VIA U.P.S. No.

1Z64589FP291602502 August 21, 2014
Email: davidt@flcourts.org
Thomas A. "Tad" David cc: J ohn F. Harkness, Executive Director
General Counsel The Florida Bar, jharkness@flabar.org
Office of the State Courts Administrator
Supreme Court Building cc: J ohn A. Tomasino, Clerk, Florida
500 South Duval Street Supreme Court, tomasino@flcourts.org
Tallahassee, FL 32399
RE: Loyalty oaths, 876.05 Public employees; oath
Dear Mr. David:
Please find attached a public record provided by OSCA for Laura Rush, former General Counsel
for OSCA, a defective loyalty oath required by 876.05 Public employees; oath. The oath is not
dated, not notarized, and does not show in which county Ms. Rush allegedly executed the oath.
This is a request for records of the loyalty oaths for the following persons,
Laura Rush, if OSCA has a fully executed oath required by 876.05.
Debbie Howells, Statewide ADA Coordinator
Elizabeth A. Goodner (Lisa), former State Courts Administrator
Patricia J ameson, State Courts Administrator
Thomas A. "Tad" David, OSCA General Counsel
Florida J urisprudence 2d, Volume 9, Civil Servants, § 111 Loyalty Oaths (2007)
All public employees are required to take an oath to support the Constitution of the
United States and of the State of Florida. [fn1] An employee who refuses to take the
required loyalty oath must be discharged. [fn2].
The oath's requirement for pledging to support the state and federal Constitutions is
constitutionally valid. [fn3] Although the oath refers to the affirmant as being a citizen of
the United States and State of Florida, [fn4] to ban lawful aliens from public employment
is unconstitutional and aliens may use a modified oath with the words "a citizen of the
State of Florida and of the United States of America" stricken. [fn5]
Fn1. § 876.05(1), Fla. Stat.
Fn2. § 876.06
Fn3. Connell v. Higginbotham, 403 U.S. 207, 91 S. Ct. 1772, 29 L. Ed. 2d 418 (1971).
Fn4. § 876.05(1), Fla. Stat.
Fn5. City of Orlando v. State of Fla., 751 F. Supp. 974 (M.D. Fla. 1990).
Connell v. Higginbotham, 403 U.S. 207, 91 S. Ct. 1772, 29 L. Ed. 2d 418 (1971).
http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=17784843264017020647
Thomas A. "Tad" David, General Counsel August 21, 2014
Office of the State Courts Administrator Page - 2
CONNELL v. HIGGINBOTHAM ET AL, 403 U.S. 207 (1971)
No. 79. Supreme Court of United States.
Argued November 19, 1970
Decided J une 7, 1971
PER CURIAM
“This is an appeal from an action commenced in the United States District Court for the Middle
District of Florida challenging the constitutionality of §§ 876.05-876.10 of Fla. Stat. (1965), and
the various loyalty oaths upon which appellant's employment as a school teacher was
conditioned. The three-judge U. S. District Court declared three of the five clauses contained in
the oaths to be unconstitutional,[*] and enjoined the State from conditioning 208*208
employment on the taking of an oath including the language declared unconstitutional....”
I believe this part is still constitutional:
“The first section of the oath upheld by the District Court, requiring all applicants to pledge to
support the Constitution of the United States and of the State of Florida, demands no more of
Florida public employees than is required of all state and federal officers. U. S. Const., Art. VI,
cl. 3. The validity of this section of the oath would appear settled. See Knight v. Board of
Regents, 269 F. Supp. 339 (1967), aff'd per curiam, 390 U. S. 36 (1968); Hosack v. Smiley, 276
F. Supp. 876 (1967), aff'd per curiam, 390 U. S. 744 (1968); Ohlson v. Phillips, 304 F. Supp.
1152 (1969), aff'd per curiam, 397 U. S. 317 (1970).”
Loyalty Oath - Especially Relevant in Florida
In my view the loyalty oath is especially relevant in a state with a long history of civil rights
abuses, a former Confederate state, and where the Florida Bar has usurped the Article III
“judicial power of the United States” in the federal courts, see Petition No. 12-7747.
Eugene K. Pettis — First African-American President of The Florida Bar, by J an Pudlow
Brutal Beating, Serious Tailspin, J uly/August, 2013 Volume 87, No. 7
“Parental support rose to a new level in 1972, when sixth-grader Eugene Pettis received the
beating of his life at the hands of two white teachers at Sunland Park Elementary School.
Horse-playing with another boy, Eugene ran out of the cafeteria to a little patch of grass, but the
other boy kept running.
“This teacher said, ‘Come here! You wait right here!’”
While the other boy escaped, the teacher ordered Eugene to the office, where the burly P.E.
coach waited in the clinic.
The teacher pulled out a leather strap, like a barber uses to sharpen a straight razor.
Thomas A. "Tad" David, General Counsel August 21, 2014
Office of the State Courts Administrator Page - 3
He told Eugene to put his hands on the counter, and the P.E. coach made sure he obeyed as the
teacher started swinging the strap.
“They beat me. They beat me. They beat me. And I was just going crazy, losing my breath, and
crying,” Pettis recalled with a wince.
“They gave me a break, and said, ‘Get your composure,’ and told me to put my hands back on
the counter and started beating me again. I’m just losing it.”
Physically sick, Eugene was dazed during the rest of class, and when he got home he stretched
across his bed, with bruises and welts stinging all over his back and buttocks.
His sister knew about the beating, because unbeknownst to the teachers, a neighbor girl was
behind the curtain in the clinic and witnessed the whole thing.
“They had to take me to the doctor that night, and the doctor said he could not believe someone
beat a child like that,” Pettis said.
Mr. and Mrs. Pettis went to the school to complain, launching an investigation. The teacher
confessed he spanked Eugene three times. Eugene thought it must have been 100.
The witnessing neighbor counted 67 licks.
At the school, they took pictures of Eugene’s injuries. They ended up firing the teacher and
suspending the P.E. coach.”
Civil War and Reconstruction - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loyalty_oath
During the American Civil War, political prisoners and prisoners of war were often
released upon taking an "oath of allegiance". Lincoln's Ten percent plan featured an oath
to "faithfully support, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the
union of the States thereunder" as a condition for a Presidential pardon. During
Reconstruction, retroactive loyalty oaths were proposed by Radical Republicans, which
would have barred former Confederates and Confederate sympathizers from federal,
state, or local offices.
The Florida Bar has usurped the Article III “judicial power of the United States” in the federal
courts, see Petition No. 12-7747 for writ of certiorari, U.S. Supreme Court.
Page 4, Statement of the Case
On the morning of September 28, 2010 Gillespie needed the assistance and protection of
an Article III federal judge, the Hon. Wm. Terrell Hodges, and the Ocala Fla. U.S.
District Court, in a 5 year-old Fla. state court lawsuit gone bad with Ryan Christopher
Rodems[fn1], of Barker, Rodems & Cook, that cheated Gillespie in a prior case. The Fla.
suit was to recover the money.
Thomas A. "Tad" David, General Counsel August 21, 2014
Office of the State Courts Administrator Page - 4
Page 6, Gillespie is a Consumer of Legal and Court Services - Not a Criminal
On September 28, 2010 Gillespie believed an Article III federal judge was independent,
and exercised what Article III calls "the judicial power of the United States."
Unfortunately our Founders did not consider the corrupting power and influence of a
rival called The Florida Bar. The Hon. Wm. Terrell Hodges, nominated by President Nixon,
and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, is also a member of The Florida Bar, ID No. 36398.
Article III, Section 3, U.S. Constitution, http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/articleiii
“Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering
to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on
the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.”
“The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason
shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted.”
18 U.S. Code Chapter 115 - TREASON, SEDITION, AND SUBVERSIVE ACTIVITIES
18 U.S. Code § 2381 - Treason, http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/2381
“Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their
enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason
and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title
but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”
Article VI, Clause 3, U.S. Constitution - http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/articlevi
“The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state
legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several
states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test
shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
4 U.S. Code § 101 - Oath by members of legislatures and officers
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/4/101
“Every member of a State legislature, and every executive and judicial officer of a State, shall,
before he proceeds to execute the duties of his office, take an oath in the following form, to wit:
“I, A B, do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States.””
4 U.S. Code § 102 - Same; by whom administered
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/4/102
“Such oath may be administered by any person who, by the law of the State, is authorized to
administer the oath of office; and the person so administering such oath shall cause a record or
Thomas A. "Tad" David, General Counsel August 21, 2014
Office of the State Courts Administrator Page - 5
certificate thereof to be made in the same manner, as by the law of the State, he is directed to
record or certify the oath of office.”
Article II, SECTION 8, Florida Constitution. Ethics in government.—A public office is a public
trust. The people shall have the right to secure and sustain that trust against abuse.
Section 112.313, Florida Statutes, Standards of conduct for public officers, employees of
agencies, and local government attorneys.
112.313(6) MISUSE OF PUBLIC POSITION.—No public officer, employee of an
agency, or local government attorney shall corruptly use or attempt to use his or her
official position or any property or resource which may be within his or her trust, or
perform his or her official duties, to secure a special privilege, benefit, or exemption for
himself, herself, or others....
Thank you in advance for the courtesy of a response.
Sincerely,
Neil J . Gillespie
8092 SW 115th Loop
Ocala, Florida 34481
Telephone: 352-854-7807
Email: neilgillespie@mfi.net
Enclosures:
• Defective loyalty oath for Laura Rush
• Connell v. Higginbotham, 403 U.S. 207, 91 S. Ct. 1772, 29 L. Ed. 2d 418 (1971).
• Florida J urisprudence 2d, Volume 9, Civil Servants, § 111 Loyalty Oaths (2007)
Eugene K. Pettis — First African-American President of The Florida Bar, by J an Pudlow
Brutal Beating, Serious Tailspin, J uly/August, 2013 Volume 87, No. 7
http://www.floridabar.org/divcom/jn/jnjournal01.nsf/8c9f13012b96736985256aa900624829/f0d
5f1137bde69d085257b900053be2f!OpenDocument
Article Three of the United States Constitution
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_Three_of_the_United_States_Constitution
Article Six of the United States Constitution
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_Six_of_the_United_States_Constitution
Thomas A. "Tad" David, General Counsel August 21, 2014
Office of the State Courts Administrator Page - 6
18 U.S. Code Chapter 115 - TREASON, SEDITION, AND SUBVERSIVE ACTIVITIES
Treason http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/part-I/chapter-115
Treason Against the United States, The New York Times, Published: J anuary 25, 1861
http://www.nytimes.com/1861/01/25/news/treason-against-the-united-states.html
Sections 876.05 through 876.10 of the Florida Statutes govern loyalty oaths by employees of the
state of Florida, and are found in Chapter 876, CRIMINAL ANARCHY, TREASON, AND
OTHER CRIMES AGAINST PUBLIC ORDER.
http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0800-
0899/0876/0876ContentsIndex.html&StatuteYear=2014&Title=-%3E2014-%3EChapter%20876
876.26 Unlawful for subversive organizations to exist or function.—It shall be unlawful for any
subversive organization or foreign subversive organization to exist or function in the state and
any organization which by a court of competent jurisdiction is found to have violated the
provisions of this section shall be dissolved, and if it be a corporation organized and existing
under the laws of the state, a finding by a court of competent jurisdiction that it has violated the
provisions of this section shall constitute legal cause for forfeiture of its charter and its charter
shall be forfeited, and all funds, books, records, and files of every kind and all other property of
any organization found to have violated the provisions of this section shall be seized by and for
the state, the funds to be deposited in the State Treasury, and the books, records, files, and other
property to be turned over to the Attorney General of Florida.
