Fifty Years of Justice
A History of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida

James M. Denham

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"Succeeds in lifting the veil to capture the daily drama, excitement, and importance of one federal district court's work--all within the framework of the legal and political developments of the time. This fascinating and invaluable narrative history is a must-read for all serious students of Florida's federal judiciary, as well as of the general history of the state."--Walter W. Manley II, coeditor of The Supreme Court of Florida and Its Predecessor Courts, 1821-1917

"On any day, America's courts are a trove of human interest, significant drama, and the making of public policy. With the Middle District of the federal judiciary in Florida as its focus, this book explains how the courts work, reveals frequent dramatic conflicts, points up the injustice to the public when judgeships remain vacant, and illustrates the importance of the independence upon which the integrity of the courts demands."--Martin A. Dyckman, author of Reubin O'D. Askew and the Golden Age of Florida Politics

"Gives insights into the way that many major cases have been resolved by judges and lawyers who were so frequently called on not only for hard work but for courage and integrity."--Talbot "Sandy" D'Alemberte, former president, Florida State University, and former president, American Bar Association

"The true stories discussed in this edition tell the real story of Florida. And in Florida, reality is much more interesting than fiction."--Richard S. Dellinger, certified mediator, Florida Supreme Court and Middle District of Florida

Representing half of the state’s population, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida is one of the busiest federal courts in the nation. It is recognized most often as the battleground for the Terri Schiavo "right to die" case, but it has been at the center of major decisions for more than fifty years. The famous and the infamous have stood before these judges, including young civil rights lawyer Thurgood Marshall, mobster Santo Trafficante, drug lord Carlos Lehder, baseball star Denny McLain, movie star Wesley Snipes, criminal defense attorney F. Lee Bailey, and Constance Baker Motley, the first African American woman to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

James M. Denham is professor of history at Florida Southern College and the director of the Lawton M. Chiles Center for Florida History. He is the author of several books, including "A Rogue's Paradise": Crime and Punishment in Antebellum Florida, 1821-1861.
Sample Chapter(s):
Table of Contents

Rembert Patrick Book Award - 2016

Traces the history of the Middle District of Florida. . .A story of the people of Central Florida.
--The Federal Lawyer

The middle district of Florida was created as a third district in Florida in 1962 in response to the accelerating population growth after World War II; today, it encompasses 35 counties and about half of the state’s 20 million residents. . . . skillfully navigates that half-century with an admixture of fact and anecdote.
--Florida-Times Union

Denham uses court record, press reports, and interviews to generate an interesting narrative of the important cases, personalities, and institutional developments of the busy federal trial court that has jurisdiction over Florida from Fort Meyers in the south to Jacksonville in the north. . . . Those interested in the role federal trial courts played in Florida's postwar history will profit from this book.
--Journal of Southern History

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