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The Chester Bedell American Inn of Court

The Chester Bedell American Inn of Court received its charter in 1985 and operates in accordance with its bylaws, as amended. It was the 13th American Inn of Court. Our handbook has more information about our history and organization.

Chester Bedell

The Bedell Inn was named after Chester Bedell (1904-1981), a trial lawyer for 57 years. Built upon daily excellence in courtroom work, a deep respect for the law, and an unquestioned reputation for professionalism, he was recognized as the most outstanding trial lawyer in Florida. In 1977, he was awarded the annual American Bar Foundation Service Award. In presenting the award, Chesterfield Smith, President of the American Bar Association, said that if the members of The Florida Bar were to cast a secret ballot, Chester Bedell would be the overwhelming choice as the best trial lawyer and the most gracious and ethical gentleman who practiced law in Florida. His memory and legacy is preserved through the Chester Bedell Memorial Foundation, The Chester Bedell American Inn of Court, the Chester Bedell Mock Trial Competition (sponsored by The Florida Bar) and the Bedell Building. Each member strives towards the excellence he displayed. 

Platinum Status  

    

Since 2012, the American Inns of Court annually has awarded the Bedell Inn with Achieving Excellence Platinum designation in recognition of its mastery of effective practices in the five core competencies of Inn management.

Meetings

During a typical year, running from September to April, the Bedell Inn holds member wide monthly meetings at The River Club, 1 Independent Drive, Suite 3500, Jacksonville.  The meetings begin with cocktails at 5:00 and continue to a dinner and program from 6:00 to 8:00.  The Bedell Inn also holds a meeting of all Masters in July to vote on new members and other administrative matters.  Individual group meetings are also held throughout the Inn Year.  Meetings during the 2020-2021 Bedell Inn year are being conducted virtually through February 2021.  We are hopeful that as circumstances improve, the final two meetings of this year may be conducted face-to-face.

Days of Service

The Chester Bedell American Inn of Court dedicates one or more days during the Inn Year to service, with encouragement to bring family along. For more than five years, the Inn has provided "hands on" help to Angelwood, a local nonprofit serving the needs of area families who have loved ones with special needs.

Mentoring

The Honorable Mallory Cooper leads the Bedell Inn's mentoring program, modeled after the American Inns of Court mentoring program template. Judge Cooper has established mentorning groups led by Bedell Inn members. All are invited to recommend lawyers to be part of a mentoring group regardless of whether they are Bedell Inn members.

Alumni

The Bedell Inn is fortunate to have hundreds of outstanding area alumni who have served as Pupils, Associates, or Barristers in the past. Alumni receive invitations to upcoming Inn meetings. The first ten to respond may attend. The cost for the meal and program is $60.00. Alumni also receive invitations to numerous special events.  

Remembering the Honorable Paul "Bill" Glenn

Paul M. “Bill” Glenn
February 25, 1945 - July 7, 2019

[In 2019, we lost an iconic and dedicated champion of the American Inns of Court vision and mission, Judge Paul “Bill” Glenn. His long-time colleague and friend, Judge Cathy Peek McEwen, delivered this beautiful eulogy at his memorial service at the Southside United Methodist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. With Judge McEwen’s permission, the Chester Bedell American Inn of Court shares excerpts from her tribute to our mutual past President and mentor to all.]

Bill Glenn:  A Renaissance Man and A Man for Others

I am honored to be up here helping to celebrate a man who is both a true Renaissance Man and a Man for Others, one who is admired, loved, and has impacted every single one of us here today — and many more who couldn’t be here.   

From my perch now I see almost all facets of Bill’s world. I see his family, his Seminole friends, his Gator friends (yes, he had quite a few), his Blue Devil friends, his lawyer friends, his Jacksonville friends — including his San Jose friends and golf friends, and, finally, his judge and court staff friends.  The only group not represented here are his animal friends, especially Bella. 

One thing I know you can relate to is that Bill would be extremely uncomfortable and even a bit embarrassed about being the center of attention. That was not his nature; he was sort of an extroverted introvert — a private man who enjoyed the company of others but eschewed the spotlight. Rather, he’d like to turn the spotlight on others — so he’d like me to talk about something he loved about each of you. But, as I said, we’re here to celebrate him and the gift to all of us that he is and was. And right now, he can’t stop me!

