Justice Bonnie Kaslo Roberts
Former Justice B.K. Roberts was the 49th Justice on the Supreme Court. He served from 1949-1976. B.K. Roberts’s family settled in North Florida in the 1840s and enjoyed modest prosperity.
Roberts did well in school, but briefly tried construction work. He turned back to education, attending the University of Florida, where he developed a friendship with fellow student, and future governor, Fuller Warren.
He also developed an interest in the law, graduating from the University of Florida in 1928. While still a student, he made the acquaintance of Edward Ball, a powerful Jacksonville businessman.
Roberts practiced law in Tallahassee until 1949. During those years he invested in land and businesses in the area and achieved great financial success. He served as shipping commissioner for the Port of Jacksonville during World War II. In 1948, he assisted Fuller Warren in his successful bid to be governor of Florida. Roberts was appointed to the Florida Supreme Court soon after.
Roberts was influential in creating much-needed improvements to the judicial branch of state government. He helped start the District Court of Appeal system and the Florida public defender system, and also served on state constitutional revision commissions in 1968 and 1972.
He helped create a new law school at Florida State University in 1965, and the law school building was later named for him. He guided the creation and work of the Edward Ball Wildlife Foundation to preserve Wakulla Springs.
He also generated controversy because his personal friendships conflicted at times with his conduct of court business. He retired from the court in 1975, during a time of serious public concern over the actions of several justices on the court. Roberts practiced law in Tallahassee until his death in 1999.
Quick facts about Justice Roberts:
Bonnie Kaslo Roberts (Leon) [served 27 years, 3 months]
Served September 1, 1949 –December 1, 1976 as Justice
Served March 14, 1953 – January 11, 1955; July 1, 1961 – July 1, 1963 and January 5, 1971 – January 1, 1973 as Chief Justice [appointed at age 42]
b. Sopchoppy, Florida, February 5, 1907 d. August 4, 1999, Tallahassee, Florida
County Judge: No. Circuit Judge: No.
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