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James Dewitt Bruton, Jr

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Title:
James Dewitt Bruton, Jr squire from Plant City (1908-1995)
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, May 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 - B28-00008
usfldc handle - b28.8
NEW
System ID:
SFS0000053:00001


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Full Text

PAGE 1

Jam e s D e w i t t B r u t on Jr S q u i r e f r om P l an t C i t y ( 1908 1995) 1908 w a s a ba nne r ye a r f or A m e r i c a a nd, i nde e d, f or t he r e s t of t he c i vi l i z e d w o r l d. H e nr y F or d pr oduc e d a nd m a r ke t e d t he f i r s t M ode l T F or d ( i t s ol d f or $75 0) t he B oy S c out m ove m e nt w a s f ounde d, a nd G e ne r a l M ot or s C or por a t i on w a s bor n. T he r e w a s a not he r b i r t h t ha t ye a r i n a s m a l l t ow n i n t he O z a r ks w i t hout w hi c h H i l l s bor ough C ount y w oul d ha ve be e n de pr i ve d of one of i t s m os t c ol or f ul pe r s ona l i t i e s J a s D B r ut on, J r ( he a l w a ys us e d t he a bbr e vi a t e d ve r s i on of hi s gi ve n na m e ) w a s not onl y a huge l y s uc c e s s f ul l a w ye r pr os e c ut or l e g i s l a t or a nd s hr e w d i nve s t or he a c hi e ve d j udge s hi ps a t t hr e e di f f e r e nt l e ve l s i n H i l l s bor ough C ount y; P l a nt C i t y M uni c i pa l C our t C ount y C our t a nd C i r c ui t C our t B r ut on ul t i m a t e l y be c a m e a t ypi c a l l y e nt hus i a s t i c G a t or but he c oul d j us t a s e a s i l y ha ve gr ow n i nt o a R a z or ba c k f a n. H e be ga n l i f e i n M a ga z i ne A r ka ns a s j us t dow n t he r oa d f r om F o r t S m i t h, a nd a t t he f oot of M a ga z i ne M ount a i n, hi ghe s t e l e va t i on i n t he s t a t e ( 2753 f e e t ) T he 1998 de m og r a phi c r e c or d l i s t s M a ga z i ne a s hom e t o 825 s oul s I t i s be s t know n c ur r e nt l y a s t he r e s i de nc e of a m a n w h os e na m e i s f a m i l i a r t o gol f e r s J a c k F l e c k, w ho t r ounc e d B e n H oga n i n a pl a yof f f r om t he 1955 U S O pe n t i t l e E s pe c i a l l y dur i ng t he 1700s a nd 1800s i n t hi s c oun t r y, t he t e r m Squi r e w a s a c our t e s y t i t l e e xt e nde d t o l oc a l j udge s i n r ur a l c om m uni t i e s t o s i gni f y t he i r e l e va t e d s oc i a l s t a ndi ng. I n B r i t a i n, w he r e t he t e r m o r i gi na t e d, a s qui r e w a s a hi gh t one d c ount r y ge nt l e m a n, t he c hi e f pe r s ona ge a nd us ua l l y t he l a r ge s t l a nd ow ne r i n t he vi l l a ge T ha t de s i gna t i on s e e m s t o f i t J a s D B r ut on, J r a s c om f or t a bl y a s hi s H om bur g A l w a ys na t t i l y a nd di s t i nc t i ve l y ve s t ur e d du r i ng hi s a c t i ve c a r e e r hi s t a s t e r a n t o doubl e br e a s t e d s ui t w i t h ve s t A ny c ol or w a s f i ne a s l ong a s i t w a s bl a c k. O ut door s he w a s ne ve r s e e n w i t hout t he H om bur g w i t h t uf t s o f hi s gr e y ha i r pe e ki ng out f r om unde r hi s e xpe ns i ve ha t A nd t o c om pl e t e t he p i c t ur e t he r e w oul d be t he i ne vi t a bl e c i ga r c l ut c he d i n hi s r i g h t ha nd, w hi c h w a s m i s s i ng ha l f of t he i nde x f i nge r due t o a c ondi t i on hi s ni e c e de s c r i be d t o m e a s a f e l on. B r ut on's f a m i l y c ons i s t i ng of t he pa r e nt s a nd ni ne c hi l dr e n s e t t l e d i n P l a nt C i t y a bout t he t i m e W or l d W a r I w a s w i ndi ng dow n. H e l i ve d t he r e t he r e s t of hi s l i f e H e a nd hi s w i f e Q ui nt i l l a ( unt i l he r de a t h i n 1989) m a i nt a i ne d a c om f or t a bl e but m ode s t l i f e s t yl e w i t h no di s pl a y o f t he t r a ppi ngs of w e a l t h. T he c ou pl e ne ve r h a d c hi l d r e n, bu t pe r ha ps t o c om pe ns a t e f or t ha t c i r c um s t a nc e a nd, a s hi s l a w y e r R obe r t T r i nkl e E s q. quo t e d hi m W e w a nt e d t o m a ke a di f f e r e nc e i n t he l i ve s of ne e dy, de s e r vi ng youngs t e r s s o he pa i d

