Crist picks new Fla. justice

John O'Brien Aug. 28, 2008, 1:00pm

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - Florida Gov. Charlie Crist on Thursday picked former Congressman Charles Canady to be the state's next Supreme Court justice.

Given eight candidates and the task of filling two seats, Crist, a former attorney general, called the decision to appoint Canady one of the most important he will make as governor "because the Supreme Court justices make precedent-setting decisions that affect the lives of all Floridians for generations to come."

Canady has been a judge on the Second District Court of Appeals since 2002 and will take Justice Raoul Cantero's spot. Cantero's last day is Sept. 6.

"It is an honor to be appointed to such an important post," Canady said. "I am grateful to have the confidence and support of Governor Crist, and I will work to uphold the Florida Constitution and our justice system."

Canady beat out three other judges and an attorney. They were:

-Kevin Emas, 50, 11th Judicial Circuit;

-Jorge Labarga, 55, 15th Judicial Circuit;

-Vincent Torpy, 52, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals; and

-Edward Guedes, 44, Miami attorney.

Canady, 54, graduated from Yale Law School in 1979, then was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1984, serving until 1990. In 1986, he switched to the Republican party.

Two years later he was elected to the U.S. House, a post he manned until 2000. After that, he spent time as then-Gov. Jeb Bush's general counsel.

"I am confident he will have the courage to make decisions that uphold our Constitution and the justice that every Floridian deserves," Crist said.

Justice Kenneth Bell's replacement must be chosen from a group of three northern Floridians. They are:

-Ricky Polston, 52, First District Court of Appeals;

-Peter Webster, 59, First District Court of Appeals; and

-Waddell Wallace, 55, Fourth Judicial Circuit.

Bell is retiring Oct. 1.

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