DeSantis slams lawsuit seeking to disqualify South Florida judge from Supreme Court

Judge Renatha Francis, who has served in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, was appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, who backed her again after a lawsuit challenged whether she's eligible.

MIRAMAR, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis held a news conference Wednesday at Miramar City Hall, at which time he announced that Judge Renatha Francis is expected to take her seat on Florida’s Supreme Court in two weeks.

DeSantis appointed the Palm Beach County judge to the Supreme Court in May, leading to a lawsuit being filed questioning whether the judge qualified to be a Supreme Court justice.

Florida law requires a candidate to be a member of the Florida Bar for 10 years before being eligible to be appointed to the Supreme Court.

Francis did not meet that qualification in May, but will meet it on Sept. 24.

DeSantis said he believes the lawsuit filed by State Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Windermere, is based simply on partisanship and said she had previously voiced her desire to have a Black person on Florida’s Supreme Court, but then filed a lawsuit that would prevent that very thing from occurring.

“Here’s the thing. We have a divided country. Do we need everything to devolve into party and partisan differences?” the governor said. “Can’t we all just step back as Floridians and say, ‘You know what? All of those other candidates would have been good, as well. I think they would have applied the law well, but we have a candidate here who upon taking office is going to serve as an inspiration to so many people.’”

Francis, who was born in Jamaica, is the first American from the Caribbean to be appointed to Florida’s Supreme Court.

She is currently a judge for the Florida 15th Circuit Court in Palm Beach County and previously served on the Florida 11th Circuit Court in Miami-Dade County.

“I’m grateful that I’ve had this once in a lifetime opportunity — that a Black immigrant woman of a small island with no famed family name or wealth, no inherited powerful connections could potentially rise to the highest state court in one of the most important states is a testament to just how great this country is,” Francis said.

About the Authors:

Amanda Batchelor is the Digital Executive Producer for

Sanela Sabovic joined Local 10 News in September 2012 as an assignment editor and associate producer. In August 2015, she became a full-time reporter and fill-in traffic reporter. Sanela holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications with a concentration in radio, television and film from DePaul University.