TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida Supreme Court Associate Justice Peggy Quince today becomes the first black woman to lead the state's court system as the high court's chief justice.
The 60-year-old product of segregated schools and a single-parent home, Quince is also the first black woman to head any branch of Florida government.
"One of the ways you give back to your community is by being there and being visible," Quince was quoted by the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel as saying.
"Young people find it's not all about whether you are a rap star or a baseball player or any of those kinds of careers. But there are also other careers available that can make a difference," she said.
Quince graduated from Howard University and attended law school at Catholic University's Columbus School of Law.
She began her legal career in Washington, D.C., as a hearing officer with the Rental Accommodations Office, administering that city's new rent control law. In 1977, she entered private practice in Norfolk, Va.
After moving to Tampa some 30 years ago, she became an assistant state attorney general before being named to the 2nd District Court of Appeal.
In 1998, she was named to the Supreme Court by outgoing Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles and Republican Gov.-elect Jeb Bush.
The chief-justice position rotates every two years. Quince succeeds Fred Lewis, who remains on the court.
Her rise coincides with budget cuts to the state's courts. Among other things, no new judgeships were funded this year, while circuit and appellate courts expect to lose 250 positions.
Quince said she is already looking to the working to overcome the budget cuts.
"We're working on a game plan," she was quoted as saying.
Quince was born in Norfolk, Va. She is married to attorney Fred Buckine.
From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.