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Nick J. Falsone

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Material Information

Title:
Nick J. Falsone from police court to probate (1910-1998)
Physical Description:
1 online resource (4 p.) : ill. ;
Language:
English
Creator:
Buck, Morison
Publisher:
Morison Buck
Place of Publication:
Tampa, Fla
Publication Date:

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Judges -- Biography -- Florida -- Hillsborough County   ( lcsh )

Notes

Original Version:
Originally published as part of the "Chips off the Old Bench" column: Tampa, Fla. : Hillsborough County, September 1999, Lawyer under title:
General Note:
Title from caption.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of South Florida Library
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
usfldc doi - B28-00006
usfldc handle - b28.6
NEW
System ID:
SFS0000051:00001


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Full Text

PAGE 1

N i c k J. F al s on e F r om P ol i c e C ou r t t o P r ob at e ( 1910 1998) Y ou w on't f i nd t he na m e of N i c k J F a l s one i n E r ne s t R obi ns on's H i s t or y o f H i l l s bor ough C ount y. T ha t 's not s ur pr i s i ng w he n you c ons i de r t ha t N i c k w a s j us t gr a dua t i ng f r o m H i l l s bor ough H i gh S c hool i n 1928 t he ye a r t he book w a s publ i s he d. N i c k w a s t he l a s t s ur vi vor o f t w e l ve c hi l dr e n bor n t o J os e ph a nd M a r i a F a l s one na t i ve s of t he i s l a nd o f S i c i l y H e w a s i nt r oduc e d t o l i f e a t 1809 19t h S t r e e t i n Y bo r C i t y. H e a nd f e l l ow j udge I C S pot o a r e be l i e ve d t o be t he onl y 13t h C i r c ui t J udge s of t he i r ge ne r a t i on w ho w e r e na t i ve s of t he C i ga r C i t y. H i l l s bor ough H i gh's 1928 a nnua l ha d be ne a t h t he pi c t ur e of young F a l s one t he l e ge nd: O ne of t he c om i ng de ba t e r s a nd t ha t f ou nda t i on i n s pe a ki ng on hi s f e e t w a s s ur e l y us e f ul t o hi m l a t e r i n l a w a nd pol i t i c s O ne of hi s H i l l s bor ough H i gh c l a s s m a t e s w a s H onor a bl e R obe r t W P a t t on di s t i ngui s he d r e t i r e d j udge ( bo r n one ye a r l a t e r t ha n F a l s one ) P a t t on gr a dua t e d f r om P l a nt H i gh ha vi n g t r a ns f e r r e d w he n t he l a t t e r s c hool ope ne d i t s door s F a l s one 's f a t he r a nd m ot he r s ur e l y ha d ha r ds c r a bbl e l i ve s w i t h t he r e s pons i bi l i t y of r a i s i ng s uc h a l a r ge f a m i l y. T he i r de a t hs be f or e N i c k r e a c he d a ge 15 m a de i t i m pe r a t i ve t ha t he w or k a nd e a r n t he m one y f or h i s c ol l e ge t ui t i on a nd e xpe ns e s N i c k ha d l e a r ne d t o t ype on a n ol d upr i ght m a nua l t ype w r i t e r a t hi s f a t he r 's c a r de a l e r s hi p on N or t h F r a nkl i n S t r e e t H i s t ypi ng f a c i l i t y l e d t o e m pl oym e nt a t t he A gr i c ul t ur e D e pt a t G a i ne s vi l l e H e t ook de gr e e s i n bot h bus i ne s s a dm i ni s t r a t i on a nd l a w a t t he U ni ve r s i t y of F l or i da a nd he w a s e ve r a f t e r a l oya l G a t or f oot ba l l f a n. W hi l e i n c ol l e ge he w a s a dr i l l i ns t r uc t o r i n R O T C m e m be r o f t he boxi ng t e a m a nd l a t e r c oa c he d f r e s hm a n i n t he a r t of pug i l i s m O t he r s i n N i c k's gr a dua t i ng c l a s s w ho l a t e r be c a m e pr om i ne nt i n l a w o r pol i t i c s or bot h i nc l ude : G e or ge S m a t he r s ( U S S e na t o r ) F ul l e r W a r r e n ( F l o r i da G ove r no r ) R e d M c E w e n ( H i l l s bor ough S t a t e A t t or ne y) H a r r y G M c D ona l d ( H i l l s bor ough C i r c ui t J udge ) M a nue l G a r c i a ( T a m pa l a w ye r ) a nd H u gh M c M i l l e n ( C i r c ui t J udge i n W e s t P a l m B e a c h) J udge M c M i l l e n a nd hi s w i f e A nne be c a m e f a s t f r i e nds o f N i c k a nd M a r ga r e t F a l s one M c M i l l e n s e r ve d f or m a ny ye a r s w i t h di s t i nc t i on, a nd w a s c a l l e d f r om t i m e t o t i m e t o s ubs t i t ut e i n T a m pa U pon be i ng w i dow e d, M r s M c M i l l e n m ove d t o T a m pa t o l i ve w i t h he r da ught e r A nne B a l dy a nd hus ba nd, A nde r s on ( T r e y) B a l dy. M r s B a l dy w a s a n A s s i s t a nt C ount y A t t or ne y be f or e r e t i r i ng t o pr oduc e l i t t l e B a l dys H e r

