By Julia Kapusta

As we say goodbye to 2021 and hello to 2022, it is important to take the time to remember those that we lost this past year.  Justice Stephen H. Grimes—a giant in the Florida legal community and the Florida Supreme Court’s 72nd justice—passed away in 2021 at the age of 93.   

Born in Illinois in 1927, Grimes relocated to Lakeland with his family before attending the University of Florida for both undergrad and law school.  While in law school, Justice Grimes received orders from the U.S. Navy to serve in the Korean War.  Upon graduating from law school, he worked as an attorney with Holland & Knight in Bartow, where he headed the litigation department.  Justice Grimes was appointed to the Second District Court of Appeal by Governor Askew in 1973, and remained there until Governor Bob Martinez named him to the Florida Supreme Court in 1987.  

One of Justice Grimes’s biggest contributions to the Florida Supreme Court was ushering it into the internet age by authorizing the creation of a Supreme Court website.  The website helped make legal documents more accessible to the general public, allowing instant access to court rulings and other public documents at a time where copies of documents cost $1 a page or more.  This greatly helped facilitate access to those who did not have the resources to hire their own attorneys and helped the legal system become more equitable to all.

The State of Florida was lucky to have had such a humble, kind, and innovative justice serve on its highest court.  Justice Grimes will be remembered for his dedication to service, professionalism, and civic engagement. 

Julia Kapusta is an attorney with Englander Fischer practicing in the areas of Appellate Practice and Commercial Litigation.  Prior to joining Englander Fischer, Julia clerked for nearly three years with Judge Badalamenti on the Second District Court of Appeal.