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Former Justice Hatchett to lie in state in court rotunda in Tallahassee

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Joseph Hatchett

Justice Joseph Hatchett

Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Joseph W. Hatchett will lie in state in the rotunda of the Florida Supreme Court building on Friday, May 7, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Chief Justice Charles Canady will open this ceremonial event, which also will feature a formal honor guard of the Florida Highway Patrol. Judge Robert Luck of the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals also will speak on behalf of the federal court where Hatchett worked for much of his career as a judge.

The Lying in State will be broadcast live in its entirety on the Florida Supreme Court’s YouTube and Facebook pages and from its website.

Funeral services for Hatchett will be 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 8, at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee. Burial will be Monday, May 10, in Dunedin.

Hatchett, 88, died on April 30, in Tallahassee. He was Florida’s 65th justice since statehood was granted in 1845 and the first African American to serve on Florida’s highest court when he was appointed by Gov. Reubin Askew in 1975.

In 1979, President Jimmy Carter named him to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, becoming the first African American to serve in a federal circuit that covered the Deep South at the time.

Born during the days of segregation, Hatchett grew up in Clearwater and attended Pinellas High School. He took the Florida bar exam in 1959 at a time when black examinees could not stay in the hotel where the test was administered because of segregation regulations still in effect.

More information and updates will be provided on the Florida Supreme Court website:

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