A History of the Willson American Inn of Court
In 1989, Second District Court of Appeal Judge John M.
Scheb organized a steering committee of nine judges and lawyers of
varying experience to establish a local Inn. The Willson American
Inn of Court, as it is now known, was originally founded in 1989 as
the Polk County American Inn of Court. It was the 113th Inn
chartered in the United States. Fred Lotterhos, an attorney then
practicing with Holland & Knight, accepted the charter for the
Inn at a special ceremony in Washington, D.C. Judge Scheb served as
the first President. Upon his retirement from the Second District
Court of Appeal, Judge Scheb returned to his Sarasota home where he
founded another Inn, which has since been named The Judge John M.
Scheb American Inn of Court.
From 1989 to the present, hundreds of lawyers, including many of
our appellate, circuit and county judges, as well as professors of
law from Stetson University College of Law, have been members of
the Willson American Inn of Court. The Willson American Inn of
Court continues to be associated with Stetson University College of
Along with the legal education provided to Inn members, the Inn
also reaches out to educate the community and future attorneys who
are not yet enrolled in law school. In this effort, the Inn has
sponsored a number of mock trials for the students of Florida
Southern College. These miniature trials include all aspects of a
trial from voir dire to actual student jury deliberation. At each
phase of the trial, an experienced trial judge, who doubles as
moderator, explains the purpose of and legal issues associated with
each step. This has been a wonderful opportunity for Inn Associates
to learn first hand while teaching others.
As originally conceived, the Willson American Inn of Court
continues its focus on general trial litigation, whether civil or
criminal, including an emphasis on trial techniques, and practice
and ethical issues. American Inns of Court are now permitted to
have a specialized focus. In other areas of the state and country,
Inns are being formed, specialized by the types of law practiced
(e.g., family law, bankruptcy, commercial litigation, etc.).