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Honorable O. D. Howell, Jr. (1913-1991)

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Title:
Honorable O. D. Howell, Jr. (1913-1991) no ordinary juvenile judge
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, March 1999, Lawyer under title:
General Note:
Title from caption.

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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 - B28-00010
usfldc handle - b28.10
NEW
System ID:
SFS0000055:00001


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H on or ab l e O D H ow e l l Jr ( 1913 1991) N o O r d i n ar y Ju ve n i l e Ju d ge D e a n A c he s on, de bona i r S e c r e t a r y of S t a t e i n t he T r um a n a dm i ni s t r a t i on, w r ot e a P ul i t z e r pr i z e w i nni ng a c c ount a bout hi s di pl om a t i c c a r e e r H e c a l l e d i t P r e s e nt a t t he C r e a t i on*. O s c a r D H ow e l l J r of T a m pa ( w ho pr e f e r r e d us e of hi s f i r s t i ni t i a l r a t he r t ha n hi s gi ve n na m e ) s t a r t e d hi s j udi c i a l s e r vi c e a bout t he s a m e t i m e A c he s on l e f t t he T r um a n C a bi ne t t he f ol l ow i ng ye a r t o be pr e c i s e H ow e l l c oul d ha ve w r i t t e n a ut hor i t a t i ve l y on t he or i g i ns of t he m ode r n da y J uve ni l e C our t w hi c h f unc t i ons t oda y a s a n i nde pe nde nt di vi s i on of t he C i r c ui t C our t H e w a s t he f i r s t j udg e e ve r e l e c t e d t o t ha t pos t i n H i l l s bor ough C ount y. A l t hough he l a t e r s a t i n t he c i vi l D i vi s i on he w i l l f o r e ve r be know n a s t he j udge w ho pr e s i de d i n t he J uve ni l e & D om e s t i c R e l a t i ons C our t a s pa t e r f a m i l i a s s o t o s pe a k, i n c ount l e s s c a s e s f or m o r e t ha n t w e nt y f i ve ye a r s O D w a s a s e r i ous i ndi vi dua l w ho t ook hi s r e s pons i bi l i t i e s i nt e ns e l y s e r i ous l y. H ow e l l w a s a hom e gr ow n p r oduc t l i vi ng i n t he T a m pa H e i ght s a r e a of t he c i t y S on of a ne i ghbor hood gr oc e r a nd hi s w i f e he gr a dua t e d f r om H i l l s bor ough H i gh S c hool i n 1931. B e ne a t h hi s pi c t ur e i n t he s c hool a nnua l H i l s bor e a n, of t ha t ye a r i s t he l e ge nd, O D 's pe r s i s t e nc e a nd d i gni t y he l d ou r a dm i r a t i o n. I nc l ude d i n t he f ut ur e j udge 's a c hi e ve m e nt s w e r e V i c e P r e s i de nt of hi s c l a s s S t u de nt C ounc i l H onor S oc i e t y a nd B r i ght e s t B oy" S l e nde r s of t s poke n, a nd s e l f c ont a i ne d, a f or e s ha dow of hi s a ppe a r a nc e a nd de m e a nor i n m a nhood he w a s no doubt a be t t e r s t ude nt t ha n a t hl e t e i n s c hool H i s s i s t e r M a r y N e l l e K ova c h ne ve r t he l e s s r e c a l l s t ha t he pl a ye d t e nni s i n hi gh s c hool a nd t ha t he w or ke d s om e s um m e r s du r i ng t he de pr e s s i on i n a C C C c a m p. M r s K ova c h w or ke d a s J udi c i a l A s s t t o J udge N e i l C M c M ul l e n. L a t e r s he w a s f or m a ny ye a r s l e gi s l a t i ve a s s i s t a nt