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Meacham, Hatchett featured at Historical Society evening

Senior Editor News in Photos

A Supreme EveningA talk by Pulitzer Prize winning author and historian Jon Meacham — who was selected by the Bush family to be the authorized biographer of George H.W. Bush and who this year wrote speeches for President-elect Joe Biden — is the headline speaker at the Florida Supreme Court Historical Society’s annual celebration, A Supreme Evening.

Also, at the January 28 event, the society will present its Lifetime Achievement Award to former Justice Joseph Hatchett, Chief Justice Charles Canady will give the annual state of the judiciary address, and there will be interviews with the court’s two newest justices.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the usual dinner and reception event will be online this year. Click here for more information and registration information.

A pre-event program begins at 5:30 p.m. and the broadcast regular program will run from 6-7:30 p.m. Society Executive Director Mark Miller said it will not be a normal Zoom meeting and the society has hired a media company to run the gathering. Meacham will be speaking live and will take questions from attendees. As he has in recent years, former Bar and society President Hank Coxe will emcee the event.

Jon Meacham

Jon Meacham

Meacham, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2009 for “American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House,” will discuss the leadership and professionalism of American presidents.

Meacham also wrote “Franklin and Winston: Partners of an Intimate Relationship” about Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, “Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power,” “Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush,”  and several other books. He was the editor of “Voices in Our Blood: America’s Best on the Civil Rights Movement.

He contributes to the New York Times Book Review, is a contributing editor to Time magazine, and a former managing editor for Newsweek.

Coxe said that Hatchett was a unanimous choice of the society’s 75-member Board of Trustees for the Lifetime Achievement Award.

“The award recognizes an individual who has devoted a lifetime of contributions to improving the lives of others. He has served as a role model for decades,” Coxe said. “Judge Hatchett has served as the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, and immediately prior served as a judge of the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. He was appointed in 1975 by Gov. Reuben Askew to serve on the Florida Supreme Court, and retained his seat through statewide election in 1976. He began his career as a leader in Florida in civil rights, served as chief assistant United States attorney for the Middle District of Florida and as a United States magistrate judge.”

According to the Florida Supreme Court’s website, after his appointment in 1975, Hatchett ran the following year to keep his seat and became the only African American to win a contested statewide race in Florida in the 20th century.

Joseph Hatchett

Joseph Hatchett

Former President Jimmy Carter appointed Hatchett to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1979 and he served there and on the U.S. 11th Circuit until 1999, when he returned to private practice. Hatchett was the first Black appointed to a federal appeals court in the Deep South.

Former Bar Executive Director John F. Harkness, Jr., will introduce Hatchett and former Chief Justice Rosemary Barkett will be among those talking about Hatchett’s long career.

He will join former Lifetime Achievement Award winners that include Harkness, Barkett, Janet Reno, Sandy D’Alemberte, Askew, Wm. Reece Smith, Jr., Dexter Douglas, Robert Ervin, Mark Hulsey, and Russell Troutman.

Chief Justice Canady will discuss the state of the court system and also preview the court’s plans for the Judicial Learning Center. Interviews will also be conducted with new Justices John Couriel and Jamie Grosshans.

The program offers one continuing judicial education credit and approval is pending for one professionalism CLE credit for the Bar.

Miller said although the program — which is replacing the usual dinner and reception held in Tallahassee — is free, the society is accepting donations and also sponsorships for the evening.

So far, sponsors include:

  • At the Platinum level: Brannock & Humphries; Florida Justice Reform Institute; Greenberg Traurig; Orr | Cook; Susan & Stanley M. Rosenblatt; and Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley.
  • At the Gold level: The Bedell Law Firm; Buchanan, Ingersoll, Rooney; J. Claussen Law; Edwards & Ragatz, P.A; Holland & Knight, LLP; Weiss Serota Helfman Cole Bierman; and the Terrell Hogan Law Firm.
  • At the Silver level: Boies Schiller & Flexner, LLP; Tim Chinaris; and Stearns Weaver Miller.
  • At the Bronze level: Berger Singerman LLP; Boyd DuRant Law Firm; Coker Law Firm; D’Alemberte and Palmer; Alan G. Greer; Gray Robinson; Grossman Furlow and Bayó, LLC.; Jack Harkness; Jones Foster P.A.; Kula & Associates, PA; Kynes, Markman & Felman, PA; Law Office of Barbara C. Wingo, PLLC; Link & Rockenbach, PA.; Ackerman LLP; and the Appellate Law Practice Section of The Florida Bar

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