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Sidebar with honorable Susan C. Bucklew , United States district judge middle district of Florida

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Title:
Sidebar with honorable Susan C. Bucklew , United States district judge middle district of Florida
Physical Description:
1 online resource (5 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, February 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:
usfldc doi - B28-00020
usfldc handle - b28.20
NEW
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SFS0000064:00001


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S i d e b ar w i t h H on or ab l e S u s an C B u c k l e w U n i t e d S t at e s D i s t r i c t Ju d ge M i d d l e D i s t r i c t of F l or i d a E di t or s N ot e : T he f ol l ow i ng i nt e r v i e w of J udge Sus an C B uc k l e w w as r e c or de d on O c t obe r 30, 1997 by r e t i r e d J udge M or i s on B uc k D ue t o s pac e l i m i t at i ons a por t i on of t he i nt e r v i e w w as not r e pr i nt e d he r e A t r ans c r i pt of t h e f ul l i nt e r v i e w i s av ai l abl e f r om t he B ar of f i c e M or i s on: J udge B uc k l e w t he r e ar e about 3200 m e m be r s of t he H i l l s bor ough C ount y B ar A s s oc i at i on. M os t don' t k now U S D i s t r i c t J u dge Sus an C aw t hon B uc k l e w I t i s e v e n l i k e l y t hat m os t T am pa l aw y e r s w i l l not be c al l e d u pon t o pr ac t i c e i n y our c our t W oul d y ou pl e as e l e t t he m i n on s om e t hi ng of y our l i f e an d c ar e e r B D C ( t hat s be f or e D i s t r i c t C our t ) ? J. B u c kl e w : S u r e I w a s bor n he r e i n T a m pa w e nt t o S e m i nol e E l e m e nt a r y, S l i gh J r H i gh, a nd g r a dua t e d f r o m H i l l s bor ough H i gh S c ho ol i n 1960 T he r e w e r e i n e xc e s s of 600 pe opl e i n m y gr a dua t i ng c l a s s T hos e w e r e a l l good s c hool s a nd m y t e a c he r s m a de a huge i m pa c t on m y l i f e I a t t e nde d F l or i da S t a t e U ni ve r s i t y, gr a dua t i ng a f t e r 4 ye a r s t he r e M y b r ot he r t o l d m e t ha t gi r l s don't go t o U ni v. of F l o r i da a l t hough he w a s of c our s e onl y j oki ng I ha d a ve r y good e xpe r i e nc e a t F l or i da S t a t e a l t hough our f oot ba l l t e a m a t t he t i m e w a s n't w onde r f ul U pon gr a dua t i n g w i t h a m a j or i n E ng l i s h a nd a m i nor i n e duc t i on, I t a ught E ngl i s h a t P l a nt H i gh f or a ye a r I m a r r i e d dur i ng t ha t t i m e t he n m ove d t o P i ne l l a s C ount y w he r e a t t he t i m e t e a c he r pa y w a s s om e w ha t be t t e r I t a ught t w o ye a r s a t S e m i nol e H i gh S c hool t he n de c i de d t o go ba c k t o gr a dua t e s c hool A t t ha t t i m e t he r e w a s I r e c a l l a s t a t e w i de t e a c he r 's s t r i k e goi ng on. I obt a i ne d a M a s t e r 's de gr e e a t U S F a f t e r w hi c h I w a s i nvi t e d t o t e a c h a t C ha m be r l a i n H i gh S c hool i n T a m pa S ubs e que nt t o t a ki ng t ha t a s s i gnm e nt I be c a m e pr e gna nt a nd ga ve bi r t h t o t