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From Judge to Justice

March 11th, 2009 by Mike Vasilinda

An African American who decided to become a lawyer on the night Martin Luther King was assassinated today became Governor Charlie Crists fourth pick for the Florida Supreme Court. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, the new judge says he doesnt want his views pigeonholed.

The sun was shining brightly as Governor Charlie Crist named Circuit Judge James Perry from Seminole and Brevard counties to be his historic fourth pick to the Florida Supreme Court.

This is a man who is humble, says Crist. A man from rural roots in North Carolina, a generous heart, a dedicated hard working man who truly believes in justice.

Perry is also the fourth African American to be named to serve on the high court, which has never been more diverse. The new judge says diversity comes in many forms.

Diversity doesnt necessarily mean color. It means the difference in people who have a different life time experience to have a different perspective on things said the nominee.

No other Governor has had four appointments in their first term, but unless one of the current judges resigns, Charlie Crist may not get another appointment, even if he wins another term.

Crists first two picks were ultra conservative. Long time court watcher Larry Spalding from the ACLU says Crist could have turned the court sharply right and didnt.

There are going to be some key issues that continue to come before the court where these appointments could make a bug difference says Spalding.

Age forced two of the judges Crist replaced into retirement. Two others left to practice law. After practicing law for 21 years, Justice Perry was appointed to the bench by Governor Jeb Bush in 2000. His wife of 37 years is a professor at Stetson University in Deland.

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