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Latest edition of Historical Review features legal leaders, artifact donations, “Ask The Archivist”

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Book display

The Florida Supreme Court Library displayed Sir Edward Coke’s Institutes of the Laws of England for Coke’s 470th birthday.

The Fall/Winter edition of Historical Review, a publication of the Florida Supreme Court Historical Society, features articles on the career of the court’s long-time communications director, Justice C. Alan Lawson’s retirement, Justice Renatha Francis becoming the 92nd justice.

The magazine also highlights the 20th anniversary of the appointment of the first Cuban American justice, the acquisition of letters from the 1930s, a look at rare texts in the court’s library, a donation of documents and photos highlighting Supreme Court history, and the answer to “Why are there so many British common law books in the library’s collection?”

Articles include:

  • “Celebrating the Career of Craig Waters” is the cover story and is followed by articles on his receipt of the Florida First Amendment Foundation’s highest honor and his life in retirement after 35 years at the Florida Supreme Court. Waters’s working life evidenced a commitment to access to justice and the rule of law, and to seeing both carried out in our state.
  • HistoricalReview Editor Melanie Kalmanson, a Tampa attorney, describes the Fall/Winter edition of the magazine highlighting recently retired Florida Supreme Court public information officer Craig Waters, new and retiring justices, Historical Society acquisitions, and other timely articles of interest to everyone in the legal profession. This is her last issue as editor.
  • Historical Society President Scott Rost, an Orlando attorney, discusses historic changes on the court in 2022, gifts of written and physical artifacts, and plans for “A Supreme Evening 2023” on January 26 in Tallahassee.
  • Chief Justice Carlos Muñiz in his “Under the Dome” column discusses recent transitions on the court and the common goal of pursuing justice. He also expresses his gratitude for the Historical Society’s work preserving the court’s historical identity.
  • Historical Review

    TOP: Artifacts donated by Jacksonville attorney William Falck include these items. Clockwise from upper-left corner: (1) 1857 order regarding a Florida Supreme Court judicial disqualification; (2) 1719 commentaries by Lord Coke regarding basic English law pronouncements; (3) lawyers jointly approved printing of case reports in which they were involved, circa 1687; (4) an order issued during Union Troops 1868 Florida occupation, discussing qualifications of an officeholder prior to Civil War and declaring previous status not disqualification from proposed office; (5) picture of Justice Thornal with a note found in his Bible after his death; (6) 1826 acknowledgment of $1,473.98 payment confirmed by Orphan’s Court (worth $44,111.61 today). BOTTOM: Artifacts donated by Jacksonville attorney William Falck include these items. Clockwise from the upper-left corner: (1) notice to English Barristers and Students of the Inner Temple from the 1680s; (2) report of cases at a time when many English publications published in French, printed in London in 1661; (3) copy of a decision circulated to Florida Supreme Court justices; (4) memorandum from Justice Thomas to Justice O’Connell regarding jurisdictional matters; (5) 1948 program commemorating the dedication of new Florida Supreme Court Building; (6) memorandum from Justice B. Campbell Thornal (1955-1970) as part of a jurisdictional dispute.

    During his service on the Supreme Court, Justice C. Alan Lawson, who retired this year, earned a reputation of being humble, kind, and helpful, as well as hard-working, principled and intelligent. In 2019, he led a group of volunteer lawyers and judges to Honduras to build homes for two families who lost their dwellings in a fire and lacked the means of replacing them.

  • Florida’s 92nd, Justice Renatha Francis, joined the Court in 2022 after serving as a trial judge who presided over large dockets, conducted numerous bench trials, and resolved hundreds of cases in family, county civil, probate, and first appearance criminal law.
  • Tampa attorney Melville Gordon Gibbons writes about recently discovered letters from the 1930s written by Florida Supreme Court justices and Florida’s attorney general and secretary of state to provide insights into the legal, cultural, and social mores of the time. Donated by his grandson and Florida Bar member Monsignor Robert C. Gibbons, the correspondence reflects on legal events and comments on opinions.
  • Florida’s first Cuban American justice was appointed 20 years ago. Justice Raoul G. Cantero served on the court from 2002-2008 and made it a point to bring his heritage into the courthouse, including hosting an afternoon Cuban Coffee Hour in chambers and mentoring law students and young lawyers.
  • “The Surprising Origins of Judicial Review Living in the Court’s Library” describes two near-sacred texts revealing a little-known secret regarding the American tradition. One is from 1669 and is older and rarer than the copy in the Library of Congress.
  • Florida Supreme Court artifacts never displayed publicly are now in the archives thanks to a Jacksonville attorney, the late William E. Falck. Collected when he worked for Justices Wade Hopping, Vassar B. Carlton, and James C. Adkins after graduating from the University of Florida’s law school in 1969, the photos and documents chronicle the late 60s and early 70s at the court and include documents from the 17th century that were to be discarded.
  • Q: Why are there so many British common law books in the library’s collection? Archivist Erik Robinson, who has been at the Florida Supreme Court since 2005, answers!

Read the entire issue online at

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