Sunday, 11 February 2007

Black History Month: Leander Shaw

Originally published February 11, 2007

Black History Month: Leander Shaw

Leander Shaw, 76, was the first African-American chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court. He was on the court for 20 years and was chief justice from 1990 to 1992.

Shaw has received honorary doctor of law degrees from Nova University, Washington and Lee University and West Virginia State College (now University). He also has an honorary public-affairs degree from Florida International University.

"Every judge strives for justice," Shaw said last week. "To be a good judge is a full-time job."

Shaw retired in 2002 and said that now retirement is his full-time job.

One of the issues on which he took a stand was the unequal application of the death penalty in Florida.

A native of Salem, Va., Shaw received his undergraduate degree from West Virginia State and received his law degree from Howard University. He moved to Tallahassee in 1957 to become an assistant law professor at Florida A&M University.

After working in private practice in Jacksonville, he returned to Tallahassee, where he was appointed to the Florida Industrial Relations Commission, then to the First District Court of Appeals and eventually the Supreme Court.

When he retired, many of the tributes concentrated on his rise through a segregated society to the state's high court.

Nicole Bardo-Colon

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