Message from the President
Dear Members and Friends of the Florida Supreme Court Historical Society,
The Supreme Court Historical Society has moved in leaps and bounds over the last few years in furtherance of its mission to preserve and honor the rich history of the Florida Supreme Court. We are very excited about our achievements and we are planting the seeds for many more to come.
This year the Society is focused on two primary goals. The first is increasing awareness of the Society and its mission and the second is building active and enthusiastic core committees equipped with the tools each needs to achieve its specific goals. The Trustees serving on each committee are the Society’s greatest asset. We have among us, and will continue to recruit, extraordinary Trustees with valuable experience like Mary Adkins who developed Oral Histories for the Middle District of Florida. Mary’s experience will be of great help as the Society develops a new template for the Florida Supreme Court’s Oral Histories. Mary is also in the process of publishing a book she authored and is sharing invaluable information about that process with the Publications Committee, which is coordinating publication and release of the Society’s much anticipated third book in early 2017.
The Society’s book, by Neil Skene, has received rave reviews from our Trustees who volunteered to read it on the Society’s behalf. The book not only recounts key cases from 1973 to 1986, but also grabs the reader’s attention by focusing on the story of the people in the life of the court, including lawyers who moved key cases to the Court and the Justices who brought resolution to the issues those cases presented.
The Society’s publications remain one of its core tools for increasing awareness of the Society and our mission. In addition to our book we are very excited about this year’s magazine, which is now in your hands thanks to the work of Daniel Hoffman, Susan Rosenblatt and Stanley Rosenblatt. They have donated countless hours and resources to the Society’s magazine and to preserving the Court’s history.
This magazine includes tributes to several pillars of our legal community that we recently lost. Justice Shaw's legacy will live on in what he did for others and in the many people he helped through his work both on and off the bench. Sheldon Schlesinger, a long-time Trustee of the Society, will be remembered for his dedication to achieving justice for his clients. The Society is not only preserving the stories of individuals like these that shaped the Court and Florida’s judicial system, but is spreading them more widely with the use of our website and other social media. The Society’s website (flcourthistory.org) is evolving as we continue adding historic content and updates on the Society’s activities, and it is receiving positive feedback from many, including members of the judiciary. The website link’s to the Society’s very own You Tube channel where you can view the Society produced “History of Merit Selection and Retention in Florida’s Supreme Court,” the unveiling of the newest Justices’ Portraits and several past Annual Dinner speakers.
The Society is also working to spark the interest of young lawyers with a social media presence. Trustee Stephanie Varela, former Law Clerk to Chief Justice Labarga, is developing a Florida Supreme Court Historical Society Twitter account which should act as a doorway for new generations to learn about the Society and its mission. Thanks to the Membership Committee and its Chair Sean Desmond, we are also gearing up to disseminate historical articles and Society information on the Young Lawyers Division’s social media platforms.
We are not stopping there - the Society is reaching out to law students as well. The Society is offering FSU’s Law Student Organizations the opportunity to receive a $2500 grant for assisting the Society with its Archiving Project. The Law Student Organization receiving the grant will work with the Society and the Supreme Court archivist to place former Justices’ papers in archival quality folders so they are accessible to future generations. This project has future generations of lawyers learning first-hand about the importance of preserving the Court’s history and we hope it will result in future Society members and Trustees!
The Law Student Organization receiving the grant will be announces at the Annual Dinner, which promises to be an outstanding event. Our featured speaker this year is David Bois, Chairman of Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, and one of the most renowned lawyers of our time. Chief Justice Labarga will also provide an update on the state of the judiciary and the work of the Florida Commission on Access to Justice, which the Chief focuses on in his column here.
The Society has also been working very closely with the Justices on several projects. When the Society’s Justices’ Bio Project is complete each Justice’s biography will appear on the Supreme Court website, the Society’s website, and below each portrait in the Supreme Court building. The Acquisitions Committee, chaired by Tom Hall, is assessing procedures for preserving the Justices’ papers and the Special Projects Committee, headed by Renee Thompson, has started planning retirement dinners to take place in each of the Justices home towns. We are also working with the Court’s Docent Program to develop much needed new materials for the presentations made to the thousands of school children visiting the Court each year.
To assure the continued success of all these great existing and future projects, our Long Range Planning Committee, chaired by Sylvia Walbolt, is conducting a retreat in March. Sylvia was an outstanding President and we thank her for her past service as well as her continuing dedication to the Society. Look for the Long Range Plan at our June meeting and in the meantime please enjoy the magazine, attend the Annual Dinner and let me know if you would like to sign up for a committee!