w i ns a boy a nd gi r l I t w a s a f ul l t i m e j ob t a ki ng c a r e of t w o b a bi e s T ha t w a s i n 1969. A bout 1972 I m ove d t o W e s t P a l m B e a c h f or t w o ye a r s t he n r e t ur ne d t o T a m pa t o a t t e nd l a w s c hool a t S t e t s on, f i ni s hi ng t he r e i n 1977. A f t e r gr a dua t i on, I w e nt t o w or k f or J i m W a l t e r C or por a t i on i n t he i r l e ga l de pt I w a s f or t una t e t o h a ve w or ke d w i t h s om e f i ne pe opl e t he r e M y c l i e nt w a s J i m W a l t e r H om e s T he y'd ne ve r ha d a f e m a l e a t t or ne y be f or e s o i t w a s a uni que e xpe r i e nc e f or bot h o f us I n 1981, I w a s nom i na t e d f or one of 3 C ount y

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C our t j udge s hi ps I n 1983, I w a s a ppoi nt e d by t he n G ove r nor G r a ha m a nd be c a m e t he f i r s t f e m a l e j udge i n H i l l s bor ough C ount y. B ob B o na nno a nd D on E va ns w e r e na m e d t o t he ot he r va c a nc i e s I ki dde d t he m be c a us e t he ne w s s t or y he a dl i ne d F i r s t F e m a l e J udge A ppoi nt e d, t he n dow n i n t he body o f t he s t or y i t m e nt i one d t he ot he r t w o a ppoi nt e e s M or i s on : So, t he y w e r e ups t age d by y ou? J. B u c kl e w : T he y w e r e a l i t t l e b i t M y f i r s t a s s i gnm e nt w a s i n T r a f f i c C our t i n t he P ol i c e S t a t i on, t oge t he r w i t h E d W a r d a nd D on E v a ns D on't t hi nk I 'd e ve r be e n i n T r a f f i c C our t be f or e I s t a r t e d i n t he f i r s t da y w i t h he a r i ng e ve r yt hi ng f r o m r unni ng a r e d l i ght ( now a n i n f r a c t i on he a r d by a H e a r i ng O f f i c e r ) t o D U I W hi l e i t w a s a uni que e xpe r i e nc e i t 's l i ke ni ght a nd da y be t w e e n w ha t I di d t he n a nd w ha t I do now I n 1983 I w e nt t o P l a nt C i t y a nd p r e s i de d ove r a l l m a nne r o f c a s e s M or i s on : W hat di d y ou do af t e r t ha t ? J. B u c kl e w : C l i f f C he a t w ood w a s C hi e f J udge a t t h a t t i m e A s m y c hi l d r e n w e r e goi ng i nt o hi gh s c hool I a s ke d j udge C he a t w ood f or a t r a ns f e r ba c k t o T a m pa w he r e I 'd be c l os e r t o m y c hi l dr e n. H e a s s i gne d m e t o t he M i s de m e a nor D i vi s i on. B ob B on n a no a nd I s ha r e d a c our t r oom i n t he A nne x he ha d us e of t he c our t 2 da ys a w e e k a nd I w a s a l l oc a t e d 2 da ys a w e e k. M os t c a s e s w e r e non j ur y. J ur y t r i a l s i n M i s de m e a nor w e r e r a r e I s pe nt one t o one a nd a ha l f ye a r s doi ng t ha t M e a nw hi l e J udge S pi c ol a be c a m e C hi e f J udge T he A nne x T ow e r ha d r e c e nt l y be e n e r e c t e d a nd J ud ge B ona nno a nd I s e t up t he r e a s A c t i ng C i r c ui t J udge s he a r i ng f e l ony c a s e s I n 1986 I w a s a ppoi nt e d C i r c ui t J udge by G ove r no r G r a ha m I n e a r l y 1993, I a ppl i e d f o r one of t he t w o va c a nc i e s i n T a m pa on t he f e de r a l be nc h. A f t e r i nv e s t i ga t i on pr oc e s s e s w e r e c onc l ude d, nom i ne e s