Overton, Hulsey inducted into the Heritage of Leadership

Published: September 30th, 2013

Category: News


Ben Overton (JD 52), left, and Mark Hulsey Jr. (JD 48) were inducted posthumously into the Heritage of Leadership at a ceremony this month.

By Richard Goldstein

Justice Ben Overton (JD 52) and Mark Hulsey Jr. (JD 48) were inducted posthumously into the Heritage of Leadership, as examples of exceptional service to the legal profession.

Both had long and illustrious careers in the law and in public life. Both also gave back to UF Law long after their graduations.

Overton, who taught classes at UF Law as an adjunct until his death in 2012, was remembered by daughter Catherine Overton on Sept. 20 in the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center. She told a crowd that her father declared that his fall 2012 Florida constitutional law class was the best he ever had.

In 2001, Overton joined UF Law as an adjunct professor. He taught Florida constitutional law and a Florida Supreme Court seminar. UF recognized Overton as a UF Distinguished Alumnus in 2008.

Overton (1926-2012) served on the Florida Supreme Court from 1974 to 1999, including as chief justice 1976 to 1978. Overton gave the public new ways to observe the justice system in action by bringing computers, public access and TV cameras into state courtrooms. Overton also played a key role in making sure the court was one of the very first in the world to have a website. He authored more than 1,400 decisions as a justice, including the opinion that required continuing legal education classes as a requirement to practice law in Florida.

Overton retired from the U.S. Army Reserve as a major in the JAG Core to continue his involvement with the National Judicial College. He served as a U.S. Delegate to Romania to assist the Constitutional Drafting Committee of the Romanian Parliament in 1990. He served as chair of the U.S. Constitution Bicentennial Commission of Florida from 1986 to 1992.

Judge Mark Hulsey III, the son of Mark Hulsey Jr., described how his father served as master of ceremonies during the banquet 44 years ago when the current and future chief justices of the Supreme Court came to the Gainesville Holiday Inn for dedication of the Spessard L. Holland Law Center. Earl Warren and Warren Burger joined their friend U.S. Sen. Spessard Holland for the occasion.

Hulsey (1922-2011) established in 1980 a moot court competition between the law schools of the University of Florida and the University of Georgia. The Hulsey-Gambrell annual competition will once again be held this year the day before the big game in Jacksonville. In 1985, he was awarded The Florida Bar Foundation Medal of Honor and in 1992 he was named a UF Distinguished Alumnus.

Upon graduation from UF Law, Hulsey joined the U.S. Navy where he served as the communications officer aboard the LST 56th (Landing Ship Tank), a ship that landed at Omaha Beach on D-Day. Hulsey joined Smith, Hulsey, Schwalbe, Spraker & Nichols in Jacksonville in 1969, the same year he became president of The Florida Bar.


Images of Overton and Hulsey will join other notable alumni in the Heritage of Leadership display in Holland Hall.

While president, Hulsey inspired and encouraged creation of the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission. After consolidation of the judicial system under the 1972 constitution, he served on the commission from 1972 to 1984 and as chairman from 1981 to 1984.

The images of former Justice Ben Overton and Mark Hulsey, along with their most significant accomplishments have been etched into glass on the second floor of Holland Hall as a permanent tribute to their contributions to the nation, the state and the university. An electronic display accompanies the etchings.

Hulsey and Overton join 32 others in the Heritage of Leadership Recognition Society, representing illustrious personalities in the history of the University of Florida College of Law since it was founded in 1909. Members are pre-eminent graduates and others who have been involved in the college in very significant ways. They assumed national leadership positions and distinguished themselves in legal, governmental, academic and corporate sectors. They labored to improve the administration of justice and received the highest commendations for contributions to the profession and service to education, civic, charitable and cultural causes.

Members of the Heritage of Leadership Recognition Society are selected by the Heritage of Leadership Committee, which presents the slate for discussion and approval to the full membership of the University of Florida Law Center Association, Inc. Board of Trustees.