INVESTITURE OF JUSTICE JOHN COURIEL AS FLORIDA'S 90TH SUPREME COURT JUSTICE
Justice John Couriel is the most fully “invested” justice to ceremonially join the Florida Supreme Court in its 175-year history. Sort of a veteran inductee.
As Chief Justice Charles Canady noted in introductory remarks, Couriel’s October 7 ceremonial investiture came 16 months after he actually joined the court, the intervening delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. “This is the 90th investiture to occur in a history that now stretches back 175 years,” the chief justice noted. “It is the first investiture in this court’s history to be delayed because of a pandemic.”
That pause didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of Couriel’s family, friends, former colleagues, and others who packed the court to sing his praises and poke more than a little good-natured fun at the justice.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, who presented the investiture order to Canady, noted that he and Couriel overlapped by a year at the Harvard Law School, although he doesn’t recall meeting him.
“If you had told me at that time that in 20 years, I would be governor of Florida appointing someone who was also on the Harvard campus [to the court], I would have taken the under on that one,” DeSantis said. He added that Couriel, as a son of Cuban immigrants, has a special understanding of the importance of the legal system.
“I think our Cuban exile community in South Florida, they understand freedom is only one generation away from being extinct. You’ve got to fight for it,” DeSantis said. “When you have a written constitution, it lists the different authorities that a legislature would have, or an executive would have. They’re not always going to stay within those bounds, rights are going to be infringed. What’s the recourse? The recourse tends to be courts of law.
More about Justice Couriel's Investiture and the event photo gallery
FORMER CHIEF JUSTICE STEPHEN H. GRIMES
PASSES AWAY AT 93
Former Florida Chief Justice and Trustee of the Florida Supreme Court Historical Society, Stephen H. Grimes, died at the age of 93 on Friday, September 10th. Justice Grimes was the 72nd Florida Supreme Court Justice, serving on the Court from 1987 to 1997 and as Chief Justice from 1994 to 1996
Florida Supreme Court Historical Society President Scott Rost recalls, “I was admitted to the Bar during Justice Grimes’ tenure on the Court and was developing my litigation practice while he served as Chief Justice. I recall Justice Grimes well as a thoughtful jurist who ushered the Florida Supreme Court through the 1990s during a time of evolving technology and increasing demands on practitioners.
He promoted professionalism, congeniality and respect for the law within the legal community and the broader public.”
The first Florida Supreme Court website was a small collection of just over a dozen informational pages, but it soon expanded to provide public documents like court opinions at the same moment as their official release – a novelty at the time.
His tenure as Chief Justice also marked the start of long-term planning for the judicial branch, as mandated by a 1992 amendment to the state constitution. That planning process continues to this day.
Justice Grimes came to the Florida Supreme Court after a lengthy career as a lawyer with the Holland & Knight firm in Bartow and then was appointed to the Second DCA in October 1973. He served as chief judge there from 1978-80. In early 1987, Governor Bob Martinez appointed Grimes to the Supreme Court.
When Justice Grimes became Chief Justice in 1994, he told The Florida Bar Journal he loved the law. “We ought to be proud of being lawyers and we ought to do everything we can to uphold the profession. Maybe people don’t appreciate us enough, but maybe that comes with the territory, because lawyers have never been loved,” he said. “People are always going to blame lawyers, but we ought to have the satisfaction of knowing we are doing something worthwhile, and we ought to hold our heads up high and strive to uphold the integrity of the profession and the judicial system.”
When he retired in November 1997, Justice Grimes returned to work at Holland & Knight.
He was a native of Peoria, Illinois, the son of Henry H. and June K. Grimes. He received his college education at the University of Florida where he was awarded his undergraduate degree in 1950 and his law degree in 1954.
Justice Grimes married his wife Fay Fulghum of Lakeland while still in college. Together they had four daughters Gay, Mary June, Sue, and Sheri.
Services will be held on Wednesday, September 15, 2021. As a former justice, he will lie in state in the rotunda of the Florida Supreme Court building from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. The event is open to the public. The funeral service will follow at 2:30 p.m. at St. Peter’s Anglican Cathedral in Tallahassee, with a reception afterwards at the church. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be donated to St. Peter’s Anglican Cathedral, Elder Care Services, Big Bend Hospice, or the charity of your choice. The family would like to give special thanks to Dr. Michael Forsthoefel, ALG Care, and Big Bend Hospice.
THE FLORIDA SUPREME COURT HISTORICAL SOCIETY
ELECTS NEW SLATE OF OFFICERS AND TRUSTEES
During Florida Supreme Court Historical Society’s annual business meeting, the Trustees elected a new slate of Officers and Trustees for the 2021-2021 year. The Society selected Scott R. Rost, a partner/shareholder with Brennan, Manna & Diamond, P. L., Orlando to serve as president to lead the organization’s Executive Committee.
Rost recently told the Florida Bar Journal in an interview that the society’s outreach and education mission, to “familiarize the public at large with the role of the courts, specifically the Florida Supreme Court, but also the other appellate and trial courts,” is more important than ever at a time when faith in institutions is falling and the public is sharply divided along partisan lines.