***

A Renaissance Man

Judge Glenn was a very gifted man.  A decade ago I wrote him an email telling him that I consider him to be a Real Renaissance Man and that that would be the title of my speech about him when he retired. I had no idea that the speech would occur in this setting instead.  Bill had considerable, considerable gifts —

the gifts of a keen intellect; curiosity; unparalleled patience; gentleness; generosity of his time, talent, and treasure; perception and focus; a mathematical mind that loved to reconcile statistics and predict trends;

the gifts of a responsible work ethic; compassionate leadership; a playful sense of humor; the gift of storytelling; the ability to teach and mentor;

the gifts of love of the arts — from classical or even country music to timeless poetry; the ability to play the piano; the ability to take the stage in musical theater; the ability to speak fluent French;

the gifts of a love of history; a love of books; the ability to recite from memory classic literature, a favorite Scripture, or even showtunes—including the complicated quickstep-patter lyrics of [recite in rat-a-tat cadence] “We’ve Got Trouble Right Here in River City” from the Music Man;

the gifts of the ability to fly an airplane well; superb athleticism — and not just confined to the hoops he loved to play in college; and,

maybe his best gift, a magnificent ability to demonstrate other-centeredness as opposed to self-centeredness. In particular, he was quick to compliment and promote his friends.

And there are even more gifts that I did not touch on. 

Many of Judge Glenn’s gifts led to significant recognition and positions . . . .  To highlight a few:

        He was graduated cum laude from Florida State University and was a Phi Beta Kappa member and captain and MVP of the basketball team.  Did you know that he turned down admission at Harvard to attend FSU? One teammate, Jeff Hogan, said of him, “he was probably the smartest guy who ever played basketball at Florida State.” 

        He was president of the student body at Duke law school.

        He was appointed a judicial officer of the United States Courts, serving as a bankruptcy judge for more than 25 years, the first 15 in Tampa — incidentally, to and from which he commuted every weekend by car, and then the last ten+ here in his hometown.

        He was inducted as a Fellow in the very exclusive American College of Bankruptcy.

        He was awarded the coveted Robert W. Patton Outstanding Jurist Award by the Young Lawyers Division of the Hillsborough County Bar Association.

        And he was appointed to the Budget Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States Courts, the policy making arm of our nation’s Third Branch.  This appointment was probably the one he felt most important because it enabled him to serve all federal courts in the nation.

A Man for Others

Yes, Judge Glenn was a gifted Renaissance man, but he did not squander his gifts.  Instead he was a Man for Others, meaning he used his gifts in service to others.  As one of his law clerks, Krystin Leedekerken, put it, “he would most want to be remembered not for the countless accolades he received but rather for the personal impact he made upon those he encountered.”

You will hear from Chris Glenn that Bill was a gift to his family. I do not want to step on Chris’s lines, but I do want to drop a footnote to his remarks. Bill admired all of his children. He would proudly share with his friends something unique or interesting about each one of them that made him proud. Same with his wife Karen. Same with his sister Joan.  Same with his dogs over the years, by the way.  And same with his mother, Hortense, who became, as a single mother after his Dad died early, the FSU Dean of the School of Home Economics. His writings about her life lessons to him could be called the Code of Hortense and is yet another gift to his own kids. 

***

This Man for Others was also a gift to his friends — and in many ways. Think for a moment on a special time you had with Bill. Right now.  You know what I’m talking about.

For starters, he liked to make you laugh.

        -He might chuckle with you over country song lyrics he recently discovered such as

                Becky was a beauty from South Alabama
                Her Daddy had a heart like a nine-pound hammer
                Think he even did a little time in the slammer
                What was I thinkin’?

                                   Or

                There’s too much blood in my alcohol level.

                                   Or           

                 If your phone don’t ring
                 It’s me not calling.

        -He might amuse by expounding on the minutia of the sights between Tampa and Jacksonville, which was that commute by car for about 15 years.  He’d talk of a billboard about a secluded location, the billboard’s boasting that Happiness is No Tan Lines, or he’d talk of the Taxidermy Museum, Hawthorne Bingo, Kickin’ Bass Farm, the pet grooming business Clippity Do Dawg, the fish and goat farm Shongaloo, and the Pit Stop Café, Home of the Fried Tater Sandwich.  All of this is chronicled in his continuously updated travelogue called “The Cross-Florida Trail Guide or Have More Fun on 301,” which is a very useful guide that I commend to you. And then he’d have fun sharing that the Waldo sheriff gave him a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. And he would even show you the card to prove it. 

