William C. Brooker, probate perfectionist

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William C. Brooker, probate perfectionist

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Title:
William C. Brooker, probate perfectionist
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, May 1998, 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:
B28-00017 ( USFLDC DOI )
b28.17 ( USFLDC Handle )
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p Originally published as part of the "Chips off the Old Bench" column:
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PAGE 1

Ju d ge Wi l l i am C B r ook e r P r ob at e P e r f e c t i on i s t M e e t W i l l i a m C ur t i s ( B i l l ) B r ooke r T he ye a r i s 1946 a nd he 's a n e s t a bl i s he d, 57 ye a r ol d l a w ye r ( r a t e d A V i n M a r t i nda l e H ubbe l l ) w i t h a n of f i c e i n C i t i z e ns B a nk B l dg. B e hi nd hi m a r e t w e nt y f i ve ye a r s i n pr a c t i c e S udde nl y, he i s a ppoi nt e d C ount y J udge t o r e pl a c e J udge G e or ge C or ne l i us w ho di e d i n of f i c e H ol d i ng j udi c i a l of f i c e i n hi s hom e c ount y, t he pl a c e w he r e he w a s bor n e duc a t e d a nd l i ve d ne a r l y a l l of hi s l i f e t he s c i on of a pi one e r E a s t H i l l s bor oug h C ount y f a m i l y m us t ha ve be e n a s our c e of g r e a t pr i de I t w a s a pos i t i on he w oul d hol d s e c ur e l y f o r t he ne xt 27 ye a r s H e w oul d l i ve onl y t hr e e ye a r s a f t e r c onc l ud i ng hi s s e r vi c e a s C ount y J udge W he n he r e t i r e d a t a ge 84, c oi nc i de nt w i t h t he e f f e c t i ve d a t e of ne w A r t i c l e V o f t he F l or i da C ons t i t ut i on, a nd a t a n a ge w he n m os t m e n w oul d l ook f or a l ounge c ha i r he ha d t he e ne r gy a nd de e pl y i ng r a i ne d w or k ha bi t s t o s e e k o ut s om e t hi ng e l s e t o do I t w a s n't l ong be f or e he w a s of f e r e d a nd a c c e pt e d O f C ouns e l s t a t us w i t h M a c F a r l a ne F e r gus on, A l l i s on & K e l l y t o l e nd hi s e xpe r t i s e t o t he i r pr oba t e de pa r t m e nt B r ooke r w a s a t a l l a ngul a r s om e w ha t br oodi ng f i gur e w e a r i ng a s e r i ous e xp r e s s i on a nd pa r t i a l l y r i m l e s s e ye gl a s s e s D ur i ng he a r i ngs h e s e e m e d a l w a ys t o b e i n m ot i on e i t he r f i ddl i ng w i t h hi s t a pe r e c or de r a n ol d m ode l A udi ogr a ph, w hi c h he us e d t o r e c or d a l l he a r i ngs i n C ha m be r s or s um m oni ng N a di ne R e e d ( l ongt i m e l a w c l e r k) or J os e phi ne B oyl e ( hi s t r us t e d l i e ut e na nt a nd f or m e r l e ga l s e c r e t a r y) t o r e s pond t o a ny que s t i ons w hi c h he m i ght t hi nk o f dur i ng t he p r oc e e di ng. T h e j udge ha d a m a nne r of s pe a ki ng r a pi dl y. bu t he w a s a ut hor i t a t i ve a nd de c i s i ve W h e n he m a de a f i na l r u l i ng i n a c a s e t ha t us ua l l y e nde d t he m a t t e r w i t hout f ur t he r a r gum e nt or di s c us s i on. B i l l B r ooke r g r e w up i n t he B r a ndon a r e a a nd a t t e nde d l oc a l s c hool s gr a dua t i ng f r om H i l l s bor ough H i gh S c hool T ha t he t ook una l l oye d pr i de i n t he r i c h hi s t or y of t he B r ooke r f a m i l y na m e i n E a s t H i l l s bor ough i s e vi de nt f r om a l e ngt hy a r t i c l e by L e l a nd H a w e s of t he T am pa T r i bune publ i s he d S e pt e m be r 9, 1990. H a w e s s t or y i s l i be r a l l y s pr i nkl e d w i t h J udge B r ooke r 's a f f e c t i ona t e of hi s obs e r va t i ons of how i t w a s l i vi ng i n a n unde ve l ope d s e c t i on of t he c ount y be f or e t he t ur n of t he c e nt ur y T he B r ooke r c l a n i n ge ne r a l a nd J udge B r oke r i n pa r t i c ul a r w e r e f e a t ur e d m a ny t i m e s i n t he D B M c K a y hi s t or i c a l c ol um n a ppe a r i ng S unda ys i n t he T r i bune f or m a ny ye a r s W hi l e s t udyi ng l a w a t G e or ge t ow n U ni ve r s i t y ( f ou nde d 110 ye a r s be f or e B r ooke r 's bi r t h i n 1889) he a c t e d a s C hi e f C l e r k f o r t he H ou s e C om m i t t e e on R i ve r s a nd H a r bor s c ha i r e d by F l o r i da C ongr e s s m a n, S M S pa r k m a n. D ur i ng hi s t e nur e i n t ha t a s s i gnm e nt

