Thursday, August 14, 2008


Crist's court appointments can end 'lawsuit lottery'

Carlos Muhletaler • My View • August 14, 2008

As the media fixate on Sen. John McCain's short list of potential running mates, the eye of America is focused on Gov. Charlie Crist. But as Crist's attention is increasingly lured toward the presidential campaign, he must not fail to recognize his responsibility to the people of Florida.

Florida is on the precipice of a major reorganization of its Supreme Court. Over the next 18 months, Gov. Crist will appoint four new Supreme Court justices. As such, the future of the Florida judiciary is in his hands — and with it, he holds the opportunity to finally restore our state's poor legal reputation.

Florida's Supreme Court is in dire need of good justices who will fairly apply and uphold the law. Unfortunately, Florida is currently considered a haven for lawsuit abuse. National organizations such as the American Tort Reform Association and Pacific Research Institute have ranked Florida the number one "judicial hellhole" in the country and named our state "worst" for legal fairness.

Frivolous lawsuits are clogging our courts, delaying justice for those with legitimate claims, and costing each one of us $820 every year in increased costs of products and services, according to research by the global professional services firm Towers Perrin. We need Supreme Court justices who will help set the tone for the entire state and set a high bar to ensure that our judiciary is a forum for justice — not greed.

Supreme Court justices have tremendous power over our lives. From our health care and community safety to our economy, schools and just plain fairness in our courts, our highest court makes decisions every day that affect the way we live our lives. Yet, this little-understood branch of government has too often been abused by those who seek to play the "lawsuit lottery" with our legal system.

It is my hope that Gov. Crist recognizes the power of this opportunity to improve our courts, and that he understands how important legal fairness is. Florida has been a "judicial hellhole" for too long, and the upcoming Supreme Court makeover provides a rare opportunity for meaningful change that will trickle down through the courts to improve fairness in Florida.

By taking advantage, we can encourage people to come to the Sunshine State to do business rather than file lawsuits.

This is a special time in Florida, and the people of Florida are looking to Gov. Crist to restore justice to the state Supreme Court.

Carlos Muhletaler
Executive Director
Florida Stop Lawsuit Abuse