Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Stephen Grimes passed away at 93. He was the 72nd justice to serve on Florida’s high court since Florida’s statehood. Grimes served from 1987 to 1997 and served as Chief Justice from 1994 to 1996.
Grimes was appointed by Florida Gov. Bob Martinez after a long career as a lawyer with Holland & Knight in Bartow, Fla. After his Supreme Court retirement in 1997, Grimes returned to Holland & Knight to continue practicing law.
“Obviously, he was a significant presence in our office,” said Shannon Hartsfield, Executive Partner of Holland & Knight’s Tallahassee office. “He was a brilliant lawyer. He always took the time to mentor younger lawyers, and he was just definitely somebody that we all looked up to, and we were extremely fortunate to be able to practice with someone of his caliber.”
Grimes served on the Florida Supreme Court during the dawn of the digital age and the internet, and authorized the Supreme Court to launch a website, with Florida becoming one of the first state supreme courts to have an online presence.
“Like so many judges at the time, he didn’t really understand what the internet was,” Waters said. “So I went in to talk to him and to explain to him that this was a whole new medium, much like TV and radio were media, and he agreed with that assessment and authorized the creation of the website. None of that would have been impossible if he had not authorized it.”
His judicial career began in 1973 when he was appointed to the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Lakeland by Florida Gov. Reuben Askew and served as chief judge from 1978 to 1980.
Grimes had a desire to serve the United States during WWII, but his day of enlistment came on the exact same day as Japan’s surrender. Subsequently, he joined the U.S. Naval Reserve and was called to duty during the Korean War.
He was a native of Peoria, Ill. and was a graduate of the University of Florida where he received his bachelor and law degree.
Grimes married his wife, Fay Fulghum, of Lakeland while still in college, and when he was on leave during the Korean War. Together they had four daughters Gay, Mary June, Sue, and Sheri.
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Grant Holcomb is a reporter at the Florida Capital Star and the Star News Network. Follow Grant on Twitter and direct message tips.
Republished with permission from the Florida Capital Star.