PAGE 2

pe r ha ps s how i ng pr e c ur s or y i ndi c a t i ons of hi s de s i r e t o e xc e l he d r a f t e d t he bi l l t ha t a ut hor i z e d l i ght i ng o f t he t or c h he l d by t he S t a t ue of L i be r t y i n N e w Y or k ha r bor ( P ubl i c L a w 168, J ul y 27, 1916) T ha t m a gni f i c e nt c r e a t i o n w a s pa i d f or by popu l a r s ubs c r i pt i on w he n e r e c t e d i n 1886 but w a s not i l l u m i na t e d unt i l a f t e r pa s s a ge of l e gi s l a t i on c ons t r uc t e d by a yo ung l a w s t ude nt f r om H i l l s bor o ugh C ount y. H i s or i gi na l pl a n w a s t o pur s ue a c a r e e r i n t he di pl om a t i c s e r vi c e but t ha t pl a n w a s s c r a ppe d w he n A m e r i c a e nt e r e d t he w a r w hi c h w a s c ons um i ng E ur ope I ns t e a d, he w a s c om m i s s i one d a L i e ut e na nt i n t he 4t h D i v i s i on f or m e d i n D e c e m be r 1917 a nd s a w a c t i ve s e r vi c e w i t h t he 58t h I nf a nt r y on t he f r ont i n F r a nc e f or a bout s i x m ont hs D ur i ng t ha t t i m e hi s uni t w a s s ubj e c t e d t o m us t a r d ga s a nd t he J udge w a s w ounde d a t V e s l e R i ve r i n t he S e c ond B a t t l e of t he M a r ne ; he w a s a w a r de d t h e P ur pl e H e a r t T he 4t h D i vi s i on s uf f e r e d 11, 500 s ol di e r s ki l l e d o r w ounde d a nd w a s t he onl y di vi s i on t o s e r ve i n bot h t he F r e nc h a nd B r i t i s h s e c t or s of t he W e s t e r n F r ont L a t e r i n l i f e J udge B r ooke r w a s a l e a de r i n A m e r i c a n L e gi on a f f a i r s not o nl y w i t h P os t 5 i n T a m pa but a l s o a s S t a t e C om m a nde r I n 1921, he e m ba r ke d on hi s l e ga l c a r e e r i n T a m pa w i t h va l ua bl e s e c r e t a r i a l s uppor t o f f a nd on ove r t he ye a r s c om m e nc i ng a bout 1927 f r om J os e phi ne B oyl e M r s B oyl e kne w hi m be t t e r t ha n a nyone out s i d e hi s i m m e di a t e f a m i l y. H i s da ught e r A nne r e m e m be r s t ha t he r f a t he r w a s onc e of f e r e d a n a ppoi nt m e nt a s U ni t e d S t a t e s A s s i s t a nt A t t or ne y G e ne r a l by P r e s i de nt F r a nkl i n R oos e ve l t but he de c l i ne d. M or e ove r s he t e l l s m e t ha t w hi l e S pe s s a r d H ol l a nd w a s G ove r nor of F l or i da ( 1941 1945) he w a s a s ke d i f he w oul d be i nt e r e s t e d i n a ppoi nt m e nt t o t he F l or i da S upr e m e C our t E v i de nt l y he c hos e t o r e m a i n c l os e t o hom e B r ooke r 's j udi c i a l c a r e e r got of f t o a n une a s y s t a r t S oon a f