Gov. Charlie Crist, whose push to put his stamp on Florida’s courts resulted in a scolding from the state’s highest court this summer, has quietly created shadow panels to help him vet those seeking judicial appointments across the state.
The Republican governor — an attorney himself — has turned to state legislators, a former president of the American Bar Association, a retired Florida Supreme Court justice and an NAACP attorney, among others, to interview potential judges already screened by one of the state’s official judicial nominating commissions.
But former House Speaker Marco Rubio, a Miami Republican challenging Crist in next year’s U.S. Senate primary, questioned why Crist was “circumventing” the nominating commissions “outside of the public light” with the shadow panels.
Rubio said it appeared Crist was inviting people to interview judges to win political support in the future.
“It appears the decision is being made to appease certain demographic groups, certain parts of the electorate,’’ Rubio said.
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