H e nr y A da m s a nd I w e nt t o W a s hi ngt on t o a ppe a r be f or e t he S e na t e J udi c i a r y C om m i t t e e W e w e r e p r om pt l y c onf i r m e d t he r e a f t e r T ha t w a s l a t e 1993 M or i s on : W hat hobbi e s or s pe c i al i nt e r e s t s do y ou hav e ? J. B u c kl e w : Y ou know M or i s on, I h a ve a t h r e e ye a r ol d g r a ndda ught e r w ho i s a bs ol ut e l y t he gr e a t e s t t hi ng i n t he w o r l d. E ve r y w e e ke nd, us ua l l y S a t ur da y, I s pe nd a good por t i on of t he da y w i t h S yl vi a S he 's na m e d a f t e r m y m ot he r w ho di e d i n 1993 S he ( S yl vi a ) i s a gr e a t j oy. D o you ha ve a ny gr a ndc hi l d r e n? M or i s on : I v e t w o gr ow n gr andc hi l dr e n. D o y ou h av e any as pi r a t i ons t o go on t o a hi gh l e v e l i n t he f e de r al c our t s y s t e m ? J. B u c kl e w : N one I l i ke be i ng i n t he c our t r oom a s D i s t r i c t J udge I 'm t he r e c ons t a nt l y, a nd I w oul d m i s s t ha t I ha ve no a s pi r a t i ons e xc e pt t o be he r e a nd ul t i m a t e l y be c om e a S e ni or J udge c om i ng ba c k t o he a r c a s e s a t 66 a nd 67 a nd s o on unt i l I 'm t ol d t ha t I s houl dn't M or i s on : Y ou s pok e e ar l i e r about t he f e de r al j udi c i al s e l e c t i on pr oc e s s T e l l us m or e about t hat I f y o u w oul d. J. B u c kl e w : T he s ys t e m i s de s i gne d t o ha ve c he c k s a nd ba l a nc e s F e de r a l nom i ne e s a r e s ubj e c t t o a n e xt e ns i ve F B I ba c kgr ound c he c k. Y ou ha ve t o f i l l out a l e ngt hy f or m Y ou l i s t e ve r y pl a c e you ha ve l i ve d s i nc e a ge 18, a nd t he i de nt i t y of s om e one w ho c a n c on f i r m t ha t i nf o r m a t i on. T he y t a l k t o ne i ghbor s f r i e nds a nd ot he r s w ho pe r ha ps a r e no t your f r i e nds e x s pous e s e t c T he S e na t e J udi c i a r y C om m i t t e e a l s o doe s i t s ow n i nve s t i ga t i on. F or e xa m pl e a t one t i m e I be l onge d t o P a l m a C e i a G ol f a nd C ount r y C l ub a nd t he y ha d done a W e s t l a w or L e xi s c he c k w hi c h r e ve a l e d s om e ol d ne w s s t or i e s a bout t ha t c l ub's pol i c y w i t h r e ga r d t o bl a c ks a nd w om e n A t m y c onf i r m a t i on I w a s a s ke d s om e que s t i ons a bout t ha t I ha d r e s i gne d e a r l i e r b ut t ha t w a s a n i s s ue A l s o, t he

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A m e r i c a n B a r A s s oc i a t i on r a t e s c a ndi da t e s f or a pp oi nt m e nt a f t e r m a ki ng e xt e ns i ve i nqui r i e s I ha d t o ge t a phys i c a l e xa m a nd ha ve m y s i ght a nd he a r i ng t e s t e d a s w e l l M or i s on : W hat ar e y our v i e w s on t he e f f i c ac y of m e t hods now i n pl ac e f or j udi c i al app oi nt m e nt s bot h s t at e and f e de r al ? J. B u c kl e w : I t hi nk t he y'r e good a t t he f e de r a l l e ve l T he pr oc e s s by i t s na t ur e a f t e r i t ge t s pa s t t he nom i na t i ng c om m i t t e e i s goi ng t o be s om e w ha t pol i t i c a l I t hi nk S e na t or s G r a ha m a nd M a c k a r e bot h ve