Justice James B. Whitfield
Every Justice of the Supreme Court takes a seat at the bench as a public servant, but one Justice clearly stands out as one of the most remarkable. James B. Whitfield, the 33rd Justice, served more than 60 years in service to the State -- and 39 of these were spent on the Supreme Court. He was a constitutional scholar, legal commentator, and jurist. Yet his distinguished career was not unusual when viewed in the context of the remarkable family that produced him.
The Whitfield family has been involved in public service since 1783. That was the year Justice Whitfield's Great-Grandfather, Bryan Whitfield, began service in the North Carolina House of Commons, capping a remarkable career that began with a captaincy in the Revolutionary War. A few years later, Justice Whitfield's Great-Great-Grandfather served in the Fourth and Fifth Congresses of the United States.
Succeeding generations of Whitfields have produced still more public servants. Justice Whitfield's Grandfather, James Bryan Whitfield, served in the North Carolina Senate. His father, Richard A. Whitfield, became a Leon County judge after moving to Tallahassee during the Civil War. Justice Whitfield's brother, Talbot Whitfield, served with distinction for many years as the Clerk of the Supreme Court.
And to this day the tradition of service has not ended. Justice Whitfield's grandnephew is Talbot "Sandy" D'Alemberte, former President of Florida State University and former President of the American Bar Association.
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