Supreme Evening 2018 was a Supreme Success
The recently renovated University Center Club was the perfect venue for the Florida Supreme Court Historical Society’s ‘must attend judicial social event of the year,’ A Supreme Evening. This year’s event was held on January 25, 2018, in the Club’s reception area overlooking Florida State University’s Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee. Historical Society President, Ed Guedes, started the evening by cordially welcoming the more than 350 dinner guests, which included current Chief Justice Labarga and Justices Pariente, Canady, and Lawson of the Supreme Court of Florida, as well as former Justices Stephen H. Grimes (1987-1997), Major B. Harding (1991-2002), and Harry Lee Anstead (1994-2009). Several former Presidents of The Florida Bar and the American Bar Association, including Sandy D’Alemberte and Martha Barnett, also attended.
The witty Henry Coxe, former President of the Historical Society and The Florida Bar, emceed the evening and, as always, warmly recognized Justices of the Court, new and old, as well as the Chair of Florida Constitution Revision Commission, Carlos Beruff. The Court’s newest Justice, C. Alan Lawson—who joined the Court in January 2017—and his wife, Julie Lawson, unveiled his official portrait, commissioned by the Historical Society and painted by Artist Darlene Williams. Former Justice Harding honored and remembered the late Justice Parker Lee McDonald, who passed away June 24, 2017, as “the whistling Justice.” Justice McDonald’s wife, Ruth, former Treasurer of the Historical Society, was in attendance along with their family. Also in attendance was the family of the late Justice William H. Ellis, who served on the Court from 1914 until his retirement in 1938. Justice Ellis’s family recently donated several items to the Historical Society and Court, including Justice Ellis’s personal memoirs. Chief Justice Labarga provided the State of the Court, reporting that Florida’s communication plan has been used as a model around the country and, in February, Florida will be the first State to broadcast oral arguments via Facebook Live.
Leonard Gilbert, Trustee of the Society and Past President of The Florida Bar, presented Jack Harkness with the Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his 37-year tenure as Executive Director of The Florida Bar. Gilbert described the collegiality and productivity that Harkness brought to The Bar and credited Harkness with The Bar’s success, locally and nationwide, in developing to serve its more than 100,000 current members.
Concluding the event, Hillarie Bass, President of the American Bar Association (ABA) and member of The Florida Bar, presented the keynote, addressing several current issues, including the importance of an independent judiciary free from politicization. Bass introduced the ABA’s new “Legal Fact Check,” which uses settled precedent to clarify issues at the forefront of modern discourse, such as immigration and the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Bass also reported on her recent initiatives overseas, like providing support for homeless youth and training attorneys in Vietnam on their role in an adversarial system. Bass emphasized the honor and tradition of the “American lawyer,” who is respected around the world.
Thank you to all who attended this year’s event. The Society is already looking forward to next year’s edition of this annual event that is scheduled to be held on February 7, 2019.