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t he c os t s of c ol l e ge f o r a l a r ge num be r of t he c hi l d r e n of ot he r s i n t he P l a nt C i t y a r e a B r ut on t ook hi s unde r gr a dua t e a nd l a w de gr e e s a t t he U ni ve r s i t y i n G a i ne s vi l l e ope ne d s hop i n P l a nt C i t y a nd p r a c t i c e d l a w e ne r g e t i c a l l y a nd c ont i nuous l y a f t e r 1931 f or t he ne xt t hi r t y ye a r s H e s a m pl e d j us t a bout e ve r y oppor t uni t y t ha t c a m e hi s w a y a s a s m a l l t ow n, a m bi t i ous l a w ye r A l ook a t t he M a r t i nda l e H ubbe l di r e c t or y ove r t he ye a r s s t a r t i ng i n 1933 pr ovi de s a p r e t t y good i ndi c a t or of hi s pr ogr e s s i ve l y e nha nc e d r i s e bo t h pr of e s s i ona l l y a nd f i na nc i a l l y. I n 1933 he w a s gi ve n a s i m pl e v" r a t i ng w i t h a n e s t i m a t e d w or t h of l e s s t ha n $1000. B y 1937 he w a s l i s t e d a s a t t or ne y f or S e a boa r d R a i l r oa d a nd T a m pa E l e c t r i c C o w i t h ne t w or t h of f r om $10 M t o 20M I n 1943, he w a s s how n a s M uni c i pa l J udge w i t h no i nc r e a s e i n hi s ne t w or t h, but i n 1950 he w a s de s i gna t e d w i t h t he a v" r a t i ng, a ne t w o r t h o f ove r $100, 000 a nd r e pr e s e nt a t i ve c l i e nt s i nc l ude d t he t w o m e nt i one d a bove pl us F e de r a l L a nd B a nk of C ol um bi a a nd B r e ye r I c e C r e a m C o. H e s uc c e e de d i n w i nni ng a s e a t i n t he F l or i da H ou s e of R e pr e s e nt a t i ve i n 1935 but e vi de nt l y ha d no f ur t he r a m bi t i ons a l ong t hos e l i ne s T he p r e vi ous ye a r he s e r ve d a s A s s i s t a nt C ount y S ol i c i t or i n t he C r i m i na l C our t o f R e c or d. H i s obj e c t i ve s a ppe a r t o ha ve be e n t o bui l d h i s l a w pr a c t i c e w hi c h he de c i de dl y e nj oye d. H e w a s a c t i ve i n t he A m e r i c a n B a r A s s oc i a t i on, a nd w a s a ke y m e m be r of a gr oup of i n f l ue nt i a l l a w ye r s w hi c h f or m ul a t e d pl a ns w hi c h l a t e r l e d t o c r e a t i on of T he F l or i da B a r C he s t e r f i e l d S m i t h f or m e r A B A P r e s i de nt c a l l e d hi s w or k, A m onu m e nt a l c ont r i but i on t o t he l e ga l pr of e s s i on. T he hi s t or y o f B r ut on's p r of e s s i ona l l i f e a nd hi s a c c om pl i s h m e nt s a s a l a w ye r a nd j udge a nd a l s o hi s ge ne r os i t y w i t h hi s m one y t o i n s t i t ut i ons he be l i e ve d i n, a r e w e l l c hr oni c l e d i n s t or i e s ove r t he l a s t 10 12 ye a r s o f hi s l i f e I n t he f a l l of 1991 i s s ue of t he U ni ve r s i t y of F l or i da L a w ye r m a ga z i ne t he r e i s a c om pr e he ns i ve or a l hi s t or y o f J udge B r ut on put t oge t he r by D e ni s e S t obb i e T he l a r ge s s of J udge a nd M r s B r ut on t o t he U ni ve r s i t y of F l or i da l e d t o t he de di c a t i on of B r ut o n G e e r H a l l i n 1984 a nd i n 1988 t he U ni ve r s i t y pr e s e nt e d hi m w i t h i t s D i s t i ngui s he d A l um nus A w a r d. B ot h B r u t ons ha d a ke e n a ppr e c i a t i on of t he va l ue of books a nd l i br a r i e s M r s B r ut on, f o r m e r l y Q ui nt i l l a G e e r s e r ve d f a i t h f ul l y a nd w e l l on t he H i l l s bor oug h C ount y L i b r a r y B oa r d A f t e r t he de a t h of hi s w i f e i n 19 89 B r ut on ga ve ove r a pe r i o d of t i m e s e ve r a l hundr e d t hous a nd dol l a r s t o w ha t be c a m e know n a s B r ut on M e m or i a l L i b r a r y i n P l a nt C i t y. N ot f a r f r om hi s hom e ba s e he e s t a bl i s he d B r ut on's A udubon A c r e s B i r d S a nc t ua r y a nd N a t ur e P r e s e r ve on 45 a c r e s o f l a nd P e r i od i c a l l y he w oul d t our a l l ove r t he pr e s e r ve d a r e a i n hi s 1952 W i l l ys J e e p t ha t a nd hi s a i r boa t he c a l l e d hi s t oys T he J udge 's ni e c e G r a c e B r ut on K e l l y, a l i f e l ong r e s i de nt of t he a r e a r e l a t e s t ha t he r unc l e w a s e s s e nt i a l l y a l one r ; not a r e c l us i ve m a n, but one w ho w a nt e d t o be d i f f e r e nt F or e xa m pl e s he s ugge s t s t ha t hi s A be L i nc ol n" h a i r c ut a nd l ong s i de bur ns a r e e vi de nc e of hi s i di os ync r a s y. O ne ge t s t he i m pr e s s i on t ha t J a s D B r ut on J r s e t out e a r l y i n hi s c a r e e r t o c r e a t e a n i m a ge w hi c h w oul d c l e a r l y di s t i ngui s h hi m f r om hi s c ont e m po r a r i e s S a i d N e t t l e D r a ughon t he n C i t y M a na ge r of P l a nt C i t y, upon l e a r ni ng of hi s de a t h r e por t e dl y s a i d, T he r e ha s ne ve r be e n a nyone qui t e l i ke J udge B r ut on, a nd I gue s s t he r e ne ve r w i l l be a ga i n. R a l ph W a l do E m e r s on m us t ha ve ha d s om e one l i ke B r ut on i n m i nd w he n he s a i d, W hos oe ve r w oul d be a m a n m us t b e a nonc onf or m i s t H e l i ke d t o d r i ve a l uxur y a ut om ob i l e pr oudl y de c l a r i ng on one oc c a s i on t ha t he ha d ow ne d 23 C a di l l a c s a nd pa i d c a s h f or a l l o f t he m A f t e r he w e nt on t he be nc h, be i ng f i r s t