t e r hi s a ppoi nt m e nt by G ove r nor M i l l a r d E C a l dw e l l he s ought e l e c t i on i n hi s pa r t y p r i m a r y ( D e m oc r a t ) ; t ha t w a s pr i or t o t he e r a of non pa r t i s a n j udi c i a l c ont e s t s I n t he pr i m a r y of M a y 7, 1946 he w a s oppos e d by H a r r y G M c D ona l d ( w ho w oul d ye a r s l a t e r be c om e a j udge of p r oba t e ) M c D ona l d ha s b e e n a s t a t e l e gi s l a t or not i nf r e que nt l y a n a ppr e nt i c e s hi p f o r w oul d be j udge s a nd l a t e r a n uns uc c e s s f ul c a ndi da t e f or U S C ongr e s s B r ooke r s que a ke d pa s t hi s c ha l l e nge r ga r ne r i ng 11 965 vot e s t o M c D ona l d's 11, 044. J udi c i a l e l e c t i ons i n t he e r a of pr e F l or i da B a r s t a nda r ds a nd r e s t r i c t i ons w e r e not e s s e nt i a l l y di f f e r e nt f r om or di na r y pol i t i c a l c ont e s t s C a ndi da t e s f or j udge s hi ps w e r e r e s t r a i ne d onl y by s e l f i m pos e d c onc e pt s of f a i r pl a y a nd c i vi l i t y. O nl y one ot he r l a w ye r e ve r c ha l l e nge d J udge B r ooke r T h a t w a s T hom a s A M i l l e r S r ( now a r e t i r e d C i r c ui t J udge ) I n t he p r i m a r y of M a y 7, 1968 B r ooke r w a s a ppr oa c hi ng hi s 79t h bi r t hda y. J udge M i l l e r a dvi s e s m e t ha t dur i ng t he c a m pa i gn he r a i s e d t he a ge i s s ue A l t hough i t s e e m e d a good i d e a a t t he t i m e i t di dn't w or k. B r ooke r a ppe a l e d t o t he vot e r s f or i n t he w or ds o f t he s ong m a de f a m ous by B i ng C r os by i n 1931 J us t O ne M or e C hanc e M i l l e r r a n a c l e a n, ha r d r a c e but c oul d not ove r c om e B r ooke r 's popul a r i t y, a nd t he i nc um be nt w on 63 7% of t he v ot e B r ooke r k e pt hi s pol i t i c a l f e nc e s i n good r e pa i r ov e r t he ye a r s H e a dopt e d t he pr a c t i c e of s e ndi ng a pe r s ona l l e t t e r t o t he ne xt of ki n of pe r s ons r e c e nt l y de c e a s e d, a s s how n by t he obi t ua r y not i c e s e xpr e s s i ng hi s c ond ol e nc e s a nd of f e r i ng t he a s s i s t a nc e of hi s of f i c e i f ne e de d. T ha t s i m pl e m e t hod of r e a c hi n g t he vot e r or pot e nt i a l vot e r w a s e f f e c t i ve A s H a r r y T r um a n l i ke d t o s a y, t ha t 's a l l t he r e w a s t o i t I n 1947, s hor t l y a f t e r be i ng e l e c t e d t he p r e vi ous f a l l he s how e d e xt r a o r di na r y pol i t i c a l pr e s e nc e w he n h e w r ot e D w i ght E i s e nhow e r a bout t o be c om e P r e s i de nt of