876.05 Public employees; oath.—
(1) All persons who now or hereafter are employed by or who now or hereafter are on the payroll
of the state, or any of its departments and agencies, subdivisions, counties, cities, school boards
and districts of the free public school system of the state or counties, or institutions of higher
learning, except candidates for federal office, are required to take an oath before any person duly
authorized to take acknowledgments of instruments for public record in the state in the following
form:
I, [J ohn F. Harkness], a citizen of the State of Florida and of the United States of
America, and being employed by or an officer of [The Florida Bar] and a recipient of
public funds as such employee or officer, do hereby solemnly swear or affirm that I will
support the Constitution of the United States and of the State of Florida.
(2) Said oath shall be filed with the records of the governing official or employing governmental
agency prior to the approval of any voucher for the payment of salary, expenses, or other
compensation.
876.06 Discharge for refusal to execute.—If any person required by ss. 876.05-876.10 to take the
oath herein provided for fails to execute the same, the governing authority under which such
person is employed shall cause said person to be immediately discharged, and his or her name
removed from the payroll, and such person shall not be permitted to receive any payment as an
employee or as an officer where he or she was serving.
Thomas A. "Tad" David, General Counsel August 21, 2014
Office of the State Courts Administrator Page - 7
876.08 Penalty for not discharging.—Any governing authority or person, under whom any
employee is serving or by whom employed who shall knowingly or carelessly permit any such
employee to continue in employment after failing to comply with the provisions of ss. 876.05-
876.10, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s.
775.082 or s. 775.083.
876.09 Scope of law.—
(1) The provisions of ss. 876.05-876.10 shall apply to all employees and elected officers of the
state, including the Governor and constitutional officers and all employees and elected officers
of all cities, towns, counties, and political subdivisions, including the educational system.
(2) This act shall take precedence over all laws relating to merit, and of civil service law.
876.10 False oath; penalty.—If any person required by the provisions of ss. 876.05-876.10 to
execute the oath herein required executes such oath, and it is subsequently proven that at the
time of the execution of said oath said individual was guilty of making a false statement in said
oath, he or she shall be guilty of perjury.
OATH  OF  LOYALTY 
STATE OF  FLORIDA 
COUNTY OF 
I, 7) v51i ,  a  citizen  of the  State  of  Florida  and  of the  United 
States of America: and being employed by or an  officer of the Florida State Courts 
System  and  a  recipient  of  public  funds  as  such  employee  or  officer,  do  hereby 
solemnly swear or affirm that I will support the Constitution of the United States and 
of the State  of Florida.  I 
/y' "v Q
,/ 
.•__ 1
:  :_:_..  ••••  ....  .. •••• .. .. ....  eo," .. _... '  .. ••• ....  ••••••:...  .. ....."'..  ....  ...... .. _....... eo"...  ..eo"'..............  eo", .. .. .. :  ...... ".."  ' ......  ".. " .. ••••  .. .. .. .. ........ _.... '....  .. ...."' .......  eo ..."' ."'... ••"' ......."'...."' .. "... .. .. ....  ..........  ••  .. ·0"'.. •••  0..... ' .... "'.. .. ....  '."'..  .O'. a·  ...... -'-a" a - • - "...a..
.:;.'.". 
                                                                                                                 
::::  :.::  .  :.:.•. :.:;::.: ..::.: ..:.::.:.:  ::: .. ;..  ..'  :.': : ..•. :..••.:..::::::.;.::.;.:;: ..  :.::.:::..::;:: •....::  :.;.:::.::  :  :::  :.:.;.
                             
::::  : .:.:::.:.. :.:":  .:.; ..:" ::....•.  '  :.:':':.:. .: 
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF AT-WILL EMPLOYMENT 
I  hereby  acknowledge  that  my  employment  with  the  State  Courts  System  is, 
pursuant to 110.205(c), Florida Statutes, not covered under Career Service and that 
all  employees  of the State  Courts  System  serve  at the pleasure  of the appointing 
authority and  do not attain  tenure rights.  )  //
/f

I
Subscribed  and  sworn  to. before me  at 
This  Day  of  ,19_ 
Title 
CIVIL SERVANTS § 111
tionofanadministrativecode andalso upontheadoptionof
a charter.
1
Theboardofcountycommissionersofanycountyadopting
a charter may, by ordinance, administer the merit system
througha countydepartmentof civilserviceunlessotherwise
provided by the charter.
2
Such administration mustinclude
classification, recruitment, examination, establishment of
eligibility lists, grievances, compensation, and other condi-
tions ofemploymentpursuanttolaw.
3
A charter county ordinance establishing a civil service
systemmaypermitexclusionofclassificationsbysubsequent
resolution.
4
§111 Loyaltyoath
ResearchReferences
West's Key NumberDigest, Officers and Public Employees ~   2,
36(1),  (2)
All public employees are required to take anoath to sup-
porttheConstitutionoftheUnitedStatesandoftheStateof
Florida.
1
An employee who refuses to take the required
loyaltyoathmustbedischarged.
2
The oath's requirement for pledging to support the state
andfederal Constitutionsisconstitutionallyvalid.
3
Although
the oath refers to the affirmant as being a citizen of the
United States and State ofFlorida,4 to ban lawful aliens
from public employment is unconstitutional and aliens may
use a modified oathwiththewords"acitizen oftheStateof
FloridaandoftheUnitedStatesofAmerica"stricken.
5
[Section110]
1§ 125.88(1), Fla. Stat.
2§ 125.88(2),Fla. Stat.
3§  125.88(2),Fla. Stat. 
4Tell v. Broward County, 733 
So. 2d 1131 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th
Dist. 1999).
[Section111]
1§  876.05( 1), Fla. Stat.
2§ 876.06, Fla. Stat. 
3Connell v. Higginbotham, 403 
U.S. 207, 91 S. Ct. 1772, 29 L. Ed.
2d 418(1971).
4§ 876.05(1), Fla. Stat.
5CityofOrlandov. StateofFla.,
751 F. Supp. 974 (M.D. Fla. 1990).
587
403 U.S. 207 (1971)
CONNELL
v.
HIGGINBOTHAM ET AL.
No. 79.
Argued November 19, 1970
Decided J une 7, 1971
APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA.
Supreme Court of United States.
Sanford Jay Rosen argued the cause for appellant. With him on the brief were Tobias Simon and Melvin L.
Wulf.
Stephen Marc Slepin argued the cause for appellees. With him on the brief were Rivers Buford, Jr., and
James W. Markel.
PER CURIAM.
This is an appeal from an action commenced in the United States District Court for the Middle District of
Florida challenging the constitutionality of §§ 876.05-876.10 of Fla. Stat. (1965), and the various loyalty
oaths upon which appellant's employment as a school teacher was conditioned. The three-judge U. S. District
Court declared three of the five clauses contained in the oaths to be unconstitutional,
[*]
and enjoined the
State from conditioning *208 employment on the taking of an oath including the language declared
unconstitutional. The appeal is from that portion of the District Court decision which upheld the remaining two
clauses in the oath: I do hereby solemnly swear or affirm (1) "that I will support the Constitution of the United
States and of the State of Florida"; and (2) "that I do not believe in the overthrow of the Government of the
United States or of the State of Florida by force or violence."
208
On J anuary 16, 1969, appellant made application for a teaching position with the Orange County school
system. She was interviewed by the principal of Callahan Elementary School, and on J anuary 27, 1969,
appellant was employed as a substitute classroom teacher in the fourth grade of that school. Appellant was
dismissed from her teaching position on March 18, 1969, for refusing to sign the loyalty oath required of all
Florida public employees, Fla. Stat. § 876.05.
The first section of the oath upheld by the District Court, requiring all applicants to pledge to support the
Constitution of the United States and of the State of Florida, demands no more of Florida public employees
than is required of all state and federal officers. U. S. Const., Art. VI, cl. 3. The validity of this section of the
oath would appear settled. See Knight v. Board of Regents, 269 F. Supp. 339 (1967), aff'd per curiam, 390
U. S. 36 (1968); Hosack v. Smiley, 276 F. Supp. 876 (1967), aff'd per curiam, 390 U. S. 744 (1968); Ohlson
v. Phillips, 304 F. Supp. 1152 (1969), aff'd per curiam, 397 U. S. 317 (1970).
The second portion of the oath, approved by the District Court, falls within the ambit of decisions of this Court
proscribing summary dismissal from public employment without hearing or inquiry required by due process.
209
http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=17784843264017020647&hl=en&as_sdt=6&as_vis=1&oi=scholarr
Slochower v. Board of Education, 350 U. S. 551 *209 (1956). Cf. Nostrand v. Little, 362 U. S. 474 (1960);
Speiser v. Randall, 357 U. S. 513 (1958). That portion of the oath, therefore, cannot stand.
Affirmed in part, and reversed in part.
MR. J USTICE MARSHALL, with whom MR. J USTICE DOUGLAS and MR. J USTICE BRENNAN join,
concurring in the result.
I agree that Florida may require state employees to affirm that they "will support the Constitution of the United
States and of the State of Florida." Such a forward-looking, promissory oath of constitutional support does
not in my view offend the First Amendment's command that the grant or denial of governmental benefits
cannot be made to turn on the political viewpoints or affiliations of a would-be beneficiary. I also agree that
Florida may not base its employment decisions, as to state teachers or any other hiring category, on an
applicant's willingness vel non to affirm "that I do not believe in the overthrow of the Government of the
United States or of the State of Florida by force or violence."
However, in striking down the latter oath, the Court has left the clear implication that its objection runs, not
against Florida's determination to exclude those who "believe in the overthrow," but only against the State's
decision to regard unwillingness to take the oath as conclusive, irrebuttable proof of the proscribed belief.
Due process may rightly be invoked to condemn Florida's mechanistic approach to the question of proof. But
in my view it simply does not matter what kind of evidence a State can muster to show that a job applicant
"believe[s] in the overthrow." For state action injurious to an individual cannot be justified on account of the
nature of the individual's beliefs, whether he "believe[s] in the overthrow" or has any other sort of belief. "If
*210 there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe
what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion . . . ." Board of Education
v. Barnette, 319 U. S. 624, 642 (1943).
