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Judson Clifford Cheatwood

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Title:
Judson Clifford Cheatwood diligent, fair-minded, wise, and good natured arbiter (1925-2007)
Physical Description:
1 online resource (8 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

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 - B28-00053
usfldc handle - b28.53
NEW
System ID:
SFS0000097:00001


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1 J U D S O N C L I F F O R D C H E A T W O O D : D I L I G E N T F A I R M I N D E D W I S E A N D G O O D N A T U R E D A R B I T E R ( 1925 2007) H e w as c our t e ous at al l t i m e s and t o a l l pe opl e and he had t he r ar e and w i nni ng f ac ul t y of al w ay s be i ng i nt e r e s t e d i n w hat e v e r a m an had t o s ay a f ac ul t y w h i c h he pos s e s s e d s i m pl y be c au s e not hi ng w as t r i v i al t o hi m w hi c h any m an or w om an or c hi l d had at he ar t T ha t m i ght s ound l i ke i t c a m e f r om a n e ul ogy f or J udge C l i f f C he a t w ood. B ut i t i s r a t he r a s l i c e of a n e xt e nde d t r i but e t o a m a n na m e d A ns on B ur l i nga m e ( 1820 1870 ) a U S A m ba s s a dor t o C hi na a nd f or m e r m e m be r of C ongr e s s i n t he m i d ni ne t e e nt h c e nt ur y. T he pr a i s e s c a m e f r om s om e one be t t e r know n t o c ont e m por a r y A m e r i c a ns M a r k T w a i n. C l i f f w a s t he f i r s t bor n c hi l d o f J uds on a nd A nni e C he a t w ood. H e a r r i ve d on J une 17, 1925 a t R om e G e or g i a w he r e hi s pa r e nt s r e s i de d. T he f a m i l y w a s not una c c us t om e d t o m ovi ng a bout f r om t i m e t o t i m e a s t he he a d of t he hous e hol d w a s a l ongt i m e S e a boa r d c onduc t or C l i f f s onl y s i bl i ng w a s s i s t e r S ue ( M r s E r l e ) R a l l s B ot h c hi l dr e n gr e w up i n B i r m i ngha m A l a ba m a a nd M r s R a l l s s t i l l r e s i de s t he r e C l i f f w a s c hr i s t e ne d J uds on C l i f f or d C he a t w ood, s om e w ha t of a j a w br e a ke r f o r a youngs t e r a nd he ha s a l w a ys be e n c a l l e d C l i f f A f t e r s e r vi ng i n t he U S M e r c ha nt M a r i ne dur i ng W W I I he de c i de d a t s om e poi nt t ha t he w a nt e d t o m a ke a c a r e e r i n l a w B e f o r e he c oul d e nt e r a l a w s c hool he ne e de d unde r gr a dua t e c ol l e ge c r e di t s a nd by uns t i nt i ng e f f o r t he m e t t hos e r e qui r e m e nt s a t t he U ni ve r s i t y o f A l a ba m a a nd U ni ve r s i t y of G e or gi a r e s pe c t i ve l y.

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2 C l i f f e nr ol l e d i n S t e t s on U ni ve r s i t y C ol l e ge of L a w t he n i n D e l a nd F l o r i da a nd e a r ne d hi s l a w de gr e e i n 1951. N ot e : T he l a w s c hool c om pl e x r e l oc a t e d t o G ul f po r t i n 1954, a nd l a t e r e s t a bl i s he d t he S t e t s on T a m pa L a w C e nt e r on t he s i t e of t he f o r m e r T a m pa P ol i c e C our t a t 1620 N T a m pa S t r e e t T he l a t t e r now of f e r s a ni ght c l a s s l a w pr ogr a m a t 1700 N T a m pa S t r e e t I n t he pos t w a r e r a C he a t w ood a nd ot he r s ( l i ke t hi s s c r i ve ne r ) w i t h m i l i t a r y s e r vi c e c oul d e nt e r l a w s c hool s i n F l or i da w i t h but 60 s e m e s t e r hour s ( 2 ye a r s ) of c ol l e ge c r e di t r e qui r e d. T he G I bi l l w a s a bi g boos t f or a n e x s e r vi c e m a n or w om a n. A f t e r l a w s c hool s t i l l unm a r r i e d a nd w i t h no de pe nde