r y c onc e r ne d a b out a ppoi nt i ng good j udge s I n t he s t a t e s ys t e m t he r e a r e f e w e r c he c ks a nd ba l a nc e s but I t hi nk t he nom i na t i ng pr oc e s s a nd gube r na t or i a l a ppoi nt m e nt i s be t t e r t ha n t he e l e c t or a l m e t hod w he r e vot e r s s om e t i m e s l i ke t he s ound of a na m e on t he ba l l o t P e opl e j us t don't know e nough a bout j udge s I 'm a gr e a t a dvo c a t e f or t he nom i na t i ng pr oc e s s a s oppos e d t o t he e l e c t i on of j udge s M or i s on : H av e y ou t ak e n not e or r e ad pe r haps of t he e f f or t s of s om e nat i onal pol i t i c al f i gur e s t o i m pos e s om e s or t of pol i t i c al c o r r e c t ne s s t e s t on j udge s t hi nk i ng t he y v e e x c e e de d t he i r j udi c i al aut hor i t y and ar e l e gi s l at i ng? D o y ou hav e any t hought s on t hat ? J. B u c kl e w : I 've a l ot of t hought s on t ha t I r e a l i z e t ha t 's be e n a s our c e of c ont e nt i on w i t h t he f e de r a l j udi c i a r y A j udge f e de r a l or s t a t e ha s t o be f r e e t o m a ke a de c i s i on w i t hout be l i e vi ng t ha t he or s he i s goi ng t o be s e c ond gue s s e d by a pol i t i c i a n, w he t he r a s e na t or or c ongr e s s m a n or c ong r e s s w om a n i n W a s hi ngt on or a l e gi s l a t or i n T a l l a ha s s e e J udi c i a l a c t i vi s m i s a t a g pl a c e d by s om e pol i t i c i a n s on s om e f e de r a l j udge s I don't s e e j udi c i a l a c t i vi s m a s a n i s s ue C e r t a i nl y w e s houl d n e ve r ge t t o t he s t a ge w he r e a j udge i s una bl e t o de c i de a c a s e a nd s t i c k by t he de c i s i on w i t hout be i ng i n f l ue nc e d by a n e l e c t e d of f i c i a l w ho c l a i m s t he de c i s i on i s w r ong W e 've g one t o a ba d pl a c e i n ou r j udi c i a l s ys t e m i f w e a l l ow t ha t t o ha ppe n I hope t ha t l a w y e r s a nd t he publ i c w oul d not w a nt t ha t t o ha ppe n. M or i s on : N ow I w ant t o as k y ou a f e w que s t i ons about t oday s l aw y e r s i n ge ne r al f r om y our v ant age poi nt D o y ou hav e any i m pr e s s i ons about t he l e v e l of pr o f e s s i onal i s m w i t hi n t he r ank and f i l e of a t t or ne y s appe ar i ng i n y our c our t ? J. B u c kl e w : Y ou know t ha t 's a n a w f ul l y c om m on que s t i on. F or t he m os t pa r t t he a t t or ne ys a ppe a r i ng i n f r ont o f m e a r e ve r y pr o f e s s i ona l G e ne r a l l y, t he y a r e pr e pa r e d a nd a c t i n a ve r y p r of e s s i ona l m a nne r T he r e a r e e xc e pt i ons of c our s e T he r e a r e bi g di f f e r e nc e s i n f e de r a l a nd s t a t e c our t I n f e de r a l c o ur t t he r e i s a l ot l e s s c onf us i on. U s ua l l y, t he r e a r e not t e n l a w ye r s w a i t i ng t o be he a r d. I n c r i m i na l c a s e s t he r e a r e n't 10 de f e nda nt s s i t t i ng i n t he j ur y box w i t h a n e qui va l e nt n um be r o f de f e ns e a t t or ne ys w i t ne s s e s e t c s t a ndi ng a r ound t o be he a r d. M or i s on : Y ou m e an c as e s ar e m or e i s ol at e d? J. B u c kl