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The year was 1972. 6000 U.S. troops were still in Vietnam. President Nixon visited China and the Soviet Union. A Sunday in Northern Ireland became known as “Bloody Sunday.” A PLO group held Israeli athletes hostage at the Olympics and later killed them. NASA launched the last Apollo mission to the moon. The EPA banned the use of DDT. Five men burglarized Watergate. The Equal Rights Act passed in the Senate. President Nixon signed Title IX. American Bobby Fischer beat Soviet Spassky at chess. Federal Express and Home Box Office (HBO) were started. The videogame, “Pong,” was released. And Nike running shoes hit the market.

President Nixon and Mao Zedong in 1972In the same year, Richard Kleindienst became the United States Attorney General. Kleindienst supported the Federal Bar Association and believed that federal prosecutors should be active participants in its local chapters. Word of that belief filtered down to Jacksonville, Florida, where John Briggs was serving as the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida. A small problem presented itself: there was no local chapter of the Federal Bar Association in Jacksonville. Not giving up easily, Briggs turned to a young Assistant United States Attorney in his office: Harvey Schlesinger, who had come to the United States Attorney’s Office after a stint at the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad. The dutiful Schlesinger had little choice but to abide his bosses wishes. And from there, the Jacksonville Chapter of the Federal Bar Association was born.

group-shotFrom left to right: Howard Snyder (pre-judge), Manuel Menendez (pre-judge), John Roberts (pre-judge), John Briggs, Bud Daily, Harvey Schlesinger (pre-judge), Robert Yerkes, and Peter Dearing (pre-judge), circa 1972

The chapter was modest back then. The first meetings were held in the Wilmington Room on the 14th floor of the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad building, known today as the CSX building, where members helped themselves to a buffet lunch and then convened in a private meeting room to discuss and debate various topics in federal practice. No more than 20 members usually attended the lunches, with most from the United States Attorney’s office or in admiralty practice. Among those members were Schlesinger, Peter Dearing, Manuel Menendez, Howard Snyder, Ernst Mueller, and Jim Moseley, Sr. They may not have known it back then, but they all would become influential and well-known judges and lawyers, from which the inference perhaps may be drawn that they were really learning something at those meetings.

Seaboard Coast Line Railroad LogoSeaboard Coast Line Railroad Logo

Archibald Thomas and Howard Skinner organized the chapter’s first CLE program with Stephen Saltzburg as the keynote speaker. At that time, Saltzburg was a professor at University of Virginia and already well-known in legal circles for his evidence acumen. Saltzburg agreed to speak in exchange for airline tickets for his wife and himself, a rental car, a couple of nights at a hotel on the ocean, and the promise to use his book as course materials. The chapter made a profit in part because Thomas—ever savvy with finance—rented the promised car from the old “Clunkers” on Phillips Highway. Today, Judge Schlesinger cannot remember what he learned from Saltzburg, but he can remember specifics of the rented clunker.

The Clunker?

And so, from those humble beginnings, our chapter grew and grew. Meetings were moved from the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad building to the old downtown Robert Meyer Hotel, which later became the old downtown Holiday Inn, which later was demolished to make room for the new Bryan Simpson United States Courthouse.

TheThe Robert Meyer Hotel

In 2004, the chapter organized the first Honorable Ralph W. “Buddy” Nimmons Federal Practice Seminar in honor of its late namesake who supported the chapter and epitomized the highest ideals of federal practice. The seminar became a signature annual event for the chapter, taking place in the courthouse so that members could learn in the venue where they practice.

The Honorable Ralph W. “Buddy” Nimmons, Jr.The Honorable Ralph W. “Buddy” Nimmons, Jr., 1938-2003

Skipping some years, that brings us to today, when, although a decade into the 21st Century, the chapter has decided to launch this website and capture some of this history. We’re not so far from the past though: people still wear Nikes, Judge Schlesinger is still an active member and supporter of the chapter, the CSX building still stands, the Nimmons seminar is still our signature annual event, and we still try to save money in creative ways when organizing CLE programs.

Past Presidents

  • 1972 to 1973 Hon. Harvey Schlesinger
  • 1973 to 1974 Hon. Harvey Schlesinger
  • 1974 to 1975 John Briggs
  • 1975 to 1976 Allen Clark
  • 1976 to 1977 Bud Daily
  • 1977 to 1978 Hon. Peter Dearing
  • 1978 to 1979 Hon. Harvey Schlesinger
  • 1979 to 1980 Robert Warren
  • 1980 to 1981 Jeffrey Klink
  • 1981 to 1982 Hon. Harvey Schlesinger
  • 1982 to 1983 Archibald Thomas
  • 1983 to 1984 Peter Corbin
  • 1984 to 1985 Robert Parrish
  • 1985 to 1986 Hon. Howard Snyder
  • 1986 to 1987 Mary Wood
  • 1987 to 1988 Robert Yerkes
  • 1988 to 1989 Thomas Ray
  • 1989 to 1990 Ada Hammond
  • 1990 to 1991 Eric Holshouserr
  • 1991 to 1992 Richard Jones
  • 1992 to 1993 Paul Perez
  • 1993 to 1994 Kathleen O’Malley
  • 1994 to 1995 Daniel Smith
  • 1995 to 1996 Lisa Still
  • 1996 to 1997 Tim Strong
  • 1997 to 1998 Jay Knight
  • 1998 to 1999 Curtis Fallgatter
  • 1999 to 2000 Rodney Brown
  • 2000 to 2001 Damon Kitchen
  • 2001 to 2002 Mike Freed
  • 2002 to 2003 Jeff Watson
  • 2003 to 2004 Phil Buhler
  • 2004 to 2005 Tom Bishop
  • 2005 to 2006 Margaret Zabijaka
  • 2006 to 2007 Martha Bolton
  • 2007 to 2008 Tysen Duva
  • 2008 to 2009 Kim Israel
  • 2009 to 2010 David Reeves
  • 2010 to 2011 Lori Mans
  • 2011 to 2012 Hon. Patricia D. Barksdale
  • 2012 to 2013 Michael Fackler
  • 2013 Hon. Carol Mirando
  • 2014 to 2015 Susanne R. Weisman
  • 2015 to 2016 Michael Abel
  • 2016 to 2017 Laura Boeckman
  • 2017 to 2018 David Burns
  • 2018 to 2019 Collette Cunningham
  • 2019 to 2020 Helen Peacock-Roberson
  • 2020 to 2021 Timothy Danninger
  • 2021 to 2022 Jeremy Ches
  • 2022 to 2023 Laura Renstrom
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