nt s C l i f f t ook a j ob i n P e ns a c ol a a s a n i ns ur a nc e a dj us t e r F ol l ow i ng t ha t a s s i gnm e nt he be c a m e hous e c ouns e l f or a s t e e l f a br i c a t i ng c om pa ny i n B i r m i ngha m A l a ba m a B ut a s i t ha s be e n s a i d o f t e n be f or e he ha d be e n i n F l or i da l ong e nough t o ge t s om e s a nd i n hi s s hoe s a nd he c l e a r l y ye a r ne d t o s e t t l e i n t he S uns hi ne S t a t e I t w a s not m e r e c oi nc i de nc e t ha t b r ought C l i f f a nd hi s ow n f a m i l y t o C l e a r w a t e r B e a c h s om e t i m e dur i ng t he m i d f i f t i e s a t t he s a m e m om e nt S om e m i ght c a l l i t l uc k or f a t e ; but t h i s s c r i be pr e f e r s t o t hi nk of i t a s de s t i ny. D e a ne a l ove l y you ng w om a n w i t h gr e a t c ha r m a nd w a r m t h o f pe r s ona l i t y w a s s t a yi ng w i t h he r m ot he r f r om G r e e ns bor o, G e or gi a a t a hot e l on C l e a r w a t e r B e a c h. A s t hi ngs de ve l ope d, C l i f f a nd s om e o f hi s f a m i l y m e m be r s w e r e s t a yi ng a t t he s a m e hot e l W hi l e s i t t i ng a r ound t he ho t e l s s w i m m i ng pool one a f t e r noon, t he y di s c ove r e d t ha t bot h w e r e t he n l i vi ng i n T a m pa C l i f f obvi ous l y a t t r a c t e d t o D e a ne a t f i r s t s i ght bo l dl y a s ke d he r i f he m i ght c a l l he r a bout a da t e L a t e r a f t e r t he y m a r r i e d, he e nj oye d a l a ugh a bout he r be i ng a pi c kup on t he be a c h. A nd s o t he y w e r e w e d i n T a m pa i n 19 57, a nd f or m or e t ha n a ha l f c e nt ur y ha d a w onde r f ul l y c om f or t a bl e a nd l ovi ng l i f e t oge t he r C l i f f w a s s ur vi ve d by hi s w i f e D e a ne a nd da ught e r s C l a udi a A nn F r a nk a nd S us a n M a r i e T he df or d; a nd gr a ndc hi l d r e n, L oui s R obe r t B obby F r a nk I I I a nd C l a ude ne V i r gi ni a F r a nk, J a m e s J uds on T he df or d a nd M e r i a l A l e xa ndr a T he df o r d, a l l o f T a m pa I n a ddi t i on t o hi s undyi ng de vot i on t o t hi s f a m i l y, C l i f f w a s a m a n of de e p r e l i gi ous f a i t h; a l ongt i m e m e m be r S unda y S c hool t e a c he r de a c on a nd t r us t e e of F i r s t B a pt i s t C hur c h of T e m p l e T e r r a c e w he r e gr i e vi ng f a m i l y a nd f r i e nds a s s e m bl e d f or h i s f une r a l s e r vi c e s on J a nua r y 23, 2007. G oi ng ba c k i n t i m e a nd r e f l e c t i ng upon hi s m e m or a bl e c a r e e r w e know t ha t C l i f f s pr o f e s s i ona l r oot s w e r e f i r s t pl a nt e d i n T a m pa w he n he be c a m e a s s oc i a t e d w i t h t he s m a l l l a w f i r m o f K i c kl i t e r & S i dw e l l a bout t he m i d 1950s P a ul K i c kl i t e r w a s f or m a ny ye a r s t he s ol e J uve ni l e C our t j udge i n T a m p a H i s o f f i c e w a s i n t he H i ns on bui l di ng on t he nor t he a s t c or ne r of F r a nkl i n S t r e e t a t M a di s on i n dow nt ow n T a m pa K i c kl i t e r ul t i m a t e l y t e a m e d up w i t h B e n S i dw e l l ( l a t e r a C i r c ui t J udge pr e s i di ng ove r P r oba t e & G ua r d i a ns hi p m a t t e r s be gi nni ng a bout 1 975) a nd t he y e s t a bl i s he d a n of f i c e i n