210
I would strike down Florida's "overthrow" oath plainly and simply on the ground that belief as such cannot be
the predicate of governmental action.
MR. J USTICE STEWART, concurring in part and dissenting in part.
The Court upholds as clearly constitutional the first clause of the oath as it comes to us from the three-judge
District Court: "I will support the Constitution of the United States and of the State of Florida . . . ." With this
ruling I fully agree.
As to the second contested clause of the oath, "I do not believe in the overthrow of the Government of the
United States or of the State of Florida by force or violence," I would remand to the District Court to give the
parties an opportunity to get from the state courts an authoritative construction of the meaning of the clause.
If the clause embraces the teacher's philosophical or political beliefs, I think it is constitutionally infirm. Baird
v. State Bar of Arizona, 401 U. S. 1, 9-10 (concurring opinion); Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U. S.
624, 642; Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U. S. 296, 303-304. If, on the other hand, the clause does no more
than test whether the first clause of the oath can be taken "without mental reservation or purpose of evasion,"
I think it is constitutionally valid. Law Students Civil Rights Research Council, Inc. v. Wadmond, 401 U. S.
154, 163-164. The Florida courts should, therefore, be given an opportunity to construe the clause before the
federal courts pass on its constitutionality. *211 See Fornaris v. Ridge Tool Co., 400 U. S. 41, 43-44; Reetz v.
Bozanich, 397 U. S. 82, 85-87; Railroad Comm'n v. Pullman Co., 312 U. S. 496, 498-501.
211
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The Supreme Court of Florida has explicitly held that the various clauses of the oath are severable. Cramp v.
Board of Public Instruction, 137 So. 2d 828, 830-831.
[*] The clauses declared unconstitutional by the court below required the employee to swear: (a) "that I amnot a member of the Communist
Party"; (b) "that I have not and will not lend my aid, support, advice, counsel or influence to the Communist Party"; and (c) "that I amnot a
member of any organization or party which believes in or teaches, directly or indirectly, the overthrow of the Government of the United
States or of Florida by force or violence."
Save trees - read court opinions online on Google Scholar.
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SECTION 7. Natural resources and scenic beauty.—
(a) It shall be the policy of the state to conserve and protect its natural resources and scenic beauty.
Adequate provision shall be made by law for the abatement of air and water pollution and of excessive and
unnecessary noise and for the conservation and protection of natural resources.
(b) Those in the Everglades Agricultural Area who cause water pollution within the Everglades Protection
Area or the Everglades Agricultural Area shall be primarily responsible for paying the costs of the abatement of
that pollution. For the purposes of this subsection, the terms “Everglades Protection Area” and “Everglades
Agricultural Area” shall have the meanings as defined in statutes in effect on January 1, 1996.
History.—Am. by Initiative Petition filed with the Secretary of State March 26, 1996; adopted 1996; Am. proposed by Constitution
Revision Commission, Revision No. 5, 1998, filed with the Secretary of State May 5, 1998; adopted 1998.
SECTION 8. Ethics in government.—A public office is a public trust. The people shall have the right to secure
and sustain that trust against abuse. To assure this right:
(a) All elected constitutional officers and candidates for such offices and, as may be determined by law,
other public officers, candidates, and employees shall file full and public disclosure of their financial interests.
(b) All elected public officers and candidates for such offices shall file full and public disclosure of their
campaign finances.
(c) Any public officer or employee who breaches the public trust for private gain and any person or entity
inducing such breach shall be liable to the state for all financial benefits obtained by such actions. The manner
of recovery and additional damages may be provided by law.
(d) Any public officer or employee who is convicted of a felony involving a breach of public trust shall be
subject to forfeiture of rights and privileges under a public retirement system or pension plan in such manner as
may be provided by law.
(e) No member of the legislature or statewide elected officer shall personally represent another person or
entity for compensation before the government body or agency of which the individual was an officer or member
for a period of two years following vacation of office. No member of the legislature shall personally represent
another person or entity for compensation during term of office before any state agency other than judicial
tribunals. Similar restrictions on other public officers and employees may be established by law.
(f) There shall be an independent commission to conduct investigations and make public reports on all
complaints concerning breach of public trust by public officers or employees not within the jurisdiction of the
judicial qualifications commission.
(g) A code of ethics for all state employees and nonjudicial officers prohibiting conflict between public duty
and private interests shall be prescribed by law.
(h) This section shall not be construed to limit disclosures and prohibitions which may be established by law
to preserve the public trust and avoid conflicts between public duties and private interests.
(i) Schedule—On the effective date of this amendment and until changed by law:
(1) Full and public disclosure of financial interests shall mean filing with the custodian of state records by
July 1 of each year a sworn statement showing net worth and identifying each asset and liability in excess of
$1,000 and its value together with one of the following:
a. A copy of the person’s most recent federal income tax return; or
b. A sworn statement which identifies each separate source and amount of income which exceeds $1,000.
The forms for such source disclosure and the rules under which they are to be filed shall be prescribed by the
independent commission established in subsection (f), and such rules shall include disclosure of secondary
sources of income.
(2) Persons holding statewide elective offices shall also file disclosure of their financial interests pursuant to
subsection (i)(1).
(3) The independent commission provided for in subsection (f) shall mean the Florida Commission on Ethics.
http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?Mode=Constitution&Submenu=3&Tab=statutes

Select Year:
The 2014 Florida Statutes
Title X
PUBLIC OFFICERS, EMPLOYEES,
AND RECORDS
Chapter 112
PUBLIC OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES:
GENERAL PROVISIONS
View Entire
Chapter
112.313 Standards of conduct for public officers, employees of agencies, and local government
attorneys.—
(1) DEFINITION.—As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires, the term “public officer”
includes any person elected or appointed to hold office in any agency, including any person serving on an
advisory body.
(2) SOLICITATION OR ACCEPTANCE OF GIFTS.—No public officer, employee of an agency, local government
attorney, or candidate for nomination or election shall solicit or accept anything of value to the recipient,
including a gift, loan, reward, promise of future employment, favor, or service, based upon any understanding
that the vote, official action, or judgment of the public officer, employee, local government attorney, or
candidate would be influenced thereby.
(3) DOING BUSINESS WITH ONE’S AGENCY.—No employee of an agency acting in his or her official capacity
as a purchasing agent, or public officer acting in his or her official capacity, shall either directly or indirectly
purchase, rent, or lease any realty, goods, or services for his or her own agency from any business entity of
which the officer or employee or the officer’s or employee’s spouse or child is an officer, partner, director, or
proprietor or in which such officer or employee or the officer’s or employee’s spouse or child, or any
combination of them, has a material interest. Nor shall a public officer or employee, acting in a private
capacity, rent, lease, or sell any realty, goods, or services to the officer’s or employee’s own agency, if he or
she is a state officer or employee, or to any political subdivision or any agency thereof, if he or she is serving
as an officer or employee of that political subdivision. The foregoing shall not apply to district offices
maintained by legislators when such offices are located in the legislator’s place of business or when such
offices are on property wholly or partially owned by the legislator. This subsection shall not affect or be
construed to prohibit contracts entered into prior to:
(a) October 1, 1975.
(b) Qualification for elective office.
(c) Appointment to public office.
(d) Beginning public employment.
(4) UNAUTHORIZED COMPENSATION.—No public officer, employee of an agency, or local government
attorney or his or her spouse or minor child shall, at any time, accept any compensation, payment, or thing of
value when such public officer, employee, or local government attorney knows, or, with the exercise of
reasonable care, should know, that it was given to influence a vote or other action in which the officer,
employee, or local government attorney was expected to participate in his or her official capacity.
(5) SALARY AND EXPENSES.—No public officer shall be prohibited from voting on a matter affecting his or
her salary, expenses, or other compensation as a public officer, as provided by law. No local government
attorney shall be prevented from considering any matter affecting his or her salary, expenses, or other
compensation as the local government attorney, as provided by law.
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(6) MISUSE OF PUBLIC POSITION.—No public officer, employee of an agency, or local government attorney
shall corruptly use or attempt to use his or her official position or any property or resource which may be
within his or her trust, or perform his or her official duties, to secure a special privilege, benefit, or exemption
for himself, herself, or others. This section shall not be construed to conflict with s. 104.31.
(7) CONFLICTING EMPLOYMENT OR CONTRACTUAL RELATIONSHIP.—
(a) No public officer or employee of an agency shall have or hold any employment or contractual
relationship with any business entity or any agency which is subject to the regulation of, or is doing business
with, an agency of which he or she is an officer or employee, excluding those organizations and their officers
who, when acting in their official capacity, enter into or negotiate a collective bargaining contract with the
state or any municipality, county, or other political subdivision of the state; nor shall an officer or employee of
an agency have or hold any employment or contractual relationship that will create a continuing or frequently
recurring conflict between his or her private interests and the performance of his or her public duties or that
would impede the full and faithful discharge of his or her public duties.
1. When the agency referred to is that certain kind of special tax district created by general or special law
and is limited specifically to constructing, maintaining, managing, and financing improvements in the land
area over which the agency has jurisdiction, or when the agency has been organized pursuant to chapter 298,
then employment with, or entering into a contractual relationship with, such business entity by a public
officer or employee of such agency shall not be prohibited by this subsection or be deemed a conflict per se.
However, conduct by such officer or employee that is prohibited by, or otherwise frustrates the intent of, this
section shall be deemed a conflict of interest in violation of the standards of conduct set forth by this section.
2. When the agency referred to is a legislative body and the regulatory power over the business entity
resides in another agency, or when the regulatory power which the legislative body exercises over the business
entity or agency is strictly through the enactment of laws or ordinances, then employment or a contractual
relationship with such business entity by a public officer or employee of a legislative body shall not be
prohibited by this subsection or be deemed a conflict.
(b) This subsection shall not prohibit a public officer or employee from practicing in a particular profession
or occupation when such practice by persons holding such public office or employment is required or permitted
by law or ordinance.
(8) DISCLOSURE OR USE OF CERTAIN INFORMATION.—A current or former public officer, employee of an
agency, or local government attorney may not disclose or use information not available to members of the
general public and gained by reason of his or her official position, except for information relating exclusively
to governmental practices, for his or her personal gain or benefit or for the personal gain or benefit of any
other person or business entity.
(9) POSTEMPLOYMENT RESTRICTIONS; STANDARDS OF CONDUCT FOR LEGISLATORS AND LEGISLATIVE
EMPLOYEES.—
(a)1. It is the intent of the Legislature to implement by statute the provisions of s. 8(e), Art. II of the State
Constitution relating to legislators, statewide elected officers, appointed state officers, and designated public
employees.
2. As used in this paragraph:
a. “Employee” means:
(I) Any person employed in the executive or legislative branch of government holding a position in the
Senior Management Service as defined in s. 110.402 or any person holding a position in the Selected Exempt
Service as defined in s. 110.602 or any person having authority over policy or procurement employed by the
Department of the Lottery.
