Justices of the Florida Supreme Court

Supreme Court of Florida
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Justice Joseph Woodrow Hatchett

(Pinellas)  [served 3 years, 10 months]
Served September 2, 1975 – July 18, 1979 as Justice  [appointed at age 42]
b. Clearwater, Florida, September 17, 1932             d. ––
County Judge:  No.          Circuit Judge:  No.           Court of Appeal Judge:  No.

After graduation from Florida A&M University in 1954, Joseph Hatchett was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army.  He entered Howard University School of Law in 1956 and earned his LL.B. degree in 1959.  After admission to the Florida Bar, he entered private practice in Daytona Beach, practicing criminal, civil, administrative, and civil rights law in state and federal courts.  In 1966, he was appointed assistant United States attorney for the Middle District of Florida, and, in 1967, he was designated first assistant United States attorney.  In 1971, he was appointed United States magistrate for the Middle District of Florida. 

In 1975, Governor Reubin Askew appointed Hatchett as the first black Florida Supreme Court justice.  In 1976, in defending his seat on the court, he became the only black person to win a Florida statewide contested election during the twentieth century.  He served until 1979, when he was appointed to the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals by President Jimmy Carter, becoming the first black man appointed to a federal appeals court in the Deep South.  He retired in 1999 and returned to private practice in Tallahassee.

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