-He might send you a funny picture to rib you about your team’s loss or his team’s success or both. Or he might give you a good-natured jab if he won a bet against your team. The usual bet was something like having to wear an item of the other team’s colors or use a club cover bearing the rival’s logo or display the rival’s pennant or banner in some public fashion. 

***

Another way Judge Glenn’s gifts played out as gifts to his friends was his ability to entertain with stories, an emotion-evoking poem, or by playing a tune on the piano.  

-He liked to quote Pat Conroy’s book, “My Losing Season,” about Conroy’s basketball career at the Citadel, in which Bill’s FSU team was described thusly, and Bill put feeling into its retelling [0in Judge Glenn’s soft, serious voice]: “We sized up the Seminoles on the other end of the court.  They looked like a race of well-fed giants, long-limbed and stately, they carried themselves with the confidence of a team who knew the Citadel was not in their league.”

-He loved to introduce his friends to good writing and good classical music.  He would send well written articles. In recommending a favorite classical piece, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Russian Eastern Overture, he would tell you, “It begins softly, as does the day . . . and finishes in a full and rich finale.”

-And he made you peaceful as you watched him stoop over the keyboard of a piano, tinkling the keys with his big hands.  He played an especially haunting Clair de Lune.  Not many know that he took up piano as adult, an older adult at that.

***

Maybe Judge Glenn’s best gift to his friends came in the form of building you up.  His gift of being other-centered was most evident here.  Almost every single time he greeted a friend, he would start with a compliment or praise for some accomplishment.  When introducing his friends, he would start with a laudatory pat on the back of some kind.  As Judge Jeff Hopkins told me, “Judge Glenn lived his life as though he had in mind the words from the great poet Maya Angelou: ‘At the end of the day, people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.’”  And he made us all feel better about ourselves after visiting with him.

One of the best tributes I read recently on Bill’s being a gift to his friends, was this, from Chief District Judge Steve Merryday, “Bill’s friendship was one of the singular rewards I have had during my term of service on the court.” 

***

This Man for Others is and was a gift both to his craft — the law — and to the legal community.

He served us so well for so long as a judicial officer, for more than 25 years.  Here I must pause to give special thanks to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and Judge Tjoflat, who is here, for giving Judge Glenn the appointment so that he could apply his gifts in Tampa and Jacksonville. You see, the legal community, at least in Tampa, did not know Judge Glenn when he came on and maybe didn’t immediately appreciate the 11th Circuit’s choice. But, oh man, did we ever — once he got on the job.  

Judge Glenn had a great work ethic.  He was all about getting the job done but in a thoughtful, considered manner.  His legacy includes 1,057 opinions, not counting daily orders, according to his other law clerk, Cindy Turner. They cover a range of issues, but Judge Glenn never thought any was unimportant. He presided over big cases just as intently as he presided over the consumer cases.

Judge Glenn was a master at listening, so as to leave a firm impression in the litigants’ minds that they had had their full day and full say in court. 

When I say full day, I mean it.  I remember the first day of hearings when the new Gibbons courthouse in Tampa opened.  The air conditioning in the building went off in the early evening, but we were there sweating until about 11 that night. And legend has it that the Netwolves case lasted until midnight. “He handled each case as if it were his first and only case on the docket,” said Barry Clark, his courtroom deputy for all 25 years.

Our bench’s younger colleagues who appeared before him recall how Judge Glenn operated, and I think we all see him as a role model for what we should do. 

Colleague Judge Caryl Delano describes a typical Judge Glenn hearing like this: “He was the kind of judge before whom lawyers loved to appear.  He was always prepared, listened carefully, and treated everyone with respect.  Win or lose, everyone who appeared before him, especially the parties themselves, felt that they had had their day in court. He never failed to compliment the parties on their work. Once when I left his courtroom, one of the other attorneys remarked that a hearing with Judge Glenn was like a neck massage — whether you won or lost, you felt good afterwards.”

He was mindful to render his rulings as soon as he could, preferably right there in the courtroom after a hearing or trial.  Colleague Judge Mike Williamson remembers it this way, “His soft manner belied his ability to make difficult decisions — typically from the bench immediately following the close of evidence — which he would work up on his legal pad while we all looked on waiting in anticipation for an answer to the issues presented to him.  And answer he did . . . explaining his ruling in a fashion that, while some parties may not have achieved their objectives, all understood the well-reasoned analysis that supported his rulings.”

