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Former Florida high court Chief Justice Grimes dies at 93

Chief Justice Stephen H. Grimes
Chief Justice Stephen H. Grimes (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida said goodbye to the 46th Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Stephen Grimes was appointed to the high court in 1987 and served as Chief Justice between 1994 and 1996.

Stephen Grimes died at the age of 93.

He was known for being a straight shooter.

“We remember and honor the model of public service that he exemplified through his habits of true humility, steady leadership, and quite dedication,” said Florida Chief Justice Charles Canady.

On his first day on the job, when the new Justice parked in the lot behind the court, his unfamiliar car was towed.

“The humility came in Justice Grimes reaction. He made no fuss. He waited patiently. He did not display anger,” said Canady.

In 1994, information officer Craig Waters went to the then-Chief Justice, educating him on the internet and what it could do.

“What we told him the internet was a new medium, just like television and radio are media. And he accepted that, which was unusual at the time,” said Waters.

“And that’s how the Florida Supreme Court became one of the first courts in the world to have a presence on the internet,” said Canady.

Fast forward six years and the court was the epicenter of the disputed 2000 election.

“We had reporters standing in line for two hours or more, trying to get paper copies, when their home offices had already gotten the PDFs and already reported them,” said Waters.

After leaving the court, Grimes resumed his high-profile legal career.

He retired five years ago at the age of 88.

Asked how he liked retirement, he reportedly responded that he loved the practice of law.

Those who knew Justice Grimes told us they never knew his political leaning.

It was something as a judge he never talked about.

Republican Gov. Bob Martinez appointed Grimes to the Supreme Court in 1987, and he served until 1997.

Grimes was a lawyer with the Holland & Knight firm in Bartow before being appointed a judge on the Second District Court of Appeal in Lakeland in 1973.

Grimes was a native of Peoria, Illinois, and attended the University of Florida, where he earned his undergraduate degree in 1950 and his law degree in 1954.

He married Fay Fulghum of Lakeland in 1951, and they had four daughters: Gay, Mary June, Sue and Sheri.


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