(II) The Auditor General, the director of the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government
Accountability, the Sergeant at Arms and Secretary of the Senate, and the Sergeant at Arms and Clerk of the
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House of Representatives.
(III) The executive director and deputy executive director of the Commission on Ethics.
(IV) An executive director, staff director, or deputy staff director of each joint committee, standing
committee, or select committee of the Legislature; an executive director, staff director, executive assistant,
analyst, or attorney of the Office of the President of the Senate, the Office of the Speaker of the House of
Representatives, the Senate Majority Party Office, Senate Minority Party Office, House Majority Party Office,
or House Minority Party Office; or any person, hired on a contractual basis, having the power normally
conferred upon such persons, by whatever title.
(V) The Chancellor and Vice Chancellors of the State University System; the general counsel to the Board
of Governors of the State University System; and the president, provost, vice presidents, and deans of each
state university.
(VI) Any person, including an other-personal-services employee, having the power normally conferred upon
the positions referenced in this sub-subparagraph.
b. “Appointed state officer” means any member of an appointive board, commission, committee, council,
or authority of the executive or legislative branch of state government whose powers, jurisdiction, and
authority are not solely advisory and include the final determination or adjudication of any personal or
property rights, duties, or obligations, other than those relative to its internal operations.
c. “State agency” means an entity of the legislative, executive, or judicial branch of state government
over which the Legislature exercises plenary budgetary and statutory control.
3.a. No member of the Legislature, appointed state officer, or statewide elected officer shall personally
represent another person or entity for compensation before the government body or agency of which the
individual was an officer or member for a period of 2 years following vacation of office. No member of the
Legislature shall personally represent another person or entity for compensation during his or her term of
office before any state agency other than judicial tribunals or in settlement negotiations after the filing of a
lawsuit.
b. For a period of 2 years following vacation of office, a former member of the Legislature may not act as
a lobbyist for compensation before an executive branch agency, agency official, or employee. The terms used
in this sub-subparagraph have the same meanings as provided in s. 112.3215.
4. An agency employee, including an agency employee who was employed on July 1, 2001, in a Career
Service System position that was transferred to the Selected Exempt Service System under chapter 2001-43,
Laws of Florida, may not personally represent another person or entity for compensation before the agency
with which he or she was employed for a period of 2 years following vacation of position, unless employed by
another agency of state government.
5. Any person violating this paragraph shall be subject to the penalties provided in s. 112.317 and a civil
penalty of an amount equal to the compensation which the person receives for the prohibited conduct.
6. This paragraph is not applicable to:
a. A person employed by the Legislature or other agency prior to July 1, 1989;
b. A person who was employed by the Legislature or other agency on July 1, 1989, whether or not the
person was a defined employee on July 1, 1989;
c. A person who was a defined employee of the State University System or the Public Service Commission
who held such employment on December 31, 1994;
d. A person who has reached normal retirement age as defined in s. 121.021(29), and who has retired under
the provisions of chapter 121 by July 1, 1991; or
e. Any appointed state officer whose term of office began before January 1, 1995, unless reappointed to
that office on or after January 1, 1995.
(b) In addition to the provisions of this part which are applicable to legislators and legislative employees
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by virtue of their being public officers or employees, the conduct of members of the Legislature and legislative
employees shall be governed by the ethical standards provided in the respective rules of the Senate or House
of Representatives which are not in conflict herewith.
(10) EMPLOYEES HOLDING OFFICE.—
(a) No employee of a state agency or of a county, municipality, special taxing district, or other political
subdivision of the state shall hold office as a member of the governing board, council, commission, or
authority, by whatever name known, which is his or her employer while, at the same time, continuing as an
employee of such employer.
(b) The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to any person holding office in violation of such
provisions on the effective date of this act. However, such a person shall surrender his or her conflicting
employment prior to seeking reelection or accepting reappointment to office.
(11) PROFESSIONAL AND OCCUPATIONAL LICENSING BOARD MEMBERS.—No officer, director, or administrator
of a Florida state, county, or regional professional or occupational organization or association, while holding
such position, shall be eligible to serve as a member of a state examining or licensing board for the profession
or occupation.
(12) EXEMPTION.—The requirements of subsections (3) and (7) as they pertain to persons serving on
advisory boards may be waived in a particular instance by the body which appointed the person to the
advisory board, upon a full disclosure of the transaction or relationship to the appointing body prior to the
waiver and an affirmative vote in favor of waiver by two-thirds vote of that body. In instances in which
appointment to the advisory board is made by an individual, waiver may be effected, after public hearing, by
a determination by the appointing person and full disclosure of the transaction or relationship by the
appointee to the appointing person. In addition, no person shall be held in violation of subsection (3) or
subsection (7) if:
(a) Within a city or county the business is transacted under a rotation system whereby the business
transactions are rotated among all qualified suppliers of the goods or services within the city or county.
(b) The business is awarded under a system of sealed, competitive bidding to the lowest or best bidder
and:
1. The official or the official’s spouse or child has in no way participated in the determination of the bid
specifications or the determination of the lowest or best bidder;
2. The official or the official’s spouse or child has in no way used or attempted to use the official’s
influence to persuade the agency or any personnel thereof to enter such a contract other than by the mere
submission of the bid; and
3. The official, prior to or at the time of the submission of the bid, has filed a statement with the
Commission on Ethics, if the official is a state officer or employee, or with the supervisor of elections of the
county in which the agency has its principal office, if the official is an officer or employee of a political
subdivision, disclosing the official’s interest, or the interest of the official’s spouse or child, and the nature of
the intended business.
(c) The purchase or sale is for legal advertising in a newspaper, for any utilities service, or for passage on a
common carrier.
(d) An emergency purchase or contract which would otherwise violate a provision of subsection (3) or
subsection (7) must be made in order to protect the health, safety, or welfare of the citizens of the state or
any political subdivision thereof.
(e) The business entity involved is the only source of supply within the political subdivision of the officer
or employee and there is full disclosure by the officer or employee of his or her interest in the business entity
to the governing body of the political subdivision prior to the purchase, rental, sale, leasing, or other business
being transacted.
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(f) The total amount of the transactions in the aggregate between the business entity and the agency does
not exceed $500 per calendar year.
(g) The fact that a county or municipal officer or member of a public board or body, including a district
school officer or an officer of any district within a county, is a stockholder, officer, or director of a bank will
not bar such bank from qualifying as a depository of funds coming under the jurisdiction of any such public
board or body, provided it appears in the records of the agency that the governing body of the agency has
determined that such officer or member of a public board or body has not favored such bank over other
qualified banks.
(h) The transaction is made pursuant to s. 1004.22 or s. 1004.23 and is specifically approved by the
president and the chair of the university board of trustees. The chair of the university board of trustees shall
submit to the Governor and the Legislature by March 1 of each year a report of the transactions approved
pursuant to this paragraph during the preceding year.
(i) The public officer or employee purchases in a private capacity goods or services, at a price and upon
terms available to similarly situated members of the general public, from a business entity which is doing
business with his or her agency.
(j) The public officer or employee in a private capacity purchases goods or services from a business entity
which is subject to the regulation of his or her agency and:
1. The price and terms of the transaction are available to similarly situated members of the general
public; and
2. The officer or employee makes full disclosure of the relationship to the agency head or governing body
prior to the transaction.
(13) COUNTY AND MUNICIPAL ORDINANCES AND SPECIAL DISTRICT AND SCHOOL DISTRICT RESOLUTIONS
REGULATING FORMER OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES.—The governing body of any county or municipality may adopt
an ordinance and the governing body of any special district or school district may adopt a resolution providing
that an appointed county, municipal, special district, or school district officer or a county, municipal, special
district, or school district employee may not personally represent another person or entity for compensation
before the government body or agency of which the individual was an officer or employee for a period of 2
years following vacation of office or termination of employment, except for the purposes of collective
bargaining. Nothing in this section may be construed to prohibit such ordinance or resolution.
(14) LOBBYING BY FORMER LOCAL OFFICERS; PROHIBITION.—A person who has been elected to any county,
municipal, special district, or school district office may not personally represent another person or entity for
compensation before the government body or agency of which the person was an officer for a period of 2 years
after vacating that office. For purposes of this subsection:
(a) The “government body or agency” of a member of a board of county commissioners consists of the
commission, the chief administrative officer or employee of the county, and their immediate support staff.
(b) The “government body or agency” of any other county elected officer is the office or department
headed by that officer, including all subordinate employees.
(c) The “government body or agency” of an elected municipal officer consists of the governing body of the
municipality, the chief administrative officer or employee of the municipality, and their immediate support
staff.
(d) The “government body or agency” of an elected special district officer is the special district.
(e) The “government body or agency” of an elected school district officer is the school district.
(15) ADDITIONAL EXEMPTION.—No elected public officer shall be held in violation of subsection (7) if the
officer maintains an employment relationship with an entity which is currently a tax-exempt organization
under s. 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code and which contracts with or otherwise enters into a business
relationship with the officer’s agency and:
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(a) The officer’s employment is not directly or indirectly compensated as a result of such contract or
business relationship;
(b) The officer has in no way participated in the agency’s decision to contract or to enter into the business
relationship with his or her employer, whether by participating in discussion at the meeting, by communicating
with officers or employees of the agency, or otherwise; and
(c) The officer abstains from voting on any matter which may come before the agency involving the
officer’s employer, publicly states to the assembly the nature of the officer’s interest in the matter from which
he or she is abstaining, and files a written memorandum as provided in s. 112.3143.
(16) LOCAL GOVERNMENT ATTORNEYS.—
(a) For the purposes of this section, “local government attorney” means any individual who routinely
serves as the attorney for a unit of local government. The term shall not include any person who renders legal
services to a unit of local government pursuant to contract limited to a specific issue or subject, to specific
litigation, or to a specific administrative proceeding. For the purposes of this section, “unit of local
government” includes, but is not limited to, municipalities, counties, and special districts.
(b) It shall not constitute a violation of subsection (3) or subsection (7) for a unit of local government to
contract with a law firm, operating as either a partnership or a professional association, or in any combination
thereof, or with a local government attorney who is a member of or is otherwise associated with the law firm,
to provide any or all legal services to the unit of local government, so long as the local government attorney is
not a full-time employee or member of the governing body of the unit of local government. However, the
standards of conduct as provided in subsections (2), (4), (5), (6), and (8) shall apply to any person who serves as
a local government attorney.
(c) No local government attorney or law firm in which the local government attorney is a member, partner,
or employee shall represent a private individual or entity before the unit of local government to which the
local government attorney provides legal services. A local government attorney whose contract with the unit
of local government does not include provisions that authorize or mandate the use of the law firm of the local
government attorney to complete legal services for the unit of local government shall not recommend or
otherwise refer legal work to that attorney’s law firm to be completed for the unit of local government.