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hus ba nd i s w i t h t he e xpa ns i ve f i r m of H ol l a nd & K ni ght G r a d ua t i ng i n 1934 f r om l a w s c hool a nd a nxi ous t o e xc e l i n t he l e ga l pr of e s s i on, N i c k be c a m e a s s oc i a t e d w i t h P a ul l D i xon, a r e s pe c t e d, e s t a bl i s he d l a w y e r i n T a m pa w ho l a t e r be c a m e C i t y A t t or ne y i n t he J ul i a n L a ne a dm i ni s t r a t i on. T ha t t ur ne d out t o be a good c onne c t i on f or hi m a s l a t e r e ve nt s w oul d de m ons t r a t e N i c k's i nt e r e s t i n s om e f or m of j udi c i a l s e r vi c e a n a t ur a l e vol ut i ona r y pr oc e s s f or m a ny l a w ye r s be ga n t o bl os s om be f or e he w a s t hi r t y. H e de c i de d t o r un f or j us t i c e o f t he P e a c e a nd w he n he a nnounc e d hi s c a ndi da c y on J a nua r y 20, 1940, he bol dl y s t a t e d: ( I pl e dge ) t o a dm i ni s t e r t he dut i e s o f t he o f f i c e w i t h s uc h di gni t y t ha t t he C our t of J us t i c e of t he P e a c e m a y be r e s t or e d t o i t s r i ght f u l pl a c e of r e s pe c t i n t he publ i c m i nd; t o m a ke i t a us e f ul pi e c e of l e ga l m a c hi ne r y i ns t e a d of a f e e g r a bbi ng m i l l c l os e l y a ki n t o s om e f or m s of r a c ke t e e r i ng. H e di d not s uc c e e d i n t ha t i na ugu r a l e f f o r t t he f i r s t o f onl y t w o de f e a t s a t t he pol l s ove r f our de c a de s of publ i c a nd pr o f e s s i ona l l i f e U nda unt e d by t he r e s ul t s of hi s f i r s t e xpos ur e t o t h e e l e c t or a t e t e n ye a r s be f o r e F a l s one c ha l l e nge d t he pol i t i c a l l y s t r ong a nd e nt r e nc he d J udge of J uve ni l e C our t P a ul K i c kl i t e r i n 1950. A ga i n, he f e l l s hor t M e a nw hi l e pr i or t o be i ng e l e c t e d C ount y J udge i n 1970, he e nga ge d i n a n a c t i ve l a w pr a c t i c e H e a nd t he l a t e F r e d ( T r a ppe r ) S a us s y s ha r e d f r i e nds hi p a nd of f i c e s pa c e T he i r of f i c e s w e r e s uc c e s s i ve l y i n W a l l a c e S B ui l di ng W e s t e r n U ni on B ui l di ng, a nd E xc ha nge N a t i ona l B a nk B ui l di ng. H i s c a r e e r s a w a s i x ye a r hi a t us w i t h t he ons e t o f W or l d W a r I I H e w a s c a l l e d t o a c t i ve dut y i n 1940 w hi l e s e r vi ng i n t he A r m y R e s e r ve a s a 1s t L t 24 t h I n f a nt r y R e gi m e nt ; s e r ve d i n t he P a c i f i c T he a t e r w he r e he c ont r a c t e d m a l a r i a a de bi l i t a t i ng