Florida Has New Chief Justice

Florida's supreme court has a new leader.

Jorge LaBarga was sworn in as the state's 56th Chief Justice.

Justice LaBarga was born in Cuba, raised in the West Palm Beach area and graduated from the University of Florida Law School.

He practiced in both the public defender and state attorney's offices in West Palm Beach, as well as a personal injury firm, and then his own private practice.

Gov. Lawton Chiles appointed him to the bench in 1996.

Charlie Crist appointed him to the state supreme court in 2010.

LaBarga says his biggest challenge is finding ways to represent the poor and those who don't have the means to pay for proper legal representation.

He's also Florida's first Cuban-American born Chief Justice, although he seems to be downplaying that distinction.

"My only heritage is that of an American, I just happen to be of Cuban descent. The decisions that we make here will be what is the best interest of the judicial branch of Government and best for the people of the state of Florida," said Chief Justice Jorge LaBarga.
Justice LaBarga replaces Jackson County's Ricky Polston as Chief Justice.

Justice Polston will remain on the bench, although he's expressed interest in the FSU presidents job.