(17) BOARD OF GOVERNORS AND BOARDS OF TRUSTEES.—No citizen member of the Board of Governors of
the State University System, nor any citizen member of a board of trustees of a local constituent university,
shall have or hold any employment or contractual relationship as a legislative lobbyist requiring annual
registration and reporting pursuant to s. 11.045.
History.—s. 3, ch. 67-469; s. 2, ch. 69-335; ss. 10, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 3, ch. 74-177; ss. 4, 11, ch. 75-208; s. 1, ch. 77-174; s. 1, ch.
77-349; s. 4, ch. 82-98; s. 2, ch. 83-26; s. 6, ch. 83-282; s. 14, ch. 85-80; s. 12, ch. 86-145; s. 1, ch. 88-358; s. 1, ch. 88-408; s. 3,
ch. 90-502; s. 3, ch. 91-85; s. 4, ch. 91-292; s. 1, ch. 92-35; s. 1, ch. 94-277; s. 1406, ch. 95-147; s. 3, ch. 96-311; s. 34, ch. 96-318;
s. 41, ch. 99-2; s. 29, ch. 2001-266; s. 20, ch. 2002-1; s. 894, ch. 2002-387; s. 2, ch. 2005-285; s. 2, ch. 2006-275; s. 10, ch.
2007-217; s. 16, ch. 2011-34; s. 3, ch. 2013-36.
Copyright © 1995-2014 The Florida Legislature • Privacy Statement • Contact Us
http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0100-0199/0112/Sections/0112.313.html
4 USC 101
NB: This unofficial compilation of the U.S. Code is current as of Jan. 4, 2012 (see http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/uscprint.html).
- 1 -
TITLE 4 - FLAG AND SEAL, SEAT OF GOVERNMENT, AND THE STATES
CHAPTER 4 - THE STATES
§ 101. Oath by members of legislatures and officers
Every member of a State legislature, and every executive and judicial officer of a State, shall,
before he proceeds to execute the duties of his office, take an oath in the following form, to wit:
“I, A B, do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States.”
(July 30, 1947, ch. 389, 61 Stat. 643.)
4 USC 102
NB: This unofficial compilation of the U.S. Code is current as of Jan. 4, 2012 (see http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/uscprint.html).
- 1 -
TITLE 4 - FLAG AND SEAL, SEAT OF GOVERNMENT, AND THE STATES
CHAPTER 4 - THE STATES
§ 102. Same; by whom administered
Such oath may be administered by any person who, by the law of the State, is authorized to
administer the oath of office; and the person so administering such oath shall cause a record or
certificate thereof to be made in the same manner, as by the law of the State, he is directed to record
or certify the oath of office.
(July 30, 1947, ch. 389, 61 Stat. 644.)
18 USC 2381
NB: This unofficial compilation of the U.S. Code is current as of Jan. 4, 2012 (see http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/uscprint.html).
- 1 -
TITLE 18 - CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
PART I - CRIMES
CHAPTER 115 - TREASON, SEDITION, AND SUBVERSIVE ACTIVITIES
§ 2381. Treason
Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their
enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason
and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but
not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.
(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 807; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(2)(J), Sept. 13, 1994, 108
Stat. 2148.)
Historical and Revision Notes
Based on title 18, U.S.C., 1940 ed., §§ 1, 2 (Mar. 4, 1909, ch. 321, §§ 1, 2, 35 Stat. 1088).
Section consolidates sections 1 and 2 of title 18, U.S.C., 1940 ed.
The language referring to collection of the fine was omitted as obsolete and repugnant to the more humane policy of
modern law which does not impose criminal consequences on the innocent.
The words “every person so convicted of treason” were omitted as redundant.
Minor change was made in phraseology.
Amendments
1994—Pub. L. 103–322 inserted “under this title but” before “not less than $10,000”.

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July/August, 2013 Volume 87, No. 7
Eugene K. Pettis — First African-American President of The Florida Bar
by Jan Pudlow
Page 8
When Eugene Pettis was a little boy, a speech impediment smacked
a “K” sound at the start of every word.
Neighbors would tell the other Pettis kids: “Go get your brother,”
because they wanted to hear Eugene talk for comical entertainment.
Lifelong friend and neighbor Lockey Anderson remembers Eugene
called her “Kockey”; her dad J oe, “Koe”; and her mother Shirley,
“Kirley.”
They laughed, and little Eugene laughed with them.
But his first-grade teacher wasn’t laughing. When school officials
said Eugene had to wait until the second grade to receive speech
therapy, his first-grade teacher insisted: “No, he’s getting help this
year.”
Not only did Eugene get into the speech program as a first-grader, he can still remember the green and beige books his mother would lecture him on every
night at the dining room table, pronouncing word after word until that “K” sound vanished.
“The neighbors still remember it as if it were yesterday. And now I make a living talking,” Pettis said laughing. “Who would have thought that?”
Years later, after building a reputation as a successful civil trial lawyer, commanding the attention of jurors with his deep, sonorous voice, Pettis invited that
first-grade teacher, along with his kindergarten teacher, high school basketball coach, and a few other special mentors to his home just to say thanks.
“Life had turned out pretty good for me, and I could look back with clarity and see that those six people, along with many others, had a hand in that,” Pettis
said. “While I was blessed with a great family, I’ve also been blessed with an even greater community of people.”
Now the 52-year-old, co-founding partner at Haliczer, Pettis & Schwamm in Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando becomes The Florida Bar’s first African-American
president. He credits God and his strong mother for giving him the confidence at an early age to know he could be whatever he chose to be.
From basketball captain at Stranahan High in Ft. Lauderdale, to Black Student Union president and treasurer of the entire student government at the
University of Florida, to launching his own law firm, Pettis tempers his achievements with a humble gratefulness that he didn’t get there alone.
His focus as Bar president is to offer the promise of inclusion to lawyers willing to meet him halfway by asking to be involved, and to help build leadership
skills in those who have, until now, sat on the sidelines.
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“I’ve been who I am for a long time, and that is a person who thinks we owe it to society to be engaged,” Pettis said. “We owe it to do whatever we can to
make the world better. And I don’t think I’ve ever had an occasion or a platform that is as respected and coveted as the Bar presidency to try to enhance
our professional canon of doing public good.”
Gene’s Time to Step Up
Pettis is quick to say he may be the Bar’s first African-American president, but he’s
not the first one qualified for this milestone.
“I’m humbled, because clearly there were men and women who have come before me
who are as capable or more capable to do the task,” Pettis said. “But the
opportunities were not there, for whatever reason. The centers of power were not
open to them.”
The significance of his historic presidency was captured when Pettis gave a speech in
Atlantic Beach last year. A young African-American mother came up to congratulate
Pettis on being president-elect and said she showed an article about Pettis to her
seven-year-old son, telling him: “See, you can be anything you want to be.”
Chris Mobley, Pettis’ white neighbor, golf buddy, fellow Gator fan, and publisher of the
Daily Business Review, said: “Anybody who thinks Gene will use this platform solely for the advancement of African-Americans in the legal community
couldn’t be more wrong.
“Gene is beyond ethnicity and race. He certainly is keenly aware of it. He has lived it. But it does not limit his scope of inclusion in his everyday life. Gene is
about all the people.”
In line to become the Bar’s first African-American president was Henry Latimer, a respected Broward County lawyer, former judge, and Bar Board of
Governors member tragically killed in a one-car accident on J anuary 24, 2005.
“I was close to Henry Latimer. After his death, I realized we had no minority representative from this circuit,” recalled 17th Circuit J udge Ilona Holmes.
“The first and only person who came to mind was Eugene Pettis. I called him up and told him he had to run for Henry’s Board of Governors seat. I said,
‘Don’t make me get the application and fill it out. I’ll make up stuff.’”
Pettis laughed, put his name in the running, won that seat in 2005, ran unopposed for the Bar presidency in December 2011, and the rest is history.
“This is the time for Gene to step up and show true leadership,” J udge Holmes said. “I had hoped it would have been Henry. I always say God needed
Henry in the court of justice in heaven. He’s looking down on us, and I know Henry would be proud of Gene coming in as Bar president.”
Some would ask why it’s important to have an African-American president of the Bar in 2013, J udge Holmes acknowledged.
“I’m a black female,” she answered. “We bring to the conversation a different perspective. We can articulate the struggles and problems and hurdles and
concerns that perhaps the others cannot articulate as plainly. Gene brings that. He didn’t grow up rich with a silver spoon in his mouth.”
The Draw of the Home Place
Eugene Pettis was the youngest of seven children of Sara and Cyrus Pettis, who raised their big family in northwest Ft. Lauderdale, where they lived since
1947.
“We lived in Black Town and the others lived on the other side of the tracks in White Town. You’d better be in Black Town at night. And that was not that long
ago,” described Eugene Pettis’ 65-year-old sister, Dr. Lydia Patton.
She now recruits students internationally for the Illinois Institute of Technology, and comes back to the family home whenever she visits Ft. Lauderdale.
Even after all the children moved away and their parents passed away, the Pettis family home is filled with so many loving memories, it’s too precious to
sell.
“There’s not a place on earth that has as much love and comfort as 824 N.W. 17th Avenue,” said Patton.
“Not many people can sleep in the same bed they slept in when they were two and three years old. On Gene’s bedroom door, the little sticker he got when
he went to the fair — a little truck that says ‘Gene’s Room’ — is still on the door. Every plaque, every award, everything we have is still in that house. It’s
almost like a museum,” Patton said.
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All the children gathered at the family home in February, on the first anniversary of their mother’s death at age 90 in 2012.
“It was a true testament to the love of family that Mom had instilled in us,” Eugene Pettis said. “Even though she’s gone, we still feel that draw back to the
home place, and laughing and celebrating her life and our family, even in her absence.”
Father Cyrus Pettis, who died in 2004, was a quiet, solid provider, and worked for more than two decades as a waiter at Polly Davis Cafeteria, before
working another 28 years at the post office until he retired at 70.
“He would come home and empty his waiter’s deep pockets on the dining room table,” remembered Eugene Pettis. “We just loved to count his tips. On a
good day, he would get $25 or $30 in tips.”
Mother Sara Louise J ones Pettis worked as a maid for the rich folks living on the beach before becoming a teacher’s aide. Serving as Parent-Teacher
Association president of Dillard High School, the school for black kids during segregation, she was instrumental in raising money in 1959 to build a large
gymnasium that holds thousands. Sara volunteered at local schools, churches, and charitable groups.
Congressman Alcee Hastings commemorated Sara Pettis on the
House floor on February 29, 2012, shortly after her death. Years
earlier in 1985, through the Urban League of Broward County,
Hastings nominated the Pettises for special recognition from
then-First Lady Nancy Reagan as a “Great American Family.”
Brother Cyrus “Bubba” Pettis, a dentist, remembered feeling like
celebrities as more than two dozen members of the Pettis family
were zipped around Washington, D.C., in limousines and took center
stage under glittering chandeliers at the White House.
