Justices of the Florida Supreme Court

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Justice Roy Harrison Chapman

Roy Harrison Chapman (Columbia)  [served 15 years, 2 months]
Served June 23, 1937 – August 9, 1952 as Justice
Served January 9, 1945 – January 1947 as Chief Justice  [appointed at age 53]
b. Blairsville, Georgia, July 15, 1883     d. August 9, 1952, Tallahassee, Florida
County Judge:  No.          Circuit Judge:  No.

Roy Chapman, like many other justices in this era, came to the court through a long and successful career in politics and with personal connections to many of the highest ranking people in Florida politics and government.  Though he was born in Georgia, Chapman’s family had moved out of the path of Civil War General Sherman’s “March through Georgia,” to Florida.  Chapman attended East Florida Seminary and then the University of Florida.  When he decided to pursue the law as a career, he transferred to Stetson University, graduating in 1908.  After passing the bar that year, he moved to Lake City, Florida, and became the law partner of Fred Cone.  Both were active in Democratic Party politics.  His legal skill earned him an appointment to the newly created board of law examiners in 1925.  That, in turn, led him to pursue higher standards of professionalism in bar admissions and the legal profession.

In 1937, newly-elected Governor Fred Cone appointed his law partner to the Florida Supreme Court position that opened when Justice Fred Davis suddenly died.  There was a great deal of criticism of the appointment.  Justice Chapman worked hard on his judicial opinions and on the administration of the judicial branch when he was the chief justice, which reduced the accusations of cronyism.  While chief justice, Chapman oversaw the funding and start of construction on the present Supreme Court Building.  He served until his death in 1952.

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