April 21, 2022 - Inside Operation Varsity Blues
This was the final meeting of the year and the annual banquet. It featured Wallstreet Journalists Melissa Korn and Jennifer Levitz who co-authored the book, "Unacceptable, Privilege, Deceit & The Making of the College Admissions Scandal," otherwise known by the FBI code name, Varsity Blues college admissions scandal. Ms. Korn and Ms. Levitz have observed the judicial process of all 57 federal indictments.
February 22, 2022 - Joint Meeting of the Northeast Florida American Inns of Court
The following Inns attended this joint meeting: Chester Bedell, Florida Family Law, Robert M. Foster Nassau County, Gerald T. Bennett, James C. Adkins, Jr., E. Robert Williams, and First District Appellate. The keynote speaker was Ben Crump, a nationally-recognized trial attorney and advocate for civil rights and criminal justice for minorities, listed in Time Magazine's 2021 edition of the 100 Most Influential People in the World, NAACP Thurgood Marshall Award Winner, and named to Florida Trend's Florida 500, a list of Florida's most influential business leaders. Mr. Crump has represented the families of prominent civil rights victims, including Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Daunte Wright, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Jacob Blake. He has represented plaintiffs injured by the Flint water crisis, and the plaintiffs behind the 2019 Johnson & Johnson baby powder litigation. Mr. Crump is the founder of the firm Ben Crump Law in Tallahassee.
January 13, 2022 - Trial Technology in the Tik Tok Era
This was a joint meeting with the ABOTA-Jax Chapter. Group Four presented a program on trial technology in the Tik Tok era. They began with a demonstration of trial technology. This was followed by a panel discussion with four experienced trial attorneys who discussed the benefits of trial technology, juror evidence retention, and a discussion of "dos and don'ts" of trial technology. Then, a panel of experienced members of the judiciary discussed effective and admissible ways to use technology in trial.
April 8, 2021
In March 2020, Georgetown University Law Center Professor Shon Hopwood was scheduled to present to our Inn in person. For obvious reasons, that presentation was put on hold. Our Inn, however, had the good fortune of having Professor Hopwood as our keynote speaker at our Inn’s annual meeting on April 8, 2021, presenting The Need for Second Chances. Local prosecutors, defense attorneys, and the First District Court of Appeal Inn were also invited to join The Chester Bedell Inn for Professor Hopwood’s presentation. Group 7, led by Group Chair Judge London Kite and Program Chair Todd Wright, was in charge of the program.
February 12, 2021
February is the month The Bedell Inn usually joins with several local Inns for our joint meeting. This year, we used the virtual format to our advantage. Rather than keeping our joint meeting local, The Bedell Inn connected with the recently formed (2018) St. Augustine Inn of Court and First District Appellate American Inn of Court for our joint meeting. The three Inns then reached “across the pond” to the United Kingdom and enjoyed a discussion with a panel of barristers in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Due to the time difference, the 125 attendees in Florida enjoyed a rare lunch program, while our European colleagues participated in an evening event.
Our guests included:
Bibi Badejo, a family practice barrister, Bencher of the Inner Temple (where she conducts advocacy training), and founder of podcast, Advocacy;
Zoe Gibbon, a London barrister focusing on family law, general property and probate;
Sharon Martin and Christine Minnock, two in-house counsel for a software company in Limerick, Ireland, who are also members of the Inner Temple;
Alice Meredith, a barrister in London practicing civil and employment law and participating in inquests, and a member of the Middle Temple; and
Martin Ouwehand, a corporate solicitor who started his career in Australia.
The panelists discussed a wide-array of topics including their educational paths; experiences in their respective Inns; differences and similarities in practice in England, Ireland, Australia, and Scotland; solicitors vs. barristers; the life cycle of civil actions in the UK; pretrial discovery; experiences of in-house compared with more traditional advocacy; and views on the impact of COVID-19 on the practice of law. The program was moderated by The Bedell Inn Barrister Patrick Joyce, who ensured the addition of humor by playing various clips from legal films. To make the program even more special, the host pupilage group assembled gift bags for members containing traditional food from the United Kingdom and the southern United States.
January 21, 2021
Our guest speaker for this joint meeting with ABOTA was Judge Gergel, United States District Judge for the District of South Carolina. Judge Gergel attended our Inn’s meeting by Zoom, and his presentation covered the highlights of his book, Unexampled Courage: The Blinding of Sgt. Isaac Woodard and the Awakening of President Harry S. Truman and Judge J. Waties Waring, which is a compelling account about the blinding of a young African-American soldier returning home from World War II, and the impact the case had on President Truman and Judge J.W. Waring, the trial judge for the Woodard case. Judge Waring later decided important civil rights cases on voting rights and school desegregation including Briggs vs. Elliot, one of the cases consolidated with Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka. Judge Gergel described the courage of Judge Waring and his family to do what they knew was legally and morally right. He also shared interesting facts about his research for the book and legal issues which arose during the case. American Experience has produced a documentary which aired on PBS in March 2021 based on Judge Gergel’s book. Judge Gergel fielded a very lively question-and-answer session at the end of the program moderated by Judge Howard. As an added benefit to members, The Bedell Inn bought copies of Judge Gergel’s book and provided them to members.
