Hillsborough Bar Honors Judges
By David R. Corder
It was mixture of sadness and celebration that greeted members of the Hillsborough County Bar Association at its September luncheon meeting at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Tampa.
While members celebrated the lives of the county's retired judges, the association also honored the memory of the late Circuit Judge Robert Simms, who died unexpectedly of a heart attack earlier this year. The association's Young Lawyers Division bestowed upon him its annual Robert Patton Outstanding Jurists Award.
Holland & Knight attorney Dennis McClelland, the division's immediate past president, says Simms' selection as the award recipient recognizes the contributions he made over his career to young lawyers. In that vein, the division has decided to name its annual high school mock trial in Simms' name to recognize the four years he served as the program's presiding judge.
Simms' widow, Rosalie, and his daughter, Jacqueline, accepted the Patton award in the judge's memory. His wife spoke about how much the late judge wanted to make a difference in the lives of young lawyers. She also spoke about the legacy he left, especially through his daughter, who recently was admitted to practice law.
"While we will miss Bob, his legacy lives on," she says.
On a lighter note, the association recognized the service of Hillsborough's retired judges, including Dennis Alvaraz, Robert H. Bonanno, Morrison Buck, Don Castor, Clifford Cheatwood, Donald G. Evans, Gasper J. Ficarrotta, Florence Foster, Daniel E. Gallagher, Vincent E. Giglio, John M. Gilbert, Roland Gonzalez, Dick Greco Jr., John Griffin, Cynthia A. Holloway, Michael N. Kavouklis, James A. Lenfestey, Bob A. Mitcham, Calvin A. Pope, Charles H. Scruggs, Guy W. Spicola, Ralph Steinberg, Peter J.T. Taylor and Edward H. Ward.
At the invitation of 13th Circuit Chief Judge Manuel Menendez Jr., Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Barbara Pariente spoke to the audience about the impact of hurricanes, the Florida Legislature and the public perception on the state's judicial system.