t o M a l c ol m B e a r d i n t he s t a t e H ous e a nd S e na t e A f t e r e a r ni ng hi s l a w de gr e e a t U ni ve r s i t y o f F l o r i da i n 1937, H ow e l l be c a m e a s s oc i a t e d w i t h t he T a m pa f i r m o f S ha c ke l f or d F a r r i or a nd S ha nnon w he r e he r e m a i ne d unt i l 1940. A t t ha t t i m e he e nt e r e d m i l i t a r y s e r vi c e upon a c t i va t i on o f t he N a t i ona l G ua r d's 116t h F i e l d A r t i l l e r y O ne of T a m pa 's be s t know n l a w ye r s T P a i ne K e l l y J r w a s c a l l e d up a t t he s a m e t i m e T he va ga r i e s of m i l i t a r y s e r vi c e dur i ng w a r t i m e r e s ul t e d i n hi s t r a ns f e r t o t he I ns pe c t or G e ne r a l 's D e pt a nd t he 84t h D i vi s i on. H ow e l l t ol d hi s f a m i l y t ha t t he t oughe s t

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a s s i gnm e nt he e ve r ha d w a s dur i ng t he D D a y l a nd i ng a t N or m a ndy w he n he w a s c ha r ge d w i t h t he dut y of m ovi ng t he t r oops s om e of w hom w e r e r e c a l c i t r a nt out of t he l a ndi ng c r a f t s a nd ont o t he be a c h. H a l B oyl e w e l l know n w a r c or r e s ponde nt i nt e r vi e w e d M a j or O D H ow e l l J r a bout t he A r m y's e m pl oym e nt of F r e nc hm e n t o c l e a n up t he N or m a ndy be a c h e s a f t e r t he i nva s i o n. S a i d H ow e l l T he y ge t a bout s e ve n f r a nc s a n hour but t he t hi ng t ha t a ppe a l s m os t t o t he m i s t he f r e e l unc h a t noon T he y r e a l l y go f or c how O n J une 11, 1945 t he T a m pa T i m e s publ i s he d a s t or y c om pl e t e w i t h pi c t ur e o f a s m i l i ng ( pe r ha ps hi s pr o m ot i on ha d s om e t hi ng t o d o w i t h i t ) L t C ol H ow e l l I t t o l d of a c l os e c a l l t o t he 34 ye a r ol d c om ba t of f i c e r w hi c h oc c ur r e d i n H a nove r s hor t l y p r i or t o a 30 da y l e a ve i n T a m pa T he l e a ve w a s a p r e l ude t o hi s uni t 's r e de pl oym e nt t o t he P a c i f i c I t s e e m s t ha t H o w e l l a nd a j uni or of f i c e r f r om T a m pa C a pt D udl e y w e r e dr i vi ng i n a j e e p, a nd a s t he y w e r e a bout t o c r os s a s m a l l br i dg e i n a ba dl y bom be d out a r e a a gr oup of G e r m a n c i vi l i a ns w a ve d dow n t he j e e p s hout i n g, M e i ne n! M e i ne n! ( m e a ni ng t ha t t he br i dge w a s m i ne d) T he a r t i c l e c ont i nue s C a pt D udl e y, w ho w a s dr i vi ng, s w ung t he j e e p a r ound a nd t he G e r m a ns r us he d up t o t r y t o t a l k t o t he t w o Y a nk o f f i c e r s W hi l e t he y w e r e t a l ki ng t o us t he m i ne w e nt o f f on t he br i dge B e l i e ve m e w e l e f t t ha t s e c t i on o f t ow n i n a hu r r y C ol one l H ow e l l s a i d. H ow e l l s pe nt 20 m ont hs on ove r s e a s dut y. U pon r e t ur ni ng hom e a f t e r f i ve l ong ye a r s of s e r vi c e t o h i s c ount r y, he r e s um e d l a w pr a c t i c e t hi s t i m e i ndi vi dua l l y F or a w hi l e he s ha r e d s pa c e on t he s e c ond f l oor o f t he M a di s o n D r ug B ui l di ng a t F r a nkl