c ondi t i on w hi c h c a us e d hi m t o r un a l ow g r a de f e v e r f or ye a r s A f t e r be i ng r e t ur ne d t o t he s t a t e s f o r m e di c a l t r e a t m e nt he ha d i nt e r i m dut y a s a ba t t a l i on c om m a nde r a t M I T H e w ound up a s C h i e f of C ont r a c t s f or H e a dqua r t e r s 8t h S e r vi c e C om m a nd i n D a l l a s A s t r ol ogy e nt hus i a s t s w i l l know t ha t a s N i c k w a s bor n on S e pt e m be r 12 he w a s a V i r go. V i r gos a s t he l e ge nd goe s t e nd t o be f us s y, ha ve a ke e n e nj oym e nt of be a ut i f ul t hi ngs a nd a r e t hought t o be a bl e t o do m or e t ha n one t hi ng w e l l L ook i ng ba c k ove r N i c k's l i f e a nd c a r e e r one t e nds t o t hi nk t he r e m a y be s om e t hi ng t o t hi s bus i ne s s a bout t he s t a r s a nd pl a ne t s W hi l e he w a s on t he a s s i gnm e nt i n D a l l a s he de m ons t r a t e d t he f us s y j udgm e nt a nd l ove o f t hi ngs be a ut i f ul e xpe c t e d of V i r go pe opl e w he n he m e t c our t e d a nd l a t e r w e d hi s w i f e of 50 ye a r s M a r ga r e t a t a l l s t unni ng br une t t e N i c k's a ppe t i t e f or pol i t i c a l l y c onne c t e d l e ga l w or k t ook a n up t ur n i n l a t e 1959 a nd ne ve r di m i ni s he d f or t he r e s t of hi s pr oduc t i ve l i f e C i t y A t t or ne y P a ul l D i xon a dde d F a l s one t o hi s s t a f f o f a s s i s t a nt s I n 1962 t he T a m pa T i m e s r e por t e d on a di s put a t i ous e xc ha nge be t w e e n F a l s one a nd S t a t e A t t or ne y, P a u l B J ohns on w i t h C ons t a bl e M a l c ol m B e a r d on t he f r i nge o f t he a r gum e nt A c c or di ng t o t he s t or y, M uni c i pa l J udge s B ob M J ohns on a nd W a l t e r B ur ns i de J r ( bot h now de c e a s e d) t hought t he y s houl d ha ve t he a ut hor i t y of c om m i t t i ng m a gi s t r a t e s F a l s one s upp or t e d t he i r pos i t i on, c i t i ng a r e c e nt A t t or ne y G e ne r a l 's opi ni on on t he i s s ue H e a l s o publ i c l y c om m e nt e d, ( S t a t e A t t or ne y ) J ohns on i s not onl y w a y out of l i ne i n hi s a t t a c k of t hi s pl a n, he 's got no bus i ne s s ge t t i ng i nt o t he s i t ua t i on. F a l s one a c c or di ng t o t he T i m e s r a ppe d C ons t a bl e B e a r d a nd a s s e r t e d t ha t B e a r d's of f i c e w oul d not be c i r c um ve nt e d one i ot a O n t he c ont r a r y he w i l l a ut om a t i c a l l y be i nc l ude d i n t he a r e a D e s pi t e t he A s s i s t a nt C i t y A t t or ne y's ba c ki ng, t he

