Justice Major B. Harding

first_img February 1, 2002 Jennifer Krell Davis Regular News Justice Major B. Harding Justice Major B. Harding [Editor’s Note: This is the third installment in a series of brief profiles on the justices of the Florida Supreme Court as produced by the Bar’s Public Information and Bar Services Department. These profiles are to let Bar members and others get to know each justice as an individual.] Bar Public Information CoordinatorFrom his first job as a 12-year-old newspaper delivery boy to serving as justice of the Florida Supreme Court, Major B. Harding hasn’t stopped working for 54 years.He’s a man who loves his job.Though he considers some death penalty cases to be “emotionally draining,” he speaks glowingly of his opportunity on the top court to “work with a group of judges who can disagree agreeably,” and to exchange ideas with the other justices.His role models on how to do just that were former Justices Gerald Kogan and Stephen Grimes.Harding, who served as chief justice from 1998 to 2000, said family obligations dissuaded him from applying for a high court opening when he initially thought about it but he grabbed the opportunity when it became available in 1990.When he first became a circuit judge, he took it to heart when a colleague told him he would earn the respect of attorneys who appeared before him if he could “give a fair and courteous hearing, and a prompt ruling.”The philosophy that shapes his personal and professional relationships is simply the Golden Rule: “Do unto others, as you would have done unto you.”If he hadn’t gone into a career in the law, Harding said, he could see himself as a man of the cloth.“I feel I have a calling doing what I am doing, but with a son as an ordained minister and two brothers as ministers, I don’t think that being a minister myself would have been beyond the pale,” he said.He and Jane Lewis Harding, his wife since 1958, spend a lot of their time volunteering at their church, St. Johns Episcopal, and mentoring children.Pictures and portraits that decorate his chambers at the Florida Supreme Court reveal what’s most important to him: friends and family.After he leaves the court, he and Jane are thinking about taking a trip with friends to visit Italy’s museums and cathedrals.His office also showcases his jaunty trademark fashion statement, with an eclectic array of bowties from patriotic red, white and blue — to a saucy orange sequined version.When he’s not busy reading legal briefs and opinions, Harding is plowing through David McCullough’s John Adams. But the ponderous tome, he said, requires that he take some breaks with a little lighter reading, such as the “very exciting” Last Man Standing by David Baldacci he recently finished.What will the 66-year-old justice do after leaving the high court and more than a half a century of earning paychecks?Aside from gardening and traveling, the kindly justice says with a smile: “Not much.”And that sounds just fine to him.last_img

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