Wednesday, November 5, 2014

HCBA President's Message: A Salute To Our Local Judiciary

By Benjamin H. Hill IV

By now, you should be familiar with Operation Respect and Service, our theme this year to advance our Bar's mission. In carrying it out, we have lifted up our local military and veterans and the issues they continue to face.

I cannot thank enough our revamped Military & Veterans Affairs Committee (MVAC), which mobilized quickly and is now actively leading our Bar's efforts to support the needs of those who have served, and continue to serve, our county. Having participated in the MVAC's organization and initial meetings, I observed firsthand the substantial involvement and commitment of members of our local judiciary (“shout outs” to Judges Greg Holder, Samantha Ward, and Richard Weis, as well as Judge-Elect Mike Scionti).

In fact, our entire judiciary's involvement in and support of various HCBA events has been such a common observation of mine during the first half of this Bar year that I think it is appropriate ― particularly as we progress with Operation Respect and Service and approach Thanksgiving ― to pause and express our gratitude toward our robed peers.

Although our state and federal judges deserve thanks for their daily roles in public service, I want to recognize them here for what they do "off the bench" and especially for their support of the HCBA. Their service in this extra capacity helps immensely and, frankly, distinguishes our local Bar from those in other locales. Further, our judges' involvement is another prime example of how our Bar carries out its mission of “promoting respect for the law and the justice system through service to the legal profession and to the community.” Beyond that though, judicial participation in our local Bar improves professionalism, civility, collegiality, and camaraderie among all HCBA members. For all of these reasons, the support and involvement of our judiciary strengthens our local Bar, makes practicing in our area more civil, and helps to provide better experiences to parties relying on our courts for justice.

As we show appreciation for our judiciary, I would especially encourage you to join in our Bar’s ongoing acknowledgements of four of our longtime judges who are retiring: Judge James Arnold; Judge James Barton; Chief Judge Manuel Menendez Jr.; and Judge Sam Pendino. If my math is right, these judges will have served our community from the bench for a combined total of 103 years!

As a reminder, on the evening of December 4, the HCBA and the Hillsborough County Bar Foundation will be hosting a special event at TPepin’s Hospitality Centre to honor Chief Judge Menendez, including his contributions to our Bar, and to wish him well in his retirement. This is a free event for HCBA members and friends of the Bar. I assure you that it will be a most memorable evening.

Finally, on December 11, the HCBA Trial & Litigation Section will honor the above-referenced foursome of retiring judges at its Quarterly Luncheon. This lunch will allow these judges to take some “parting shots” from the bench, so it should be an entertaining and enjoyable occasion.