Justice Parker Lee McDonald
Former Justice Parker Lee McDonald was the 68th Justice on the Supreme Court and served from 1979-1994.
Born in Sebring, Florida, McDonald attended the University of Florida and later received his degree from its law school in 1950 after service in the U.S. Army interrupted his studies. He later went into private practice in Orlando with a firm that eventually became Gurney McDonald & Handley.
McDonald was appointed to the Ninth Judicial Circuit bench in 1961 and served there until his appointment to the Florida Supreme Court in 1979 by then-Gov. Bob Graham.
In the mid to late 1970s, McDonald was one of several newly appointed Justices who elevated the reputation of the Court after it earlier had become involved in scandal. He was well known for his groundbreaking opinions restricting the ability of prosecutors to remove jurors from a case solely because of their race – a view later adopted by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Supreme Court history is full of anecdotes about newly appointed Justices whose first visit to the Court was marred by some staffer's ignorance of the new judge's identity. Justice Stephen Grimes had his car towed on his first visit, for example. But no such story tops that of Justice Parker Lee McDonald.
On his first day, Justice McDonald was taking a leisurely stroll through his new office building, whistling happily to himself. When he chanced into the rotunda area, a security guard walked up to Justice McDonald and informed him that whistling was strictly forbidden in the building. Without batting an eye, Justice McDonald looked the hapless guard in the eye and informed him that he would whistle as he pleased, given the fact he was a new Justice.
During his distinguished career on the Court, Justice McDonald also was known for his forthright appraisal of views espoused by other Justices. One of his trademarks was to draw a smiley face on Court papers that pleased him and a frowny face on those that did not. Many young law clerks felt they finally had proven themselves when their work first earned one of those difficult-to-obtain smiley faces!
Quick facts about Justice McDonald:
- Served as Justice from October 26, 1979 - May 31, 1994 and as Chief Justice from 1986-1988
- Born: May 23, 1924 - Sebring, Florida
- Died: June 24, 2017 - Tallahassee, Florida at the age of 93
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