Scott R. Rost
The Trustees of the Society also elected the following Officers to serve on the Executive Board:
Three new Trustees were elected to help guide the Society through their three-year term starting July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2024
During the same meeting, the Board Trustees re-elected 11 Trustees whose three-year terms expired on June 30 of this year to serve another three-year term starting July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2024. These returning Trustees are Amy Farrior, Leonard Gilbert, Christine Graves, Caryn Green, Thomas Hall, Scott Hawkins, Stuart Markman, Michael Orr, Hon. Mary Robinson, Stanley Rosenblatt and Hon. Joseph Williams.
The Society’s Board of Trustees is made up of 63 members who serve on 16 standing committees that oversee the Society’s work in preserving critical judicial documents and artifacts, honoring incoming and retiring Justices and supporting a fair and impartial state judiciary.
Former Florida Supreme Court Justice and retired 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Joseph W. Hatchett passed away April 30. He was 88.
Hatchett was the first African American appointed to the Florida Supreme Court since Reconstruction and the first African American ever elected to public office in a statewide election in the South. He served on the state’s Supreme Court from 1975-1979.
Born during the days of segregation, Hatchett grew up in Clearwater, Florida, and attended Pinellas High School. He graduated from Florida A&M University before serving in the United States Army as a second lieutenant, then attending Howard University School of Law in 1956. He took the Florida Bar Exam in 1959 when black examinees could not stay in the hotel where the test was administered because of Jim Crow regulations still in effect.
Justice Joseph W. Hatchett
Hatchett began his legal career in private practice in Daytona Beach, practicing criminal, civil, administrative, and civil rights law in state and federal court. In 1966, he became an assistant U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Florida, and then in 1971, he was named a U.S. magistrate for the Middle District. After Former Governor Ruben Askew appointed him to the Supreme Court in 1975, he became the first African American since reconstruction to successfully run a statewide campaign in 1976 when the voters retained him in that position.
In 1979, then-President Jimmy Carter appointed him to the circuit bench, where he served 20 years, before becoming the chief judge of the 11th Circuit from 1996-99. He retired from the bench in 1999 and became a senior partner in the Tallahassee office of Akerman LLP. He had recently retired from Akerman.
In January, Hatchett received the Florida Supreme Court Historical Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
The award was presented at the Historical Society’s virtual “A Supreme Evening” event. He was interviewed by former Florida Bar Executive Director and Historical Society Trustee, Jack Harkness and he spoke about his proudest moments serving on the Court. The entire award presentation can be seen here.
The National Bar Association had previously inducted Hatchett into its Hall of Fame in recognition of his dedication to the cause of justice and equality before the courts of the United States of America, and on behalf of the African-American community. The ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession awarded him its Spirit of Excellence Award, which is presented to exceptional lawyers who have made significant contributions to promoting racial and ethnic diversity within the legal profession.
Hatchett was preceded in death by his wife, Betty Hatchett. He is survived by his children Cheryl Clark (Edward Clark II) and Brenda Hatchett; his grandchildren Roscoe Green (Maiselyn Green), Rashad Green (Meagan Green), Joel Davis, Edward Clark III, Sharilyn Metellus (Fritz Metellus), Lauryn Davis, Marcus Clark (Wren Clark), and James Davis; and great-grandchildren Mirelyz Green, Jordyn Jean, Jaden Clark, Edward Clark IV, Heiress Clark, Jackson Woodrow Green, Jade Metellus, Hampton Leeander Green, and Poppy Clark.
Funeral services for Hatchett were held on Saturday, May 8, at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee.
The Florida Supreme Court Historical Society held our annual “A Supreme Evening” fund-raising event virtually on January 28, and nearly 1,500 viewers watched the evening’s festivities on Zoom. The event lived up to its well-earned reputation as the “must-attend” event of the year for Florida's legal community.
After remarks by Society President Jon Claussen and Master of Ceremonies Hank Coxe, the audience enjoyed interviews with the court’s newest Supreme Court justices, John D. Couriel and Jamie R. Grosshans.
Chief Justice Charles Canady offered his “State of the Court” address, focusing on the pandemic’s effect on the courts and Florida judiciary, the courts’ swift pivot to the use of remote technology and the trial courts’ backlog of unresolved cases. He also shared plans for a partnership with the Society to create a Judicial Learning Center inside the Court’s 175-year-old library to offer educational outreach and learning programs that draw on the court’s history. Justice Canady concluded with a reminder about the importance of the role of the courts in our system of constitutional government.
The Historical Society presented its Lifetime Achievement Award to Judge Joseph W. Hatchett, who was selected by a unanimous vote of the 75-member board of directors. Following moving video clips from former Gov. Reuben Askew, Chesterfield Smith and
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Fall/Winter 2020 Issue of the Historical Review
Bush v. Gore - 20 years later
The Fall/Winter 2020 Issue of our Historical Review magazine is dedicated to the 36 days after the 2000 Elections, when the world focused on the Florida Supreme Court's decisions of the cases now known as Bush v. Gore. This issue features articles from all perspectives, including journalists, attorneys from both sides and five of the seven Justices who were on the Florida Supreme Court during Bush v. Gore.
Celebrating the 70th Anniversary of The Florida Bar
The Court Receives Gift of Donn Dughi's Photo Collection
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