“It was a great honor. I was most proud for my mom and dad. They
were the ones who made sacrifices for us to achieve,” Cyrus Pettis
said. “My dad, who at that time was working for the post office,
when we left the White House we went to the postmaster general’s
office. My dad was just tickled to death to be recognized by the
postmaster general.”
Describing his parents’ 63 years of marriage, Cyrus Pettis said: “She was his strength, and he was her strength. Through difficult times, they didn’t let
anything break the love they had for each other….
“We were blessed with a wonderful mother who taught us values that never go out of style, sound values I taught my children and now they are teaching
their kids: How to treat people. How to respect our people. How not to be ashamed of who you are. And don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do things.”
Sara Pettis was the family’s strong church-going disciplinarian.
Talking back to Mom or calling his sisters names meant a whipping.
“Mom would literally make you go get the switch off the cherry bush. If you got too small a twig, she would go out and get something bigger. You were
caught between the dilemma of what size do I get? Do I get the size that’s going to bring me great harm or do I get the size that I hope suffices for her?”
Eugene Pettis said, grinning at how many spankings he suffered growing up.
“But then, man, when I got older those little cherry bushes did not do anything. I remember she had a palmetto bush, with those sharp edges. She would put
them in the hallway on a cabinet as a reminder to me not to get out of line.”
Being born into that family, Eugene Pettis said, “is probably my greatest blessing. But I really cursed that in my early years because they wouldn’t let us do
anything! I wanted to be part of the families down the street because their kids are out at night and they’ve got all the cool stuff. And we’re behind the fence,
looking out.”
No matter how tired or busy she was, he could count on Mom sitting in the front row of every school event or basketball game to show her support.
Brutal Beating, Serious Tailspin
Parental support rose to a new level in 1972, when sixth-grader Eugene Pettis
received the beating of his life at the hands of two white teachers at Sunland
Park Elementary School.
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Horse-playing with another boy, Eugene ran out of the cafeteria to a little patch
of grass, but the other boy kept running.
“This teacher said, ‘Come here! You wait right here!’”
While the other boy escaped, the teacher ordered Eugene to the office, where
the burly P.E. coach waited in the clinic.
The teacher pulled out a leather strap, like a barber uses to sharpen a straight razor.
He told Eugene to put his hands on the counter, and the P.E. coach made sure he obeyed as the teacher started swinging the strap.
“They beat me. They beat me. They beat me. And I was just going crazy, losing my breath, and crying,” Pettis recalled with a wince.
“They gave me a break, and said, ‘Get your composure,’ and told me to put my hands back on the counter and started beating me again. I’m just losing it.”
Physically sick, Eugene was dazed during the rest of class, and when he got home he stretched across his bed, with bruises and welts stinging all over his
back and buttocks.
His sister knew about the beating, because unbeknownst to the teachers, a neighbor girl was behind the curtain in the clinic and witnessed the whole thing.
“They had to take me to the doctor that night, and the doctor said he could not believe someone beat a child like that,” Pettis said.
Mr. and Mrs. Pettis went to the school to complain, launching an investigation. The teacher confessed he spanked Eugene three times. Eugene thought it
must have been 100.
The witnessing neighbor counted 67 licks.
At the school, they took pictures of Eugene’s injuries. They ended up firing the teacher and suspending the P.E. coach.
“While that was going on, I could remember telephone calls from the priest of the man who beat me, saying, ‘He has apologized. Please forgive him. His
wife has cancer. He’s just stressed out.’
“My parents said, ‘There’s no excuse for that. I don’t care what’s going on in his life.’”
Pettis called it a “huge irony” that, slightly more than 20 years later, he would be the main lawyer representing the School Board of Broward County in
handling personal injury and wrongful death litigation, discipline, and representing the superintendent in termination cases.
That sixth-grade beating, Pettis recounted, “put me in a serious tailspin, because we were in very racially sensitive times. This had just happened to me by
two white men, and I was ready to fight the world. I would just come off the bus fighting anybody and everybody. That went on for seventh grade and eighth
grade. I had 32 referrals in middle school for horse-playing and fighting, spinning on the bus, jumping from seat to seat.
“Then I got to high school. The first two weeks, I got in two fights. I was just a fighter.”
One of the coaches warned: “If you get in one more fight, you’ll be suspended from school.”
“It was as if the heavens opened up and all the prayers of my mom came through. I changed.”
Snapping his fingers, Pettis said: “It was over! I never had another issue. I went to Stranahan High and got every honor you can think of. Life just turned for
me on a dime.”
Broader Horizon
Stranahan High basketball Coach J ennings Coleman remembered Pettis was “athletic, but not the one you would start.”
There were many games when Pettis’ mom and sisters were cheering on the team from the bleachers, while Pettis sat on the bench.
Practice is where you really learn about the kids on your team, Coleman said.
“In coaching vernacular, Gene busted his butt. He wanted to prove to me, ‘I want to play, I can play, and I’ll learn and do whatever is necessary to get out on
that court.’
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“There came a point where I let him play. He played so hard and played so tough. He proved himself to me.”
Eventually, Gene became captain of the team. And he and Coleman, now 73, forged a special friendship in the locker room, on the basketball court, and in
the school hallways that continues to this day.
As Coleman described, Stranahan High was one of the first integrated schools in Broward County, but it remained a “closed society” in certain respects.
One black cheerleader. One black member of the homecoming court. One black member of the Key Club.
“One here and one there. We called it, ‘one to death.’”
So Coleman and two other teachers went to the principal and asked if they could start their own service club for black students, and they were told, “No.”
“We had to come up with a novel idea. It would be co-ed and we would accept everybody and anybody. We named it the Horizon Club and created our
logo. And Gene became the second president,” Coleman recalled.
“Gene was a go-getter. He organized car washes. He was the catalyst of our club maintaining viability. He was a good kid with a good upbringing. He had
perseverance and a burning desire to succeed. I wished I could wrap him in a package and take him home.”
Horizon Clubs spread to other schools in Broward County.
“I took on the responsibility of trying to lead the charge for a couple of years,” Pettis said.
“We wanted to open our doors to everybody, and we did various events that would bring people from all clubs under our umbrella. That’s where the name –
Horizon – inclusive of everybody, was born. That was the philosophy I believed in, and I was taught through my mentors, such as Coach Coleman. You have
those seeds as children at home that there’s some good in everybody. This experience at Stranahan just built upon that.”
A Cut Above
When 18-year-old Eugene Pettis first walked onto the huge UF campus in the summer
of 1978, he wasn’t about to sit on the sidelines. He got involved in the Black Student
Union, and became president in 1979, at the end of his freshman year.
“I’ve always been one to say, ‘If not me, who?’ I saw the organization and I said, ‘I
can take it to another level,’” Pettis said.
“Those times were still awkward at UF. The black fraternities and sororities had just
come on the yard in 1972…. I saw two separate worlds. I saw the black students.
And I saw the rest of the world.”
He mustered his confidence to set up an appointment with Art Sandeen, vice
president for student affairs.
“I said, ‘Dr. Sandeen, I’m the president of the Black Student Union. We don’t have any
money in our budget. I want to have a “Get Involved” campaign to encourage African-American students to get engaged in their university. I need some help
from the university,’” Pettis recalled.
“We started a friendship on that occasion. The worst he could have told me was, ‘No, get out of my office.’”
But Sandeen said, “Yes,” and during Pettis’ year as president, the Black Student Union received $50,000.
“It was more money than I knew what to do with!” Pettis said. “We had to really work hard. I didn’t want any of it to go back. I didn’t want them to say,
‘See, you didn’t need it.’”
Sandeen, now 75, will never forget that young leader Gene Pettis, who often came to his office for chats, at Tigert Hall, the administrative hub.
“By the time I met him, he was already a cut above the ordinary student in terms of his ability to see things others didn’t see, whether good or lacking, and
his willingness to do something about it. Not just to hold up a protest sign, but to say, ‘How can we work with the community of the university administration
to make this place better?’
“It was a period of transition, in the aftermath of Vietnam and Watergate, and civil rights and trying to move ahead with many things,” Sandeen recalled. “It
was not an easy time for young people to be positive about their country and their university. Gene was concerned that the university was not doing enough
to recruit outstanding African-American students to the institution and to have enough full-time African-American faculty and administrators. In his usual
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constructive and positive way, Gene was able to get the attention of a lot of other students, faculty, and even the president about the obvious need at that
time.”
Betty Stewart-Fullwood, who retired as the interim director of the Office for Academic Support and Institutional Services at UF, was the advisor of the Black
Student Union for 32 years.
She remembered Pettis as “assertive and committed to helping others,” including serving as a peer counselor to other minority students.
“He studied hard, worked hard, and played hard. He knew how to mix those three,” she said. “For him to be the first African-American president of The
Florida Bar, that is just Eugene.”
Wanting to make inclusion a goal of his presidency, she said, is expected.
“Eugene lives under the motto that you don’t get to where you are on your own. And once you get there, you have to reach back and help someone else.”
Calling herself a “pack rat,” Stewart-Fullwood flipped through scrapbooks of newspaper clippings from Pettis’ years at UF.
One 1981 news clipping showed a picture of Pettis sitting at a desk, with the headline: “Black student leader believes in ‘Getting Involved.’”
“A lot of students got their feet wet with the Black Student Union, but Eugene said, ‘I can do this at the next level,’ and got involved with the whole UF
student government,” she said.
“Oh, here’s a picture of Eugene hugging Mike Bedke, when they ran for president and treasurer of the Students Unite Now (SUN) party and won.”
Equal Parts Cool and Nice
Tampa lawyer Michael Bedke described campaigning with Pettis in 1981 on the SUN
party ticket, “starting in the commuter lot at 5:30 a.m. until we got thrown out of the
dorms at night.”
Bedke remembered some people were “a little bit more radical and asked Gene,
‘Why are you running with Bedke? Why are you joining the SUN party?’ And Gene
would say, ‘First of all, Mike and I created the SUN party. And I believe diversity also
means diversity of opinion.’”
Some said, “You’re selling out!” And Pettis responded: “I’m not selling out. I think I
can do more on the inside.”
Pettis agreed to run as treasurer on the ticket with Bedke for president, only after
they negotiated that Pettis would get to name four senate seats and one on the audit
committee. Pettis convinced some black students to run for those senate seats, and
is proud that some went on to achieve great things. He named J ulia J ohnson, who
would later chair the Public Service Commission, and Ava Parker, who served as chair of the Florida Board of Governors, which oversees higher education
in the state.
“For the first time, we had an African-American treasurer of the student body, black senators, and black members of the audit committee,” said Pettis.
“I just think it was one of those watershed moments. We opened the doors wider for inclusions of all students.”
Rick Christie, public affairs editor at The Palm Beach Post, who was in the same Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity with Pettis at UF, remembered the confident,
charismatic student who preached: “If you want to affect change in our society, you need to be involved in our society as a whole.”
