Interviewee: Anne Cawthon Booth
Interviewer: Steve Prescott
Date: January 29, 1991
P: This is Stephen Prescott. Today is January 29, 1991. I am with the Honorable
Anne C. Booth. Judge Booth is a judge on the First District Court of Appeal,
sitting in Tallahassee, Florida. Judge Booth was the first woman ever to serve
as an appellate court judge in Florida. She is also an alumna of the University of
Florida. I am interviewing Judge Booth for the University of Florida Oral History
Archives. We will be talking about her life history today and about her
experiences as a student at the University of Florida. The interview is taking
place in the conference room in Bruton-Geer Hall on the campus of the
University of Florida College of Law. Good afternoon, Judge Booth.
B: Good afternoon. I am happy to be here. Honored, I should say. I really do not
feel like I am old enough to be involved in this, but nonetheless ... I was born in
Gainesville in 1934 while my parents were here with the University. Daddy
[Rainey Cawthon] was an assistant coach at that time, and Mother [Sarah Payne
Cawthon] was also connected with the University, doing the Florida Players,
which she started. She taught Shakespeare and theater in the English
department. And Daddy, in fact, was in her class, I believe, in 1929. The story
goes he was playing on the football team, a big man on campus, and he had to
have one more course. He was walking down the hall and saw this pretty
teacher in there, and he just walked in and took it, whatever it was. And it
turned out to be Shakespeare, and she gave him an A. He probably earned it,
My family moved to Tallahassee when I was two, and I lived there during all my
childhood. I graduated from high school at Leon High School [and] went to the
University of Florida in the College of Agriculture. At first I was in the animal
husbandry department, but when I had to take a course called Meats that
required you to hit animals and slaughter [them], slit their throats, I just could not
do that. So I changed to agronomy, which is field crops. Dr. Pettus Senn was
the head of my department. And I understand he said to some people later,
about me, that Miss Cawthon got her culture in agriculture. But I did graduate in
agronomy, and I was first in my class. I was the only girl in my class, and I got
to walk at the front of the line. It was a real honor.
After that, I did not know exactly what I wanted to do with myself, so I spent a
summer thinking about it. I ruled out medicine because I did not like chemistry.
Somehow it ended up that I was going to go to law school. So I just sent in a
postcard asking the University to send my grades from the College of Agriculture
to the College of Law. That is how easy it was in those days. There was no
LSAT [Law School Admission Test]. The postcard came back and said my
grades had been moved to the College of Law. And that was the first my family
knew that I decided to go to law school.
It was considered, at that time, to be a rather unusual thing for a woman to do.
Everyone said, "Well, what are you going to do? You certainly are not going into
the courtroom." And some people even were unkind enough to say: "Why are
you here? You are just taking the place that a man needs, a man who has to
support his family. You are not ever going to do anything with your law degree.
You are just taking up a place." That would just be considered horrible gender
bias today, but in those days I just considered it an expected response. I did not
think anyone was particularly unkind to me. But I was the only girl in my class.
I think I started in February. We did have about sixty people in the class. I was
the only girl in the law college at the time I started, except for Betty Taylor, who
was then working as the librarian [1950-present. She is currently teaching the
course Computers and the Law.] She was taking one course now and then,
which she was allowed to do. I got a lot of kidding, and friendly type of kidding,
mostly. Anytime I raised my hand or answered a question, the whole class went
into an uproar and would "shuffle." This is not done anymore, but back in the old
building--the floors were wood--the way that you showed your disapproval of
anything, or sometimes your approval could also be expressed that way, was
that everyone in the class would rub their feet over the floor or stomp their feet on
the floor. You could hear the noise even outside the building; it just vibrated
everywhere. So it was kind of intimidating, to some extent, but I sort of looked at
it as an honor, in a way, that I was to be singled out for this stomping and
shuffling and carrying on every time I asked a question or every time the teacher
called on me. It gave me a little extra time to think of an answer, because you
could not talk or do anything while it was going on. Now I understand that
nobody does it anymore.
I remember the old building. I felt a lot of nostalgia for the old law school
building. I just always assumed that that was the way it would always look. It
certainly was my idea of the way it should be. It was run-down, even in those
days. There may have been a few women's bathrooms; there were certainly
very few--maybe only one or possibly two. I guess they did not expect many
women in the building. And women who came into the law library, as they
occasionally did from other parts of campus, would get the shuffle and the stomp
and everything the same way. It was a male domain. Totally male domain.
But the professors, I must say, were very considerate. They toned down their
jokes. Many of them had jokes that they told year after year that were written in
their notes, so that part of their regular lecture was a that joke. I remember
particularly Dean [Frank Edward] Maloney [1958-1970] did that. Some of his
were off-color, but he always toned them down a little bit in deference, I am sure,
to my being there. I sat on the front row, because I did not want to miss a single
word that was spoken by the professor, so I missed a lot of the things that went
on in the back of the room, I am sure. But I always sat on the front row.
P: Let us start chronologically and fill in some of the details, although you have hit a
lot of the things I wanted to talk to you about. Just give a little bit of your family
history. Your grandfather [W. S. Cawthon] was the math professor the
University of Florida when it was in Lake City and helped move the University
from Lake City. Would you like to tell us a little about that?
B: There is a family legend [concerning that topic]; of course, I do not know all the
details. Both Lake City and Gainesville had been vying for the University, and
when the vote came down that Gainesville was to have it, my grandfather was
assigned a job--since he was working as the librarian as well as a professor at
Lake City--of driving the buckboard with the books in it. There was a warrant out
for his arrest, because the citizens of Lake City were just furious about this, so he
rode with his shotgun over his knees. He was a crack shot. He was a very big,
impressive man. My grandmother always referred to him as the "noble Roman,"
because he had very high ideals and he was a student of Greek and Roman
literature. He could read those languages. He just exemplified a lot of those
very stoic attitudes. But he drove the buckboard.
One of the stories about him after he got to the University was that he [and
Grandmother were living] in Buckman Hall when they housed the faculty there.
During the night, a group of rowdy boys--and some of the students at the
University were "rough necks" from the back woods--were out in the Plaza of the
Americas. They were shooting off a Civil War cannon that was out there. They
were getting ready to load and shoot this cannon. Or maybe they already had.
He came down in his nightshirt, and I can just imagine him--he was a great big
man--in his nightshirt, confronting those boys, stopping them from shooting the
My father and all of his brothers were born in Gainesville. My grandmother
taught at Gainesville High School. She taught math, and English as well. She
had seven children and continued to teach. She got her master's degree and
was really quite an interesting woman for her time. It was a difficult time. I
came across her journals and got them all typed up so I could read them, and I
saw all the things she was doing every day and how difficult life was. They had
absolutely no money. They were destitute, really. I mean, even a dollar was a
very prized thing. They managed to get the children educated. I think the two
daughters more or less avoided getting their degrees completed, but they had
the opportunity, in any event. My daddy was the second of four brothers, and
they all went to the University of Florida. They were all into sports to some
degree, but Daddy was by far the most involved in sports. He was with the great
Gator team of 1928 and 1929. He was the captain in 1929, I believe.
P: I have a picture here which appeared in the November 1929 Alligator. It is of
your father--he was the captain of the football team--riding the alligator. Let me
interject for the record that I believe your grandfather eventually was the state
commissioner of education in Governor [John W.] Martin's administration
B: Yes. That is right. He was. They left Gainesville at that point and went to live
in Tallahassee during the time that he was in that position. But Mother and
Daddy had met here at the university. They were married twice. One time, the
first time they married, they ran away in a car borrowed from one of the
professors. I never could remember that name, but when I was a freshman
here, that professor was still here. He came up to me--I was rather
embarrassed--and me that he had loaned the car that my parents had run away
to get married up in Georgia. And then later, when the team went up to play
Harvard, Mother and Daddy were married in the Little Church Around the Corner
in New York City. The team was there at that wedding. So they had two
P: They were married twice.
