Jamaican-born Renatha Francis Becomes the First Caribbean-American Appointed to Florida Supreme Court

Renatha Francis

At a press conference today, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced the appointment of two new justices to the Florida Supreme Court.

The first is John Couriel, a lawyer with the Miami firm, Kobre & Kim, also is a first-generation Floridian whose father was born in Cuba.

The second is Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Renatha Francis, who was born and raised in Jamaica. She will be the first black person to serve on the court since Justice Peggy Quince retired in January 2019.

Francis, 42, and Couriel 41, replace Barbara Lagoa and Robert Luck who were both appointed by DeSantis last year, but later promoted to the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeal by President Trump.

“Judge Francis’ story demonstrates that anyone who comes to United States has an opportunity to make the most of their God-given talents,” said Governor DeSantis.

“Before immigrating to Florida, she ran two businesses and served as the primary caregiver for a younger sibling in Jamaica. After completing her law degree, she advanced to serve on the Miami-Dade County and then the 15th circuit court. Starting in September, she will serve as the first Jamaican-American to sit on the Florida Supreme Court and I know she will serve our state well.”

“I’m incredibly honored and humbled by this appointment and in the confidence that Governor DeSantis has shown by giving me this tremendous opportunity to serve the people of the great state of Florida,” said Judge Renatha Francis. “As a student of history growing up, I was and remain in awe of the United States Constitution, its freedoms and its respect for the rule of law. I look forward to applying the law as written by the people’s duly-elected representatives as I serve at the highest level of our state judiciary.”

Francis, of West Palm Beach, is the first Jamaican American to serve on Florida’s Supreme Court. Francis currently serves as Judge for the 15th Circuit Court in 2019 and previously served as Judge for the Miami-Dade County Court in 2017. Francis also served as an attorney for the 1st DCA in Tallahassee from 2011-2017.

Before attending law school, the St Hugh’s High School alumnus owned and successfully operated two businesses for five years. Francis received her bachelor’s from the University of The West Indies and her Juris Doctorate from Florida Coastal Law School.

She and her husband Phillip are the parents of two sons, one of whom was born recently., according to Florida’s Government website.

Francis will officially take her seat on the Supreme Court on September 24, 2020, as under Florida laws, a Supreme Court judge must have at least 10 years’ experience as a lawyer. She became a lawyer on September 24, 2010.


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