Justices of the Florida Supreme Court

Supreme Court of Florida
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Justice Vassar Benjamin Carlton

Vassar Benjamin Carlton (Brevard)  [served 5 years, 2 months]
Served January 7, 1969 – February 28, 1974 as Justice
Served January 1, 1973 – February 28, 1974 as Chief Justice  [elected at age 56]
b. Alachua County, Florida, November 13, 1912     d. August 31, 2005, Franklin, North Carolina
County Judge:  Yes.        Circuit Judge:  Yes.         Court of Appeal Judge:  No.   

Vassar Carlton came from a long line of Florida Carltons.  His family was poor and he had to work and school himself.  He sought a medical education at the University of Florida but was lured away to Stetson University on a football scholarship.  There he studied law and graduated with a law degree in 1937.  His affable personality won him many friends, but his law practice did not earn him much money.  He ran for the post of county judge in Brevard County in 1940.  He proved very successful and worked there 14 years, being re-elected three times.  In 1954, Carlton ran for and was elected to the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court, where he served until 1968.

That year, Carlton decided to run for the Florida Supreme Court.  He won by a large margin.  In 1973, he was elected chief justice and had the task of implementing the major constitutional revisions to the judiciary that had been passed in November 1972.  His wife died of cancer in 1973, and reports of court scandals began appearing in the state’s newspapers.  He resigned from the court in 1974 and returned to private practice in Tallahassee.

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