B: Two ceremonies.
P: Well, you were born here in Gainesville, you told us, and you went to
Tallahassee when you were two years old. Let us talk about your childhood.
B: My childhood?
P: Where did you go to elementary school?
B: Well, first I went to the University School. It was then called the Demonstration
School. It was connected with FSU--Florida State College for Women at that
time. I was always very interested in animals. I had lots of dogs and pets and
things like that, which is what ultimately led me to go to ag school, because I
thought I would have some way of earning a living that I would be able to have
horses and dogs and so forth and lead a good life in the country with all these
wonderful things. Of course, I found out that agriculture, like anything else, was
a business and that you had to be able to make a living at it. You had to have
land and machinery and equipment. It was just kind of a dream that most
people really did not get to do. So I ended up getting interested in the research
and scientific part of agriculture.
At that time, there was a lot of interest in nuclear radiation and the effects of
radiation on seed, causing genetic changes. Here at the University in the
agriculture school they were exposing various crop seed to radiation in order to
study the effects after they were planted. In the department of agronomy they
had a very good department of cytogenetics, which is the study of the effects on
the cell caused by radiation. I had such a good professor [Dr. John R.
Edwardson] from Harvard, and he inspired me to do a lot of extra research. I
received an award, the Phi Sigma award for scientific research, for a special
scientific research project as a result of my work in pangola grass.
On the basis of that, I applied for a Fulbright scholarship to go to Cambridge,
which was known to have a great department of cytogenetics. It was a brand
new field. Actually I do not think I had a good enough background, looking back
on it, in physics, chemistry, and all those things which are part of a necessary
adjunct of cytogenetics. But nonetheless I applied, and I made it through the
final, down to the final countdown. I was interviewed by a combined faculty
committee for that scholarship and did not get it. That left me then in sort of
limbo. It was at that point that I started to look again and see what I wanted to
do. I decided that, rather than looking through a microscope all the rest of my
days, I would go to law school. And that was a happy, happy choice.
P: That has proven to be a very successful choice. We will come back to that.
You graduated in 1952 from Leon High School in Tallahassee, Florida. What
types of activities were you involved in in high school? Were you an athlete?
Were you a cheerleader?
B: No. I was really just sort of a bookworm. And I was kind of shy. I do not know
where I ever got the nerve to go to ag school or much less to go to law school.
I did not have a particularly socially good life in high school. I had some friends,
but I was not involved in any of the big things that go on in high school like [being
a] cheerleader, president of the student body, or any such thing as that. I was in
some honor societies and that sort of thing.
P: Well, you are certainly not shy now.
B: I have some shy moments. But more or less, I have sort of gotten out of that; [I
have] climbed out of that pit.
P: You came here in September of 1952 as a freshman. Did you consider going to
Florida State, which was predominantly a women's college?
B: Well, it did not have a law college.
P: Or an agriculture school, either, for that matter.
B: No. And I did not want to do arts and sciences. I had seen Mother continue to
take classes in arts and sciences. Various members of the faculty would be at
our house [socially] at different times. And I just thought, well, that is just sort of
a ... What is the point of that? What is its usefulness? That was my judgment
on it at that point in my life. And how old was I? Eighteen or so. So I wanted
to do something where I could do something, where I would actually work and
make a living. Daddy had always tried to get me to take typing so I could earn a
living, but I never [did]. I just could not do typing. I just never had any feeling
for that kind of machinery. But as it turned out, when I got to the University of
Florida I took as many courses in arts and sciences as I did in agriculture, which
ended up with my taking sometimes twenty-one hours in a semester. I was able
to be a member of Phi Beta Kappa because of that. Even though my degree
was not in arts and sciences, they do take people from other colleges, and I think
the fact that I had taken Spanish and French and lots in the English department
[helped]. I also took violin, but that was a complete flop. Mr. [Ed] Preodor
[associate professor of music] was very long-suffering. He was the only person
that would be willing to teach me beginning violin. He was the conductor of the
[University] orchestra. I will always be grateful for him, for how much he
suffered, trying to teach me to even tune the violin. I did not have the ear for it,
and it must have just driven him crazy. Anyway, he was very nice, and I
appreciate his efforts.
P: I think you are being far too modest. My information shows that you were a
member of Phi Beta Kappa; Phi Kappa Phi, which is the University of Florida
campus-wide honorary; Alpha Lambda Delta, the freshman women's honorary;
Sigma Delta Pi, the Spanish honorary; Phi Sigma, the biology honorary; and
Lambda Sigma Delta, the agricultural honorary. Anyone that can win honors in
Spanish and agriculture at the same time must have been an excellent student.
You graduated with high honors. I also see that you were vice president of your
sorority, Chi Omega.
B: Chi Omega. Right. Well, you will notice that that was also the scholarship
chairman, and I always thought that maybe they took me in because they were
helping their average out a little bit. But I loved it; there was a really good group
of girls there. My sister later came here, and she was a member of Chi Omega.
We have kept up our connection with the Chi Omega sorority in Tallahassee.
P: Did you live in the sorority house when you were a student?
B: I did. I lived in the sorority house my junior year. In my sophomore year,
though, I lived in one of those refurbished barracks building. That was
interesting. It was a one-story frame structure that no longer exists.
P: The University of Florida had expanded very rapidly, and they had taken some
old military barracks and put some students in them. The school, although it
had been coed since 1947, still had more men in the whole University.
B: Oh, there were a lot of men. That was very nice. There were always more men
than you could shake a stick at. But there was also a lot of enthusiasm here for
scholarship. My mother always said that everything you ever wanted was at the
University of Florida. The courses were there; whatever intellectual pursuit you
wanted to follow was there. You only had to find it. It was big. They were not
going to feed it to you, but it was there for you to find. I thought that was a very
good attitude or idea that she [held]. She loved this University very much. She
thought it had a lot to offer to people because of its diversity.
P: You have already talked a little bit about being a woman in the law school, but
could you also talk about being a woman in the ag school?
B: Oh! I took a lot of ribbing. I did. Now, there were other women, I should tell
you. There were several, maybe three or four, but in my beginning freshman
animal husbandry class there were way over a hundred students, maybe a
hundred and fifty. We filled an auditorium. In those freshman classes, almost
everyone in there came off a farm or had experience, and I was certainly the
great exception. As I said, there were other women, but we were decidedly in
The professor in one of my classes decided to show me up one day. I always
read the book. I do not think a lot of the other students read the textbook
because they already knew the stuff, so they did not really need to read it. Of
course, by reading it there were little things that I picked up that they missed.
But there were also things that were not in the textbook. One day he asked me,
"How many upper front teeth does a sheep have?" And there was this real dead
silence, and then everybody started to laugh. I did not have the vaguest notion,
because it was not in the book. As it turns out, sheep do not have any upper
front teeth. That was his way of showing me up for what I was, a book person.
P: You obviously were a very strong-willed person. You made the decision at
eighteen to go into a field that was different from your background. I cheated
yesterday; I got your secretary to fax me a copy of your resume so I would know
a little bit about what you are doing. I understand that your senior thesis,
"Cytogenetics and Pangola Grass," was selected as the outstanding paper in
B: I did not know that.
P: As you look back on your years as an undergraduate, what memories do you
have of the University of Florida in the Eisenhower administration?
B: Well, I have pretty happy memories. I certainly enjoyed my schoolwork and my
sorority, and I met some nice people. I had a wonderful girl for a roommate that
I am still close to, Catherine Anderson Yardley, who now lives in Fort Lauderdale.
We were roommates our junior year and senior year. We still see each other
once a year at one of the University of Florida football games. She and her
husband and Ed (my husband) and I get together. Then my sister Sarah was
there. That was nice. She was two years behind me. She still lives in
Tallahassee now. She graduated in biology.
