- Associated Press - Friday, February 5, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - For the first time since the end of the Civil War, the chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court will serve consecutive terms.

The Florida Supreme Court announced Friday that justices on the court voted to give Chief Justice Jorge Larbarga another two-year term in the post.

Labarga, a former trial judge from Palm Beach County, was appointed to the high court seven years ago by then-Gov. Charlie Crist. He has made access to the courts a top priority since he became chief justice in 2014.

Labarga was the second Cuban American appointed to the Supreme Court and is the first person of Hispanic descent to become chief justice.

The chief justice is the state’s top judicial official and is the administrative head of the judicial branch.

The Supreme Court said the last chief justice to have consecutive terms was Justice Charles H. DuPont. DuPont served as chief justice during the Civil War and succeeded himself in 1865 when the federal government forced the state to adopt a new constitution. Justice B.K. Roberts held the spot three times over a 20-year period between 1953 and 1973 but never consecutively.

The court adopted new rules in 2012 that allowed for consecutive terms in office.

The position of chief justice is normally rotated to the justice who has served the longest on the court without holding the post. The next in line was Justice James Perry but because he will be forced to retire a few months later the court stated that he decided against running for the job. Florida law says that judges can no longer serve once they reach the age of 70.

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