Eugene Pettis
Eugene Pettis (Melanie Bell)

Florida Bar president Eugene Pettis has appointed a new task force to explore how Florida can bolster diversity among its judges and judicial nominating commissions.

The President’s Task Force to Study the Enhancement of Diversity on the Bench and the Judicial Nominating Commissions will seek to determine why diverse candidates are not applying to bench and JNC openings.

Among 319 county court judges, 32 are black and 26 are Hispanic. Of 594 circuit judges, only 26 are black and 58 Hispanic. Of the 61 judges on Florida’s five district courts of appeal, only six are blacks and two Hispanic.

The 10-member task force is headed by Frank Scruggs II, a partner at Berger Singerman in Fort Lauderdale. Other members are Cynthia Angelos of Port St. Lucie, Bob Butterworth Jr. of Fort Lauderdale, Cassandra Larkin Denmark of Bartow, Linda Bond Edwards of Tallahassee, Judge Hubert Grimes of DeLand, Paul Huck Jr. of Miami, William Scherer of Fort Lauderdale, William Schiffino of Tampa and Robert Vaughan of Fort Lauderdale.

Pettis, a partner at Haliczer Pettis & Schwamm in Fort Lauderdale, is the first black president of the Florida Bar.