Jamaican-born judge Renatha Francis makes history becoming the first Caribbean national to be appointed to Florida’s state Supreme Court

Judge Renatha Francis made history when she was recently appointed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to the Florida Supreme Court. Her appointment marks the first time a Jamaican or Caribbean national has ever been appointed to a position in the State Supreme Court within the U.S. She officially takes up her duties on the State Supreme Court on Sept. 24, 2020.

Francis will fill the position vacated by former Florida Supreme Court Justice Robert Luck, now serving on the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. She was serving as a judge for the Florida 15th Circuit Court at the time of her elevation to State Supreme Court Judge.

She was an attorney in the Shutts & Bowen LLP law office when she began her journey to the Florida Supreme Court. Former Florida Governor Rick Scott appointed her a judge for the Miami-Dade County Court in 2017 and to the 11th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida in 2018. In 2019, she was appointed to the 15th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida.

The Judge is a great American and Jamaican success story. Francis was born in Jamaica and raised by a single mother that was the daughter of a farmer. Before immigrating to the U.S. as an adult, Francis was the primary caregiver for a younger sibling in Jamaica and operated a bar and a trucking company.

Francis obtained her early education at Bridgeport Primary and St. Hugh’s High School in Jamaica. She attended the University of the West Indies where she obtained a Bachelor of Science before earning her Juris Doctor in 2010 at the Florida Coastal School of Law. During law school, Francis argued before federal judges and state supreme court judges in moot court with enormous success. She’s credited with increasing the law school’s ranking from 16th to 3rd.

Married and the mother of two, the working mother is a shining example of what can be achieved and is an inspiration to women, immigrants, and people of color. Her appointment was announced during a news conference in which DeSantis lauded her strong commitment to the law and the judicial craft.

“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

Judge Renatha Francis was one of the two appointees, with the second being Miami lawyer John Couriel.  Here is her acceptance speech.

In law school, Francis excelled in moot court, winning several national competitions argued before federal judges and state supreme court justices. She is credited with personally raising her law school’s ranking from sixteenth to third.

Information Source: Florida of  Government