Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

Who is Robert Luck?

Justice Robert J. Luck (Florida Supreme Court)

Justice Robert J. Luck is President Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit from Florida. Currently a justice on the Supreme Court of Florida, Luck is a fourth-generation Floridian.  His mother was an elementary school teacher and his father sold new and used trucks. He was born and raised in Miami-Dade County, where he attended area public elementary and secondary schools. Justice Luck graduated with highest honors with a B.A. degree from the University of Florida in 2000 and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law in 2004. During law school, he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Florida Law Review. Between college and law school, Luck worked as a legislative correspondent in the offices of Senators Paul Coverdell (GA) and John Kyl (AZ).

Following his law school graduation, Justice Luck clerked for the Honorable Ed Carnes on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. He followed one year clerking with another year at Greenberg Traurig, where he practiced appellate law. Luck then accepted an invitation from Judge Carnes to come back and serve as a full-time clerk on account of his outstanding work. While Luck was clerking, he also served as an adjunct professor of business law at Alabama State University, a historically black college.

In 2008, Luck began his service as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, where he remained for five years. At the U.S. Attorney’s office, Justice Luck handled both trials and appeals in the Appeals, Major Crimes, and Economic Crimes Sections. He tried 19 federal jury trials and argued three cases before the Eleventh Circuit before becoming Deputy Chief of the Major Crimes Section. During his tenure, Luck was awarded the Director’s Recognition for outstanding prosecution skills and assistance to the FBI (2011); the Integrity Award, given by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General for his work fighting health care fraud in South Florida (2012); and the Award for Truly Exceptional Achievement & Merit (A-TEAM), U.S. Attorney’s Office (2013).

Justice Luck’s judicial career began in 2013, when he was appointed by then-Governor Rick Scott to Florida’s Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court, which oversees appeals from the county court.  There he served in the Appellate, Criminal, and Civil Divisions, trying hundreds of cases to verdict and publishing hundreds of criminal and civil orders. He was also certified to handle death penalty cases.  Luck won an election to retain his seat in 2016, and was endorsed by the Miami Herald. In 2017, the Miami Jewish Legal Society awarded Luck the “Rodef Sholem” Pursuer of Peace Award.

In 2017, Governor Scott appointed Luck to the Third District Court of Appeal, where Luck presided over 500 appeals and published 80 written opinions.  In 2017, he was awarded the President’s Outstanding Community Leader Award by the Dade County Bar Association. Luck won retention again in 2018 with more than 70% of the vote.

In January of this year, Governor Ron DeSantis appointed Luck to the Supreme Court of Florida, where he continues to serve.  Governor DeSantis announced Luck’s appointment at the Jewish day school that Luck’s children currently attend and where he himself attended kindergarten. Following the announcement of his appointment, Luck said:

For as long as I can remember, all I wanted to do was give back to the state that had given so much to my family and to the millions of others that had come here looking for a better life.  I wanted to serve with the only tools that I had—my law degree and my bar license—to make sure the rule of law prevailed in this state for all, so our children would have the same opportunities our grandparents and parents had.

Luck currently serves on the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet by appointment of the chief judge. Luck is also the court’s liaison to the Florida Bar Appellate Rules Committee and was appointed by the president of the Florida Bar to that post for successive terms. He has been a member of the Federalist Society since law school and active in the Miami Lawyers Chapter throughout his legal career.

Justice Luck is known for his work ethic. On one occasion in 2015, a criminal defendant attacked him in open court. He suffered a laceration to the back of the head and a scratch on the neck, but he declined medical attention and was back on the bench the next day.

Justice Luck is married and has two children.

Carrie Severino is chief counsel and policy director to the Judicial Crisis Network.

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