I took a lot of interesting courses in the biology department and botany
department. I remember Professor [John Henry] Davis in the botany department
was particularly [memorable]. I do not know if you have any records of him or
not, but he was an excellent professor. I think he had written one of the books
that they used. I took several courses from him. Professor [Pedro Villa]
Fernandez I had Spanish from. I remember in particular Archie [Charles
Archibald] Robertson [professor of English]. I took Shakespeare's tragedies
from Archie Robinson, who had been a friend of Mother's. They knew each
other. I had a lot of other professors that I really liked. I am sorry that I cannot
remember their names now.
P: Going back to your decision after the summer, after you graduated and entered
law school, I guess the summer of 1956, that is a dramatic change. You had
made a very unconventional career choice by choosing agriculture anyhow, then
when you did not get the Fulbright scholarship [you] decided to go to law school.
Did you really know what you were getting into? Did you know what law was, or
did you just kind of ...
B: I really did not have any idea at all, but I must say my parents were certainly
long-suffering. I mean, they had put up with my going to ag school and taking
such courses as agricultural engineering, where I drove a tractor, and soils,
where I learned to identify twenty different soils in petri dishes, or entomology,
where we studied all the bugs, and plant pathology, plant diseases, all those sort
of things. They did not understand. They were nice. They were kind enough
to let me sort of go ahead and do what I wanted to do.
I guess it was the same thing with law school. And I had no idea [what I was
getting into]. I felt very ill-prepared and very .. like I was really out on a limb.
It was really a challenge. It seemed to me that everyone else in the class had
been through business or pre-law or something that was more preparatory for
law than agriculture, and I felt that they were all extremely bright. I was very
impressed with all of them generally. They all were very helpful to me. They
felt that I needed a lot of help. Everyone obviously [thought I] did. I must have
looked pitiful. They loaned me their notes. They were constantly reminding me
to take my book or do this and do not forget to read that or go to a study session
or whatever. And they just seemed to feel like I ... I really appreciated all that.
P: I think you are being overly modest again. I think you have a pretty good record
in law school, too. Let us talk a little bit about the law school itself. You have
already said the admissions process was very easy then.
B: Very casual. But the idea at that time was that there would be a midterm
examination in the freshman year that would determine whether you would stay.
So generally they just let anybody in, within reason. There was no LSAT. If
you did well on the midterm, you could stay. And usually about half of the class
would fall by the wayside, either voluntarily or involuntarily, by mid term. They
had seen what it was all about and decided it just was not their cup of tea. That
is what happened to my class, and it was cut down considerably. And we went
on then, with a much-reduced student body, in our freshman class.
P: In round numbers, you would say maybe sixty entered and thirty finished the first
B: Right. And then, of course, as I said, I think I started in February, and I went
through the summers. So actually I finished in two and a half years. But in
the meanwhile I had met my husband. I met a lot of other interesting boys, too.
I had gone on a lot of coffee breaks, and I had been to a lot of picture shows with
a lot of different boys and had more attention than I knew what to do with. I
must say, I enjoyed it immensely. I cannot say that I had ever had so much
attention before, so I did not mind putting up with the ribbing I got, because it
seemed like it was, for the most part, very friendly. They did not really see me
as any real threat, not till later. Then when the final grades came out and I did
make the top score, there were a few of them who felt that this was really unfair,
that I had somehow played a trick on them. But I was as surprised as anybody
else, because I really did not expect to do that well at all. I just felt I had to work
as hard as I could if I was going to pass. I was only trying to pass. But I did
meet my husband, and we did marry and leave before I graduated. So I really
had two classes that I was with: my entering class [and my graduating class].
My entering class took up a collection and gave me a gift. They said they were
just so thrilled that Ed was taking me away. [Laughter] He was in the air force.
He took up his commission. He had been in law school a year ahead of me.
We went to the Philippines for two years, where I had a baby, and then I came
back and finished my last year. He had to finish two years, I believe. So I
finished my last year and went to work for Lazonby, Dell [Willcox & Graham] here
P: Let us go ahead and explore the attitude as a woman. I had talked earlier today
with Judge Winifred Wentworth, and she had been the only woman in her class.
She graduated ten years ahead of you, in 1951, and she had not encountered
very much hostility from the students and the professors, although she was a
married woman before she entered law school. She thought maybe that made
the difference. She experienced a couple things. In a criminal law course, the
professor would pick on her. They covered rape, or a very vicious murder, he
would make her [stand up] and recite the facts [pertaining to the case].
B: Was that Professor [Vernon Wilmot] Clark [professor of law, 1946-1974,
B: He did not do that to me.
P: Maybe by then he had mellowed.
B: I think I just looked more like an utterly helpless little girl at that point. If you
would see a picture of me, you would realize that, I think.
P: Well, with the interviews I have done with some of the students, they said that
some of the professors just simply would avoid those cases in criminal law if a
woman were in the class. Judge Wentworth had the opposite experience, where
they would make her get up and recite the clinical details. So I was wondering if
you had ever experienced any type of either favorable or negative treatment in
class when something considered to be "too sensitive for women's minds" was
B: No, I did not get that particularly. But what I did get, which, I guess, today would
be considered definitely a form of gender bias, although we did not know about it
back in those days, was a very condescending attitude by the professors that
they were allowing me to be here. I was allowed to be here, and I was on good
behavior. I was well-mannered, and it was not expected that I would ever do
anything with this. [It was their attitude that] I was just interested in it from a
mental point of view, and certainly I would never be going into the courtroom. I
was not the kind of person. I was just too shy, and I was obviously not equipped
to go into the courtroom or practice law in any way. So that was ... I accepted
their evaluation of me on that basis, and I did not feel that it was unjust at the
time. I just went ahead and did what I had to do to pass.
P: So you felt tolerated more than accepted.
B: I was tolerated, and I think that I was not treated unkindly, although, as I said,
there were several people that did. Every now and then there would be
someone who would come up and just yank my pink slip out of my hand, which
was our grade. They would pass out the grades on a piece of pink paper. A
student who sat back of me in several classes in my freshman class was very
aggressive about taking my pink slip and calculating my academic average
before I had even had time to look at it. He would not even give me the time of
day. I am sure he would not have done that to a man. He was always
disappointed that I had made higher than he had. So that was not too kind.
P: What kind of response did you get when you went out to look for jobs?
B: Well, that was somewhat disappointing. Of course, the first job I got with
Lazonby, Dell was strange in a way. Mr. Lazonby, who had been a former
president of the Florida Bar and one of the leading graduates of the University of
Florida College of Law, was quite an interesting man. He had been a member of
the Olympic equestrian team from Canada, and had settled here in Gainesville
and gone to law school. He came to speak to the legal ethics class--I was the
only female in the class--and he said, "Well, I want to say this: women are all
right in the courtroom." He paused for effect, and then he said, "Until they open
their mouth." And everybody laughed. So I was rather surprised then, when,
after I graduated, he called me.
I was at home with my four-month-old baby, absolutely bored to death and
wanting to go to work or do something. He called me and wanted me to come to
work. I was amazed that he offered me a job. I had not even the nerve to go
ask anybody for a job. So I went to work for him; I got to carry his briefcase to
court. I worked with Mr. Willcox in that firm, too. I got to go to the trials, and I
did research and helped them with their work. I learned an awful lot. Although
Mr. Lazonby told me when he hired me that I was going to cost the firm a lot of
money, nonetheless he was willing to pay me $297 a month. [He also said] that
I was going to be very expensive because I was going to waste a lot of paper, I
was not going to know what was going on, the secretaries were going to have to
help me, a lot of people were going to have to take their valuable time to train
me, and I was generally going to be just useless. I was sure that he was
absolutely right about that. But they did raise me to $400 a month at the end of
the year, which was, incidentally, what they normally paid a man when one came
on board. So even though I graduated number one in my class, I made $297,
and men in the same position would have been making $400.
P: Had you interviewed for any other jobs?
