Judge I. C. (Nelson) Spoto

Citation
Judge I. C. (Nelson) Spoto

Material Information

Title:
Judge I. C. (Nelson) Spoto a good listener - (1907-1982)
Creator:
Buck, Morison
Place of Publication:
[Tampa, Fla
Publisher:
Morison Buck
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
1 online resource (3 p.) : ill. ;

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:
B28-00016 ( USFLDC DOI )
b28.16 ( USFLDC Handle )
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Book

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PAGE 1

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

PAGE 2

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

PAGE 3

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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Cras ut cursus ante, a fringilla nunc. Mauris lorem nunc, cursus sit amet enim ac, vehicula vestibulum mi. Mauris viverra nisl vel enim faucibus porta. Praesent sit amet ornare diam, non finibus nulla.

MLA

Cras efficitur magna et sapien varius, luctus ullamcorper dolor convallis. Orci varius natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Fusce sit amet justo ut erat laoreet congue sed a ante.

CHICAGO

Phasellus ornare in augue eu imperdiet. Donec malesuada sapien ante, at vehicula orci tempor molestie. Proin vitae urna elit. Pellentesque vitae nisi et diam euismod malesuada aliquet non erat.

WIKIPEDIA

Nunc fringilla dolor ut dictum placerat. Proin ac neque rutrum, consectetur ligula id, laoreet ligula. Nulla lorem massa, consectetur vitae consequat in, lobortis at dolor. Nunc sed leo odio.