Tuesday, April 05, 2022

Joseph Woodrow Hatchett Deserves Tallahassee Federal Court House Honor. (Florida Politics)

Ten Republican Congresscritters, including 4th District representative JOHN HENRY RUTHERFORD, have blocked naming a federal courthouse in Tallahassee for the late U.S. Court of Appeals Judge and Florida Supreme Court Justice Joseph Woodrow Hatchett, later a lawyer with AKERMAN SENTERFITT (now AKERMAN) law firm. 

These ten little Congresscirtters blocked an honor for Judge Hatchett, an African-American,  out of pure spite and meanness, because of one of the late Judge Hatchett's opinions about voluntary school prayer.   From Florida Politics: "The list includes Gus BilirakisVern BuchananKat CammackByron DonaldsNeal DunnScott FranklinMatt GaetzBrian MastJohn Rutherford and Greg Steube.

The U.S. House can still pass the legislation through regular legislative process now; it required a 2/3 vote for suspending the House of Representatives rules. 

But you have trashy termagants disgracing themselves and showing contempt for judicial independence, it's time for good and decent people to reconsider their Republican affiliations. 

Full disclosure: For the record, since 2006, I have often been critical of AKERMAN, its clients (including BP) and its lack of significant pro bono work while doing lots of pro malo work and petulant pettifoggery on behalf of criminaloid conduct by its corpulent clients.  

  • I saw first-hand how AKERMAN took hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees from the City of St. Augustine in the last-ditch resistance of City Manager WILLIAM HARRISS (a/k/a "WILL HARASS" to enforcement of an FDEP order.  AKERMAN failed in its attempt to block seven of us from asking FDEP to require  requiring removal of a landfill from a lake.  The landfill was removed from the south end of Riberia Street was dumped into our Old City Reservoir on Holmes Blvd. (now cleaned up and slated as a possible place for affordable housing).  
  • Also, in supporting Dave Aronberg's unsuccessful candidacy in 2010 to be our Democratic nominee for State Attorney General, I researched his opponent, an AKERMAN lawyer, and every single AKERMAN lawyer.  I shared the 650-lawyer firm's client and accomplishment list.  I compared AKERMAN to the movie, "Devils Advocate," quoting each lawyer's work description on this blog.  
  • AKERMAN is all about defending corporations and governments against the people, e.g, those pesky unions, plaintiffs, consumers, environmentalists, tort victims. My impression: just like other corporate law firms, only worse. 

But on this occasion, I agree with AKERMAN.

Bottom line, the late Judge Joseph Woodrow Hatchett deserves to have a federal courthouse named for him.  Rep. JOHN HENRY RUTHERFORD and other Dull Republicans blocking this honor require strict scrutiny, as members of a suspect class of underperforming public serpents.

From Florida Politics

Akerman wants courthouse named for late partner

'It is unquestionably the case that Judge Hatchett is more than deserving of having the federal courthouse in Tallahassee named for him.'

Akerman LLP leadership is calling on the U.S. House to reconsider and pass legislation to rename the federal courthouse in Tallahassee after Judge Joseph Woodrow Hatchett.

Hatchett was Florida’s first Black state Supreme Court justice, the first Black person to win a Florida statewide contested election in the 20th century and a partner at Akerman before he died in April 2021. A bill renaming the Tallahassee courthouse after Hatchett failed on a 238-187 vote despite bipartisan support Wednesday, as the bill required a two-thirds vote to pass.

Akerman Chairman and CEO Scott Meyers is asking the House to reconsider its vote and pass the legislation to honor Hatchett. He pointed to the fact a bipartisan group of Florida delegation members sponsored the bill, which earned unanimous approval in the Senate in December.

“Those members of the House, who either knew Judge Hatchett personally or knew of his lifelong commitment to justice and public service, were his strong supporters. We strongly urge the rest of the House to follow their lead and recognize the lifetime achievements of Judge Hatchett by naming the federal courthouse in Tallahassee for him. Judge Hatchett deserves no less,” Meyers said.

While both Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott sponsored and voted for the bill, it failed in the House after 10 Republicans who originally co-sponsored the legislation voted against their own bill, killing it. The list includes Gus BilirakisVern BuchananKat CammackByron DonaldsNeal DunnScott FranklinMatt GaetzBrian MastJohn Rutherford and Greg Steube.

The flip was prompted by a push by Rep. Andrew Clyde, a Georgia Republican, who shared a 1999 report of a controversial majority opinion written by Hatchett that said Florida schools could not have student-led prayers at graduation ceremonies

Rep. Al Lawson blasted the Republicans for the reversal the day after the vote.

“I am extremely disappointed in my Republican colleagues who voted against the measure, especially since the bill passed unanimously in the Senate,” Lawson said. “The companion bill which was led by Sen. Rubio received bipartisan support and conservative members of the Florida delegation signed onto the bill as co-sponsors. To witness on the House Floor, Republican votes change in disapproval of the bill during the final seconds of roll call, was abhorrent.”

The bill isn’t completely dead though. The Wednesday vote was on suspending the rules and fast-tracking passage, which requires a two-thirds vote. The bill can still pass after going through the typical legislative process.

Hatchett is a member of the National Bar Association Hall of Fame and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Florida Supreme Court Historic Society in February 2021.

In its statement to Florida Politics, Akerman said the right choice regarding the bill is clear.

“It is unquestionably the case that Judge Hatchett is more than deserving of having the federal courthouse in Tallahassee named for him. The U.S. House of Representatives should act accordingly,” read the law firm’s statement.

Tristan Wood

Tristan Wood graduated from the University of Florida in 2021 with a degree in Journalism. A South Florida native, he has a passion for political and accountability reporting. He previously reported for Fresh Take Florida, a news service that covers the Florida Legislature and state political stories operating out of UF’s College of Journalism and Communications. You can reach Tristan at Tristan.Daniel.Wood@gmail.com, or on Twitter @TristanDWood

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