The picture of the bearded former Florida Supreme Court Justice Ben F. Overton vividly brought to mind a fond 40-year- old memory. I first met Chief Circuit Judge Ben Overton (the first judge or lawyer I ever met) in 1972 advocating for an order to allow my readmission to law school.
I had been “invited to leave” Stetson University College of Law because there was some question about whether my appearance (shoulder-length hair and a full beard) met Stetson’s standard of what was acceptable in the Sixth Judicial Circuit. A signed order from the chief judge of the circuit indicating my appearance was acceptable would be required before I could resume a law school career that was in its infancy.
After my third trip back from the barber, patient and considerate Judge Overton found my hairstyle acceptable, but said the beard would have to go. He graciously allowed me an opportunity to be heard. I argued that my wife had never seen me without a beard, and I would most likely flunk out of law school anyway.
Judge Overton compassionately relented with a laugh and a warning: “Mark my word, you’ll never practice law one day in Florida with a beard.”
Surprisingly, I did graduate from law school and have practiced law in Florida for more than 38 years since, every day with a beard.
I remain forever impressed with the patience and understanding of an all-too-busy circuit chief judge.
I have always read the letters to the editor with an eye to find out what is topical among the Bar members, but also to see if I recognize any of the authors. I have never felt compelled myself to write a letter until this week when I received a letter from someone identifying himself as an attorney named Paul Smith with a Liverpool Street, London, address from the firm of Jason & Frank.
He was looking for relatives of a business magnate named Thomas Dawson who lived in the U.K. but was killed in an auto accident in December 2011. My grandfather, Tommy Dawson, who lived in Georgia, was no business magnate. I was being asked by the attorney to stand in as next of kin for his late client, even though I am not related, and he would share 50 percent of $10.8 million with me from a trunk containing this personal treasure.
He guaranteed that if I followed his instructions, which he claimed were the rules of law on some judicial loopholes, the vault would be released to “us,” if he presented me as next of kin. This was all supposedly 100 percent risk-free and there were “no atoms of risk connected to this business.” I was invited to indicate my response by email to a Yahoo address or call him on his direct phone line.
I felt it was important to share this amusing letter with the members and hopefully no one will fall for this blatant scam.
Denise L. Dawson
North Palm Beach
I thought that banshees only howled when somebody entered their death beds. The howling from our sections about how diverse they are seemed to give life to Shakespeare`s dicta about “protesting too much.”
The entire “diversity crusade” has always been a mystery to me. Jewish lawyers for years suffered under the “gentlemen’s agreement” concerning quotas. Great football players were stacked in defensive back fields because they went to Florida A&M or Jackson State. Obama gets hammered about having a Cabinet that doesn`t look like America.
How about somebody “howling” about the U.S. Supreme Court? Every member went to Harvard or Yale.
What possible difference does it make which restroom you use when serving on Bar sections? I have heard for years how various groups bring fresh approaches to problems and have never heard or seen one.
If I have offended anyone, good. Pop sociology has no business being institutionalized by the Bar.
Charles B. Tiffany
Med Mal Experts
Robert William Patton’s letter regarding med mal experts in the February 1 News, takes aim at lawyers, judges, the Bar, and our entire legal system, decrying a lack of intellectual honesty.
He’s certainly entitled to those opinions and a forum to voice them. However, it would have been more intellectually honest if he had indicated that, in addition to being a member of the Bar, he is also a licensed physician.
I am a plaintiff’s personal injury and medical malpractice lawyer and support the Board of Governors’ position, as you would expect.