PAGE 3

C ol um bi a U ni ve r s i t y, u r gi ng hi m t o s e e k t he hi ghe s t of f i c e i n t he l a nd A s t he j udge w r ot e hi s da ught e r i n 1969 a f t e r E i s e nhow e r 's de a t h, he t r e a s ur e d a l e t t e r f r o m t he G e ne r a l w r i t t e n on J une 7, 1944 t he da y f ol l ow i ng t he A E F i nva s i on of F r a nc e C opi e s of t ha t e xc ha nge of c or r e s ponde nc e a r e a t t a c he d a s a dde nda t o hi s a r t i c l e J udge B r ooke r w a s m e t i c ul ous a bout be i ng c or r e c t i n hi s r ul i ngs R e t i r e d l a w ye r C l a yt on M T i t t s w or t h, r e c ount s how he w a s a w a r de d a f e e i n a n e s t a t e a f t e r a he a r i ng on t he i s s ue T he n, he r e c a l l s he r e c e i ve d a phone c a l l f r om J udge B r ooke r a t hom e on S unda y s t a t i ng t ha t t he C our t ne e de d a ddi t i ona l e x pe r t t e s t i m ony. A f t e r a s e c ond he a r i ng, t he a m ount pr e vi ous l y a l l ow e d w a s unc h a nge d. T he J udge ke pt a nu m be r o f hom i l i e s a nd t he l i ke be ne a t h t he gl a s s a t op hi s de s k i n C ha m be r s O ne of t he m r e t i r e d J udge P hi l i p L K n ow l e s s t i l l r e m e m be r s w a s a l e t t e r a ddr e s s e d t o R e pr oba t e J udge of H i l l s bor ough C o unt y. O ne of hi s m a j o r a c hi e ve m e nt s w a s a ut hor s hi p of t hr e e m onogr a phs de s i gne d t o a s s i s t l a w ye r s T he f i r s t one P r a c t i c e a nd P r oc e d ur e i n t he C ount y J udge 's C our t w a s publ i s he d i n 1948. A s e c ond e di t i on f ol l ow e d i n 1 954 w i t h t he f i na l e xpa nde d ve r s i on. P r a c t i c e a nd P r oc e dur e i n P r oba t e G ua r di a ns hi p a nd I nc om pe t e nc y c a m e out i n 1962. C ur i ous l y, none of t he m a r e a va i l a bl e i n H i l l s bor o ugh C ount y C e nt r a l L a w L i b r a r y, but c opi e s m a y be f ound a t t he S t e t s on L a w L i b r a r y. H i s r e c or d a t t he a ppe l l a t e l e ve l i n t e r m s o f w i ns a nd l os s e s no t a l w a ys a r e a l m e a s ur e of a t r i a l j udge 's a bi l i t y w a s good T he r e w e r e not a l a r ge num be r of a ppe a l s t a ke n f r om hi s C our t T ha nks t o t he l a r ge s s of r e t i r e d 2nd D i s t r i c t J udge R obe r t T M a nn w hos e c om put e r w e nt t hr ough s om e s or t o f dow nl oa di ng, a p r oc e s s w i t h w h i c h t hi s w r i t e r i s t o t a l l y unf a m i l i a r t he r e w e r e 21 a ppe a l s t a ke n f r om C ount y J udge B r ooke r be t w e e n 1959 a nd 1970, a nd onl y 6 l ow e r c our t de c i s i ons w e r e r e ve r s e d or r e m a nde d. B a c k i n 1970, l ong be f o r e m os t c our t s a nd l e gi s l a t ur e s ha d t o be c on f r on t e d w i t h t he i s s ue J udge B r ooke r de c l i ne d t o pe r f or m a m a r r i a ge c e r e m ony be t w e e n l e s bi a ns H e r e por t e dl y de t e r m i ne d t ha t t he l a w w oul d not a l l o w hi m t o do s o. F or m e r p r oba t e s t a f f r e m e m be r h i m a s a us ua l l y s t e r n t a s k m a s t e r a nd a w or ka hol i c but a bos s w h o a l w a ys e nj oye d s oc i a l i t y on ho l i da ys a nd e m pl oye e s bi r t hda ys T hos e w e r e t he r e c ol l e c t i ons of M a r i e C a nz one r i M a r y C um m i ngs E s t he r D e m ko, L or r a i ne T hom ps on, a nd P e a r l F o r d, t o m e nt i on a f e w w ho s pe nt m a ny ye a r s i n t he o f f i c e H e c oul d, t he y t e l l m e c ha s t i s e a nybody i n t he of f i c e f or a n e gr e gi ous m i s t a ke ba w l t he m out unt i l t he y c r i e d, t he n c om e a r ound l a t e r a nd a p ol ogi z e M r s F or d l a ughs w he n t e l l i ng t ha t j udge ha d a f e t i s h a bout ge r m s r e t ur ni ng f r om t he ba t hr oom w i t h ha nds s w a t he d i n pa pe r t ow e l s t o a voi d t ouc hi ng door knobs a nd ot h e r s us pe c t s ur f a c e s J udge B r ooke r a nd w i f e E l oi s e H a c kne y B r ooke r ( w ho di e d i n J a nua r y, 1998 ) ha d a da ught e r A nne T he l a t t e r ha s t w o da ught e r s R e b e c c a S c ot t a nd J e nni f e r J a m e s a nd s e ve r a l gr a ndc hi l dr e n. D a m on R unyo n i s quot e d a s s a yi ng t ha t g r e a t m e n c om e f e w a nd f a r be t w e e n l i ke t he t e e t h of a h i ppopot a m us W i l l i a m C B r ooke r 's unt a r ni s he d r e c or d of s e r vi c e t o hi s c ount r y a nd a v i r t ua l l i f e t i m e o f s e r vi c e t o hi s f e l l o w m a n pl a c e hi m i n t he f r ont r a nk of C ount y j udge s w ho ha ve a c hi e ve d gr e a t ne s s M or i s on B uc k


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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.

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