by John F. Harkness, Jr.
In early December, when family, friends, and colleagues gathered in Tallahassee for the funeral of Marshall R. Cassedy, former executive director of The Florida Bar, descriptions of him such as fun, charming, and kind joined those of extraordinary, forward thinking, dedicated, and professional circulated. Marshall led the Bar (1961-1980) during pivotal change — lawyer advertising, constitutional revision of Article V, specialization/designation (the forerunner to the present certification program), cameras in the courtroom, and judicial merit selection and retention.
What many do not realize is that the Bar’s executive director also serves as publisher of The Florida Bar Journal, and Marshall’s column, “Brief-ly Yours,” chronicled many legal developments in the Bar. In his article in the July/August 1977 issue, Marshall celebrated the publication’s 50th anniversary not only by writing of its accomplishments, but also by noting the fun he’d had as its publisher, including his observations of the legislative interview with Sen. Reubin Askew and Rep.Sandy D’Alemberte in the March 1969 issue. “The interview itself in the board room at the Bar Center went well with both politicians at their usual sharpness. And Rube, in his typical meticulous way, had to take several days to edit the final work product to ensure perfection in every word. I wonder, was the glitter of the Governor’s chair in his eye at that early date.”
The “unhappy” moments for the Journal that Marshall noted on occasion still rise to your current publisher’s notice: “complaints that the Journal was too slanted philosophically to the liberal or conservative side . . . and regrettably, the too frequent wrong name under a group photograph.” Another “unhappy” moment was the Journal’s involvement in a lawsuit for libel that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. He added, “We won.”
Marshall believed the regulation of attorneys as the highest priority within the Bar due to the profound belief “that lawyers must measure up, they must be honest, they cannot misappropriate funds, they must be fair to their clients, and serving the public has got to be the highest order of business for every practicing lawyer.”
In the early 1970s, the records of lawyers’ grievance records were opened to the public, and a few years later, the Board of Governors voted to add public members to grievance committees to help subdue criticism that the Bar was protecting its own.
Marshall was very proud of his direction in the building of the Bar’s permanent home atop a hill in Tallahassee (1966) and the later addition (1976). Recognizing the growth of Florida’s legal profession and the impending need to accommodate that growth, the adjacent IBM building was purchased and now is occupied by the Bar’s legal and ethics division as well as several other departments.
Marshall was born in Short Hills, New Jersey, on July 28, 1928. He received his bachelor’s degree from Hobart College, in Geneva, NY. Marshall was a Marine, ultimately retiring as a lieutenant colonel. In 1956, he received a law degree from Duke University. From 1956-58, he practiced law with Turnbull and Senterfitt in Orlando. In 1958, he became the first Bar staff counsel, and in 1961, Marshall became the third executive director of The Florida Bar.
When he retired from the Bar, Marshall practiced law in Tallahassee until 1996. He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Donna Anderson Cassedy, and four children and 11 grandchildren.
I conclude this “Executive Directions” column with a quote from Marshall’s last Journal column in 1980: “So to all of you, my friendly readers who have honored me by taking a few minutes out of your busy schedules to reach my monthly comments which were sometimes good, sometimes bad, and occasionally awful, I say goodbye. I will miss you, too.”