e w : T ha t 's r i ght but i t 's m or e t ha n t ha t T he r e 's m or e of a f or m a l a t m os phe r e a nd t ha t t e nds t o c r e a t e m or e pr of e s s i ona l i s m A l s o, be c a us e i n t he f e de r a l s ys t e m m or e e m pha s i s i s pl a c e d on t he w r i t t e n pr oduc t f r o m c ouns e l t he e xpe c t a t i ons a r e m uc h hi ghe r I n m y opi n i on t he qua l i t y of t he w r i t t e n pr oduc t i n t he di s t r i c t c our t i s hi ghe r t ha n i n t he s t a t e t r i a l c our t P e r ha ps t he ne e d f o r w r i t t e n pr oduc t i s not a s gr e a t a t t he s t a t e l e ve l be c a us e of m or e he a r i ngs M or i s on : M y l at e f at he r w a s a gu e s t s pe ak e r at T am pa' s D ow nt ow n Se r t om a C l ub w he n i t w a s m e e t i ng w e e k l y at H i l l s bor o H ot e l about 35 y e ar s ago. A f t e r be i ng i nt r oduc e d by m e he ope ne d hi s r e m a r k s by j e s t i ng t hat he unde r s t ood l aw y e r s w e r e m ode r n day bount y hunt e r s I n 1997, w i t h huc k s t e r i ng and s e l f pr om ot i ng s o l i c i t at i ons

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by l aw y e r s i n t e l e v i s i on and pr i nt t he r e appe ar s t o be di m i ni s he d r e s pe c t f or t he l e gal pr of e s s i on. W oul d y ou v e nt ur e any c om m e nt s ? J. B u c kl e w : I w oul d a g r e e t ha t r e s pe c t ha s be e n di m i ni s he d. J us t t w o w e e ks a go, I ha d a pr os pe c t i ve f e m a l e j u r o r s t a t e i n ope n c our t t ha t s he c oul dn't s e r ve be c a us e s he c oul dn't t r us t a nyt hi ng s a i d by l a w ye r s i n ge ne r a l I n a not he r c a s e a pr o s e de f e nda nt w ho w a s s t r uggl i ng w i t h pa pe r w or k w hi c h he w a s r e qui r e d t o do c om m e nt e d t o t he C our t t ha t i t w a s no w onde r t ha t l a w ye r s m a ke s o m uc h m one y on a c c ount o f ha vi ng t o ge ne r a t e s o m uc h pa pe r P e opl e t e nd t o l i ke a nd r e s pe c t t he i r ow n a t t or ne y a l t hough t he r e s e e m s t o be a w i de l y he l d d i s t r us t of a t t or ne ys ge n e r a l l y. M or i s on : A f t e r s e v e r al y e ar s of s e r v i c e i n t he U S. C our t hous e as D i s t r i c t J udge w hat par t of y our w or k gi v e s y ou t he m os t s at i s f ac t i on? J. B u c kl e w : W ha t m a ke s m e f e e l good i s w he n you ha ve a t r i a l w he t he r j ur y or non j ur y, w he r e t he a t t or ne ys a r e pr e pa r e d, c our t e ous t ow a r d e a c h ot he r w i t ne s s e s a nd c our t pe r s onne l a nd t he t r i a l p r oc e e ds s m oot hl y due t o t he pr of e s s i ona l i s m of c ouns e l M or i s on : C onv e r s e l y w hat dut i e s do y ou hav e t ha t y ou f i nd one r ous or l e s s pal at abl e ? J. B u c kl e w : S e nt e nc i ng de f e nda nt s i n c r i m i na l c a s e s i s a n unpl e a s a nt r e s pons i bi l i t y, e s pe c i a l l y be c a us e f e de r a l gui de l i ne s i n d r ug c a s e s a r e s e ve r e a nd ha r s h. M or i s on : U pon be i ng honor e d at r e t i r e m e nt t he l at e W i l l i am J B ar k e r i n appe ar anc e and de m e anor t he e m bodi m e