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3 T a m pa s W e s t e r n U ni on B ui l di ng L a t e r on, K i c kl i t e r be c a m e a S t a t e S e na t or a nd w i t hdr e w f r om a ny c onne c t i on w i t h S i dw e l l & C h e a t w ood l a w f i r m H G uy S m i t h, a f i ne l a w ye r w ho now he a ds up a f l our i s hi ng l a w f i r m i n L a ke l a nd, w a s r e c r ui t e d by t he f i r m l a s t na m e d i n t he l a t e 1960s H i s he a r t f e l t f e e l i ngs a bout hi s a s s oc i a t i on w i t h C l i f f C he a t w ood f ol l ow : A f t e r pr ac t i c i ng l aw f or t w o y e ar s i n T am pa, I w a s i nv i t e d t o j oi n t he f i r m of Si dw e l l & C he at w ood and di d s o i n 1969 I be c am e a par t ne r i n t he l aw f i r m appr ox i m at e l y t w o y e ar s l at e r and t he f i r m w as t he r e af t e r k now n as Si dw e l l C he at w ood & Sm i t h, P A C l i f f w as a m e nt or t o m e of t he f i r s t or de r O v e r t h e 40 y e ar s t hat I hav e be e n i n t he pr ac t i c e of l aw I hav e had s e v e r al par t ne r s and as s oc i at e s but I hav e ne v e r had one qui t e as m e m or abl e as C l i f f C he at w ood. W he n I t hi nk of C l i f f C he at w ood I t hi nk of i nt e gr i t y i nt e l l i ge nc e gr ac i ous at al l t i m e s c ar i ng, hum bl e r e s our c e f ul l ov e d t he pr ac t i c e of l aw and s e r v i ng as an out s t andi ng C i r c ui t C our t J udge and a l ov i ng and de di c at e d hus band and f at he r T r ul y C l i f f C he at w ood w as one of t he f i ne s t m e n I hav e e v e r k now n. I am s ur e t hat s i nc e I had pr ac t i c e d l aw f or s uc h a s hor t pe r i od of t i m e be f or e j oi ni ng C l i f f I t e s t e d hi m t o t he e x t r e m e i n al l of t h e abov e qual i t i e s t hat I k now C l i f f pos s e s s e d. H ow e v e r he ne v e r s how e d any i r r i t at i on, i m pat i e nc e or unge nt l e m anl y be hav i or i n he l pi ng m e t o l e ar n t he pr ac t i c e of l aw I do r e c al l one s i t uat i on w he n a c l i e nt s i gni f i c ant l y ol de r t han m e at t he t i m e be c a m e de m andi ng and s om e w hat t hr e at e ni ng t o m e and I f r ank l y di d not k now how t o handl e t he s i t uat i on I r e m ai ne d qui e t f or a f e w m i nut e s gat he r e d m y t hought s and t he n i m m e di at e l y c he c k e d t o s e e i f C l i f f w as i n t he of f i c e T hank f ul l y he w as i n t he of f i c e s o I e x c us e d m y s e l f and r e c r ui t e d C l i f f t o c om e t o m y of f i c e and he l p m e de al w i t h t h e s i t uat i on. O f c our s e C l i f f c am e t o m y r e s c ue and i m m e di at e l y w as abl e t o s at i s f y t he de m ands of t he c l i e nt and r e s c ue m e f r om w hat w as a v e r y pai nf ul s i t uat i on. I t r u l y e nj oy e d m y f our y e ar s w i t h C l i f f C he at w ood i n t he pr ac t i c e of l aw and e nj oy e d a f r i e nds hi p w i t h hi m t hat l as t e d unt i l hi s r e c e nt de at h. M y r e s pe c t and appr e c i at i on f or C l i f f s c ont r i but i on t o m y l i f e w i l l be r e m e m be r e d f or e v e r J ohn G i l be r t of T a m pa d i s t i ngui s he d r e t i r e d C i r c ui t J udge a nd one of C l i f f s c l os e s t f r i e nds pr ovi de d t he s e t hought s r e ga r di ng J udge C l i f f C he a t w ood : I di d no t k now C l i f f w e l l unt i l our appoi nt m e nt t o t he be nc h i n 1977 C l i f f w as a qui e t m an, de v ot e d t o hi s f am i l y and hi s c hur c h but s e l dom t al k e d about h i m s e l f I d i d l e ar n t hat he gr e w up i n B i r m i ngham A l abam a ; h ad one s i s t e r and t hat hi s f at he r w as a l oc om ot i v e e ngi ne e r w hos e r out e w a s be t w e e n B i r m i ngham and A t l ant a. D ur i ng W W I I he s e r v e d i n t he m e r c hant m ar i ne t r av e l i ng be t w e e n U SA and E ngl and, s aw ot he r s hi ps i n c onv oy s unk by t he U boat s