Explaining his ruling and even apologizing to the losing side was a hallmark of the way he treated litigants. He did so because he cared about and appreciated the impact his decision would have on the losing side.

Steve Busey, one of our bar’s veteran litigators, wrote Judge Glenn very recently on the occasion of the judge’s impending retirement.  Steve summed up beautifully what Judge Glenn brought to the legal community.  Steve wrote, “Your knowledge and application of the law, your leadership in the Court, your remarkable, patient judicial temperament and your consistent pleasant and welcoming disposition are, genuinely, unparalleled in my fifty-year experience as a member of the Bar.”

***

And, finally, this Man for Others was a gift to his judicial colleagues and staff.

His current chamber staff, Barry, Cindy, and Krystin, as well as past law clerks Joyce Stevens, Vicki Critchlow, and Alana Williams and past judicial assistant Laura Stevenson, would want us to know that they saw Judge Glenn as kind and generous a boss as he was a judge. 

Our judges, to a person, appreciate what Judge Glenn did to promote collegiality and unity among the judges in our district. At what was then a difficult time for our Court, he, as the new chief judge, started the transformation towards consensus and uniformity.  He kept the judges informed and treated them all as the equals they are, and he led the judges to group decision-making without dissension.  And, with his successor Karen Jennemann having built on his foundation, now we are a model of uniformity for other bankruptcy courts in the nation.

Before I begin my concluding remarks, I would be remiss if I did not publicly and on behalf of our judges, including Bill, thank Judge Jerry Funk for the assistance he rendered to Bill and his caseload during Bill’s health challenges.  We — and I think I can speak for the bar, too — are all grateful to you, Jerry.

***

Conclusion

Bill Glenn, we thank you for the gift that is you. In whatever capacity we know Bill, this gifted man and his gifts to us here have inspired us to be mindful and listen, be better storytellers, to sing, to joke, read good literature — including poetry, to do our jobs well, to be more patient, to listen to classical music and even corny country songs, to not take golf so seriously that you can’t have fun with it, to brag about our relatives, to offer a can of Whup A-blank-blank to someone who wears the colors of a college rival, to be deliberate in our thinking, and, importantly, to be more generous with our praise of others.

Bill, you gave your gifted self in so many ways — some I have mentioned and others I didn’t, and like a child who opens gifts on a birthday, we are delighted that you did. Aren’t we all better people for that?

In conclusion, as a tip of the hat to his love of poetry, I offer one that sums up Bill, a Renaissance Man and a Man for Others, pretty well. It’s “Success,” by Bessie Anderson Stanley:

He has achieved success
Who has lived well,
Laughed often, and loved much.

Who has enjoyed the trust of pure women,
The respect of intelligent men and
The love of little children

Who has filled his niche and accomplished his task
Who has left this world better than he found it

Who has never lacked appreciation of Earth’s beauty
Or failed to express it

Who has always looked for the best in others and
Given them the best he had

Whose life was an inspiration
Whose memory a benediction.

###

The Honorable Paul “Bill” Glenn was the Chester Bedell American Inns of Court past president, served on the Executive Committee for more than a decade, and trans­form­ed our Jacksonville Inn such that it achieved Platinum status for the first time during his presidency and every year since. He was the second recipient of the Chester Bedell Inn’s “Dewberry Award” bestowed only when a member has embodied the ideals of professionalism, ethics, civility, and excellence and shown the highest dedication and service to the Inn. Judge Glenn also served as President for an American Inns of Court in Tampa, Florida, and served the American Inns of Court with distinction on its Board of Trustees. His service to the Amer­i­can Inns of Court was so notable that he was nominated twice for the American Inns of Court A. Sherman Christensen award.

Of Judge Glenn, American Inn of Court Executive Director, Brigadier General Malinda Dunn said, “It was a privilege to work with you during a time of great change. Your thoughtful voice. . .made a very significant difference—and, frankly, it was just plain fun to work with you because you are the epitome of civility and professionalism.”

Pam Wittmann, Director of Chapter Relations for the Southeast Region said, “You’re more than deserving of [the Dewberry] award, as you have tirelessly given your time and talents to encourage your Inn and local legal communities to strive for excellence, but you didn’t stop there . . . . My greatest pleasure has been in getting to know you as the funny, charismatic, and great storyteller that you are. Not to mention a gentleman in the truest sense of the word.”

Judge Paul 'Bill' Glenn Scholarship or Judge Paul 'Bill' Glenn Professionalism Award.

Judge Glenn Photo 2