i n & M a di s on S t s w i t h M a s s a r i P a t t on a nd S p i c ol a H e a nd now r e t i r e d J udge R obt W P a t t on be c a m e f a s t f r i e nds S ubs e que nt l y, O D r e l oc a t e d t o F i r s t N a t i ona l B a nk B ui l di ng. H i s pa r t i c i pa t i on a nd l e a de r s hi p i n c om m uni t y a c t i vi t i e s w a s e xt e ns i ve : P r e s of J r C ha m be r of C om m e r c e M e m be r B oa r d of G ove r nor s of t he s e ni or C ha m be r M a s oni c O r de r a nd A m e r i c a n L e gi on. T hr oughout hi s a dul t l i f e O D w a s a f a i t hf ul s t e w a r d i n t he P r e s byt e r i a n C hur c h, i ni t i a l l y a t T a m pa H e i ght s t he n F i r s t P r e s byt e r i a n dow nt ow n a s a D e a c on a nd S unda y S c hool S upt A s s t I n l a t e r ye a r s he w a s or da i ne d a n E l de r a t P a l m a C e i a P r e s byt e r i a n. A t a ge 37, he m a de a de c i s i on t o t r y a nd uns e a t H o n. L A G r a ys on w ho p r e s i de d ove r t he C r i m i na l C our t of R e c or d a s s uc c e s s or t o H on. J ohn F H i m e s D e s pi t e hi s s i nc e r i t y a nd i m pr e s s i ve c r e de nt i a l s he e vi de nt l y w a s s hor t of t he c onne c t i ons e s s e nt i a l t o s uc c e s s i n t he pol i t i c a l c l i m a t e of T a m pa c i r c a 1948, e s pe c i a l l y a ga i ns t a popul a r i nc um be nt S e c t i on 8061, L a w s of F l or i da 1919, ga ve bi r t h t o a s e pa r a t e j uve ni l e a nd D om e s t i c R e l a t i ons C our t f or H i l l s bor ough C ount y. A t t he n e xt l e gi s l a t i ve s e s s i on i n 1921, t he l a w w a s r e f i ne d. A pa r t t i m e j udge w a s a ut hor i z e d w i t h a ppoi nt m e nt by t he G ove r nor f o r a f our ye a r t e r m I n t hos e c o unt i e s w i t hout a s e pa r a t e J & D R C our t C ount y J udge s w e r e e m pow e r e d t o f unc t i on a s A c t i ng J uve ni l e J udge s I n 1951, t he J uve ni l e C our t A c t w a s pa s s e d, a nd a f t e r t ha t t i m e j udge s w e r e e l e c t e d r a t h e r t ha n a ppoi nt e d. B e f or e t he c r e a t i on of D e pt of H e a l t h & R e ha bi l i t a t i ve S e r vi c e s j udg e s ha d a l m os t t ot a l c ont r ol ove r di s pos i t i on of c a s e s of de pe nde nt a nd de l i nque nt c hi l dr e n unde r t he i r j ur i s di c t i on. W ha t ha ppe ne d a f t e r t ha t a nd how t he l e gi s l a t ur e di l ut e d t he pow e r of t he j udge s i n j uve ni l e c a s e s e ve n n ow i s a not he r s t or y T he e l e c t i on w i t hout oppos i t i on o f H ow e l l t o t he j uve ni l e C our t i n 1954, t he s a m e ye a r he s e r ve d a s P r e s i de nt of t he B a r A s s oc i a t i on of T a m pa a nd H i l l s bor ough C ount y us he r e d i n a ne w e r a w i t h a f ul l t i m e e l e c t e d of f i c i a l

