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Judge I. C. (Nelson) Spoto

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Title:
Judge I. C. (Nelson) Spoto a good listener - (1907-1982)
Physical Description:
1 online resource (3 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, June 1998, 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 - B28-00016
usfldc handle - b28.16
NEW
System ID:
SFS0000060:00001


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Ju d ge I C ( N e l s on ) S p ot o A G ood L i s t e n e r ( 1907 1982) T hi s C i r c ui t i s c u r r e nt l y s e r ve d by f o r t y e i ght j udge s ( 36 C i r c ui t a nd 12 C ount y) I n m i d 1949, t he j udi c i a l l i ne up w a s l i ke t hi s : t w o C i r c ui t J udge s ( P a r ks a nd S a ndl e r ) one C ount y J udge ( B r ooke r ) one C r i m i na l C our t o f R e c or d J udge ( H i m e s / G r a ys on) one J udge of J uve ni l e C our t ( K i c kl i t e r ) L a t e r t ha t ye a r t he c ount y's gr ow t h i n popu l a t i on e nt i t l e d i t t o t w o a ddi t i ona l C i r c ui t j udge s hi ps F ul l e r W a r r e n w a s G ove r nor Y ou r e m e m be r F ul l e r he w a s t he pol i t i c a l pr odi gy f r om t he P a nha ndl e w ho w a s e l e c t e d t o t he s t a t e l e gi s l a t ur e i n 1927 a t a ge 21, t he n r e a c he d hi s z e ni t h a s gove r nor t w o de c a de s l a t e r T he T a m pa & H i l l s bor ough C ount y B a r A s s oc i a t e d s ubm i t t e d a l i s t of s e ve n l a w ye r s i t e ndor s e d t o f i l l t he C i r c ui t ope ni ngs N ot on t he l i s t w e r e t w o W a r r e n s uppor t s : one w a s C ount y A t t o r n e y, I C S pot o t he ot he r H e nr y C T i l l m a n, C i t y U t i l i t y B oa r d m e m be r N e l s on S pot o w a s a r oom m a t e a nd c l os e f r i e nd of t he f ut ur e gove r nor a t t he U ni ve r s i t y of F l or i da H e w a s a l s o i de nt i f i e d w i t h M a nny G a r c i a a T a m pa l a w ye r a nd c onf i da nt e of F ul l e r W a r r e n S po t o's br i e f but s ol i d pe r f or m a nc e a s C ount y A t t or ne y ( a l s o a s a gube r na t or i a l a ppoi nt e e ) m a de hi s a ppoi nt m e nt a l m os t a l oc k, a nd w a s no s ur pr i s e A f t e r be c om i ng j udge he w a s c ha l l e nge d a t t he pol l s on l y onc e I n t he 1950 pr i m a r y, t w o l a w ye r s s ought t o uns e a t hi m but he pr e va i l e d i n a c a m pa i gn m a r ke d by t he de s pi c a bl e t a c t i c of one o f t he c ont e s t a nt s w ho m oc ke d a nd r i di c ul e d t he j udge 's gi ve n na m e a t pol i t i c a l r a l l i e s T e ddy R oos e ve l t w a s i n t he W hi t e H ous e a nd N a pol e on B r ow a r d w a s r e s i de nt of F l or i da 's s t a t e hous e i n 1907, t he ye a r S pot o a na t i ve T a m pa n, w a s bor n. H i s gi ve n na m e w a s I gna z i o, w hi c h t r a ns l a t e s t o I gna t i us ; N e l s on i s t he a ngl i c i z e d ve r s i on. T o hi s c ol l e g e c l a s s m a t e s he w a s I ggy. H e w a s a m e m be r o f t he U ni ve r s i t y of F l or i da s boxi ng t e a m i n t he m ol d of t he m a n c a l l e d B a t t l i ng N e l s on" w ho w a s t w i c e l i ght w e i ght c ha m pi on of t he w or l d. S pot o di d not c om pe t e a t t ha t l e ve l but he w a s t he S out he r n c ol l e gi a t e t i t l e hol de r i n t he s a m e w e i ght di vi s i on. F ol l ow i ng gr a dua t i on f r om