Governor Rick Scott has appointed fewer African-Americans to judgeships in Florida in nearly four years of his tenure in comparison to his counterparts Charlie Crist and Jeb Bush for the same period of time.
The exposure has been made in the data released by his office.
The data said that in nearly four years of tenure, the Governor has appointed nine black attorneys to judgeships.
In an interview to Times/Herald, Scott said, “What I am focused on is making sure that the people I appoint understand that there are three branches of government and that they don’t get to legislate. They don’t get to pass laws, just like I don’t get to pass laws.”
Off all the nine reappointments by Scott, three county judges hear job-related injury claims, while the other four judges pass judgement on small claims and traffic cases.
It’s only on two occasions that Scott has appointed black judges to the more esteemed circuit court or trial court, and both are in Miami-Dade: Eric Hendon and Rodney Smith in the year 2012.
13 of the 14 names of Scott’s choice for the judgeships in district courts are white and the other one is Hispanic.
Scott has been facing severe criticism from the Florida Bar and the Legislature’s black caucus over the poor representation of African-Americans in the pool of judges after he assumed the charge.
State Senator Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, condemned Scott over the smaller percentage of African American judges, saying he is least bothered about diversity.
“He has no interest in diversity. He wants to stack the courts with people who think like him. It’s that corporate mentality that he brought to the governor’s office,” said Joyner, who is also a caucus member and incoming Senate Democratic leader.
In the 18-month period between the appointments of two black judges by Scott in November 2012 and April 2014, every one of 65 judges appointed by him was white or Hispanic, including 39 white men.
According to the data from the court system, 84 percent of judges are white, 9 percent are Hispanic and 6.6 percent are black across the state.
Interestingly, the percentage of black judges was just 6.9 percent when Scott took office in 2011.
Meanwhile, the office of Scott emphasized that the level of racial diversity on the bench clearly reflects that the construction of bar membership in the state has about three percent of lawyers who are black.
Spokesman John Tupps said that the governor makes appointments of candidates to judicial office on the basis of their dedication to serve the state with humility and respect the rule of law.