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4 I n one of hi s c as e s w hi l e pr e s i di ng as C i r c ui t J udge he gr ant e d a s um m ar y j udgm e nt i n f av or of t he de f e ns e P l ai nt i f f appe al e d. T he 2 n d D i s t r i c t C our t r e v e r s e d at t r i al T he j ur y aw ar de d a m one y j udgm e nt t o pl ai nt i f f w h e r e upon on appe al by de f e ndant t he j udgm e nt w as r e v e r s e d. C l i f f s ai d: t he y ( D i s t r i c t C our t ) f i nal l y go t i t r i ght C l i f f s hobby w as pl ay i ng gol f O n m any oc c as i on s w e pl ay e d at hi s hom e c our s e i n T e m pl e T e r r ac e H e w as not a l ong bal l h i t t e r b ut he w as f ai r l y good ar ound t he gr e e ns H e and I w e r e l uc k y t o pl ay f or t w o day s a t A ugus t a N at i onal A l t hough he had pl ay e d at St A ndr e w s and ot he r c our s e s i n Sc ot l and, he t o l d ot he r s t hat pl ay i ng i n A ugus t a w a s t he hi ghl i ght of hi s gol f i ng c ar e e r O ne of t he b r i ght e s t l i ght s i n w ha t m i ght be c a l l e d T a m pa s l e ga l f i r m a m e nt i s A D a l l a s A l br i t t on. H e o f f e r s t he f ol l ow i ng c om m e nt s a bout C l i f f C he a t w ood: C l i f f C he at w ood and B e n S i dw e l l w e r e par t ne r s w ho pr ac t i c e d i n t he bui l di ng at 220 M adi s on St r e e t F i r s t F e de r al Sav i ngs & L oan on a f l oor be l ow A l br i t t on, Se s s um s I k now B e n and C l i f f w e l l T he y w e r e bot h e x c e l l e nt l aw y e r s v e r y c ar e f ul i n t he i r pr ac t i c e B ot h had am bi t i ons t o be c i r c ui t j udge s and bot h ac hi e v e d t he i r am bi t i on J udge C he at w ood be c am e one of t he m os t popul ar j udge s H e w as k i ndl y c oul d s pe ak i n a dr aw l k i ndl y poi nt i ng out t o c ouns e l w he r e hi s c as e w as de f i c i e nt H e l i k e d l aw y e r s and he l i k e d t he l aw and I t hi nk he w as w e l l s ui t e d t o be a j udge be c aus e he e nj oy e d t he s ubs t anc e of t he l aw w hat a c as e he l d, or w hat a s t at ut e w as t r y i ng t o do H e w as unf ai l i ngl y pol i t e and k i nd t o t hos e w ho appe ar e d be f or e hi m A s y ou k now he w as i n G e ne r al C i v i l w he r e a s B e n w as i n pr obat e and m an y l aw y e r s ne v e r w e nt t o P r obat e A t t i m e s I t hough t he w as e nt i r e l y t oo pol i t e w i t h opp os i ng c ouns e l but w hat do I k now H e l ov e d gol f R obe r t W W a l kl e y w ho pr a c t i c e s l a w i n T a m pa a s W a l kl e y & W a l kl e y, t he f i r m na m e i ni t i a t e d w i t h hi s br ot he r t he l a t e B r uc e W a l kl e y, t e l l s of a c a s e i n w hi c h he r e pr e s e nt e d a w om a n w ho t ook a s pi l l a t a m a l l S he w a s t ot a l l y una bl e t o a r t i c ul a t e w ha t ha d c a us e d he r t o f a l l e xc e pt s he di d t hi nk i t w a s a s oda. D e f e ns e m ot i on f o r s um m a r y j udgm e nt w a s he a r d by J udge C he a t w ood dur i ng t he l a s t w e e k be f or e hi s r e t i r e m e nt H e l i s t e ne d t o t he a r gum e nt s i nc l udi ng p l a i nt i f f s i f t he r e i s a ny pos s i bl e i s s ue a r gum e nt a nd s a i d: M r W al k l e y I m go i ng t o do y ou a f av or and gr ant de f e ndant s m ot i on. I n e a r l y f a l l 1977, C l i f f r e a c he d w ha t he l i ke l y c o ns i de r e d t he z e ni t h of hi s l e ga l c a r e e r w he n G ov. R e ube n A s ke w a ppoi nt e d hi m C i r c ui t J udge f o r t he 13 t h J udi c i a l C i r c ui t a nd he s e r ve d unt i l hi s r e t i r e m e nt i n 1991. A l ong t he w a y t he Y oung L a w ye r s D i vi