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Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Joseph W. Hatchett will lie in state in Tallahassee

The Clearwater native will be buried in Dunedin.
Credit: Florida State Archives
Florida Supreme Court Justice Joseph W. Hatchett

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In a formal farewell, former Florida Supreme Court Justice Joseph W. Hatchett, the state's first Black justice, will lie in state in the court building's rotunda.

He will be there from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, May 7. And it will be streamed live on the Florida Supreme Court’s website, as well as its YouTube and Facebook pages.

The ceremonial event will be opened by Chief Justice Charles Canady and feature a Florida Highway Patrol honor guard. A Florida Supreme Court spokesperson said U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Robert Luck will deliver remarks on behalf of the federal court where Hatchett spent most of his career as a judge.

Hatchett was raised in Clearwater and attended Pinellas High School.

"He took the Florida Bar Exam in 1959 at a time when Black examinees could not stay in the hotel where the test was administered because of segregation regulations still in effect," the Florida Supreme Court explained.

He was appointed to the state Supreme Court by Gov. Reubin Askew in 1975. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter named him to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, where he became the first African American to serve on a federal circuit that covered the Deep South.

The 88-year-old trailblazer died on April 30 in Tallahassee. 

Hatchett's funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee, with a burial set for Monday in Dunedin.

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