B: No, I had not tried to get any other job. I worked there until my husband
graduated, and then we moved to Tallahassee. I had applied for a job in
Tallahassee. I knew it was going to be hard to get a job, because law firms
would not want to hire me because of my husband being a lawyer. They were
all very concerned about the confidential relationship between husband and wife
and the law firm. You would either have to [have] both of you work for the same
law firm or find some job with the state in some way.
The first interview I had in Tallahassee was with Judge [Wallace E.] Sturgis, who
was with the First District Court of Appeal, where I am now a judge. It was a
terrific letdown to me, because he asked me no questions at all [about my
qualifications]. I had a good resume, some good letters from the Lazonby, Dell
firm, high grades, and [Florida] Law Review articles I had written. But all he
wanted to know about was what my husband was doing, whether he was going
to be a practicing lawyer in Tallahassee. My husband, incidentally, first was a
law clerk with the federal district court. He then went on to practice law with
Dexter Douglas. When I left after that interview, I just felt really defeated,
because I did not see how I was ever going to get a job at that point. I did apply
to the [Florida] Supreme Court, and I got a letter back from Millard [Fillmore]
Caldwell [Florida governor, 1945-1949] who was a member of the [Florida]
Supreme Court [1962-1969]. And he wrote very tersely and said, "Tell me why I
should hire a woman as a law clerk." He said, "I am a hard-to-get-along-with,
very short-tempered person." He described all these bad habits that he had,
fussy and everything. I wrote back in the same vein and said, "[It] sounds to me
like the only person that would put up with you would be a woman." Another
man would not put up with being treated that way.
P: Did you really?
B: I did. [I wrote him that] another man would never put up with that, that only a
woman such as I, who had been trained to put up with first her father and then
her husband would be equipped to put up with all this. Maybe that was one of
the reasons he decided to hire me, maybe not. Anyway, we had an excellent
relationship. He did hire me, and I worked for him very happily for four years
until he retired from the court. He taught me a lot. When he left, I went to work
for Justice [Joseph A.] Boyd [Jr., Florida Supreme Court justice, 1969-1987] for
five or six years, whom I also found to be a very interesting, delightful man. I
learned a lot from him. He went through some bad times; that was after I left.
[There were some] unfortunate things that happened to him. But I always
thought of him as being a very excellent judge who had a good feel for the law
and how it ought to be and was willing to be told what the book law said by
someone who looked it up. So I think he did an excellent job as a Supreme
P: Let us go back and talk about the classes at the law school. A lot of people are
surprised--at least that is what they tell me--when they come to law school.
They find the classes very difficult and much more demanding [than their
undergraduate course of study]. How do the classes compare to you? What
memory do you have of your first year of law school?
B: Well, I think they were intimidating to a large degree, because of the practice of
the professor to call on you and ask you to recite. This is not done as much
today, I understand. One of the most terrible people, frightening people, was
Professor Ernie [Ernest McClain] Jones, who is still here [and has been since
P: Yes. He is still here.
B: I sat on the front row and watched the professors every minute, because I always
felt the professor was my real antagonist, the person I really had to deal with, not
any of the other people in the class. He [Jones] was a terrifying person to a lot
of people, and I cannot pretend he did not scare me when he called on me, too.
He had a very unique way of doing this. He would first call your name. Usually
he would mispronounce your name to show you further how worthless you were.
You were so worthless he could not even be bothered to know your name. He
called me Cathorn and all sorts of funny names like that. I think my husband
said he called him Boots, instead of Booth. Everybody's name was
mispronounced because he could not be bothered to [learn the correct
pronunciation]; it was not important. So you already knew that you were just a
nothing when he called on you.
And he would say, "Now, I am going to say that you"--he would ask me a
question involving a cow or something because I had been in ag school--own a
cow, and you are going to sell this cow." This would be [in] contracts class.
Then he would proceed to give me all these facts. He would pace up and down
the room, in a very nervous fashion, and I would be frantically trying to remember
what all the facts were. I did not know where he was going, what the question
was going to be at the end. Pretty soon, you would just have dozens of little
facts and no idea whether they were important or not. Finally he would whirl and
ask, "Now, was there a contract?" or "Was there a breach?" or "Was there a
substantial performance?" You were just completely wiped out by this barrage
of information you had been given without knowing where it was all going.
Some people, [like] a boy who sat back of me--I will not tell you his name--would
shake so hard that his chair, which was connected to my table, would shake, and
my table would shake. He would be shaking so hard.
I have seen Professor Jones a number of times since I have been coming back.
[End side Al]
B: I saw him just after I was first appointed to the First District Court of Appeal, and I
went up to him and said, "Now, I do not know if you remember me, or not,
Professor Jones, but I used to be Miss Cathorn, Miss Cothorn, Miss Cathin." I
named all these various names, and he looked at me very strangely. I did not
know if he could figure out what I was saying. So I said, "Well, those are all the
ways you pronounced my name when I used to be here." It was a friendly thing,
but I do not know if he realized it or not. Later, I had other opportunities to talk
to him and tell him about how terrible he was, how he scared us all. Then my
son came here to law school and had him, and he thought he was the very finest
professor he had had. His whole teaching method had changed by then, I think
because the class was so much larger. He would no longer call on people.
P: He is still here, and he was the only professor who has the policy of not seeing
students. Was that common while you were here? Unless you fail the course,
he will not see students in his office.
B: I never tried to see him in his office. I was always intimidated by him, and I
would certainly have never sought him out in his office. In fact, I never saw any
professor in their office, because I thought it was improper to do that.
P: I have a list of the people who were on the faculty while you were here. As I go
through it, would you tell me what you remember about them, if you had them for
a class? The dean was Frank [Edward] Maloney [1947-1972].
B: Oh, I remember Dean Maloney. I certainly do. I had him for torts, and I had
him for equity as well. One of the things he did was to use the names of
students in the class in his exam questions. I do not know if he did this every
single time, but I remember that there was a boy in the class who was notorious
for asking what we considered "apple polishing" questions, that is, questions just
to let the professor know that he had read an extra law review article. He did not
really want to know the answer. And usually he would get stomped or scraped
when he would start asking one of these questions. Well, obviously, Dean
Maloney was not unaware of this. He was also the same person that would
buttonhole the professor after class and keep him with all this legal rigmarole that
he did not really want to know about. So here came an exam question: "Mr.
(whatever-his-name-was) had a patent on an apple polishing machine," and it
went on and gave the facts. Here again, my question had me as owning a cow.
It seemed I always had to own a cow in every one of these questions.
P: Robert "Bob" [Barbeau] Mautz [1950-1967], who later became chancellor.
B: Mautz. Well, I know they nicknamed him Mickey Mautz, but I never had him for
P: James [Jackson] Freeland [1957-present].
B: Professor Freeland. I had him for a tax course. He was an excellent professor.
He was considered a younger professor, one who had come on when Professor
[Richard Badenoch] Stephens [1949-1977] was still here. I had Professor
Stephens as well.
P: Mandell Glicksberg [1954-present].
B: Oh, yes. I had him. He is still here, is he not?
P: Yes. I think he is going to retire in December.
B: He was an excellent professor, and I think very well-liked by all the students in
the property area.
P: Was he the advisor for the Law Review when you were on it? I know he was
B: I am not sure. You know, I was not actually on the Law Review, but I wrote--had
published--three or four articles for the Law Review. I think the big one that I
wrote is totally probably useless now. People still kid me about it. "The Rule in
Shelly's Case and Estates in Fee Tail" was the title.
B: It is probably as much needed as my work on pangola grass.
P: For those that will be reading this later, the Rule in Shelly's Case has now, I
think, been abolished in all American jurisdictions except North Carolina, but it
was a rule of property for many, many years. [The Rule in Shelly's Case was a
common law rule of property promulgated in England in 1581 which effectively
disentailed the traditional estate in fee tail which required real property to remain
in the family and pass by descent through the generations. Ed.]
