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Joseph Woodrow Hatchett

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Title: Joseph Woodrow Hatchett  
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Subject: Reubin Askew, Gerald Bard Tjoflat, Howard University School of Law, R. Lanier Anderson III
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Joseph Woodrow Hatchett

Joseph Hatchett
Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
In office
September 20, 1996 – May 14, 1999
Preceded by Gerald Tjoflat
Succeeded by Lanier Anderson
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
In office
October 1, 1981 – May 14, 1999
Preceded by Seat established
Succeeded by Charles Wilson
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
In office
July 13, 1979 – October 1, 1981
Appointed by Jimmy Carter
Preceded by Seat established
Succeeded by Seat abolished
Personal details
Born (1932-09-17) September 17, 1932 (age 81)
Clearwater, Florida, U.S.
Alma mater Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University
Howard University

Joseph Woodrow Hatchett was born in Clearwater, Florida on September 17, 1932.[1] His mother worked as a maid and his father was a cotton picker. Hatchett rose from these working class beginnings to become the first black man elected to the Florida Supreme Court.[2]

When he applied to law school in 1956, law schools in the state of Florida were still segregated. Hatchett attended Howard University Law School in Washington, D.C. On graduation in 1959, he returned to Florida, was admitted to the Florida Bar, and began a private practice.[2]

When Hatchett began his law practice, Jim Crow laws were still in effect in the state and segregation in schools, hotels, and other facilities was the norm. Hatchett took a more direct role in ending this. From 1960 to 1966 he worked with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.[3]

On September 2, 1975, Hatchett was appointed to the Florida Supreme Court by governor Reubin Askew.[4] An even more significant step in ending racial separation was Hatchett's reelection in 1976. He became the first black justice to be reelected to the Florida Supreme Court.[2]

In 1979, Hatchett resigned his position a Florida Supreme Court Justice in order to step into another first. In that year Hatchett became the first black justice admitted to a federal court of appeals in the south [2] when he was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.[3] When the 5th Circuit split in 1981 to form the 5th Circuit and 11th Circuit,[5] Hatchett went with the 11th Circuit. He remained in this position until 1999 and served as Chief Judge of this body from 1996 to 1999.[3] He was succeeded as a federal judge by Charles R. Wilson, who had served as a law clerk under Hatchett. [6]

Hatchett now works as an of counsel attorney with Akerman Senterfitt in Tallahassee, Florida.[3]


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