Crist Names Third Justice

ST. PETERSBURG -

Due to unexpected resignations and mandatory retirement rules, Gov. Charlie Crist has the unprecedented opportunity to appoint four of the seven Florida Supreme Court Justices. He's just announced his third choice, a Cuban-born judge from West Palm Beach.

Gov. Crist named Judge Jorge Labarga to the Florida Supreme Court to fill the vacancy created by retiring Justice Harry Lee Anstead.

'Judge LaBarga brings to the highest court all of the qualities needed in a supreme court justice: competence, integrity, fairness and compassion as well as an added dimension diversity,' Crist said.

Labarga was born in Havana, Cuba. He's spent 13 years on the bench and presided over both criminal and civil cases.

While on the bench, Labarga has been noted for some intemperate remarks like: You pick a fight with a judge, you're going to lose. But, his comments did not seem to concern Crist.

Two unexpected resignations and two mandatory retirements have given Crist the unprecedented chance to appoint four of the seven members on the high court.

Just last month, Crist appointed Labarga to an appellate court and asked the Judicial Nominating Commission for more names, drawing criticism from some JNC members who felt the governor was politicizing the process.

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