s i on of T he F l o r i da B a r s e l e c t e d hi m a s t he O u t s t a ndi ng C i r c ui t J udge i n t he S t a t e o f F l or i da I n 1983, he w a s c hos e n by hi s f e l l ow j ud ge s i n t he C i r c ui t t o be C hi e f J udge a nd he s e r ve d w i t h di s t i nc t i on f or a f ul l 2 ye a r t e r m I n 1984 t he H i l l s bor ough C ount y B a r A s s oc i a t i o n c onduc t e d a j udi c i a l pol l a nd J udge C he a t w ood r e c e i ve d t he hi ghe s t r a t i ng of t he 33 j udge s i n t he c i r c ui t G e o r ge D uke s a r e t i r e d T a m pa l a w ye r of f i ne r e put e w ho i s s t i l l vi gor ous a t t he a ge of 97 r e po r t s t ha t M or r i s E W hi t e s e ni or a t t or ne y

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5 w i t h F ow l e r W hi t e w i t h w hom D uke s w a s a s e ni or a s s oc i a t e ha d i ns i s t e d t ha t D uke s go w i t h W hi t e t o t he i ns t a l l a t i on o f J udge C he a t w ood, s t a t i ng: H e w as a w or t hy l aw y e r w ho w oul d de v e l op i nt o a good j udge M r W hi t e s f or e c a s t w a s e nt i r e l y c or r e c t J udge C he a t w ood ne ve r ha d oppos i t i on w he n hi s na m e w a s on t he ba l l ot i n t he i nt e r i m be f or e hi s r e t i r e m e nt A f t e r hi s a ppoi nt m e nt t o C i r c ui t C our t hi s i n i t i a l a s s i gnm e nt w a s t o t he F e l ony D i vi s i on w he r e he pr e s i de d ove r a num be r of c a pi t a l c a s e s a l l hi ghl y publ i c i z e d L a t e r he w a s s hi f t e d t o t he G e ne r a l C i vi l D i vi s i on I n t h e l a t t e r pos t he he a r d t he c a s e ge ne r a l l y be l i e ve d t o be t he bi gge s t s c a nda l i n T a m pa s hi s t or y: H ow g r e e d a nd c or r upt i on ki l l e d t he M e t r opol i t a n B a nk of T a m pa J udge C he a t w ood s i gne d t he o r de r w hi c h r e voke d t he ba nk s c ha r t e r a nd l e d t o m ul t i p l e c r i m i na l c onvi c t i ons o f f r a ud. F ol l ow i ng hi s de a t h on J a nua r y 18, 2007 i n T a m pa a be a ut i f u l e ul ogy f or C l i f f w a s pr e s e nt e d by hi s gr e a t f r i e nd a nd ne i ghbo r G l e nn W a dde l l T hos e not p r e s e nt a t hi s s e r vi c e s c a n r e a d i t he r e : I t has be e n a pl e as ur e f or m e t o hav e k now n t hi s g ood m an f or m or e t han 40 y e ar s and t o hav e be e n hi s ne i ghbor i n T e m pl e T e r r ac e C l i f f l ov e d t he c om pani ons hi p of hi s f am i l y hi s f r i e nds and f e l l ow l aw y e r s and j udge s C l i f f us e d t o hav e a c l i e nt w ho w oul d s e nd hi m a bunc h o f s t one c r abs onc e i n a w hi l e ( al w ay s i n s e as on of c our s e ) and he w oul d i nv i t e s om e f r i e nds ov e r t o t he hous e s pr e ad ne w s pape r on a pi c ni c t abl e and s e r v e t hos e s t one c r abs T hat w as s om e k i nd of g o od! C l i f f w as v e r y c l os e t o hi s m ot he r i n l aw M e M e T ow ns e nd and w he ne v e r he c oul d t a l k he r i nt o i t s he w oul d f r y hi m up s om e oy s t e r s I c oul d s m e l l t he m f r y i ng and w oul d us ual l y w ande r ov e r t o t he C he at w ood s f or s om e of t hos e w onde r f ul oy s t e r s T he y al w ay s f e d m e C l i f f got t o w he r e he e nj oy e d gol f as m uc h or m or e t han f i s hi n g and he us e d t o r e al l y e nj oy a go l f w e e k e nd w i t h s om e f r i e nds at pl ac e s l i k e H ow e y i n t he H i l l s I t w as of t e n s ai d t hat C l i f f di dn t hi t f ar but i t w as r i ght dow n t he m i ddl e M y t e e s hot s l ook e d l i k e t he y w e r e hi t t hr ough t he c al f of m y l e f t l e g. C