B: In actual fact, it could conceivably be used if you were dealing with an old deed in
which you had to go back and see the law as it existed. Estates in fee tail and
the Rule in Shelly's Case would still be something you would have to work
through under the statutory law or the case law. So it would be useful. I
actually wrote that because of Professor [James] Day, who was probably my
favorite professor. He was such a delightful, kind person, and such a scholar. I
admired him for being such a scholar. I would always see him in the library
taking meticulous notes, and I thought, "Oh, I would like to be like that." He was
reading all the cases. He had the reputation of having read every single case in
Florida on property law. He asked me to write an article on that subject and to
submit it to the Lawyers Title Guaranty Fund contest, which I did.
Unfortunately, the same time I submitted my article, a very brilliant article was
written by Mr. Starrey, I think his name was. He wrote on husband and wife
tenancies by the entirety, which was a very hot and important subject at that
time. Both articles were submitted, and he won the prize. They did say that my
article was extremely well written, but the subject was rather obsolete or
antiquated even at that time. But Professor Day had asked me to do it, and I
never felt bad about doing that.
P: We are talking now, of course, about Professor James or Jimmy Day. I think he
probably comes up in the interviews we have done with the alumni of the school
as their outstanding professor more than anybody else.
B: Maybe Jimmy Clark.
P: Tell me a little about Professor Day. What did he look like? How did he act in
B: He had white hair. That was the thing that was impressive about him. I think
he actually looked older than he was. He and his wife had no children. They
were devoted to each other. He was in love with his subject, which was real
property law of Florida, and that just translated over to you. He was not
particularly an exciting or dramatic lecturer. It was not that. It was just that he
was so enthusiastic about every new case and every little intricate part of any
case that he discovered. There was nothing that did not interest him in the law
of property. There were a number of us who became infected with that interest
simply because of his genuine and sincere interest. You felt that it was his life's
work. When he left the classroom, he went right into the library and kept reading
those cases. It was like a scientific endeavor that went on for his whole life. I
have often wondered what happened to his notes.
There was a tragic thing that happened to him. His wife got cancer of the eye,
and, very valiantly, they struggled with this. He kept from her the fact that when
they operated on her they did not get it all. He protected her from that
knowledge. She had a bunch of eye patches made out of material that matched
her dresses. So they would go to the law school functions and various things,
and she would have on a little flowered print eye patch instead of a black eye
patch. They were just a delightful couple who were genuinely fond of each
other. This went on for I do not know how long. Then one morning he just
woke up and keeled over dead with a heart attack, which everyone believed was
due to the great stress that he was undergoing in caring for her and keeping from
her the fact that she had terminal cancer. She died not long after that.
P: Dexter Deloney. Did you ever have Professor Deloney?
B: I do not think I had Professor Deloney, but I may have. I know my husband did.
There were so many stories about Professor Deloney that I felt like I had had
him. He was very high strung, and he paced up and down the room and got
carried away with his lecture. One time he even took out his watch. He was
illustrating something, and he threw it out of the second floor window of the law
college, by mistake, into the bushes.
P: I understand he was called Mixmaster, because he was so ...
B: Oh, he was everywhere! He was everywhere. When I came back here, and I
was asked to make a speech at the law school graduation here, when Dean
[Joseph R.] Julin was dean. I do not remember what year that was--sometime in
the 1970s, I think. [Julin was dean from 1971-1980. Ed.] Professor Deloney
was there, and he came up to me. He remembered my name. He
remembered that he had received an invitation to my wedding, which was more
than twenty-five years before. I did not even know that. He was so sorry that
he had not been able to attend my wedding in Tallahassee. I thought it was
incredible that he remembered me and remembered [my getting married]. So
maybe I was in his class. I am not sure.
P: He is retired now, but he still lives here in town. Richard [Badenoch] Stephens
B: Oh, yes. I loved Professor Stephens. I thought he was one of the clearest,
best-organized professors. Of course, you have to be when you are teaching
income tax, but he just laid it out. It was so good that for a while I toyed with the
idea of going on to New York University and making tax my career.
P: You have already talked about Ernest Jones. Did you have Professor Karl
B: Yes, I did, but I cannot remember what I had him for. What did he teach? I
cannot remember what I had him for.
P: Francis McCoy. He is still here.
B: Oh, yes. Professor McCoy. There is an interesting story. I do not know if I
should tell this story about Professor McCoy or not, but I am sure he would not
mind. I had municipal corporations from him, and a lot of the boys in the class, it
seemed to me--now, I could have been wrong--were sort of teasing him or not
taking him seriously and were not impressed with him. Now, I was always
terribly impressed with every one of my professors. I thought they were just
utterly brilliant people.
I thought I would do something that would bolster Professor McCoy's reputation
with the boys in the class, so I started a story that Professor McCoy was a black
belt judo person, that he had a black belt in karate or judo. I had heard
somewhere--I think there was truth in this part of it--that he had been in World
War II and had parachuted behind enemy lines in China, disguised as a
black-robed priest. So this story got around, and boys started stopping and
talking to him. He did the library as well as teach municipal corporations. He
could not understand what was going on. The boys in his class were not
interrupting and laughing and cutting up as they had been. They would stop and
talk to him. Well, they started asking him about these things, some of which was
purely a figment of my imagination. I do not know if he ever found out if I was
the person that started that rumor or not.
Through the years I have kept in touch with him. I forgot to do it this time, but if
we are coming down here for oral arguments and we have a good domestic
relations case to be argued, I try to let him know.
My younger son John worked in the library at the law college when he was an
undergraduate. Professor McCoy invited him to come up and listen to his class
any time he wanted to, and he showed him some of his law exams. I think he
was instrumental in my younger son's decision to go to law school. Both of our
sons did go to law school. Our younger son is graduating from FSU law school
in April or May. My elder son graduated from here.
P: I understand you had the privilege of swearing him into the bar.
B: I did.
P: Vernon Clark.
B: Oh, well, now of course everyone loved Vernon Clark. He was the one rock that
we had our freshman year. He gave you something that you could memorize,
that you could get your teeth into, and it was just like heaven. For instance, he
made you learn the definition of homicide. He made you memorize the definition
of premeditation. "Premeditation is every intent of mind which includes, number
one: intent to kill, intent to commit great bodily harm," etcetera. You knew all of
that. Then when you were asked a question on the exam that involved
homicide, you could just start out by just writing down that definition. Then you
could just apply it. You knew where you were, and everything was so clean-cut
and clear. That is not the way it is now. The legislature has messed up the
criminal law. I am just glad that Danny Clark is not here to see it all. He would
be horrified. Of course, he probably saw when they messed up larceny. He
was still alive then, I guess. [Vernon Clark died in August 1991. Ed.]
He had some stories that he told every class. One that I always remember was
the one about the man who was swinging this iron ball. He had an iron ball on a
chain, and he was just swinging this iron ball around his head, just in bigger and
bigger circles. He had no intention of doing anything to harm anybody, but all at
once this iron ball slipped and flew off and hit someone and killed them. So
what was that? You were supposed to figure out whether it was premeditated
murder or murder "two" or manslaughter. But all these stories were there, and
he used the same story year after year after year, so at any given time, people
who had graduated from Clark's class could get together and could repeat all the
stories that he used to illustrate points of law. I have found when I have been
working on criminal cases that I can remember some of those stories. They
have stayed with me, when I have forgotten a lot of other things.
P: Hayford Enwall. [He was] commonly called "the Judge."
B: Oh, Hayford O. Enwall was a colorful character in person. He taught evidence.
He was a rather flamboyant type of person. He had a very interesting
mustache, I remember, that always wiggled and twitched. And he was very
imposing. He looked like a British colonel or something of that sort. I think he
had a military background. He certainly was interesting, and he always made
his classes interesting. Whatever happened to him?
P: He is still alive. He is eighty years old, and he lives here in town. His son Peter
is in private practice here in town. Hayford is still here. He owns a few rental
properties which he manages himself and still occasionally draws a contract.
B: Do you all ever get all these professors together?
P: We have done oral history interviews with several of them, including Hayford
Enwall. He is still alive. He is eighty years old.