l a w s c hool a t G a i ne s vi l l e S pot o pr a c t i c e d l a w i n T a m pa w i t h a n of f i c e i n Y bo r C i t y f or m os t of t hos e ye a r s H i s t r us t e d s e c r e t a r i a l a s s i s t a nt f or 27 ye a r s w a s V i c ki C ont os E ve n a f t e r t he pr e s e nt C our t hous e ope ne d i n l a t e 1952 s he di d doubl e dut y, ha ndl i ng t he doc ke t s f or bot h J udge s S pot o a nd T i l l m a n. A l l o f us w ho pr a c t i c e d be f or e S pot o know o f he r i m m e a s ur a bl e va l ue t o hi m a s w e l l a s he r de f e r e nt i a l pl e a s a nt a nd a c c om m oda t i ng m a nne r w i t h a t t or ne y s T he J udge w a s na m e d B os s of t he Y e a r i n 1977 by t he L e ga l S e c r e t a r i e s A s s oc i a t i on upon V i c ki 's nom i na t i on A s f or he r opi ni on of t he B os s s he s pe a ks of hi s f a i r ne s s k i ndne s s ha r d w or k a nd pa t i e nc e S he

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r e c a l l s a s ki ng hi m onc e w hy he w oul d oc c a s i ona l l y a l l ow a t t or ne ys t o e xc e e d t he i r a l l o t t e d t i m e W e l l he r e s ponde d, B e c a us e t he ne xt t hi n g t he y ha ve t o s a y m i ght be i m por t a nt A s i ngul a r qua l i t y t ha t J udge S pot o pos s e s s e d w a s hi s w i l l i ngne s s t o l i s t e n a t t e nt i ve l y t o a l l t he l a w ye r s w ho c a m e be f o r e hi m t o a r gue t h e i r c a s e s W C ( M a c ) M c L e a n, E s q. w ho t r i e d a l a r ge num be r of c onde m na t i on c a s e s i n D i vi s i on D ( S pot o) a nd w hos e f a t he r w a s a ppoi nt e d t o s uc c e e d J udge S pot o a s C ount y A t t or ne y, put s i t s i m pl y J udge S pot o w a s a good l i s t e n e r D i s pl a yi ng hi s m a s t e r y of I ndi a na di a l e c t J a m e s W hi t c om b R i l e y ( w hos e f a t he r w a s a l a w ye r ) i nt r oduc e d a c ha r a c t e r he c a l l e d S qui r e H a w ki ns t he s ubj e c t of a n 1875 r onde a u w hi c h w e nt s om e t hi ng l i ke t hi s : Som e w ay o not he r l anguage f a i l s t o s l i de f e r m e i n t he o i l y w ay T hat l aw y e r s has ; and I w i s ht i t w oul d F e r I v e got s om e pi n' t hat I c al l good; I v e l e ar ne d t o l i s t e n and adm i r e R ut he r pr e f e r r i n' t o be addr e s s e d T han t al k m y s e f . but I l l do m y be s t R e t i r e d J udge V e r non W E va ns J r f o r m e r l y a s uc c e s s f ul c i vi l l a w ye r f or de f e ns e t e l l s of t r y i ng a c a s e w he r e a t a bout t he noon hour J udge S pot o a nnounc e d a br e a k f or l unc h, w i t h t r i a l t o be r e s um e d a t w ha t l a w ye r E va ns t hought w a s 1: 30. W he n E va ns a nd hi s c l i e nt r e t ur ne d t o t he C our t r oom he w a s m or t i f i e d t o s e e J udge S pot o on t he be nc h a nd a l l t he ot he r l a w ye r s a nd pa r t i e s i n t he i r s e a t s I t s e e m s t ha t t he j udge di r e c t e d t ha t t he t r i a l s t a r t ba c k a t 1: 00 w hi c h w a s a ha l f hour be f or e t he us ua l pos t l unc h r e s um pt i on. T he J udge s a i d not hi ng, but l ook e d E va ns i n t he e ye w i t h a n unm i s t a ka bl e gl ow e r O ne of t he be s t de c l a r e s T P a i ne K e l l y, J r E s q. pr om i ne nt de f e ns e a dvoc a t e I t r i e d m a ny c a s e s be f or e J udge S pot o a nd w a s ne ve r di s a ppoi nt e d, s a ys K e l l y. H e e s pe c i a