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a ppoi nt e d t o t he C ount y C our t i n 1961 by G ov. F a r r i s B r ya nt t he n e l e va t e d t o C i r c ui t C our t i n 1964 he ha d t he pol i t i c a l a s t ut e ne s s t o m a ke c a l l s on l a w of f i c e s a nd on ot he r publ i c of f i c i a l s du r i ng t he pr e C hr i s t m a s hol i da ys w he n i t w a s oppor t une t o t a ke a f e w hour s or da ys of f A c c or di ng t o s e ve r a l j udi c i a l a s s i s t a nt s w ho kne w hi m a l l s a ve one r e que s t i ng a nonym i t y, B r ut on ha d a t w i nkl i ng e ye f or t he l a di e s L oi s W a l s h, a s a vvy, s pi r i t e d P hi l a de l phi a n w hos e w i t a nd pe r s ona l i t y a r e r e m i n i s c e nt of R os a l i nd R us s e l l i n he r pr i m e w a s a s s i s t a nt t o J udge V e r non W E va ns J r a nd be f o r e hi m t he l a t e J udge R oge r D F l ynn S he l a ughi ngl y r e c a l l s t ha t dur i ng P l a nt C i t y's S t r a w be r r y F e s t i va l J udge B r ut on m a de s ur e t ha t m a ny of t he j ud i c i a l s t a f f e r s i n t he T a m pa c our t hous e got a s t i c ky ba c k, e m br oi de r e d s t r a w be r r y e m bl e m H e w a nt e d a s s ur a nc e no doubt t ha t i t w oul d be w or n s o he w oul d ge nt l y but f i r m l y a f f i x t he s i m ul a t e d s t r a w be r r y on t he r e c i pi e nt 's c he s t O ne of he r c ol l e a gu e s t ol d L oi s one da y W e l l B r ut on got m e a ga i n. F u r t he r a f f i a nt s a ye t h not J udge B r ut on w a s a n e nt e r t a i ni ng s pe a ke r A bout t hr e e ye a r s a f t e r he w a s a ppoi nt e d t o C ount y C our t t he w r i t e r i nvi t e d hi m t o s pe a k a t a l unc he on s pons or e d by F l o r i da C ounc i l of B a r A s s oc i a t i on P r e s i de nt s T he s ubj e c t of hi s t a l k w a s S t uf f a nd T hi ngs L i ke T ha t T he r e O ne m e m o r a bl e s ni ppe t of s t uf f w a s hi s r e m a r k t ha t t he f e m a l e e l e pha nt i s t he onl y f ou r l e gge d m a m m a l w i t h m a m m a r y gl a n ds be t w e e n t he f or e l e gs r a t he r t ha n a t t he hi nd qua r t e r s . e vi de nt l y na t ur e 's w a y o f e na bl i ng m a m a e l e pha nt t o be t t e r c ont r ol he r nur s i ng c a l f F r om t hi s s c r i be 's ow n e xpe r i e nc e w i t h J udge B r ut on i n a f i r s t de g r e e m ur de r t r a i l he l d i n C our t r oom O ne he ha d a pe nc ha nt of t a ki n g ove r t he e xa m i na t i on of w i t ne s s e s H e w a s a be l i e ve r i n e qua l oppor t uni t y s o bot h s i de s ha d t ha t us ua l l y di s t r a c t i ng e xpe r i e nc e D on B uc ha na n, w ho i s i n c ha r ge of t he C l e r k of C i r c ui t C our t 's E v i de nc e D e pa r t m e nt ha s s om e s t o r i e s c onc e r ni ng hi s e xpe r i e nc e w hi l e s e r vi ng a s h