nt of a r e s pe c t e d j udge s ai d, i n e f f e c t t hat s e r v i ng as a j udge w as c l o s e t o a c al l t o c hur c h m i ni s t r y D o y ou hav e any i nne r f e e l i ngs al ong t hos e l i ne s ? J. B u c kl e w : N o I don't f e e l t ha t w a y. T he r e ha ve be e n t i m e s w he n I ha ve e xpr e s s e d a pr i va t e pr a ye r a s ki ng f or di vi ne gui da nc e i n de a l i n g w i t h a d i f f i c ul t de c i s i on. P e opl e t e nd t o e xpe c t a hi ghe r s t a nda r d of m or a l c onduc t a nd b e ha vi or f r om m i ni s t e r s a nd pe r ha ps j udge s a s w e l l M or i s on : T he r e has be e n i nc r e as e d de bat e ov e r c am e r as i n t he c our t r oom s i nc e t he r e c e nt B r i t i s h au pai r t r i al W hat i s y ou opi ni on on t hat i m por t ant i s s ue ? J. B u c kl e w : M y t hi nk i ng a s t o t ha t i s s ue ha s t a ke n a 180 de gr e e t u r na r ound i n r e c e nt ye a r s C a m e r a s w e r e a l l ow e d i n t he s t a t e c our t w hi l e I w a s s e r vi ng t he r e a nd I be c a m e a c c us t om e d t o i t A f t e r t he na t i ona l l y pub l i c i z e d W i l l i a m K e n ne dy S m i t h a nd O J S i m ps on t r i a l s I a m now pe r s ua de d t ha t i t 's m uc h be t t e r f or a c c us e d de f e nda nt s vi c t i m s j ur or s a nd e ve n t he a t t or ne ys i f c a m e r a s a r e e xc l ud e d. I be l i e ve t ha t w i t h out t he di s t r a c t i on of c a m e r a s a t r i a l i s m or e hone s t a nd t h e r e i s m or e f oc us on t he r e a l i s s ue s t o be de c i de d. M or i s on : D o y ou t hi nk t hat t he c ont r ov e r s i al i s s ue of abor t i on i s one t o be r e s ol v e d i n t he f e de r al c our t s ? J. B u c kl e w : T he r oa d a l w a ys e nds i n f e de r a l c ou r t i t s e e m s I t 's j us t not pos s i bl e t o pr e di c t w ha t l e ga l i s s ue s i n t ha t a r e a w i l l c om e up. I n m a ny i ns t a nc e s w om e n w i l l be c onf r ont e d w i t h t he m or a l i t y of a de c i s i on on a bor t i on. I n s om e c a s e s bot h w om e n a nd t he i r s pous e s or pe r ha ps bi ol og i c a l f a t he r s w i l l be m a ki ng de c i s i ons T he r e w i l l no doubt be c a s e s i nvol vi ng t he l e ga l i s s u e s W ha t I w i l l do w i l l be c ont r ol l e d by w ha t t he l a w i s a t t ha t t i m e A f t e r w or d:

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B y R e t i r e d J udge M or r i s on B uc k. L a di e s w hos e na m e s be gi n w i t h S us a n s e e m t o ha ve a m a gi c a l a f f i ni t y f or j udge s hi p s i n F l or i da I n a ddi t i on t o J udge B uc kl e w he r e i s a pa r t i a l l i s t of ot he r j udi c i a l not a bl e s of t ha t na m e : S us a n B l a c k, 11t h C i r c ui t C our t of A ppe a l s ; S us a n S e xt on of T a m pa ; S us a n S c ha e f f e r of t he 6 t h C i r c ui t ( a t t hi s w r i t i ng a f i na l i s t f or a ppoi nt m e nt t o t he S upr e m e C our t of F l or i da ) ; S us a n R obe r t s of P ol k C ount y; S us a n L e bow of B r ow a r d C ount y; a nd S us a n L ub i t z of P a l m B e a c h C ount y.


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