The Appellate Practice Section is proud to bestow its highest honor, the James C. Adkins Award, to Chief Justice Charles T. Canady of the Florida Supreme Court. Chief Justice Canady is an erudite statesman with the rare distinction of having served in every branch of state government and in the United States Congress. Throughout his public service, he has remained committed to the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, and the furtherance of the legal profession.
After initially practicing as a real-estate attorney for Holland & Knight, Chief Justice Canady joined the firm of Lane-Trohn, where he also began his political career. From November 1984 to November 1990, Chief Justice Canady served three terms in the Florida House of Representatives. Three years later, he began his four-term service in the United States House of Representatives. During his congressional service, he was a member of the House Judiciary Committee and served three terms as Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution.
After leaving Congress in January 2001, Chief Justice Canady became General Counsel to Governor Jeb Bush until Governor Bush appointed him to the Second District Court of Appeal on November 20, 2002. Six years later, Governor Charlie Christ appointed him to the Florida Supreme Court on September 8, 2008.
Since joining the Florida Supreme Court, he has been elected by his colleagues to serve as Chief Justice not once, not twice, but three times—with the most recent term starting on July 1, 2020. During his tenures as Chief Justice, Canady has led Florida’s judicial branch out of two crises: The first was the court-funding challenges during the economic downturn in his first term from July 2010 through June 2012. The second was the recent pandemic. Each time, Chief Justice Canady worked selflessly to keep the Judiciary open, to keep the public’s cases moving forward, and to keep court staff—and really all lawyers—employed despite the crises. And if precedent is any indication, there is no doubt that the Judiciary and The Bar will emerge from this second crisis stronger and more resilient to any future challenges.
The Appellate Practice Section is honored to bestow the Adkins Award to Chief Justice Canady, and thanks him for his long and ongoing service to the State, The Florida Bar, and the practice of law.
It is with great pleasure that the Appellate Practice Section of The Florida Bar present the John R. Hamilton Pro Bono Award to Joseph T. “Joe” Eagleton. Joe has chaired the Appellate Practice Section’s Pro Bono Committee for the past four years. As Chair, he has been a powerful voice for pro bono service, increasing the Section’s listserv of volunteer appellate lawyers by over 50%. Joe has also screened hundreds of cases for appellate pro bono representation and devoted hundreds of hours to answering questions about the appellate process and providing resources to pro se litigants. In addition to increasing volunteerism by Florida Bar members, Joe has donated many hours as the attorney of record in individual cases.
Joe has been instrumental to the success of the Guardian ad Litem Program’s Defending Best Interests Project. The Defending Best Interests Project is an initiative of the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office (GAL) to protect the best interests of children by recruiting pro bono attorneys to write answer briefs in appeals of cases where a judge has determined that a termination of parental rights is in the child’s best interests. Since the project launched in 2017, Joe has found 100 appellate attorneys to handle 348 of these appeals. Those attorneys have donated over 7,100 hours of their time to helping Florida’s children achieve permanency.
In addition to the Defending Best Interests Project, Joe has offered assistance to legal aid organizations, Florida’s appellate courts, and dozens of pro se litigants, and has spearheaded efforts to provide appellate CLE training to legal aid attorneys. As part of the CLE training efforts, for the past two years Joe has helped coordinate pro bono trainings in conjunction with The Florida Bar Winter Meeting. These two trainings, “Appeals for the Pro Bono Practitioner” and “Winning Your Appeal at Trial,” have collectively been viewed by over 4,700 times.
The state of the pro bono appellate community is strong, and we have Joe to thank. Joe is an outstanding and motivating lawyer, giving willingly of his time and expertise to those in need. His dedication to pro bono work is reflected in both his personal practice and his leadership as Chair of the Pro Bono Committee. He has earned the moniker “Joe Bono.” And, more importantly, he’s earned the John R. Hamilton Pro Bono Award.