l i f f got a bi g l aug h out of t hat and I got a t r i p t o t he E R O ne of hi s m os t m e m or abl e e x pe r i e nc e s w a s a gol f t r i p t o Sc ot l and w i t h a gr oup of l aw y e r s W hi l e i n Sc ot l and, he pl ay e d t he f am ous O l d C our s e at St A ndr e w s C l i f f l ov e d Sc ot l and t he m us i c t he f ood and t he pe opl e C l i f f w as al s o pr oud of t he f ac t t hat he w as abl e t o pl ay a r ound of G ol f on t he A ugus t a N at i onal G ol f C our s e w he r e t he M as t e r s i s pl ay e d. H e and D e ane had a c hanc e t o go t o a R os e B ow l gam e i n P as ade na, C A and t he y bot h e nj oy e d t hat t r i p, t he gam e and t he par ade I n 40 y e ar s t i m e a pe r s on l e ar ns a l ot about hi s f r i e nds T hat w as m y e x pe r i e nc e w i t h C l i f f C he at w ood w ho w as a t r ue f r i e nd t o m e I t i s s ai d t hat a pe r s on i s qui t e f or t unat e i f i n t he c our s e of hi s l i f e he has one t r ue f r i e nd. C l i f f w as t hat t o m e he w as m y be s t f r i e nd. H e had t o hav e be e n be c aus e I bor r ow e d m os t of hi s t ool s w hi c h I c oul dn t us e M y daught e r L aur i e t he t ool r unne r had t o go t o C l i f f s t o bor r ow t he m and hal f t he t i m e he w ound up dow n he r e doi ng i t hi m s e l f T hat w ay he c oul d t ak e hi s t ool s bac k hom e O ne t i m e he t ol d L aur i e t o go bac k dow n t h e r e and t e l l m e t o U s e e l bow gr e as e

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6 on i t ( t o r e m ov e s om e r us t ) L aur i e had ne v e r he ar d of e l bow gr e as e be c aus e I d ne v e r us e d i t C l i f f got a bi t l augh out of t hat J udge C he at w ood pos s e s s e d qual i t i e s w hi c h ar e r a r e t oday H e w as k i nd, c om pas s i onat e s l ow t o ange r and had a bui l t i n s e ns e of f ai r ne s s and good ol d c o m m on s e ns e H i s hone s t y and i nt e gr i t y w e r e uni m pe ac habl e T he s e c har ac t e r qual i t i e s m ade hi m an out s t andi ng j udge and an out s t andi ng pe r s on. C l i f f w as pr oud t o be a s out he r ne r B or n i n G e or gi a, and r ai s e d i n B i r m i ngham he w as a t r ue s out he r n ge nt l e m a n. I n f ac t j us t t he ot he r day a f r i e nd and f or m e r ne i ghbor D i ana P i t m an c har ac t e r i z e d hi m i n t hos e v e r y w or ds M y w i f e K ay has f or a l ong t i m e de s c r i be d C l i f f C he at w ood as a pr i nc e am ong m e n. H e w as A bout 30 y e ar s ago, a f or m e r l aw par t ne r of m i ne c am e i nt o m y of f i c e c l os e d t he door and t ol d m e t hat he had be e n as k e d by t he go v e r nor s of f i c e f or c om m e nt s on t he pot e nt i al appoi nt m e nt of C l i f f C he at w ood t o t he C i r c ui t C our t H e w e nt on t o s ay t hat he had ne v e r he ar d any t hi ng r e m ot e l y ne gat i v e a bout C l i f f H e k ne w t hat C l i f f and I w e r e f r i e nds and ne i ghbor s and I t ol d hi m t ha t t he r e w as not hi ng ne gat i v e about t hi s m an. C l i f f C he at w ood w as appoi nt e d t o t he C i r c ui t C our t of t he T h i r t e e nt h J udi c i al C i r c ui t by G ov e r nor R ube n A s k e w i n 1977, and s e r v e d w i t h di s t i nc t i on and w i t hout oppos i t i on i n t hat pos i t i on unt i l hi s r e t i r e m e nt i n 1991 A f t e r r e t i r i ng, J udge C he at w ood c ont i nue d t o s e r v e as a s ubs t i t ut e j udge and as a m e di at or as l o ng as hi s he al t h pe r m i t t e d. J udge C he at w ood qui c k l y be c am e t he f av or i t e of t he t r i al l aw y e r s ar ound he r e e s pe