Justice Alan C. Lawson was sworn in as the 86th Justice of the Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday, April 5, 2017.
The investiture ceremony in the Florida Supreme Court Building began with a Judicial Procession of robed judges from throughout Florida. This was a first for a court that was famously known for not wearing any kind of robes for more than a century, from initial statehood in 1845 until the courtroom was first air conditioned in 1949.
Florida Governor Rick Scott and Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera were among the dignitaries at the ceremony, with Florida Senate President Joe Negron and Florida State President John Thrasher present, as well. The governor formally handed Lawson’s credentials to Chief Justice Jorge Labarga during the investiture, calling Lawson a “truly great man” who is “focused on defending the Constitution and strictly adhering to the rule of law.”
A 55 year old Lakeland native, Justice Lawson graduated summa cum laude from both Tallahassee Community College in 1981 and Clemson University in 1983. He graduated Order of the Coif and summa cum laude from Florida State University College of Law in 1987.
He began his judicial career in 2002 as Judge of the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, following his service as a partner and associate for Steel Hector & Davis (1987-1995), general counsel for Verses Wear, Inc. (1997-2001), and serving as Assistant County Attorney in Orange County. In 2005 he moved to the Florida Fifth District Court of Appeal, where in 2015 he became chief judge of the court.
On December 16, 2016, Governor Scott appointed him to serve as Justice of the Florida Supreme Court, replacing retiring Justice James E.C. Perry. Justice Lawson will face voters in 2018 for a retention election, and if retained in 2018, 2024, and 2030, will be eligible to serve until his 70th birthday on May 12, 2031.
In his remarks following the investiture, Justice Lawson described the transition from serving as attorney to working as a judge as enlightening, and recalled that as an attorney he regarded judges’ work as relatively easy. The moment he heard the words “all rise” upon entering a courtroom for the first time as a judge, however, he immediately felt the weight of his new duties. Justice Lawson and his wife, Julie Carlton Lawson, have two children.