l l y r e m e m be r s t he c a s e of A dam s v C i t y of T am pa H ous i ng A ut hor i t y a nd gi ve s J udge S po t o c r e di t f o r w ha t he de s c r i be s a s a c our a ge ous a nd c or r e c t r ul i ng a ga i ns t K e l l y's c l i e nt w hi c h ul t i m a t e l y e nde d i n a m i s t r i a l a t t he c onc l us i on of a 3 da y t r i a l I w a s bi t t e r a t t he t i m e but f o r a r e a s on t ha t J udge S pot o c oul d not pos s i bl y ha ve a nt i c i pa t e d, I w a s a bl e t o us e hi s r ul i ng a t a s ubs e que nt t r i a l t o w i n a c a s e I s houl d ha ve l os t O n t he ot he r s i de of t he c ouns e l t a bl e B i l l W a gne r E s q a w e l l know n pl a i nt i f f 's l a w ye r t r i e d m a ny c a s e s be f or e S pot o, w hom he c a l l s a n e x c e pt i ona l l y f i ne j udge W ha t W a gne r f ound m os t r e m a r ka bl e a bout hi m w a s t ha t he w oul d he a r a l l t he a r gum e nt s w he t he r on t he l a w or on e vi de nt i a r y m a t t e r s bu t i t w a s i m pos s i bl e f or e i t h e r l a w ye r t o de t e r m i ne by w a t c h i ng J u dg e S pot o i n w hi c h di r e c t i on he w a s l e a ni ng ( i f a t a l l ) or how h e w a s goi ng t o r ul e on t he i s s ue W a gne r r e c ol l e c t s t ha t J udge S pot o w a s w i s e e nough not t o e nga ge i n a de ba t e w i t h e i t he r o r bot h l a w ye r s ( s o m e t hi ng s om e of us w ho ha ve he l d t ha t pos i t i on of a ut hor i t y ne ve r qui t e l e a r ne d) ; he w oul d c our t e ous l y l i s t e n t o bot h s i de s a nd t he n a nnounc e hi s de c i s i on. H onor a bl e W m T e r r e l l H odge s U S D i s t r i c t J udg e now i n J a c ks onvi l l e r e l a t e s hi s e xpe r i e nc e i n a c a s e a r i s i ng i n t he e a r l y 60s i n w hi c h J udge S pot o de m ons t r a t e d e nor m ous j udi c i a l c our a ge T he n l a w ye r H odge s a nd a not he r m e m be r of h i s f i r m s ought a nd obt a i ne d a t e m por a r y r e s t r a i ni ng o r de r e nj oi n i ng t he I B E W uni on f r o m e nga gi ng i n a ny a c t s of vi ol e nc e a ga i ns t G e ne r a l T e l e phone C o. o r a ny of i t s ope r a t i ons H e pa r t i c ul a r l y r e m e m be r s t ha t f e m a l e phone ope r a t or s w ho e l e c t e d t o c r os s t he pi c ke t l i ne w e r e ve r ba l l y

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a bus e d a nd s om e w e r e s pr a ye d by t he s t r i ke r s w i t h l i qui d bl e a c h f r om w a t e r pi s t ol s W i t h pi c ke t s a r ound t he c our t hous e a nd t he c our t r oom f i l l e d w i t h I B E W s uppor t e r s w ho di d not c onc e a l t he i r hos t i l i t y t o t he e nt i r e pr oc e s s t he j ud ge l i s t e ne d t o a l l t he e vi de nc e w i t hout que s t i on or c om m e nt s how i ng t he i ns c r ut a bi l i t y w hi c h c ha r a c t e r i z e d hi s nor m a l de m e a nor T he n, a f t e r w a r ni ng t he a s s e m bl a ge t ha t he w oul d not t ol e r a t e a ny out bur s t o f a ny ki nd i n t he c our t r oom J udge S pot o f ound t he r e s ponde nt s i n c ont e m pt a nd a s s e s s e d s ubs t a nt i a l f i ne s H a vi ng c ool l y t a ke n t he a c t i on r e que s t e d by H odge s c l i e nt J udge S pot o r os e a nd l e f t t he c our t r oom w i t hout a not h e r w or d T hi s s c r i be ha d a n e xpe r i e nc e a s r e s ul t of a c a s e be f or e J udge S pot o w hi c h c a n ne