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e f f or t t o e nl a r ge t he j ur i s di c t i on of t he c i t y's m uni c i pa l j udge s f a i l e d. N e ve r t he l e s s t ha t s a m e ye a r N i c k's s e r vi c e s f or t he l e ga l de pa r t m e nt w e r e pr a i s e d by t he C l e r k a nd C i t y C ounc i l N i c k's ne xt r ound of publ i c s e r vi c e c a m e w he n he w a s a ppoi nt e d A s s i s t a nt S t a t e A t t or ne y unde r P a ul A nt i no r i H i s s t a r w a s i n t he a s c e nda nc y, i t w oul d a ppe a r be c a us e w he n M uni c i pa l J udge J a m e s P C a l houn a dva nc e d t o be c om e a j udge of J uve ni l e C our t i n 1968, M a yor G r e c o f a vor e d N i c k w i t h a ppoi nt m e nt a s C a l houn's s uc c e s s or P r oba bl y hi s m os t not or i ous C i t y C our t c a s e w a s C i t y of T a m pa v J ani s J opl i n J opl i n w a s c ha r ge d w i t h t w o c ount s of obs c e ne l a ngua ge dur i ng he r c o nc e r t a t C ur t i s H i xon H a l l S he ne ve r a ppe a r e d, he r l a w ye r e nt e r e d a p l e a of nol o c ont e n de r e a nd J udge F a l s one f i ne d he r $204. I n 1969, one o f T am pa T i m e s m os t popul a r c ol um ni s t s B ob T ur ne r w ho f e a t ur e d s t or i e s on l oc a l pol i t i c a l t opi c s r e po r t e d t ha t T hom a s A M i l l e r S r ( t he n a W o r ke r s C om pe ns a t i on J u dge ) w a s pol i t i c ki ng f or a ne w l y c r e a t e d C ount y J udge 's s e a t N i c k J F a l s one T ur ne r s a i d, w a s c ons i de r i ng t he r a c e T hos e t w o c ont e nde d, a nd t he f i na l t a l l y w a s : F a l s one 27, 452; M i l l e r 15, 951 J os e ph G r os s f i ni s he d t hi r d N o doubt e ne r gi z e d a nd e nc our a ge d by hi s s uc c e s s i n t he a bove m e nt i one d e l e c t i on, N i c k a nnounc e d hi s c a ndi da c y f or a C i r c ui t C our t j udge s hi p, G r oup 14 i n J ul y, 1972. D ue t o t he a m e ndm e nt s t o A r t i c l e V of t he C ons t i t ut i on w hi c h be c a m e e f f e c t i ve J a nua r y 1, 1973 C ount y J udge s w e r e e l e va t e d t o t he C i r c ui t l e ve l H e w a s e l e c t e d w i t hout oppos i t i on a nd s e r ve d c ont i nuous l y i n P r oba t e G u a r di a ns hi p a nd T r us t D i vi s i on, a n a r e a i n w hi c h he w a s e s pe c i a l l y i nt e r e s t e d a nd e xpe r i e n c e d, unt i l h i s i nvol unt a r y r e t i r e m e nt a t a ge 70. J udge F a l s one w a s t he s ubj e c t of num e r ous ne w s s t or i e s i n l a t e 1979 a nd t h r ough t he f i r s t qua r t e r of t he f o l l ow i ng ye a r N i c k ba dl y w a nt e d t o s e r ve out hi s f ul l t e r m but c oul d not due t o c ons t i t ut i ona l c i r c um s t r i c t i ons H e got t he he l p of R e pr e s e nt a t i ve L e e M of f i t t a nd S e na t or P a t F r a nk w ho s pons or e d a c ons t i t ut i o na l a m e ndm e nt t o a l l ow a l l j udge s t o c om pl e t e t he i r t e r m r e ga r d l e s s of w he n t he y r e a c he d t he m a nda t or y r e t i r e m e nt a ge J udge F a l s one a nd J udge S a m S i l ve r of M i a m i w e r e t w o of t he w oul d be be ne f i c i a r i e s T he i r hope s w e r e da s he d w he n D e m ps e y B a r r on, pow e r f ul c ha i r o f S e na t e R ul e s C om m i t t e e bl oc ke d t he pr opos a l f r om c om i ng t o t he f l oo r B a r r on w a s quot e d a s s a yi ng, I t w oul d be s i m pl e r t o pa s s a bi l l t o m a ke t ha t j udge ( F a l s one ) t w o ye a r s younge r t ha n t o ge t t he c ons t i t ut i ona l a m e ndm e nt on t he ba l l ot T ha t w a s t ha t a nd N i c k w a s obl i ge d t o r e t i r e on S e pt e m be r 12, 1980. C ha r l e s S c r uggs w ho s e r ve d w i t h N i c k on M uni c i pa l C our t a nd i s a f o r m e r C i r c ui t j udge hi m s e l f c on f i r m s w ha t N i c k's f r i e nds a nd c o l l e a gue s know : A bou t 90% o f hi s c a s ua l c onve r s a t i ons c e nt e r e d on hi s e xpl oi t s a s a duf f e r N i c k a nd t he l a t e J udge R oge r F l ynn pl a ye d a l o t of gol f t oge t he r a nd w e r e c ont i n ua l l y pl a yi ng pr a c t i c a l j oke s on one a not he r T he m os t i m po r t a nt t h i ngs i n N i c k's l i f e w e r e hi s G od, hi s be l ove d w i f e M a r ga r e t a nd t he l a w ( w i t h gol f a c l os e f ou r t h) N i c k a nd M a r ga r e t s pe nt a l ot of t i m e on t he l i nks a t P a l m a C e i a G ol f a nd C ount r y C l ub. O ne of hi s t w o a c e s ( hol e s i n one ) oc c ur r e d a bout 16 ye a r s a go on t he s hor t but t r i c ky P a r 3 4t h ho l e w hi l e t he F a l s one s w e r e pl a yi ng w i t h D r R obt C of f e r a nd w i f e S a l l y. T hi s s c r i be r e m e m be r s one vi vi d e xpe r i e nc e on t he s a m e c our s e w he n N i c k a nd I w e r e i n t he s a m e f our s om e on S a t ur da y. A s N i c k w a s pr e pa r i ng t o hi t hi s t e e s hot on t he 9t h hol e a gol f e r ( unna m e d hom e bui l de r ) w a l ki ng dow n t he a dj a c e nt 3 r d hol e s e pa r a t e d

