Justices of the Florida Supreme Court

Supreme Court of Florida
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Justice Alto Lee Adams

Alto Lee Adams (St. Lucie)  [served 11 years, 9 months]
Served November 25, 1940 – October 22, 1951 and November 13, 1967 – August 1, 1968 as Justice
Served January 1949 – January 1951 as Chief Justice  [appointed at age 41]
b. Walton County, Florida, January 31, 1899     d. February 20, 1988, Fort Pierce, Florida
County Judge:  No.          Circuit Judge:  Yes.        

Alto Adams was raised on a farm in Walton County, Florida.  He went on to attend high school, serve in the U.S. Navy during World War I, and earn a J.D. from the University of Florida College of Law in 1921.  He moved to Fort Pierce in 1924 and maintained a successful law practice there until 1938, when he was appointed to the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court.  In 1940, the Florida legislature added a seventh justice to the Florida Supreme Court, and Governor Fred Cone appointed Adams to that position.  In 1951, he resigned from the supreme court to run, unsuccessfully, for governor.  He then concentrated on his business and cattle operations for the next 15 years. 

In 1967, Governor Claude Kirk wanted to appoint Wade Hopping to the supreme court, but Hopping had not yet completed the required ten-year membership in the Florida Bar.  Instead, Kirk appointed Adams to return to the court.  The appointment led the Florida Bar to question Adams’s qualifications after many years in retirement.  After 10 months, in August 1968, when Hopping became eligible for the court, Justice Adams agreed to retire again, so Governor Kirk could appointed Hopping. 

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