B: Gosh, that is amazing.
P: He is still here. He is still a character. Kenneth Black.
B: I did have Professor Black. I had him for estates. He was a very important
professor, I thought, because one of the things that we did for him was to plan an
estate. You could plan your own family's estate, and I did, in fact, plan my
father's estate. The things I recommended, unfortunately, he did not do before
his business partner died. But I thought that he was an excellent professor.
P: Walter Weyrauch.
B: Oh, Professor Weyrauch. Now, we have a very checkered relationship,
Professor Weyrauch and I. I was here when he first came. He was straight
from Germany, and he had his wife with him then, who deferred to him totally,
and would not even speak unless he nodded. If you asked her a question, he
would nod that she was allowed to speak. I heard the story that she was not
allowed to drive a car and had to have a little red wagon to pull their laundry to
the laundromat. He was definitely not a person that the women feminists of
today would have admired. I think he would have been run out of town on a rail!
But he was interesting. Ed and I took his class in domestic relations after we
were married. The class met at 7:40 in the morning. When the grades were in,
Ed got an A and I got a B. We studied together, but it did not seem to make
much difference. I mean, I was not surprised by that. I am not saying I was.
But later, at the time of my graduation, there was a party, and Professor
Weyrauch came up to me and said, "Well, I was going to give you an A, but I felt
it was just not appropriate for you to make the same grade that your husband
made." He said, "If you had needed an A in order to make high honors, I was
willing to give you an A." I did not ask him about that; he volunteered that
information. I thought it was terrible that he would say that. After that I teased
him about it whenever I would see him here.
P: He is still on the faculty.
B: I think he has come a long way toward recognizing the fact that, in America at
least, women are not having to be measured in that way. As he saw it, it would
be a put-down for my husband if we both made the same grade.
P: That brings up a related subject. Many graduates feel that the grading was
arbitrary at best. He was before your time, but Professor Dean Slagle
apparently announced in class that if you were at the top of the grade point
average he was going to give you a C or lower. Different professors just
decided some people were not legal material, and they would fail them. Did you
feel that way? I know I have had many people tell me, including Judge
Wentworth, that they were just sure their final exams were not even being read.
B: Well, as I say, I had stars in my eyes about these professors. As far as I was
concerned, they could do no wrong. They were the final arbiters, and I had no
criticism of them whatsoever. It was almost like they were perfect. Each in his
own way was perfect. It was a perfect puzzle, and it was my job to unravel it. I
made surprisingly good grades. I worked; I studied constantly. Of course, I
tried to give the impression that I was not studying at all to psyche out my
classmates. I never went to any of the study sessions, and I acted just as silly
and frivolous as anybody can act. But the real truth was that I was working
every single minute and studying as hard as I could, because I was always afraid
I was going to fail. I always thought that the grading was fair. I never felt that I
was penalized in any way. There may have been people who were, but we were
graded by our student numbers. I never knew that they would know whose
paper it was.
P: John Farrell.
B: Oh, I had John Farrell for civil procedure. He was a tremendously effective
professor. I am sorry he left and went back to private practice. He taught in the
auditorium, and he captivated me totally with his knowledge and his quickness.
He was young, among the professors, I think.
P: Harry Fenn, who had been the dean. He was semi-retired, but he was still
B: [He was] very tall. My only run-ins with him were coming through a door and
running right smack dab into about midway of him, because he was so
tremendously tall. It was always such a shock to open a door and have him
there. But I heard he was a good professor.
P: Overall, who would you say was the most effective professor you had in law
B: I would be hard pressed. As I say, each one was just a unique individual. It
seemed to me they were all better than any professors I ever had, even the ones
who did not give you all the information that you needed for the exam.
Nonetheless, they inspired you, like Professor Jones, who never gave you the
rules you needed to learn. You had to just go dig it out yourself. I thought he
was excellent, too. So I do not know. I really did not have a favorite.
Professor Day, I guess, probably had to be my favorite. He was just such a kind
P: Do you feel you were well educated in substantive law?
B: I really do. I felt I got an excellent education. Some of these things still come
back to me many, many years later. I will be confronted with a situation that I
have never seen before--I have no actual case information on it--and I have to go
back and rely on basic principles that I got here. I feel like I am pretty well
rounded in that perspective.
P: A lot of the graduates I have talked to have felt like there was a very good
education in substantive law, but they did not get that good a practical
experience. They went out and knew nothing about the practical side of the
practice of law.
B: Well, today, I mean, what a difference! We have internships; we have students
who work in law offices. I have interns in my office. Everybody gets an
opportunity if they want to go out. We did not have that opportunity. The most
we had was a practice court, which I never took. But now everybody has all
those things. In a way, law school, I think, is the only place you are going to get
those book principles. No one is going to sit down and go through the Rule in
Shelly's case with you or the Rule Against Perpetuities or explain these things.
So this is really the only place that you are going to get those basic principles.
Other things, the practical things, vary, depending on what area you go to. I
think it would be good if the law students were able to have the time to get some
practical experience. And I think they do that [now]. But it is tough to go out.
Yes, you are green. You do not know what is going on.
P: The law school, at that time, was over in Bryan Hall.
B: Oh, yes. I just will always think of Bryan Hall as being the epitome of the way
the law school building should look. I just always thought it would always look
that way. I was very disappointed when they built this building. It looks like a
factory to me. It still does! Every time I come back, I sort of halfway hope that
it has changed. There are more vines growing over it, and that helps. The
more greenery that covers it up [the better]. But they just could not have built a
thing that was less attractive.
P: It does look sort of like a moonscape.
B: And the cement floors! Every spilled cup of coffee is there. Of course, the old
building was run-down, but it had sort of a warm feeling. You knew a lot of
students had passed that way in the old building. There was a lot of feeling
about this actual edifice. It had been there for generations of other law students,
and you were just coming in. It was a tradition. I wish that they could have kept
the same style. It was sort of an Inns of Court look.
P: I know when they moved in 1969 the building was grossly overcrowded. Was it
already to that point when you were there, or was it still basically adequate as far
as classroom space?
B: I think we were fairly crowded, because we had to have a number of classes in
the auditorium. We had classes of a hundred and fifty or two hundred people
sometimes, which is large. I am sure you all have classes that big here, too.
Lecture classes. It was difficult. The acoustics were not that good in some of
those rooms. The rooms would be very crowded.
P: When we interviewed Hayford Enwall, he [said that he] did not like the courtroom
over here, the one you were in this morning. He insists the one in Bryan Hall
was vastly superior. I do not know if that is fond memories or if it is accurate,
but he was quite critical of this courtroom.
B: I think this courtroom, having sat here a number of times, is excellent. I do not
have any quarrel with it. But as I say, [there was] the warm feeling of that
building. It was almost like a fraternity house, I guess, that we all belonged to.
We felt like we all belonged in this special school. We were not really a part of
the campus at-large. We were a unique group, and this building belonged to us.
It had its quirks and peculiarities. The heat would not work, or it would be too
hot. Yes, it was crowded and was getting very run-down, the wooden floors and
all that. I think most of us liked it a lot.
P: Tell me about the law library. Was it still in Bryan Hall at that time?
B: It was, and I thought it was an excellent library. I just thought the library was
wonderful. Of course, the main reading room was very large, and a lot of people
studied in there at night. It was also kind of a social place. If you were going to
study in the library, you had to learn to block out all this noise and confusion that
went on, visiting back and forth, among people.
P: Was Mrs. [lla Rountree] Pridgen [law librarian] still here?
P: Stories about Mrs. Pridgen are numerous.
B: I do not really have any memories of Mrs. Pridgen. I just remember her. Is
Professor [Francis T.] McCoy still here?
P: Professor McCoy is still here. He sure is. And I think Betty Taylor would have
been here by this time in the library.
B: Betty Taylor was here, I believe, when I got here.
P: Is there anything else you remember about your law school career that you
would like to add, supplementally?
