Justices of the Florida Supreme Court

Address:
Supreme Court of Florida
500 South Duval Street
Tallahassee Florida
32399-1925

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Justice Harold Leon "Tom" Sebring

 (Alachua)  [served 12 years, 9 months]
Served January 5, 1943 – September 15, 1955 as Justice 
Served January 1951 – January 1953 as Chief Justice  [elected at age 44]
b. Olathe, Kansas, March 9, 1898     d. July 26, 1969, St. Petersburg, Florida
County Judge:  No.          Circuit Judge: Yes.

A distant relative of the family who founded the city of Sebring, Tom Sebring grew up in Kansas, went to school there, did his military service in World War I, and went to Kansas State College for a business career.  Only in 1924, at age 26, did he decide that business was not for him and moved to Gainesville, Florida, to the University of Florida, where he began law school in 1926, after he had earned enough money to pay for his education.  Part of the work he did included coaching the university football team.  He graduated in 1929 and practiced law in Gainesville, Miami, and then Jacksonville.  In 1934 he was appointed a judge in the eighth Judicial Circuit, in Gainesville.

In 1941 Judge Sebring announced his candidacy for the Supreme Court and won the primary in 1942.  He faced no opposition in the general election, and began his service in January 1943.  He promoted the idea of a new Supreme Court Building, took a hand in the design concepts for the building, and urged fellow justices to consider wearing the black robes that most judges in the U.S. wore, instead of business suits.  He also stepped up to a major judicial challenge when he was appointed by U.S. President Harry Truman to be one of the judges at the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal in 1946.

In 1955, Sebring resigned from the court to take up an offer to be dean of the law school at Stetson University, where he worked until his death.

 

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