And Pettis saw UF as a microcosm of society.
As Bedke described: “Gene is extremely altruistic, but extremely practical. Even back in the early ’80s, that was obvious. We were dealing with some big
issues, such as whether student activity and service fee dollars would be used to fund or subsidize the transit system in Alachua County, and redistricting the
off-campus senate seats. We said, ‘Let’s focus our limited resources on things that are going to have a true impact on the day-to-day lives of students at the
university,’” Bedke recounted.
“One of the things I always appreciated about Gene is he’s open, receptive, and he will not allow the group to suffer from group think. I didn’t want a bunch
of ‘yes men.’ And with Gene, you certainly are not going to get that.
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“Gene was one of those extremely rare individuals that everyone on campus knew and liked. It was a huge campus and students loved him, and faculty and
staff administration loved him. The Greeks loved him. The independents loved him. Unbelievable!
“He was like Denzel Washington before there was a Denzel Washington. Equal parts cool and nice.”
Building Bridges
At UF’s College of Law in 1982, African-American students were about 10 percent of the class of 200. Two were Phyllis Perrin and Eugene Pettis, near
each other in alphabetical seating throughout law school.
Perrin – now Phyllis Harris, senior vice president and chief compliance officer of Walmart – laughed about the time she and Pettis stayed up late studying for
their first law school exam in civil procedure.
They decided to get their strength with a good breakfast beforehand at Grandma’s Biscuits at 13th Street and University Avenue.
At the exam an hour later, Pettis was sitting two desks down, and began sweating profusely, whispering to Perrin: “I’m sick! I’m sick!”
“And I said, ‘Don’t do it here. I can’t help you! You’re on your own.’”
Pettis ran out of the classroom and returned about 45 minutes later during the three-hour exam.
“I never saw anyone write that fast, scribbling, fast, fast, fast. He got a C+, and probably would have gotten a B if he’d had those extra 45 minutes,” Harris
said with a laugh.
“What I always appreciated about Eugene was his sense of focus and ambition in a good way, that ‘I’m not going to let anyone characterize what I can
become because of the skin I am in,’ as an African-American male,” Harris said.
“There were many times we did not feel included at the law school. Our circle was just us. But Eugene was great at building bridges. He was big about
working within the system and networking and trying to find common ground. Eugene has a great sense of responsibility to lift others up because he was
lifted up.”
“ You’re Hired!”
When it came time to land his first job as a new lawyer in 1985, most law firms in Florida were still not
hiring many African-Americans.
During interviews, Pettis recalled, “The big discussion would be: ‘You’ll be our first African-American.
How do you feel about that?’ I would tell them, ‘I’m beyond that. I think you need to ask yourself, how
do you feel about that?’ I guess that was a little too straight, because I didn’t get any of those jobs.”
Finally Conrad, Scherer and J ames in Ft. Lauderdale promised an interview and mailed a $25 Eastern
Airline ticket to fly Pettis back to his hometown.
“I interviewed in the building where I am right now,” Pettis said. “I told them point blank: ‘Whether you
hire me or not, I’m going to be a successful lawyer in this town.’”
One of the firm’s partners, Gordon J ames, said: “I believe you.”
The next day, Pettis got the call from law firm founding partner Rex Conrad, who said the magic words: “You’re hired.”
When Conrad retired in 1991, seven lawyers broke off and started their own firm. In 1996, Pettis and J im Haliczer split off from that group to form their own
practice.
“Energy, optimism, and enthusiasm” are the words that sprang to mind when Haliczer described his longtime friend and law partner, the same qualities he
saw when he sat in the room when Pettis was first interviewed in 1985.
“Gene brings a genuine desire to do something good for the Bar that is not based on any kind of self-interest or self-aggrandizement,” Haliczer said.
“He is there for the right reasons. He wants to do something good for lawyers in particular and the community at large.”
When Pettis talked about what he loves about being a lawyer, it ties in with why he wants to lead Florida’s 96,000 lawyers.
“One of the first canons of our creed of professionalism is to do public good. And I don’t think there’s any profession that has been blessed with the fruits of
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labor, the financial wherewithal, and the skills of advocacy to truly do good at the level that the lawyer does,” Pettis said.
“And if we are to go through our careers and all we’re looking at is how much money we can make, I think we will miss one of the greatest parts of the
experience, and that’s doing good. Because at some point, you can only make so much money and spend so much money, but there’s always room for
doing good.”
"He’s Just Dad."
Sheila Pettis still has the business card her husband handed her in 1985, at the
courthouse elevator when she asked him if he was a lawyer.
She was a pretrial release counselor who interviewed freshly arrested jail
inmates to let the judge know whether they were good candidates for release
on their own recognizance.
Eugene Pettis was a confident young lawyer she’d first noticed across the
sanctuary at New Mt. Olive Baptist Church, but they had not spoken until now.
“What drew my attention to him is he was kind. He had a warm spirit about
himself, very comfortable in his own being. The way he approached me was
very mannerly. He was just so polite and persistent,” recalled Sheila, who now
works as a substitute teacher in Broward County and volunteers at church and
charitable organizations.
Back at her office, only a couple hours later, it was Eugene Pettis calling for a date. After going to the movie, “Out of Africa,” Gene said he had to go to the
train station to pick up his mother.
And Sheila thought: “You want me to meet your mother just after the first date? It must mean something!”
“Not only did I meet his mother, I met his father that night. And his father said to me, ‘You must be a shoo-in.’”
“My mom always told me, ‘You know a good man when he treats his mother with the utmost respect. He will treat his wife well, too.’”
While dating, Sheila and Eugene took a cruise to the Bahamas and Cozumel. Unbeknownst to Sheila, Eugene was planning to propose and had already
shared his big secret with the group of tourists they dined with every evening at the same assigned table on the ship.
The mariachi band kept circling around their table, serenading.
Finally, Gene dropped to his knee and proposed.
“All I could say was, ‘Yes!’”
The dining group beamed with smiles.
Later, Sheila said: “They knew! What if I had said, ‘No’?”
“I would have tossed you overboard,” Gene said with a laugh.
They married in 1988, and have two daughters Shenele and Shardé, both
students at the University of Florida.
Shenele, 23, is an IL governor of the Law Student Division of The Florida
Bar’s Young Lawyers Division.
“When I got elected, I called Dad and told him, ‘This is step one to taking
over your job. Everyone will forget about you,’” she said laughing.
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“When I found out he’s doing the commencement speech for the law school this year, I texted him: ‘Hey, Dad: I can hear the boos from here. I can hear the
stampede of protesters to the dean’s office.’”
Her dad shaped her legal mind at an early age.
“When I was little, like seven or eight, and got in trouble, like talking back or not getting a good grade in school, Dad would write up a contract and I had to
sign it and make promises. If I broke the contract, I would get my Walkman CD player taken away.”
Still involved at UF, Gene Pettis is something of a celebrity at the law school, though to Shenele he’s just “Dad.”
“I had to do oral argument for a class and one of the judges knew my dad. Most people talk about his character: warm and humble and dynamic. And I think
it’s all in the way he speaks. You want to listen to him.”
She told how her dad loved to coach her in basketball, when she played with the Ballers team at the rec center.
“He would sit near the bench and coach us. He was super competitive. He was
making all these plays, and even got out a white board to draw out plays. We are
like 12-year-old girls. We really don’t care,” Shenele said, laughing.
Eighteen-year-old Shardé, who serves on the UF Freshman Leadership Council
and Leadership Development Institute, said, “I’m glad I got involved like Dad told
me to. I know that I’ve gotten a big head start compared to other freshmen.”
One favorite memory of her dad was when she was playing goalie in a soccer
game in the eighth grade, during the penalty kick in the playoffs.
“My dad is running down the sideline and stood next to the goalies, yelling, ‘Get
on your toes! Keep your eye on the ball! The ball is coming to you!’
“A lot of times when he was coaching he was contradicting what the actual coach
would say and I had to tune him out. But this time I listened to him. I kept my eye
on the ball. It was coming right for my stomach. I caught the ball and we won the
game. Dad ran on the field. It was an incredible moment!” Shardé said.
Another testament to his fatherly enthusiasm was the elaborate science project on kinetic energy he helped her build in the fifth grade.
“I had a little project in mind, but in the end it had a motorized Ferris wheel with motorized parts and different moving amusement park rides. He’s a
perfectionist. I had to stay up all night. It surpassed my teacher’s expectations. I think that project is still somewhere in our garage,” Shardé said.
At UF’s Reitz Union, the Hall of Fame pictures wrap around the third floor. Around the corner, hangs Dad’s portrait.
“The pictures start out in color and my dad’s is in black and white,” Shardé said. “Yes, it was that long ago.”
Mentor Becomes Mentee
Eugene Pettis’ first day at his first job out of law school wasn’t supposed to be for another week. But Rex Conrad, the firm’s founding partner at Conrad,
Scherer and J ames, called him on a Friday and said, “I’m starting a trial on Monday and I would like you to start with me.”
“I literally came in Monday, and I was in trial for three weeks in a brain-damaged baby case with Rex Conrad, observing, figuring — what the hell is going on
here? This is all new to me,” Pettis recounted of that baptism by fire in 1985.
“He just threw me out there. He believed in me.”
Their mentoring relationship forged during that trial continued until Conrad’s death in 1999.
“Every day, he would end the day by calling me down to his office and saying, ‘Let’s talk.’
“Rex would say, ‘What happened today? How did the hearing go? How did the depo go? You should have done it this way.’
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“He would often say, ‘You know what? This is like a residency at J ohns Hopkins that I’m giving you.’ And we went on to become great personal friends,”
Pettis said.
“I couldn’t imagine my legal career without having those six years with Rex. I mean, he just took it to a different level and gave me the time to nurture my
writing skills, speaking skills — and even how to dress.”
Fast forward to 2007, when Alan Nash graduated from Florida State University College of Law and was breaking into practicing law and searching for
guidance.
“I made a lot of cold calls, hoping people would actually call me back,” Nash recounted. “Gene was one of three who actually did. He told me, through email,
to contact his secretary and get a time to have lunch together.
“It was a big deal. I was so excited this guy would sit and talk with me. He took me to lunch at Capital Grille.”
Pettis has helped Nash with how to better market his legal skills, land a big client, and deal with a personality conflict with a client.
The lunches and mentoring continue to this day.
“I would call him at two in the morning. I feel that comfortable. He has become more like a big brother and has always made time for me. Now, though,
when we have lunch, I pick up the check.”
Never involved in Florida Bar activities before, Nash has applied for Pettis’ brainchild, the Leadership Academy. And he applied to serve on the Student
Education and Admission to the Bar Committee, and Pettis appointed him.
“I know I pay my dues. But I never thought of The Florida Bar as a way to help me. But now that Gene is president, and I’m seeing it as my mentor is doing
this. This guy is going to be something special as president.”