ve r be r e pl i c a t e d. I t w a s i n 1954, a nd B a ya r d A ngl e a n d I r e pr e s e nt e d a n e l de r l y l a dy, A l i c e H a gl e w ho br ough t a n a c t i on c l a i m i ng a n e a s e m e nt by pr e s c r i pt i on f o r a c c e s s t o he r hom e ove r a pa r c e l o f l a nd ow ne d by he r ne i ghbor M r G r a ve s O ne of p l a i nt i f f 's e xhi bi t s w a s a l a r ge c a r dboa r d m ount e d s ur ve yor 's bl ue pr i nt vi s u a l l y de m ons t r a t i ng t he s i t us o f t he di s put e U nf or t una t e l y f or our c l i e nt ( a nd unj us t l y w e t hought ) t he j udge gr a nt e d s um m a r y j udgm e nt f or de f e nda nt G r a ve s w hos e l a w ye r w a s S hor t y" F a r ns w or t h of H a l l a nd F a r ns w or t h. A ngl e r e c a l l s t ha t du r i ng one of t he de pos i t i ons he a nd M a l c ol m H a l l a l m os t got i nt o a f i s t f i ght w he n t e m pe r s f l a r e d dur i ng t he i nqui s i t i on. P r e c i s e l y 25 ye a r s l a t e r a f t e r J udge S pot o r e t i r e d a nd t hi s s c r i ve ne r m ove d i nt o t he 311 C our t hous e of f i c e he va c a t e d, a pi e c e of c a r dboa r d w a s r a ndom l y di s c ove r e d be hi nd a t a l l s t a c ke d bookc a s e i n c ha m be r s I t w a s s ur e e nough, t ha t ol d e xhi bi t I n hi s pe r s ona l l i f e N e l s on S pot o w a s a de vot e d h us ba nd, f a t he r o f t h r e e gi r l s a nd ha d s e ve r a l gr a ndc hi l dr e n. O ne of hi s gr e a t e s t pl e a s ur e s w a s w a l ki ng a nd he i ndul ge d i n t ha t e xe r c i s e e ne r ge t i c a l l y a nd r e gul a r l y a f t e r l unc h a n d di nne r A l s o, he w a s a l ong t i m e de vot e e of F l o r i da G a t or f oot ba l l A bout t he onl y t i m e he i s know n t o ha ve be e n not i c e a bl y ups e t w a s w he n he a nd w i f e A l i c e w e r e vi s i t i ng i n R om e on t he i r 50t h w e ddi ng a nni ve r s a r y ( a gi f t f r om t he i r da ught e r s ) a nd hi s w a l l e t w a s s t ol e n by one of t h os e de xt e r ous pi c kpoc ke t s i n t ha t pa r t of t he w or l d O n t he s a m e t r i p t he i r l ugga ge w a s l os t f or a bout a w e e k. H i s da ught e r J os e phi ne ( J os i e ) l a ughs w he n r e c a l l i ng t ha t t he a c t or E r ne s t B or gni ne w i t h w hom he be c a m e a c qua i nt e d on t h e t r i p, ki dde d hi m a bout how m uc h he l i ke d S pot o's s hi r t t he one he w a s obl i ge d t o w e a r e ve r y da y, be t w e e n w a s hi ngs unt i l t he m i s s i ng ba gga ge t ur ne d up. N ot di f f i c ul t but s t e a dy" i s how J udge S pot o de f i ne d t he j ob o f C i r c ui t J udge t o t h i s l a w ye r w ho w a s a bout t o unde r t a k e t ha t r e s pons i bi l i t y i n 1977 W i t hout r e a l i z i ng i t N e l s on S pot o c oul d ha ve be e n de s c r i bi ng hi m s e l f S e r vi ng f or a l m os t 30 ye a r s w i t hout a h i nt o f s c a nda l i n e i t he r hi s pe r s ona l o r pr o f e s s i ona l l i f e J udge N e l s on S pot o de s e r ve s a pr oud pos t hum ous s a l ut e f r om hi s f e l l ow s a t t he B a r M or i s on B uc k A f t e r w or d : A t i m e l e s s hom i l y f r om E l l a W he e l e r W i l c ox ( 185 5 1919) So m any G ods s o m any c r e e ds So m any w ay s t hat w i nd & w i nd W he n j us t t he ar t of be i ng k i nd I s al l t hi s s ad w or l d ne e ds


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