B: No. Everybody knew me, but I did not know everybody.
P: Well, you stood out, being the only woman.
B: Since I have been at the First District Court of Appeal I have had an opportunity
to see a lot of my former classmates. Many of them I do not remember. A lot
of people say they were in school with me. They come up to make oral
arguments, and when we take a coffee break they say they were in school with
me. I do not remember a lot of them. But they probably were. I was here at
two different times. I came back and graduated with a different group than the
group I started with.
P: Let us talk briefly about your career after you graduated. You were a law clerk
at Lazonby, Dell, Wilcox & Graham, from September 1961 through April 1962.
You already talked about that. Then you went to the [Florida] Supreme Court in
May of 1962, and you stayed there almost ten years.
B: One interesting thing was that they hired me even though I had not taken the bar
exam. I was waiting to go with Ed down to Miami to take the bar exam. At that
time, the bar exam was only given at one location, and it was usually Miami. So
I was not a lawyer when I worked for Lazonby, Dell. I was a clerk. The
Supreme Court made a special exception when they decided to hire me as a law
clerk. Before that they had only hired people who had passed the bar exam.
But they felt that I would pass, based on my past record. I felt a lot of pressure
when I studied for that bar exam, because I knew that the justices were going to
be looking at my grades. At that time the supreme court [justices] were in
charge of the grading of the bar exams. The bar examiner, an arm of the
supreme court, was located in the Supreme Court building, and Justice B. K.
Roberts would go down every day and check on my papers. The bar exam was
nearly all essay when I took it. Then he would come up and report. He never
would tell me anything. He would just shake his head. He kept me on pins and
needles the whole time. But it worked out all right. I did pass the bar and went
on to work with them.
P: In the ten years that you were with the supreme court did you have aspirations to
be a judge?
B: Oh, no. I never did. I never thought I would be a judge. I was very grateful to
have that job, incidentally, because, as I said, it was hard for a woman to find a
job in law when I got out. It is so different now [that] it is hard to imagine what it
was like then. But people were really suspicious about why you were here.
There were all kinds of concerns that if they brought a woman into a law firm:
that she would be a source of contention, that she would even inject some sexual
element into the office which should not be there, that this woman would cause a
lot of problems for the secretaries, and just a lot of things. They did not think
there was any way a woman could be effective before a jury. That was just
totally out of the question. So the question was, what could they do? If it was a
big enough law firm, perhaps the woman lawyer could check abstracts in the
back. You were just a problem to everybody. That is the way I felt about it.
You were just hat-in-hand to get a job. Judge Wentworth has told me some of
her experiences of trying to get a job.
P: She told me she did not get an interview at all. She and Professor [Mandell]
Glicksberg graduated together. The two of them did not get interviewed even
though they were at the top of the class academically. He was Jewish and she
was a woman.
B: Right. I mean, I saw other people whose grades were far lower than mine just
snapped up by the law firms. They were very eager for them. But I just felt like
that was part of my life, that I had elected to do this, and that I was going to get
that kind of treatment. So I was overjoyed to get that job at the supreme court.
It was a wonderful job. I got exposure to a lot different kinds of cases because
in those days the supreme court had a much broader jurisdiction than it has now.
I had regular hours, eight to five, which enabled me to have a family situation. I
had a baby, then I had another baby while I worked there, so I had two children.
It was really great.
P: For someone who is reading this in the future that does not know what a clerk
does for a judge, you really manage the case. You do a great deal of the
background research. In some cases you even write the initial draft of the
opinion for the judge.
B: You do draft opinions, but that does not mean that it is anybody's opinion other
than the judge's opinion. You are drafting something for the judge according to
his instructions. They operate the same way. I think most appellate courts still
do today. They go into conference. The judges decide how they want to vote,
how the case will come out. The judge who has the primary responsibility for
the case goes back to his office and calls his clerk in and says, "I want an opinion
that will hold one, two, three, four, will cite these cases, and will conclude with
this result." Then you wrote that opinion. You got to be very efficient at doing
that. It was really an excellent course in legal writing. You also did summaries
of cases before they were argued so that the judges would have a summary to
go by. And research! [You did] a lot of research. It was like an additional
degree, almost, to go and have that experience. I think it was a wonderful
opportunity. I was really grateful for that.
P: You left the supreme court in February of 1973 and went to practice for your
husband, I believe.
B: That is right. Then we went in with Hartwell and Hall, both of whom
subsequently went on the bench. Then I went on the bench, and that left Ed.
[Laughter] So, as he says, he is nothing but a judge maker. While I was in
private practice for about four and a half years, I believe, I did have opportunity to
handle about thirty appeals, which is a lot of appeals for that short period of time.
I did get to try some cases. I found that I did not do all that badly, although I
never felt comfortable in the courtroom because of the background I had had.
My husband was an excellent trial lawyer--still is. I just did not feel
[comfortable]. There was so much to look at, to keep your eye on the jury, to
watch the judge, to watch the other lawyers, to keep an eye on the people in the
audience, and witnesses. It was just exhausting to me. At the end of an hour
you were worn out. But I did try some cases, and I liked all that.
Then the opportunity came. The word was out that Governor [Reubin] Askew
[1971-1979] was looking for a woman to appoint to the appellate bench. But the
question was, where was there a qualified woman? Everybody just shook their
heads. But I did apply, and I was really fortunate to get the appointment.
P: So you were appointed ...
B: By Governor Askew.
P: By Governor Reubin Askew in January of 1978?
P: You were appointed to the First District Court of Appeal. For our readers later
on, Florida has five district courts of appeal. They are just below the Florida
Supreme Court. The state of Florida is divided into five geographical districts
and the District Court of Appeal is the highest court in that geographical area.
The state supreme court has decided that a district court's opinions will have
force and be law statewide unless the district in which a court sits has issued a
contrary opinion, or the Supreme Court later takes certiorari and decides the
issue. Tell me about what it is like to be a judge.
B: It is a very rewarding job. I recommend it to anybody who likes to work and who
likes to keep on with the study of law. It is more study of law. You are learning
more law all the time. And you have the additional interest of all these wonderful
colleagues. That is what I particularly like about the appellate court. You do
not have to make a decision all by yourself, the way a circuit judge or a county
judge does. I am always aware, when I am reviewing a circuit judge's opinion or
a county judge's opinion, that that person has had to sit there and decide, in
maybe a few seconds, something that I can decide by picking up a book and
looking up the answer. I am impressed with that. I have twelve colleagues, any
one of whom I can go in and sit down with and say: "Look, I have this problem in
a case I am working on. What do you think?" Of course, we sit in groups of
three. We are required to sit in groups of three, so you are not out there on a
limb all by yourself. You get one other judge to agree with you, or maybe you
get two other judges to agree with you, and you feel like there must be
justification for the position you are taking in that opinion. And you get to see a
lot of lawyers. You get to read a lot of excellent briefs. You get to see a lot of
Our court, particularly, has such a varied case load. We handle everything,
every conceivable thing that could come up in the field of law, except cases that
go to the supreme court: capital cases, bond validations, lawyer discipline, and
public service commission rate cases, other than sewer. We have the sewer
cases from the public service commission. So other than those four kinds of
cases, we have everything.
P: Essentially you have appellate jurisdiction over the entirety of Florida law.
B: And, unique to the first district, we have the jurisdiction for the entire state in a
number of areas, which you may not know. We have all the workers
compensation cases from the entire state.
P: This is because Tallahassee is the state capital, and it is part of the first district,
so you have all the cases?
B: Well, there is some question as to why we have all the workers compensation,
rather than each district court having the workers compensation. But I guess
that is sort of the rough justification for it. Then there are the other agency
cases. We get most of the tax cases, the land use cases, the employee labor
relations, [and] business and professional regulatory cases--very complex
administrative law cases. These we have in addition to the types of cases that
the other districts get.