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by a pond a nd a bout 70 80 ya r ds f r om t he 9t h t e e hol l e r e d a t N i c k: H ow 's t he c r ooke d j udge ? N i c k's c ount e na nc e ha r de ne d, hi s f a c e t ur n e d r e d, a nd he s t r ode o f f t he t e e br a ndi s hi ng hi s dr i ve r i n t he di r e c t i on of t he w i s e a c r e N i c k ba w l e d h i m out i n no unc e r t a i n t e r m s bu t a f t e r a f e w t e ns e m om e nt s t he of f e nde r a pol ogi z e d. T ha t e pi s ode oc c ur r e d a bout t he t i m e of t he pub l i c s c a nda l i nvol vi ng t w o H i l l s bor ough C ount y j udge s N i c k t ook s om e ki ddi ng a bout hi s gol f s w i ng. C onve nt i ona l w i s dom f or gol f e r s i s t o ke e p t he r i ght a r m c l os e t o t he body on t he ba c ks w i ng. N i c k's a r m a nd e l bow w oul d f l y out l i ke a c hi c ke n w i ng ( t he C o l one l S a nde r s s yndr om e ) I t di d n't bot he r N i c k, t ha t w a s j us t hi s s t yl e a nd i t i n no w a y l e s s e ne d hi s e nj oym e nt of w ha t ha s be e n de s c r i be d a s a ga m e de s i gne d by t he D e vi l hi m s e l f N i c k w a s a w a r m a nd c he e r f ul i ndi vi dua l w ho m a d e f r i e nds e a s i l y. H e kne w e ve r yone w ho w a s a nybody i n T a m pa ; a nd hi s f l ue nc y i n S pa ni s h a nd I t a l i a n, a nd hi s pr a i s e w or t hy pe r f or m a nc e i n di f f e r e nt r e s pons i bi l i t i e s ove r t he ye a r s m a de hi m a pot e nt f a c t or i n T a m pa 's pol i t i c a l l a nds c a pe A s l ong a s j u dge s a r e e l e c t e d, pol i t i c s i n t he b r oa d s e ns e w i l l be a l w a ys a s i gni f i c a nt e l e m e nt i n t he pr oc e s s A f t e r hi s r e t i r e m e nt e xc e pt f or a s e r i e s of ba c k a n d hi p s ur ge r i e s i n hi s l a s t ye a r s N i c k a nd M a r ga r e t l i ve d l a dol c e v i t a a w e l l de s e r ve d br e a k i n t he f e ve r of l i f e f or a m a n w hos e i nt e l l e c t i nt e g r i t y, t e m pe r a m e nt a nd e xpe r i e nc e m a de hi m a n e ve r l a s t i ng c r e di t t o t he j udi c i a r y of H i l l s bor ough C ount y. M or i s on B uc k A f t e r w or d: N ot hi ng i s of t e n a good t h i ng t o do, a nd a l w a ys a b r i l l i a nt t hi ng t o s a y. E dw ar d B e nne t t W i l l i am s f am e d t r i al l aw y e r


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