Students in Hialeah High’s Law Academy got a firsthand look into the job with a visit from a Florida Supreme Court Justice to mark Constitution Week.
Justice Barbara Pariente visited Sept. 20 to teach aspiring law students about the role of a judge and how one gets appointed or removed.
Ana Soto, the teacher in charge of the law academy, said, "My goal has always been to plan meaningful experiences for my students who are interested in pursuing a legal profession. This is only one example of how I try to enable students in the academy to become familiar with the different legal professions.”
Pariente, who is up for merit retention in the Nov. 6 election, explained to students the process of becoming a judge.
"A lot of people don’t know that the Constitution ensures that I be put under merit retention after each term," she said.
The mandate that justices pass voter approval after each six-year term was added to the Florida Constitution in the 1970s. Judgeships in Florida are nonpartisan.
“I never knew just how complicated it is to be a Supreme Court judge in our state,” said senior Kelly Ulloa. “It was nice to meet someone so experienced in the court system that can give us future lawyers a few tips.”
Pariente will be a part of the panel to hear the final plea for the execution of John Erroll Ferguson, a murderer and rapist who has been in prison for more than 30 years.
Ferguson was convicted of the murder of eight people, including two Hialeah High students.
The students, Brian Glenfeldt and Belinda Worley, were set to graduate with the class of 1978 when they were shot and killed.
Gov. Rick Scott has signed his order of execution, but by law, Ferguson will face the Florida Supreme Court one last time.
As part of the panel of judges, Pariente cannot disclose her opinion on the case.
“The case is right in front of the court now so I can’t say much,” said Justice Pariente. “Like in every case, I must remain unbiased and let the law do the justice.”