c i al l y t he y oung l aw y e r s t o w hom he w as k now n not j us t f or hi s i n t e l l e c t and l e gal k now l e dge but al s o f or hi s pat i e nc e w onde r f ul j ud i c i al de m e anor good hum or and de s i r e t o he l p t he m l e ar n. A m ong t he honor s he c h e r i s he d t he m os t be i ng nam e d by T he Y oung L aw y e r s s e c t i on of t he F l or i da B ar as t he o ut s t andi ng c i r c ui t j udge s t at e w i de C l i f f s appr oac h t o t he l aw w as a l ot l i k e hi s appr o ac h t o l i f e ; k e e p i t s i m pl e H e had a s i m pl e s t r ai ght f or w ar d appr oac h t o e v e r y t hi ng i f y ou don t c om pl i c at e i t and pe opl e c an unde r s t and i t i t m i ght j us t t ur n out t o be r i ght I c annot e v e r r e m e m be r J udge C he at w ood be i ng ov e r t ur ne d by an appe l l at e c our t and he w as as k e d t o handl e s om e huge c om pl i c at e d c as e s C l i f f w as honor e d by hi s f e l l ow j udge s w ho e l e c t e d hi m c hi e f j udge of t hi s c i r c ui t and t o s how y ou how t he l aw y e r s f e l t i n a ne w s pape r pol l w he r e l aw y e r s w e r e as k e d t o r at e j udge s ( anony m ous l y o f c our s e ) C l i f f C he at w ood f i ni s he d f i r s t am ong 33 j udge s D e ane de s c r i be s C l i f f as a s i m pl e m an w ho l ov e d t he L or d, l ov e d hi s f am i l y l ov e d t he l aw and e nj oy e d t he c om pany of hi s m any f r i e nds C l i f f w as a hum bl e m an w ho w oul d s c ol d m e f or m e nt i oni ng t hat he w as honor e d f or any t hi ng. I m i s s e d out on t he pl e as ur e of appe ar i ng be f or e J udge C he at w ood be c aus e r i ght af t e r hi s appoi nt m e nt w e agr e e d i t w oul d be be s t t o av oi d any hi nd of i m pr opr i e t y B e s i de s he t ol d m e y ou pr obabl y c oul dn t ge t i t r i ght any w ay

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7 L as t y e ar t he m e m be r s of t he W i l l i am G l e nn T e r r e l l I nn of C our t r e nam e d t hat c hapt e r t he J C l i f f or d C he at w ood I nn of C our t T hat w as an honor of w hi c h he w as m os t pr oud. A f t e r al l J us t i c e T e r r e l l w as one of t he F l o r i da Supr e m e C our t s m os t r e v e r e d c hi e f j us t i c e s C l i f f w as a f oundi ng m e m be r and a pas t pr e s i de nt of t he c hapt e r w hi c h now be ar s hi s nam e T he I nns of C our t i s a pr e s t i gi ous nat i onw i de or gani z at i on of j udge s and l aw y e r s D ur i ng t he l as t f e w y e ar s phy s i c al pr obl e m s br oug ht a hal t t o m any of t he ac t i v i t i e s t hi s m an l ov e d. H e w as hom e bound f or s e v e r al y e ar s and i n m or e pai n t han m os t of y ou k now C l i f f ac c e pt e d t hi s f at e w i t h gr ac e a good at t i t ude and a w onde r f ul s pi r i t O ne of t he t hi ngs C l i f f m i s s e d m os t w as not be i ng abl e t o r om p w i t h hi s gr andk i ds al l of w hom he ador e d. I hav e t o s ay a w or d ab out D e ane C he at w ood, w hom K ay and I de s c r i be as t he w or l d s be s t c ar e gi v e r She t ook c ar e of C l i f f and ne v e r c om pl ai ne d or s ai d one ne gat i v e w or d about i t F or hi s par t C l i f f r e m ai ne d pos i t i v e and ne v e r be c am e bi t t e r W he n K ay and I he ar d of C l i f f s de at h, i t br ought t o our m i nds t he w or ds of t he A pos t l e P aul i n 2 T i m ot hy 4: 7 8: I hav e f ought a good f i g ht I hav e f i ni s he d m y c our s e I hav e k e pt t he f ai t h: he nc e f or t h t he r e i s l ai d up f or m e a c r ow n of r i ght e ous ne s s w hi c h t he L or d, t he r