Justices of the Florida Supreme Court

Supreme Court of Florida
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Tallahassee Florida

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Justice James Calhoun Adkins, Jr.

 (Alachua)  [served 18 years]
Served January 7, 1969 – January 6, 1987 as Justice
Served March 1, 1974 – March 1, 1976 as Chief Justice  [elected at age 53]
b. Gainesville, Florida, January 18, 1915     d. June 24, 1994, Tallahassee, Florida
County Judge:  No.          Circuit Judge:  Yes.         Court of Appeal Judge:  No.   

James Adkins said he was “raised with a law book in my hand.”  His father served for many years as a state attorney.  He graduated from the University of Florida College of Law in 1938, and landed a job as the sole research assistant to all six justices of the Florida Supreme Court.  Court Librarian Carson Sinclair told him he had been hired in part because he knew how to type.  Adkins returned to practice law in his father’s well-established law firm in Gainesville, in 1941.  In 1957, he became an assistant state attorney, then a judge on the Alachua County Court of Record.  He resigned because of the low salary, returning to private practice. 

Then in 1964, he was appointed to the Eight Judicial Circuit Court. In 1968, he ran successfully for the Florida Supreme Court.  He experienced trouble in his marriage and began drinking to excess after several years.  The problem became serious enough to bring him before the Judicial Qualifications Commission.  He accepted the commission-ordered sobriety, and also began writing murder mysteries.  In 1987, Adkins had to retire because he had reached the mandated constitutional age of 72.  He fought that constitutional mandate, unsuccessfully, famously calling the situation “constitutional senility.”  He went back to private practice for the last years of his life, and continued to write novels.

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