i s j ur y t r i a l c l e r k. I r e m e m be r be i ng t he D e put y C l e r k a s s i gne d t o J udge B r ut on's c our t on a W e dne s da y i n t he e a r l y 70s H i s H onor e nj oye d c or ne d be e f a nd c a bba ge a nd t he o l d T r i bune G r i l l o f f e r e d t hi s di s h a s t he i r s pe c i a l on W e dne s da y s H e i nvi t e d m e t o j oi n hi m f or l unc h t hi s pa r t i c ul a r da y, a nd c onf i de d t o m e t h a t hi s j udge 's s a l a r y, w hi c h w a s a bi t ove r $38, 000 a ye a r a t t ha t t i m e di d not e ve n c ove r hi s i nc om e t a x S i nc e t he C l e r k of t he C our t w a s pa yi ng m e l e s s t ha n $125 a w e e k, he r e c e i ve d ve r y l i t t l e s ym pa t hy" H e ha d a M i da s t ouc h w he n i t c a m e t o m a ki ng m o ne y f r om pr ude nt i nve s t m e nt s i n s t oc ks a nd l a nd. A t de a t h t he e s t i m a t e d va l ue of hi s e s t a t e w a s $4 M i l l i on dol l a r s T he i nve nt or y w a s pl a c e d unde r s e a l a nd i s not ope n t o i ns pe c t i on w i t hout C our t o r de r S uf f i c e i t t o s a y t ha t t he m a j o r be ne f i c i a r i e s w ho s ha r e d e qua l l y i n t he bul k of t he e s t a t e w e r e : F l or i da U ni t e d C hi l dr e n's H om e i n D e l t ona F i r s t U ni t e d M e t hodi s t C hur c h o f P l a nt C i t y, a nd C hi l dr e n's H om e I nc i n T a m pa T ha t ol d c ur m udge on, H L M e nc ke n, s a i d, I go on w or ki ng f or t he s a m e r e a s on t ha t a he n goe s on l a yi ng e ggs B e t t e r w o r t h r e m e m be r i ng i s t he ph i l os ophy of J D B ur t on, a t r ul y unf or ge t t a bl e c ha r a c t e r w ho c i t e d t he f ol l ow i ng quo t e on hi s pl a que i n B r ut on G e e r H a l l i n G a i ne s vi l l e t ha t ha r d w or k a nd hone s t y pa ys H i s f a t he r p r e a c he d t ha t t o hi s c hi l d r e n, s a i d B r ut on, t e a c hi ng t ha t i f yo u s pe nd l e s s t ha n you e a r n, you'l l ne ve r ha ve f i na nc i a l t r oubl e M or i s on B uc k A f t e r w or d:

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W ha t a pl a c e t o be i n i s a n ol d l i b r a r y! I t s e e m s a s i f a l l t he s oul s of a l l t he w r i t e r s t ha t be que a t he d t he i r l a bor s t o t he s e B odl e i a ns w e r e r e pos i ng he r e a s i n s om e dor m i t or y o r m i ddl e s t a t e I do no t w a nt t o ha ndl e t o p r of a ne t h e l e a ve s t he i r w i ndi ng s he e t s I c oul d a s s oon di s l odge a s ha de I s e e m t o i nha l e l e a r ni ng w a l ki ng a m i d t he i r f ol i a ge : A nd t he odor of t he i r ol d m ot h s c e nt e d c ove r i ngs i s f r a g r a nt a s t he f i r s t bl oom of t he s e s c i e nt i a l a ppl e s w hi c h gr e w a m i d t he ha ppy or c ha r d C har l e s L am b


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