i ght e ous j udge s hal l gi v e m e at t hat day K ay and I ar e honor e d t o c ount our s e l v e s as f r i e nd s of C l i f f and D e ane C he at w ood. W e ar e goi ng t o m i s s hi m s o m uc h. T he r e w i l l be a v oi d i n our l i v e s W e w e r e bl e s s e d by k now i ng hi m and he e nr i c he d al l o ur l i v e s A l i ght he a r t e d i nt e r l ude pr ovi de d by S t e ve S t ua r t out s t a ndi ng T a m pa l a w ye r of S t ua r t & S t r i c kl a nd a s m a l l but p r e s t i t i gi ous f i r m : I f m y m e m or y i s ac c ur at e I r e c al l t hat J udge C he at w ood w as C hi e f J udge w he n a pr ac t i c e m anual appl i c abl e t o H i l l s bor ough C ou nt y w as adopt e d. K i nd of an i nf or m al gui de f or l aw y e r s w ho appe ar e d i n t he 13 t h C i r c ui t t he m anual c ont ai ne d s ugge s t i ons f or c onduc t at he ar i ngs c onduc t am ong at t or ne y and dr e s s appr opr i at e f or he ar i ngs be f or e t he j udge s I w as r oam i ng ar ound t he f i r s t f l oor of t he ol d c ou r t hous e on St P at r i c k s D ay m or ni ng w ai t i ng f or a he ar i ng w he n I s pi e d m y op pone nt J ac k R y an dr i nk i ng c of f e e i n t he c of f e e s hop. W e had a he ar i ng s c he dul e d be f or e J udge C he at w ood t hat m or ni ng. H e w as dr e s s e d i n a br i ght gr e e n s ui t e w i t h a gi ant s h am r oc k pi nne d t o hi s l ape l H e l ook e d l i k e a l ar ge l e pr e c haun w i t h a c our t f i l e A gr e at o ppor t uni t y f or a j ok e oc c ur r e d t o m e I k ne w t hat J udge C he at w ood had a w r y s e ns e of hum or s o I s pe d up t o hi s c ham be r s and as k e d t o s p e ak t o hi m be f or e t he he a r i ng. I t ol d hi m about R y an s out f i t and s ugge s t e d w e pl ay a pr ank on hi m C he at w ood r e adi l y agr e e d. A t t he he ar i ng t i m e R y an and I w al k e d i nt o t he j ud ge s c ham be r s and s at dow n. I m e nt i one d t he m at t e r w e w e r e goi ng t o a r gue but t he n s ai d, Y our honor l ook at M r

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8 R y an. I t hi nk w e hav e a de f i ni t e v i ol a t i on of t he 13 t h C i r c ui t dr e s s c ode I t hough t I w oul d br i ng t hi s m at t e r t o y our at t e nt i on W i t hout m i s s i ng a be at C he at w ood l ook e d R y an o v e r and s ai d, M r R y a n, w hat i n t he w or l d ar e y ou w e ar i ng? A r e n t y ou aw ar e o f t he dr e s s c ode i n f or c e i n t hi s c our t hous e ? W hat do y ou hav e t o s ay f or y our s e l f ? St am m e r i ng, R y an s ai d B ut J udge i t s St P at r i c k s D ay I m a f ul l bl oode d I r i s hm an and I v e dr e s s e d up l i k e t hi s s i nc e I w as f i v e y e ar s ol d! I don t c ar e I m f i ndi ng y ou i n c ont e m pt of c ou r t f or f l agr ant l y v i ol at i ng t he dr e s s c ode I m pr obabl y goi ng t o hav e t o put y ou i n j ai l ! R y an w as abs ol ut e l y s hoc k e d and t he n C he at w ood be gan l aughi ng and s a i d, J ac k don t w or r y w e r e j us t pl ay i ng a j ok e on y ou. A l l of us c huc k l e d and J ac k v i s i bi l y r e l i e v e d, s ank bac k i n hi s c hai r A nd I t h i nk t he l e pr e c haun w on t h a t he ar i ng. A F T E R W O R D : I t i s c e r t ai n t hat C l i f f C he at w ood has l ong s i nc e r e c e i v e d hi s r e w ar d. W e k now e ac h and e v e r y one of us t hat t o hi s e ar s s ur e l y hav e c om e t hos e bl e s s e d w or d s w hi c h he w as bor n t o he ar : W e l l done C l i f f C he at w ood, w e l l done t hou good and f ai t hf ul s e r v ant M or i s on B uc k D C I : 2 0 0 7 0 8 0 7 1 0 2 6