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Supreme Controversy

November 9th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

On November first, we reported on a case at the Supreme Court that could reshape the court itself, depending on who gets to appoint three justices in early January. Now as Mike Vasilinda tells us, a conversation on the bench after the case was over is creating a Supreme controversy.

As lawyers were leaving the Supreme court after arguing about the Governors power to appoint future justices.  Chief Justice Gorge Labarga leaned over to Justice Barbara Pariente, not knowing his microphone was still open.

“He can’t be there. Panuccio.” Larbarga is heard to say.

The audio then tape goes silent, and comes back, as Labarga is again heard saying:

“Izzy Reyes is on there. He’ll listen to me.”

While the audio is not clear, the two appear to be discussing a list on nominees to the Judicial Nominating Commission… That’s the commission that will name potential replacements for the judges retiring in January.

“He can’t be there. Panuccio.”

The reference to Panuccio is to Jesse Panuccio, a former lawyer for the Governor.

“Izzy Reyes on there. He’ll listen to me.”

Izzy Reyes is a member of the nominating commission.

The Governor this week asked for the documents and the audio recording.

“Lets find out what was going on. We expect our judges to be impartial, we expect simply do their job.  And we’ve done a records request to see what document were they talking about, what were they talking about, so its incumbent everybody to understand what was being discussed” Scott told reporters.

Q:”What do you think happened?”

“We’ll find out once we see the documents.”

We asked several high ranking lawmakers for their opinion, but nobody wanted to touch this supreme controversy.

The Governor could ask the judges to disqualify themselves from the case. A spokesman for Rick Scott said “Our office is evaluating the best path forward and all available options.” .

All of the material the Governor requested has been provided to his office according to an email from the Supreme Courts Public Information Officer.

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