning continuing judicial education credits, refraining from the practice of law). 

    2. The Judicial Questionnaire seeks information about their docket preference and their willingness to travel outside their own circuit; it also asks them to provide the names of five attorneys who have appeared before them within the prior three months. 

    After the supreme court receives these forms, it sends an inquiry to the Judicial Qualifications Commission to find out if any disciplinary action has been taken against those aspiring to become senior judges.  In addition, their chief judges are asked to comment on their ability to serve.  Once the various inquiries have been satisfied, the supreme court considers each application.  If the application is approved, the judge’s name is placed in a database that chief judges use to assign senior judges.   

    Clearly, both Florida’s judicial system and the people of Florida benefit from the service of these competent, experienced jurists.

    INSTRUCTIONS

    Instructions for senior judge applicants: Please complete and submit the following required documents: 

    1. Consent to be Assigned to Judicial Service;
    2. Judicial Questionnaire;
    3. Senior Judge loyalty oath; and
    4. Form W-4. 

    DOWNLOAD THE PACKET: Click on what you need.

    If you want to print and mail the entire packet, use this option:

    If you need portions of the packet, they are listed individually here:

    Note: #1 and #2 are the same document and these can be completed on your computer and sent via email by clicking on SUBMIT button on the last page.If you would like a copy for your records, print the document before you submit.

    1. Consent to be Assigned to Judicial Service - with fillable form fields and an email submit button
    2. Judicial Questionnaire - same document at #1
    3. Senior Judge loyalty oath - with fillable form fields to complete, print, sign, and notarize to mail.
    4. Form W-4 - with fillable form fields to complete, print, sign, and mail.

    The Loyalty Oath must be notarized and the original returned by mail marked to the attention of:

    Della White
    Office of the Chief Justice
    500 South Duval Street
    Tallahassee, Florida  32399

    For additional information, contact Della White at (850) 488-4973.