Now, I do not want to lead you to believe that we have more cases by number
than the other districts. As a matter of fact, we probably have fewer cases per
judge, although we have greatly in excess of what we should have. By
American Bar [Association] standards, we should have a hundred primary cases
per year per judge. If you are primary on one case, you are to vote on two
others. This means that you would be voting on three hundred cases a year,
and in one hundred of those cases you would be responsible for writing the
opinion. That is what the American Bar Association says. Florida has adopted
a rule of roughly two hundred and fifty case filings, with the idea that a lot of
those cases are dismissed without consideration on the merits. A number of
them are. But we do have too much work; we have too many cases.
Sometimes I feel like we are a MASH [Mobile Army Surgical Hospital] unit, like
the television program where they are operating on all those patients, and that
P: Almost a factory assembly line.
B: The files are piled in the offices, and they are critical; they are desperate. The
people are waiting, and there is only one person that can do it. You have to do
it, and there are not enough hours in the day to do it.
P: How many hours per week?
B: I have no idea. No idea at all. But almost all of us frequently work at home in
[End side A2]
P: You were also chief judge of the court.
B: I was chief judge of the First District Court of Appeal about five years ago, and I
was the first woman to be the chief judge of an appellate court in Florida. It was
really my turn. Generally, we had moved by order of seniority, as each judge
would get to be chief judge for two years. But there had been a new rule drafted
by the supreme court. A movement was afoot to make the chief judgeship go
according to ability and administrative experience, and to make it a four-year
term. The rule ultimately did not go through, but I was in the position then of not
knowing whether it was going to go through or not. So I asked each of my
colleagues if they would let me be the chief judge, and they all agreed. Some of
them said: "You want to do that? Why do you want to do that? I did not know
you would be interested in that." But I said: "Well, I do want to do that. I have
some ideas and some things I want to do." So they let me be chief judge, and I
really got a lot out of it. I had some definite things I wanted to do, and I am
happy to say that some of the things I started have been carried on by my
I thought it was important that the rest of the judges, all of whom had a great deal
more experience as administrators than I did, would be brought into my
administration. Some of them will never get to be chief judge, because they are
so low in seniority that by the time their time would come around it would be time
for them to retire. It seemed such a waste for their abilities not to be used, so I
divided all the functions of the court up into ten. We had then eleven judges,
and I assigned each one of them a function of the court to be in charge of. Each
one of them was assigned to make a report once a month to the general court
conference. (In the past, the chief judge had always done all the talking and
always made all the reports.) It worked out very well, because they did not ever
have to listen to me. They all got a chance to talk, and they were all very happy
to have a chance. I found out that men do like to talk, especially men judges.
They like to say things and to hear themselves. They enjoyed coming to
conference because they knew they had a report to make on their area.
P: What do you see as the value of oral arguments presented with the court?
Some judges say they are not that useful.
B: We are now going into a program where we are going to have a lot more oral
arguments than we did. We stopped having oral arguments in every case where
it was requested about 1979 or 1980, when we were deluged with the workers
compensation cases. Instead, the judges would screen and only have oral
argument in those cases that they wanted to have oral argument in. Now we
have decided that, beginning in February of this year, we are going to start
having oral argument in all cases where it is requested, unless we decide we do
not want to have it. I think we have all decided that maybe in trying to handle
more cases than we can handle, the oral argument may help us. It may not be a
very long oral argument, but maybe we can at least let the lawyers clue us into
some things that we might miss in trying to handle these cases expeditiously
without oral argument. Before, we were under the view that we were wasting
too much time having the oral argument [and] that the lawyers were not
concerned with helping us decide the case as much as they were giving us a sort
of jury argument, and showing how well they did below. It just was not that
helpful. But now we have come around to this other point of view.
P: I got to watch you [work] this morning. I watched the appellee's attorney arguing
the CSX case. I was watching on closed-circuit television out in the hall, and
one of the ladies--I guess she is a janitorial worker or something--was watching
with me. She mentioned that you were much more effective and much more
probing in questioning. I noticed as you questioned their attorney you really did
ask him, "How does your precedent relate to an issue? Do you know of a case
that shows this?" Is that the approach you take?
B: Well, I am really trying to get help. I never ask questions to embarrass a lawyer
or to show up his case. I mean, it may be perfectly obvious to me that there is a
hole there that you could drive a tank through, but I do not think it is necessary to
demonstrate that and embarrass a lawyer. When I used to make oral
arguments, I was embarrassed frequently by one particular judge, Judge Rawls.
He did it to everybody, but it seemed to me that he embarrassed me more than
anyone else. He was the judge whose place I took when he retired. He was
just unmerciful to me. He picked on me and criticized me, and [it was] always
[in] a courtroom full of other lawyers. I was terribly embarrassed by it. I never
felt I could speak up for myself and defend myself. I would see him privately at
parties or social functions, and I would say, "Why are you doing this to me?"
And he would say, "Well, you should just speak up." I said: "But you are sitting
up there on the bench. I cannot. I cannot really talk back to you. I have to just
stand mute. If you are going to berate me, I just have to stand there."
I do not think I ever would have anyway, but I decided I was never going to do
that to a lawyer. It does not benefit you in any way. You are not an advocate.
As a judge, you are not taking a position, and you are not up there to prove any
position, one way or the other. You probably have your views, your leanings
one way or another, but it is not your job to put yourself in an advocacy position
as to the person who is arguing the case. What you do want is everything that
you can get out of that person that will be of help to you, because we go back
into the conference room after that argument and basically decide the case.
And that is the case. Now, it may change. As the opinion is being written,
things come to light. Things in the record or a new law may come out, so things
may change. But right then is the critical moment, and that is when I need to
know if there is any authority supporting that position or if that was just something
the lawyer thought was a good idea.
I really appreciate her [the woman watching with you] saying that. It was very
P: It was quite obvious that you were asking very directed questions with a specific
goal in mind. I will close with this. I will give you a difficult question, one you
may want to evade. We have lived through a lot of change. You certainly have
in your career. You have practiced during a time when there was a lot of
change in the law. We went through what was viewed as an activist judiciary,
the Warren court, the California Supreme Court. Now, some people claim that
the Rehnquist court is equally activist in the other direction. Do you have a
judicial philosophy? What would you identify as your jurisprudential philosophy?
B: First of all, I am not really a student of the United States Supreme Court, in the
sense that I have studied it as they do at many of the law schools. [I have not
studied] the different justices and their views to identify them actually with a
philosophy. I think I would probably consider my philosophy to be a moderate or
middle-of-the-road philosophy. I do believe in the rule of law and not the rule of
man, and I think that precedent has to be observed, unless there are very
narrow, specified instances where a precedent must be overturned expressly
because of a change in law. I do not think we can disregard precedent because
of what we think is justice or injustice. Your own view of justice or injustice is a
very personal thing, and I do not think you should ever relinquish it to anybody.
That is a very critical thing that is part of every person, not just every judge. But
your view has to fit within the framework of something that the law gives a person
a right to. So I think I am confined within the limits of that, and I operate only
within those limits. My effort is always to find out what the law is. I always think
it is there. If I just look long enough, I will find it. No matter how unusual the
question, somebody has probably had it before. It is probably not indexed under
the right headnote or under the right key number, but if I keep looking, it will be
there. That is what I think. I do not approve at all of people acting as a super
legislator to change the law, no matter how right they may feel they are, or how
right I think they are. It is just the very thing we want to avoid.
P: Your honor, is there anything you would like to add?
B: Well, I just want to say again that I am very flattered to be asked to do all this
talking about myself. When you first called me, I assumed, naturally, that you
wanted to hear about my grandfather, W. S. Cawthon, or my father, Rainey
P: It is true that your father and grandfather were noteworthy individuals, but since
you were the first woman appellate judge in the state, and the first woman chief
judge in the state, I think you can hold your own with your father and grandfather.
B: Well, I really appreciate your interest. I hope I have not gone on too long.
P: No. For the record, I would like to thank you for taking this time.