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O nc e he got s e t t l e d i n of f i c e J udge H ow e l l be c a m e a dom i na t i ng f i gur e i n t he a dm i ni s t r a t i on of j us t i c e f or c hi l dr e n, w he t he r you t hf ul of f e nde r s or youngs t e r s a l l e ge d t o be a ba ndone d, ne gl e c t e d o r a bus e d, a nd f or pa r e nt s or gua r di a ns r e s pons i bl e f or t hos e unf or t una t e s I n 1967, t he S upr e m e C our t of t he U ni t e d S t a t e s i n a 43 pa ge op i ni on by J us t i c e F or t a s de c i de d I n t he M a t t e r of G a ul t 387 U S 1, 18 L E d2d 527 T he c a s e a r os e i n A r i z ona w he r e a 15 ye a r ol d w a s c ha r ge d a nd c on vi c t e d of m a ki ng a n obs c e ne phone c a l l t o a n e l de r l y l a dy. F or t a s de s c r i be d t he c om p l a i ne d of c a l l a s of t he i r r i t a t i ng l y of f e ns i ve a dol e s c e nt s e x va r i e t y T he j uve ni l e ha d be e n di s a l l ow e d t he r i gh t t o c ouns e l a nd ot he r f unda m e nt a l pr i vi l e ge s a nd t he C our t e s s e nt i a l l y he l d t ha t yout h f ul of f e nde r s w e r e e nt i t l e d t o t he s a m e c ons t i t ut i ona l l y gua r a nt e e d r i ght s a s a dul t s c ha r ge d w i t h c r i m e T ha t l a ndm a r k de c i s i on pr om pt e d J udge H ow e l l t o hi r e a l be i t w i t h r e l uc t a nc e t he f i r s t l a w ye r t o r e p r e s e nt t he S t a t e i n J uve ni l e C our t pr o c e e di ngs T ha t l a w ye r w a s now S t a t e A t t or ne y, H a r r y L e e C oe l a t e r a f e l ony c our t j udg e C oe s t a t e s t ha t O D H ow e l l pr oba bl y ha d a g r e a t e r i m pa c t upon t he j udi c i a l pr oc e s s t ha t a ny ot he r j udge e s pe c i a l l y J uve ni l e i n t he c ount y's h i s t or y. W i t h J udge H ow e l l pr e s i di ng, C oe vi vi dl y r e m e m be r s you a l w a ys kne w w ho w a s i n c ha r ge A f a i r m e a s ur e of a pe r s on's c ha r a c t e r i s how he ( o r s he ) i s r e ga r de d by ne i ghbo r s a nd c o w or ke r s w ho ha ve know n t ha t pe r s on ove r t i m e O ne o f J udge H ow e l l 's ne i ghbor s w a s M i l dr e d B G e e r S he i s a c l os e f r i e nd t o M a r y N e l l e K ova c h, a nd s he a l s o s ubbe d a s j udi c i a l a s s i s t a nt f or J udge H ow e l l a nd ot he r j udge s i nc l udi ng t hi s s c r i ve ne r f or a bout 10 ye a r s of f a nd on M r s G e e r ha s t hi s t o s a y a bout O D H ow e l l : H e w a s a s f a i r m i nde d c ons c i e nt i ous a s a ny j udge t he c ount y e ve r ha d i n m y opi ni on. T ha t vi e w i s s ha r e d by m a ny, i nc l udi ng M a r gi e ( M r s W S ) G r a ha m w ho be ga n a c a r e e r i n s oc i a l w or k i n J udge H ow e l l 's c our t i n 1964 a nd M a r y A nn ( M r s E dw H ) W a r d w ho s t a r t e d w i t h hi m i n 1966 a nd w ho i s s t i l l a c t i ve i n f a m i l y m e di a t i on. T he y r e m e m be r hi m a s a f r i e nd o f bot h c a s e w or ke r s a nd t he c hi l dr e n. A m ong J udge H ow e l l 's a c c om pl i s hm e nt s i n of f i c e : 1955 S pe a r he a de d pa s s a ge of a s pe c i a l a c t of t he l e gi s l a t ur e gi vi ng t he J uve ni l e C our t J udge i n H i l l s bor ough C oun t y a ut ho r i t y t o c ol l e c t s uppor t m one y f r om f a t he r s of de pe nde nt c hi l dr e n. L oc a l pa pe r s r e po r t e d t ha t i n t he f i r s t 10 m ont hs of t he i m pl e m e nt a t i on of t ha t l a w J udge H ow e l l 's s ys t e m s a ve d t a xpa ye r s $40, 000. 