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James C. Adkins Jr.

(1915-1994)

James C. Adkins Jr.

Born in 1915 in Gainesville. His father, James Adkins Sr., was a state attorney, state representative and Gainesville mayor. His great uncle, A. Z. Adkins, was a state senator and circuit judge. Adkins Jr. and his first wife, Ethel May Fox, had two children: Linda Rae and James Stanton. He married his second wife, Elizabeth, in 1979, and is survived by her and son, James.

Though he swore he would never become one, Adkins agreed to be appointed by Governor LeRoy Collins in 1959 to a new Alachua County Court Judge of Record and 10 years later – after also serving as Circuit Court Judge (appointed by Governor Farris Bryant) – he became the last Supreme Court Justice selected by popular election. On the high court, he addressed student anti-war demonstrations of the 60s, reapportionment of the 70s, and the death penalty (State v. Dickson, a decision written by Adkins that still stands today).

College Education / Achievements

  • Graduated from University of Florida College of Law, 1938
  • In his memory, Justice James C. Adkins Jr. Scholarship Fund established
  • Presented James W. Day Award, 1966, by John Marshall Bar Association

Legal Experience

  • Law clerk, Florida Supreme Court, 1938-39
  • Assistant Attorney General, 1940-41
  • Assistant State Attorney, 1957-59
  • Practiced law in Gainesville, 1941-59 / 1961-64
  • Court of Record Judge, Alachua County, 1959-61
  • Circuit Court Judge, Eighth Circuit, 1964-68
  • Florida Supreme Court Justice, 1969-87, and Chief Justice, 1974-76 –Wrote six of the major decisions construing and applying Florida’s seminal ‘Government in the Sunshine Law’
  • Posthumously awarded Florida Bar Foundation’s Medal of Honor for contributions to the law and legal profession

Associations / Organizations / Honors

  • Board of Directors, Attorneys’ Bar Association of Florida, Inc. (organization dedicated to ending over regulation of the practice of law) and award created in his name to honor those active in efforts to reform practice of law
  • Author of: Florida Criminal Law and Procedure, Florida Real Estate Law and Procedure, and 27 articles in Florida Law and Practice
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