Auxiliary Agencies of the Supreme Court
The Florida Supreme Court Historical Society
One of the newest agencies assisting the Court is the Florida Supreme Court Historical Society. The society was reactivated in 1983 through the efforts of Delphene Strickland, with the support of Justice Ben F. Overton, Chesterfield Smith, Reese Smith, Talbot "Sandy" D'Alemberte, Bob Ervin, and Lewis Hall. The Society serves the primary function of collecting and preserving materials relevant to the Court's lengthy history.
The Society has had considerable success. Its members and officers have contacted the families of former Justices, have obtained gifts of historical materials, and have conducted oral histories to further preserve the Court's rich history, among other endeavors.
One example of the Society's work is the Waterbury Clock located on the Library's main level. This instrument was manufactured around 1910-1919, and most likely was purchased by the Court for the previous Supreme Court building constructed in 1912. The clock later was purchased from the Court by Justice T. Frank Hobson, who served from 1948 until his retirement in 1962. In 1986, the Hobson family returned the clock to the Court in memory of Justice Hobson.
Other activities of the Society have included the regular publication of a newsletter, the presentation of oral history programs throughout the state, the compiling and publication of historical materials, and the presentation of exhibits in the Supreme Court rotunda, in the Historic Old Capitol building and at The Florida Bar Conventions. The Society also has published a history of the Court from territorial days until 1917. The Society can be reached by calling (850) 222-3703.
The newest project of the Society is the Supreme Court Docent Program, which will increase public access to the Court by providing tours and other informational services. As part of the project, the Society has developed and published a book entitled The Supreme Court of Florida, which is the source of some of the material on these Internet home pages.
The Florida Bar
The Florida Bar, with executive offices in Tallahassee, is a state-wide professional organization of lawyers. Since 1949, Florida has an "integrated bar," which means all lawyers admitted to the practice of law in Florida must be members of this official professional association.
The authority for the establishment and maintenance of the Bar as an integrated bar association is a 1949 rule of the Supreme Court based on the Court's constitutional authority to regulate the practice of law in Florida. The rule was adopted in an opinion written by Justice Glenn Terrell in which he made the often-quoted observation that lawyers owe a special duty to our society's democratic ideals.
The Bar assists the Court by recommending disciplinary action in grievance proceedings against lawyers and in cases of complaints of the practice of law by unauthorized persons. Committees of the Bar frequently draft, and propose to the Court, amendments to Court rules of procedure. The Florida Bar, with the cooperation of 63 local bar associations, conducts public information programs, assists in providing legal aid to people who are unable to pay legal fees, and provides educational services to members and the public through seminars and publications.
The governing body of the Bar is the Board of Governors, whose members are elected by members of the Bar.
The Florida Board of Bar Examiners
The Florida Board of Bar Examiners, located in Tallahassee, is an instrument of the Supreme Court designed to assure that only qualified persons will be admitted to the practice of law. Created by a 1955 rule of the Court, it is composed of three non-lawyer members who serve three-year terms and 12 members of the Bar who serve staggered, five-year terms. Members are usually selected by the Court from slates of nominees submitted by the Board of Governors.
The board's functions are to determine the professional competence of applicants for admission to practice by conducting written examinations in subjects determined by the Court, to investigate the character and other qualifications of applicants, and to submit to the Supreme Court the names of all applicants who are deemed fully qualified for admission to practice. Admission to the Bar is finally accomplished by rule of the Court.
The Florida Bar Foundation
The Florida Bar Board of Governors brought The Florida Bar Foundation into existence in 1956 as a nonprofit corporation chartered to foster law-related public interest programs on behalf of Florida’s legal profession. The Florida Bar Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide greater access to justice. While principal support for the Foundation’s charitable activities comes from the Interest on Trust Accounts (IOTA) Program implemented by the Florida Supreme Court in 1981, Foundation grants also are supported by gifts from Florida attorneys, law firms, corporations, foundations and other individuals.
Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice
The Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice was created by then-Chief Justice Jorge Labarga in 2014 and made permanent by the Supreme Court in 2016. The Commission works to address the unmet civil legal needs of disadvantaged, low income, and moderate income Floridians by working to eliminate barriers that create difficulties for those seeking meaningful access to civil justice.