February 26, 2019
On February 26, 2019, our members attended the Northeast Florida Joint Meeting of the Inns hosted by the E. Robert Williams American Inn of Court. The theme for the evening and our two keynote speakers was “Women, Sports and the Law.” Our first presenter, Donna Orender, inspired us through her experiences as an All‐Star player in the Women’s Professional Basketball League, President, and Commissioner of the Women’s National Basketball Association, Senior Executive of the PGA Tour, and from being a mom to four boys. She is also now a best‐selling author with her 2018 release of Wowsdom! The Girl’s Guide to the Positive and the Possible and in 2014, she founded Generation W/Generation WOW which provides a platform to elevate the voice of women and help promote the change they want to see in the world by bringing women with the purpose to educate, inspire and connect. Next up was Nancy Hogshead‐Makar, civil rights lawyer, Title IX expert, and CEO of Champion Women, which provides legal advocacy for girls and women in sports, and an Olympic gold medalist. Ms. Hogshead‐Makar described the entrenched framework of Club and Olympic sporting organizations which gave sports coaches and staff unchecked power, allowing serial predators like Olympic doctor, Larry Nassar, to sexually abuse children at‐will for decades. She then described her fascinating work leading to the 2018 passage of the SafeSport Act, which shifted legal protections and the balance of power to athletes by requiring mandatory reporting, training and prevention policies, and legal liability when sporting organizations fail to keep children safe.
January 10, 2019
Our keynote presentation for the joint meeting was provided by Pulitzer Prize winning author, Gilbert King. His most recent book, Beneath the Ruthless Sun, tells the story of a mentally impaired teenager, Jesse Daniels, falsely accused by the sheriff and his minions (but not the victim) of raping the wife of a citrus baron in 1957, and his mother’s struggle for justice for more than 14 years. Just nineteen years old and following a sham hearing with an assigned defense attorney hand‐picked by the sheriff, Jesse Daniels was incarcerated indefinitely in the criminal ward of Florida’s most notorious mental hospital. He endured years of hardship and extreme cruelty due to conspiracy and corruption involving law enforcement, lawyers and judges. Finally, when novice attorney, Richard Graham (the guest presenter at our October meeting), agreed to take his case on a pro bono basis, Mr. Daniels was released back into the care of his mother. Mr. King also discussed another book, Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall,the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America, for which Mr. King was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction in 2013. A New York Times bestseller, the book addresses race, civil rights, and the death penalty and centers on the alleged 1949 rape of a Lake County white woman by four black men, called the “Groveland Boys.”
In February 2018, the Robert M. Foster Nassau County American Inn of Court hosted five Inns from our region for our seventh annual joint meeting. We were thrilled to have the President of the Florida Bar and Pam Wittmann join us for the event. This joint meeting was significant because it was the last to be hosted by Judge Foster, who has been a good friend of our Inn.
February 15, 2017
On February 15, 2017, the Chester Bedell American Inn of Court hosted a very successful joint meeting attended by more than 300 guests and members of the seven regional Inns: the Robert M. Foster American Inn of Court, the Florida Family Law American Inn of Court, the E. Robert Williams American Inn of Court, the Gerald T. Bennett American Inn of Court, the James C. Adkins Jr. American Inn of Court, and the First District Appellate American Inn of Court. In keeping with our Inn’s tradition, Florida Supreme Court's former Chief Justice Major B. Harding honored our legal luminary, Florida Supreme Court's former Chief Justice Leander Shaw and his family, who were also present. We were extraordinarily honored to present as the keynote speaker the Honorable Carl E. Stewart, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the President of the American Inns of Court. Attendees gave him a "10 out of 10!" As a result of our successful joint meeting, our Inn was recognized for the second time in the same year in the May/June 2017 edition of The Bencher.
February 7, 2013
Our February program was the second annual joint Meeting of six Inns of Court in Northeast Florida. The meeting was organized by our Inn and held at the new state courthouse. Dean Deanelle Tacha, recipient of the 2012 A. Sherman Christensen Award, was our guest and featured speaker. Executive Director Malinda Dunn was also our guest and made remarks about the National Inns.
February 16, 2012
Our Inn participated in the first joint meeting of the four Inns of Court in Northeast Florida. The meeting was organized by the local Family Law Inn. Judge Karen Cole is the President of that Inn, and she is an outstanding supporter of the Inns of Court. Judge Susan Black, one of the original trustees of the American Inns of Court Foundation, made a presentation about the history of the Inns. Additionally, all of the Inns at the meeting were fortunate to have Malinda Dunn and Pamela Wittmann attend the program. General Dunn described the activities of the National Inns of Court.