House defeats bill to open JNC deliberations

first_img April 30, 2003 Daniel Staesser Assistant Editor Regular News House defeats bill to open JNC deliberations House defeats bill to open JNC deliberations Assistant Editor A proposed constitutional amendment that would have opened up deliberations of judicial nominating commissions has been rejected by the Florida House Judiciary Committee.The Florida Bar had taken a legislation position against HB 1135, proposed by Rep. Fred Brummer, R-Apopka.“The truth can stand the sunshine,” Brummer said at the April 9 Judiciary Committee meeting. “You cannot run off a good prospective judge by speaking the truth.”But chief Bar legislative counsel Steve Metz said closing the meeting encourages JNC members to be open and frank.“When they go into their deliberations, there are a lot of hard, tough questions that need to be asked,” he said. “We understand there is an importance in so many instances for the public to be there. This is one where on balance you’re better off with a system that has closed deliberations. This is a very special process where you are asking lawyers to submit their names to become judges.”He also said opening up deliberations could have a chilling effect on potential applicants who might fear negative comments made about them would become public record, or past mistakes might be rehashed.Reps. John Carassas, R-Largo, and Rep. Philip J. Brutus, D-North Miami, expressed support for Brummer’s bill.“I’m going to say this very simply,” Carassas said. “Open government is good government.”But other members disagreed, noting that 48 of the 50 states have closed deliberations.“We’re talking about people who will sit in judgment of others,” said Rep. Curtis Richardson, D-Tallahassee. “When those kinds of issues are aired in a public forum, it could compromise the integrity of the judiciary. This is a solution looking for a problem.”Rep. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, proposed an amendment requiring the governor’s office to open up its judicial appointment functions, including the selection of JNC members.That failed, and the committee then rejected Brummer’s bill by a 14-3 margin.last_img read more