There is currently pending in both houses of the legislature a bill that would impose term limits on Florida’s appellate judges. In response, Florida’s appellate judges have hired a lobbyist. The lobbyist who they hired is a controversial figure, former appellate judge Paul Hawkes. Hawkes resigned as an appellate judge in 2011 to avoid a trial and possible removal from office.1
What is also interesting is that Hawkes is being paid $30,000 from The Florida Bar. The Florida Bar is funded by dues paid by Florida lawyers.
It turns out that Paul Hawkes is personally and professionally close to Representative Richard Corcoran, Republican, Land O’Lakes, the incoming house speaker. Corcoran supports limiting appellate court judges to 12 years on the bench. “Richard is my absolute best friend”, Hawkes is reported to have said.
Many questions are raised by the appellate court judges hiring a lobbyist. They include the following:
Should the dues paid by Florida lawyers be utilized to defeat term limits for Florida appellate judges?
Is Paul Hawkes an appropriate choice as a lobbyist?