Nash, who works at Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman, and Goggin in Ft. Lauderdale, finds time to also mentor young law students.
“I got that from Gene, that giving-back mentality,” Nash said. “I still remember what it’s like to be a guy just out of law school looking for a mentor, how hard
it was to find someone like Gene. I want to make sure I give back.”
Pettis’ Presidential Goals
Eugene Pettis knows he will have succeeded in his year as Florida Bar president “if I can look across the Bar and all of its component parts — sections,
committees, grievance committees, standing committees — and see a greater diverse, engaged population.
“If I can see that we have put in place a Leadership Academy that will continue to groom leaders from every sector of our community — racial, gender,
ethnic, practice group areas, geographical areas — that we as a Bar are going to come together under one tent, one common curriculum. And if I can see
that, I will believe that my year has been served well.
“People want to believe in fairness, equality, inclusion. I think those are our natural core beliefs. If you put kindergarten kids in a classroom, they gravitate
toward each other, irrespective of their differences. And I think that’s where we want to be naturally. So when you are able to put somebody forward that
shows progress toward that goal of inclusion, I think it’s good for all of us.”
Leadership Academy
Holding its initial session at the Bar’s Annual Convention in J une, the Wm. Reece Smith, J r. Leadership Academy, named after the late chair emeritus of
Carlton Fields, aims to train future leaders of the Bar and the profession.
“We can talk diversity, but if people aren’t given the training, the tools to really succeed, it’s just empty talk,” Pettis said. “Some people, I think, are just born
with the skills that they are comfortable stepping forward. Other people need more enrichment opportunities. But in order to make sure we have a culture
within our Bar and profession of true inclusion, I think we need to have a system, a curriculum, that teaches skills: communication skills, advocacy skills,
organizational skills, and strategic planning skills.
“In the Leadership Academy process, I’m not looking to create the next president of the Bar. But I am looking to make sure that we create some advocates
for our profession. Those advocates can take their position wherever they wish: in their communities, in their firms, in their local bar associations, on their
church boards. But I want them to be educated, knowledgeable ambassadors of our profession.
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“And if we can keep training up people who know the core issues, that can stand up and be advocates for what is important to our core principles — such
as a fair, impartial judiciary, and the role that the rule of law plays in our democracy — to educate people they come into contact with why those principles
are essential to our way of life, then we have done what we are supposed to do. And that is leadership.”
Meeting six times throughout the year, the academy’s first chair is former Young Lawyers Division President Reneé Thompson, and 59 fellows will learn
about the Bar’s divisions and sections, strategic plan, and history.
Other topics will include collaborating with different workplace personalities; balancing personal, volunteer, and work lives; motivating others and delegating;
conducting effective meetings; learning effective leadership styles and public speaking techniques. Networking and mentorship will also be focuses of the
academy, and fellows will be matched with mentors based on their specific interests and needs.
Get Involved Campaign
As president-elect of the Bar, Pettis made 500 or so committee appointments, and he wanted to make sure he had a diverse group of lawyers from which
to choose. So he borrowed the phrase he used in his college days to motivate students not to sit on the sidelines, and launched the Bar’s “Get Involved”
campaign.
He asked voluntary bars to help vet and name candidates for inclusion on the Bar’s standing committees, plus opportunities to serve on special committees,
grievance committees, and the unlicensed practice of law circuit committees.
After making committee appointments in March, Pettis smiled and said his “big tent of inclusion” message has been heard.
“It’s one thing to talk diversity and inclusion. But in order to make lasting change, we need to do more than talk. We need to advance people. We need to
put people in positions. True diversity and inclusion is not just making sure that we have women and other minorities on the committee. True diversity is that
they are given an opportunity to lead.”
Noting the Bar has been working on diversifying committee appointments for the past decade, Pettis acknowledged it’s a two-way street.
“You, as a diverse lawyer, must make your way toward seeking committee appointments and not wait for somebody to call you. I think it’s a cultural change.
. . . When you have lived 30 years of your career and there were no open doors, and now all of a sudden during the last 10 years the doors have been wide
open, it takes a long time to go through the process of true openness and acceptance. It may take the younger generation to take us to where we dream of
being. It may not be on my time. We are planting the seeds.”
ROPES Initiative
“ J ust as a rope has different threads that come together for its greater strength, so too is the Bar,” Pettis explained about a concept to unite lawyers
across the state in an initiative he calls “ROPES.”
“While we are an organization with hundreds of component parts, all serving a unique purpose, there is a common core mission that we all should come
together and embrace. And that, in my opinion, is the education of the general public of the virtues of a fair, impartial, and independent judiciary, and the
importance of the rule of law in our democracy.”
When Pettis chaired the Bar’s Constitutional J udiciary Committee (then called the J udicial Independence Committee), he was instrumental in developing
“Benchmarks: Raising the Bar on Civics Education,” a program designed to give attorneys activities that they can use to teach the fundamentals of
government and the courts to adult civic and community groups, similar to the J ustice Teaching initiative used in schools.
The thrust of Benchmarks is that an informed public is the best defense of a vigorous democracy, the rule of law, and an independent, impartial, and fair
judiciary. Benchmarks aims to inform adults through engaging activities about judicial review; the Bill of Rights and reviewing laws to see if they are
constitutional; facts and knowledge about U.S. government and the courts; and judicial labeling.
Benchmarks training has already taken place, with several activities that attorneys can use when they speak to community groups. Each activity has an
overview to outline how the activity should be presented and supporting materials, such as PowerPoint presentations and handouts.
With ROPES, Pettis said: “I am going to ask all of the voluntary bar associations across the state to incorporate into their annual agenda of activities a
commitment to do a Benchmarks initiative this year.
“Let’s have one program we do that we have in common. And this year, let it be Benchmarks. If we can come together on that, I think it will go a long way
on what should be continuous education of the principles we talk so readily about on ‘The Votes in Your Court’ campaign,” referring to the Bar’s education
efforts when three justices up for merit retention in 2012 were targeted by special interest groups.
“But I don’t think it should be a conversation that takes place only during crisis times.”
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Commission 2016: Comprehensive Study of the Future Practice of Law
There is no question that the legal profession is going through evolutionary change.
“We all feel this change in our practices, how we interact with our clients, our courts, and each other,” Pettis said.
“Legal futurist” Richard Susskind from Great Britain (author of The End of Lawyers? Rethinking the Nature of Legal Services and his latest book
Tomorrow’s Lawyers) believes the true drivers of these changes — in our society in general and the legal profession in particular — are technology and the
Internet, and people’s attitudes of wanting more for less.
Pettis has appointed Bar leaders to serve on this new commission that will look at four broad areas: technology, legal education, Bar admissions, and legal
aid/pro bono services.
Under technology, headed by President-elect Greg Coleman, the commission will explore ways to better use technology in law practices, including e-filing
and educating lawyers on cutting-edge ways to make the practice more efficient; and how the Bar can use technology to better connect with members to
provide more value for their membership.
In the area of legal education, led by Board of Governors member Ray Abadin, chair, and Nova Southeastern University Law Professor Debra Curtis, vice
chair, the commission will look at recommendations from the ABA, which is coming out with a report in August after two years of study.
They will look at suggestions for how law school curriculum needs to be adjusted to better prepare graduates for first-day readiness to practice law. They
will be working with law school deans and the Florida Supreme Court, as well as the resources of the ABA, to make sure Florida is ready for this
transformation.
They will also look at a “pipeline initiative,” Pettis said, “because it is incumbent that we start early — even before middle school — to prepare a new
generation for the study of law, so when young folks enter college, they are already focused on the goal of becoming a lawyer. We want to make sure that
those entering the legal profession come from diverse populations, so that we will have a Florida Bar truly reflective of society.”
With regard to Bar admissions under BOG member Lanse Scriven, chair, the focus will be on the critical issue of reciprocity, where law licenses are
honored in other states.
“Florida has resisted reciprocity in the past,” Pettis said. “We need to update our view of reciprocity, in light of the fact that the practice of law has moved to
a more national and international model.
“Also, we need to look at the issue of licensing nonlawyers or nonlawyer technicians for certain areas of the law. This ties in with what we will hear from the
ABA study. Without advocating, we must be part of the dialog, as opposed to sitting on the sidelines and letting others shape our profession.”
When it comes to legal aid and pro bono services under Adele Stone, a former BOG member and past president of The Florida Bar Foundation, Pettis said,
“We must address the huge need for legal guidance for people who cannot afford to hire a lawyer. These individuals are falling through the cracks because
of plummeting funding for legal aid services. Interest on trust accounts funding is drying up, with no prospects of rebounding to old levels any time soon, at a
time when Floridians’ need for legal services is at an all-time high.
“What are we Florida lawyers going to do to meet the demand?
“One idea is marrying this crucial need with legal education, and allowing third-year law students to obtain practical experience. Perhaps law students could
give a year of legal aid service in exchange for law school loan debt forgiveness.
“We need to think outside the box and look at these issues with fresh eyes, and see where we will take the practice of law into the future.”
Biography
Co-founder of Haliczer, Pettis & Schwamm (with J ames Haliczer in 1996, adding Richard Schwamm as
partner in 1999) with offices in Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando.
Practi ce Experi ence:
Focuses his practice in the areas of medical malpractice, personal injury, commercial litigation, and
employment law.
Professi onal and Ci vi c Acti vi ti es:
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The Florida Bar
•President (2013-14)
•Board of Governors, 17th Circuit (elected 2005)
•Executive Committee
•Constitutional Judiciary Committee (formerly the Judicial Independence Committee), chair (2007-10)
•Hawkins Commission (conducted review of the Bar’s lawyer discipline system), co-chair
South Florida Water Management District Governing Board
•Vice chair (appointed by Gov. Lawton Chiles 1991-99)
University of Florida
•UF Foundation Board of Directors (eight years)
•UF Levin College of Law Board of Trustees (current)
Community
•Lauderdale Manors Elementary School, corporate partner
•New Mount Olive Baptist Church, general counsel
•Broward County Legal Aid Services
•Pettis Family Endowed Scholarship, annual scholarships to selected students at Broward College
•Eugene Pettis and Family Endowment at UF Levin College of Law
Professi onal Recogni ti on:
AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell
Personal Injury/Medical Malpractice, Best Lawyers in America (2010-13)
Lawyer of the Year for Employment Law, Best Lawyers in America (2013)
American College of Trial Lawyers
American Board of Trial Advocates
•Recognized by ABOTA’s Ft. Lauderdale chapter as Trial Lawyer of the Year
Urban League of Broward County Margaret Roach Humanitarian Award (2012)
Educati on:
University of Florida Levin College of Law (J.D. 1985)
University of Florida (bachelor ’s degree in political science 1982)
•Florida Blue Key Honor Fraternity (1980)
•Student Body Hall of Fame (1981-82)
•Kappa Alpha Psi Hall of Fame (2010)
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