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Rubio, Scott Introduce Bill to Name Tallahassee Courthouse After Judge Joseph Woodrow Hatchett

Oct 6, 2021 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rick Scott (R-FL) introduced legislation to designate the United States Courthouse and Federal Building located at 111 North Adams Street in Tallahassee, Florida, as the “Joseph Woodrow Hatchett United States Courthouse and Federal Building.” Representative Lawson (D-FL), along with the bipartisan Florida delegation, introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives. 
 
“As a veteran and the first African-American Supreme Court Justice for the State of Florida, Judge Hatchett was a remarkable public servant with a significant tenure on the bench,” Rubio said. “I am proud to introduce this legislation, which will commemorate his legacy.”   
 
“I’m proud to honor the life and legacy of Judge Joseph Woodrow Hatchett. As the first African-American to sit on the Florida Supreme Court, Judge Hatchett broke barriers that have opened opportunities in the judiciary for countless others,” Scott said. “His long and accomplished legal career is inspiring, and Floridians everywhere are grateful for his contributions to our state and our country.”
 
Background: 
 
According to his biography, “former Justice Joseph Woodrow Hatchett was the 65th Justice on the Supreme Court. He served from 1975-1979.
 
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 first 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.” Judge Hatchett passed away in April 2021 at the age of 88.