1956 B y or de r i ng a l l yout hs c onvi c t e d of t r a f f i c vi ol a t i ons i n hi s c our t t o a t t e nd t r a f f i c s c hool he w a s r e c ogni z e d a s be i ng t he m os t e f f e c t i ve j udge s uppor t i ng t he pr ogr a m H ow e l l w a s t he s ubj e c t of a n i n de pt h f e a t ur e a r t i c l e by L e l a nd H a w e s T r i bune s t a f f w r i t e r a t t he t i m e e nt i t l e d R e por t e r S pe nds D a y i n J uve ni l e C our t he r e L i l l i a n M ook pe nne d a n a r t i c l e i n S a nds pur ( a publ i c a t i on o f t he j uni or L e a gue of T a m pa ) a bout m e e t i ng ( a nd c om pl i m e nt i ng ) J udge H ow e l l a nd s e e i ng how t he c our t f unc t i one d M i s s M ook i s now M r s M a ndyc k a nd r e s i de s i n A t l a nt a S e r ve d a s P r e s i de nt F l or i da C ounc i l of J uve ni l e C our t J udge s T e l l i ng a T r i bune r e por t e r i n 1980 he w oul d not s e e k r e e l e c t i on t ha t ye a r J udge H ow e l l s a i d, I 'm j us t r e a dy t o r e t i r e ( a t 67) a nd t he n a dde d, I 'm t i r e d. A f t e r r e t i r e m e nt J udge H ow e l l ha d m o r e t i m e t o e nj oy hi s hobby o f c ul t i va t i ng r os e s W hi l e w or ki ng, he w oul d br i ng a r os e t o hi s a s s i s t a nt e ve r y da y du r i ng t he bl oom i ng s e a s on. H e a l s o e nj oye d t he f e l l ow s hi p of ot he r r e t i r e d j udge s a t l unc h e ve r y T ue s da y a nd

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t he y r e l i s he d hi s c om pa ny a s w e l l A nyone s i t t i ng a t a l unc he on t a bl e w i t h O D c oul d not he l p but obs e r ve hi s pa i ns t a ki ng, f a s t i di ous e a t i ng ha bi t s ; a s i ght w hi c h put t hos e vor a c i ous f e e de r s ( l i ke m e ) t o s ha m e H e w a s m a r r i e d f o r m o r e t ha n 50 ye a r s t o w i f e M a r ga r e t S he a nd t he i r c hi l d r e n, P e ggy H ow e l l S m i t h D r R obe r t S H ow e l l a nd J e a nne H ow e l l R ow e s ur vi ve d hi s de a t h on M a y 23, 1991 O D 's da ught e r J e a nne w r ot e m e dur i ng pr e pa r a t i on of t h i s pi e c e : A f e w w e e ks be f or e he di e d D a ddy ha d a l i t t l e f e nde r be nde r T w o da ys be f o r e he d i e d, he a t t e nde d t he dr i vi ng c l a s s t o pr e ve nt poi nt s H e w a s t a l ki ng w i t h t he i ns t r uc t or a bout how t he c l a s s w or ke d. T he i ns t r uc t o r s a i d, ` Y ou s e e m t o kn ow a l ot a bout t hi s p r ogr a m D a ddy l a ughe d a nd s a i d, ` Y e s I c r e a t e d i t Y ou p r oba bl y r e m e m be r t he s t or y w a s t ol d a t hi s f une r a l t o s how how he a l w a ys ha d a s e ns e of hum or M or i s on B uc k A f t e r w or d: A dol e s c e nc e i s c e r t a i nl y f a r f r om a un i f or m l y pl e a s a nt pe r i od. E a r l y m a nhood m i ght be t he m os t gl or i ous t i m e of a l l w e r e i t not t ha t t h e s he e r e xc e s s of l i f e a nd vi gor ge t s a f e l l ow i nt o c ont i nua l s c r a pe s D on M a r qui s ( 1878 1937) be s t know n f or hi s hum or ous s t or i e s a nd poe m s of a r c hy a nd m e hi t a be l